Giant snake made into magic thermometer

Here’s a beautiful example of “Science” over-reaching. To be specific, a team of researchers jumped from the fossil remains of a really large snake to pronouncing the average temperature when the snake lived must have been a few degrees higher than it is today. Of course, this was based on the longest officially recorded snake, never mind reports suggesting there are or may have more recently been much larger ones. And of course, they also use the usual dating scheme and place it at about 59 million years in the past.

Now, there currently isn’t any established dogma about the climate at that time and how accurately the maximum size of various reptiles tracks average temperature, so we’re immediately treated to a view of the self-correcting nature of science actually at work… maybe. There are also three responses bringing up different criticisms with different degrees of disagreement, from suggesting a reduction in the estimate to suggesting it’s not a good idea at all. Of course, the original authors reply to all three critical papers, and I have the feeling the matter has been left in that controversial state. Or, more likely, the criticisms will be forgotten and the higher temperature will become part of the pretty picture of the past.

Sadly, it doesn’t seem to occur to any of those involved that maybe scientists shouldn’t be trying to pin down something as fleeting and insubstantial as the temperature (even on average) long before the invention of the thermometer. Perhaps by looking at a number of recorded observations of the weather, we could make a rough guess, but apparently a large number of scientists today think we can safely compare fossils in the past with living things today and derive fairly accurate average temperature estimates for millions of years ago. It could well be that the world was a warmer place in the past. Creationists, too, have reasons for believing it probably was warmer. However, it’s quite another thing to posit rather narrow temperature ranges for the global climate you believe existed tens of millions of years ago or more. Must be hard to have much humility when you think you can pull off a stunt like that.

Come to think of it, where did this giant snake come from? There are snake fossils dated back to the middle of the “Age of Dinosaurs,” but do we see them gradually getting bigger until they reach 20, 30, and finally over 40 feet long? No, apparently they’re all fairly small to moderate size, and then in the strata not far above the last of those with dinosaur fossils, there’s a couple of these monsters longer than anything living today and much bigger around and heavier. Say, that reminds me, I just recently saw something about the “terror birds” found in these same early post-dinosaur levels. They’re big, flightless birds that evolutionists say evolved to take advantage of the niche left open by bipedal predatory dinosaurs. But there’s no line of smaller flightless birds in the last dinosaur-containing strata. For that matter, I can’t think of any fossil bird fossils showing any special signs of being more ancestral to them than any other.

Evolutionists triumphantly list a few of the ancient snake fossils as “transitional” forms because they have two or four tiny legs, but creationists have no doubts that evolution can cause the loss of parts (but wouldn’t it be more accurate to call it devolution?), and God could have created snakes, at least some of them, with legs. It’s tempting to relate this to the story of the “serpent” that tempted Eve being cursed to go on its belly, but the account in Genesis doesn’t indicate that’s the reason ALL snakes are now legless. At any rate, the problem for evolutionists is that they can’t really tell what it was that the snakes would have been transitioning from! They thought maybe they evolved from aquatic reptiles, but now the preferred tale is that they evolved from lizards like today’s monitor lizards. Again, though, while they have a few snakes with little legs, they don’t have a line of lizards getting increasingly small legs.

References:

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v457/n7230/full/nature07671.html

Giant boid snake from the Palaeocene neotropics reveals hotter past equatorial temperatures, by Jason J. Head et al., Nature, Volume: 457, pages 715–717 (05 February 2009), DOI: 10.1038/nature07671

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http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v460/n7255/full/nature08222.html

Brief Communication Arising
Nature 460, E1-E2 (30 July 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08222;

Biased reptilian palaeothermometer?
J. M. Kale Sniderman

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http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v460/n7255/full/nature08223.html

Brief Communication Arising
Nature 460, E2-E3 (30 July 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08223;

Re-calibrating the snake palaeothermometer
Anastassia M. Makarieva et al.

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http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v460/n7255/full/nature08224.html

Brief Communication Arising
Nature 460, E3-E4 (30 July 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08224

Can the giant snake predict palaeoclimate?
Mark W. Denny et al.

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http://dinosaurs.about.com/od/otherprehistoriclife/a/Prehistoric-Snakes-The-Story-Of-Snake-Evolution.htm

About.com > About Education > Dinosaurs > Prehistoric Animals

Prehistoric Snakes – The Story of Snake Evolution
150 Million Years of Snake Evolution, from Eupodophis to Titanoboa
By Bob Strauss

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http://www.unmuseum.org/bigsnake.htm

“The World’s Biggest Snakes”