Happy Birthday Mary Anning!


Mary Anning (1799-1847)

“the greatest fossilist the world ever knew”
Despite the fact that Mary Anning’s life has been made the subject of several books and articles, comparatively little is known about her life, and many people are unaware of her contributions to paleontology in its early days as a scientific discipline. How can someone described as ‘the greatest fossilist the world ever knew’ be so obscure that even many paleontologists are not aware of her contribution? She was a woman in a man’s England.

Mary Anning was born in 1799 to Richard and Mary Anning of Lyme Regis, situated on the southern shores of Great Britain. The cliffs at Lyme Regis were — and still are — rich in spectacular fossils from the seas of the Jurassic period. Richard and Mary had as many as ten children, but only two of these children, Mary and Joseph, reached maturity. Richard was a cabinetmaker and occasional fossil collector. Unfortunately, Richard died in 1810, leaving his family in debt without a provider. He did, however, pass on his fossil hunting skills to his wife and children, which later proved fortuitous for the fledgling field of paleontology.

The Anning family lived in poverty and anonymity, selling fossils from Lyme Regis, until the early 1820s, when the profesional fossil collector Lt.-Col. Thomas Birch came to know the family and sympathized with their desperate financial situation. Birch decided to hold an auction to sell off all of his fine fossil collection and donate the proceeds to the Anning family. He felt that the Annings should not live in such “considerable difficulty” considering that they have “found almost all the fine things, which have been submitted to scientific investigation…”. Up to this point mother Mary was running the business end of fossil collecting. By the middle of the 1820s, daughter Mary had established herself as the keen eye and accomplished anatomist of the family, and began taking charge of the family fossil business. Joseph was, by this time, committed to a career in the upholstery business, and no longer collected fossils.

Mary Anning has been credited with the first discovery of ichthyosaur fossils. Although this is not entirely true, she did help to discover the first specimen of Ichthyosaurus to be known by the scientific community of London. This specimen was probably discovered sometime between 1809 and 1811, when Mary was only 10 to 12 years old. And while Mary did find the majority of the remains, her brother had discovered part of the beast twelve months earlier. In fact, the entire Anning family was involved in fossil hunting, but Mary’s skill and dedication produced many remarkable finds and thus provided the fatherless family with a means of income. The fossils that Mary and her family found and prepared were eagerly sought — not only by museums and scientists, but by European nobles, many of whom had substantial private collections of fossils and other “curiosities.”

Mary made many great discoveries, including the aforementioned ichthyosaur and several other fine ichthyosaur skeletons. But perhaps her most important find, from a scientific point of view, was her discovery of the first plesiosaur. The famous French anatomist, Georges Cuvier, doubted the validity of the specimen when he first examined a detailed drawing. Once Cuvier realized that this was a genuine find, the Annings became legitimate and respected fossilists in the eyes of the scientific community.

In spite of this recognition, the majority of Mary’s finds ended up in museums and personal collections without credit being given to her as the discoverer of the fossils. As time passed, Mary Anning and her family were forgotten by the scientific community and most historians, due to the lack of appropriate documentation of her special skills. Contributing to the oversight of Mary Anning and her contribution to paleontology was her social status and her gender. Many scientists of the day could not believe that a young woman from such a deprived background could posses the knowledge and skills that she seemed to display. For example, in 1824, Lady Harriet Sivester, the widow of the former Recorder of the City of London, wrote in her diary after visiting Mary Anning:

“. . . the extraordinary thing in this young woman is that she has made herself so thoroughly acquainted with the science that the moment she finds any bones she knows to what tribe they belong. She fixes the bones on a frame with cement and then makes drawings and has them engraved. . . It is certainly a wonderful instance of divine favour – that this poor, ignorant girl should be so blessed, for by reading and application she has arrived to that degree of knowledge as to be in the habit of writing and talking with professors and other clever men on the subject, and they all acknowledge that she understands more of the science than anyone else in this kingdom.”
Lady Sivester’s praise is high, but note that “divine favour” is invoked to explain how such a woman could possibly be so knowledgeable. It is clear, however, that Anning was not only a collector, but was well-versed in the scientific understanding of what she collected, and won the respect of the scientists of her time. Her discoveries were important in reconstructing the world’s past and the history of its life.
This biography was inspired by Hugh Torrens of the Department of Geology, Keele University, Staffordshire, UK. For a much more detailed account of the history of Mary Anning and Lyme Regis, read Dr. Torrens’ “Presidential Address: Mary Anning (1799-1847) of Lyme; ‘the greatest fossilist the world ever knew'” British Journal of the History of Science, 1995, vol. 28, pp. 257-284.

Dr. Torrens is, among many other things, searching for two ichthyosaur fossils, collected by Mary Anning, whose current whereabouts are unknown. They are probably sitting in museums or in someone’s personal collection gathering dust. If you recognize either of these beautiful specimens and know their location, please contact Dr. Torrens at gga10@keele.ac.uk

U.C Berkeley Evolution 101 or, The emergence of You…man, get it? Yuman?



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The emergence of humans

The narratives of human evolution are oft-told and highly contentious. There are major disagreements in the field about whether human evolution is more like a branching tree or a crooked stick, depending partly on how many species one recognizes. Interpretations of almost every new find will be sure to find opposition among other experts. Disputes often center on diet and habitat, and whether a given animal could walk bipedally or was fully upright. What can we really tell about human evolution from our current understanding of the phylogenetic relations of hominids and the sequence of evolution of their traits?

Hominid evogram

To begin with, let’s take a step back. Although the evolution of hominid features is sometimes put in the framework of “apes vs. humans,” the fact is that humans are apes, just as they are primates and mammals. A glance at the evogram shows why. The other apes — chimp, bonobo, gorilla, orangutan, gibbon — would not form a natural, monophyletic group (i.e., a group that includes all the descendants of a common ancestor) — if humans were excluded. Humans share many traits with other apes, and those other “apes” (i.e., non-human apes) don’t have unique features that set them apart from humans. Humans have some features that are uniquely our own, but so do gorillas, chimps, and the rest. Hominid evolution should not be read as a march to human-ness (even if it often appears that way from narratives of human evolution). Students should be aware that there is not a dichotomy between humans and apes. Humans are a kind of ape.

Virtually all systematists and taxonomists agree that we should only give names to monophyletic groups. However, this evogram shows that this guideline is not always followed. For an example, consider Australopithecus. On the evogram you can see a series of forms, from just after Ardipithecusto just before Homo in the branching order, that are all called Australopithecus. (Even Paranthropus is often considered an australopithecine.) But as these taxa appear on the evogram, “Australopithecus”is not a natural group, because it is not monophyletic: some forms, such as A. africanus, are found to be closer to humans than A. afarensis and others. Beyond afarensis, for example, all otherAustralopithecus and Homo share “enlarged cheek teeth and jaws,” because they have a more recent common ancestor. Eventually, several of these forms will have to have new genus names if we want to name only monophyletic groups. Students should avoid thinking of “australopithecines” as a natural group with uniquely evolved traits that link its members together and set it apart from Homo. Instead they should focus on the pattern of shared traits among these species and the Homo clade, recognizing that each species in this lineage gains more and more features that are shared by Homo.

In popular fiction and movies, the concept of the wild “ape-man” is often that of a tree-living, vine-swinging throwback like Tarzan. However, the pantheon of hominids is much richer than this, as the evogram shows with forms as different as Paranthropus and Ardipithecus shows. For example, imagine going back in time to the common ancestor of humans and chimps (including bonobos). What did that common ancestor look like? In the Origin of Species Darwin noted that the extinct common ancestor of two living forms should not be expected to look like a perfect intermediate between them. Rather, it could look more like one branch or the other branch, or something else entirely.

Did the common ancestor of humans and chimps conform to the ape-man myth and live in the trees, swinging from vines? To answer this, we have to focus not only on anatomy but on behavior, and we have to do it in a phylogenetic context. Apes such as the gibbon and orangutan, which are more distantly related to humans, are largely arboreal (i.e., tree-living). The more closely related apes such as the gorilla and chimps are relatively terrestrial, although they can still climb trees. The feet of the first hominids have a considerable opposition of the big toe to the others but relatively flat feet, as arboreal apes generally do. But other features of their skeleton, such as the position of the foramen magnum underneath the skull, the vertically shortened and laterally flaring hips, and the larger head of the femur, suggest that they were not just mainly terrestrial but habitually bipedal, unlike their knuckle-walking relatives. Most evidence suggests that the hominid lineage retained some of the anatomical features related to arboreal life and quadrupedal gait even after it had evolved a more terrestrial lifestyle and a bipedal gait. There is no fossil record of these behaviors, but the balance of the available evidence supports the hypothesis that the hominid ancestor was terrestrial and bipedal.

Much discussion in human paleontology surrounds the evolution of a bipedal, upright stance. When and why did this occur? One thing to keep in mind is that “bipedal” and “upright” are not equivalent terms. An animal can be bipedal without having a vertical backbone (think T. rex). It seems clear from the fossil record of hominids that habitual bipedality preceded the evolution of a recurved spine and upright stance. Other changes in the gait, such as how the relatively “splayed” gait of chimps evolved into the gait of humans, who put one foot directly in front of the other, involve studying the hip joint, the femur, and the foot. The famous Laetoli footprints attributed to Australopithecus afarensis are bipedal, but they are still relatively splayed compared to the tracks of living humans.

Another extremely interesting feature in hominid evolution is the degree of sexual dimorphism (i.e., physical differences between the sexes) in different species. Sexual dimorphism is linked to features of sociality and mate competition in many sorts of animals. To understand the evolution of this feature in humans, which have relatively low sexual dimorphism, we need to consider the other apes, in which sexual dimorphism tends to be moderate to high (with exceptions). We don’t have sufficient evidence about SahelanthropusOrrorin, and Ardipithecus to understand much about sex differences in these species, but we do know that A. afarensis had relatively high sexual dimorphism: the males were considerably larger than the females. The difference seems to have been less in A. africanus,Paranthropus, and most of the Homo lineage. The evolutionary explanation for A. afarensis‘ dimorphism is not entirely clear. The larger males may have used their size to attract females and/or repel rivals, which would fit with an explanation based on sexual selection. Or the males and females may have been differently sized because they played different roles in their groups, the males hunting and gathering and the females caring for the young. Darwin thought that this differentiation of the sexes may have played a critical role in human evolution, but we simply do not know much about the role of this feature in A. afarensis. Some, all, or none of these functions may have been in play.

We do know that by the time the animals known as Homo evolved, they could make tools, and their hands were well suited for complex manipulations. These features were eventually accompanied by the reduction of the lower face, particularly the jaws and teeth, the recession of the brow, the enlargement of the brain, the evolution of a more erect posture, and the evolution of a limb moreadapted for extended walking and running (along with the loss of arboreally oriented features). The evogram shows the hypothesized order of acquisition of these traits. Yet each of the Homo species was unique in its own way, so human evolution should not be seen as a simple linear progression of improvement toward our own present-day form.

-Seems a lot more in depth than using the idiocy of ‘God did it.’ The transitionary fossils are there and Kirk Cameron still rails on about his ‘Crocoduck.’ How long will such large pockets of ignorance exist in modern times? Hiding your ignorance behind the ultimate cop-out of faith demonstrates a profound need to hide from reality and forsake the reality of that arm of practice, science, that will eventually have ALL of the keys to our evolution. God had to have a beginning, a creation to hold with the Creationists arguments that the universe cannot come from nothing. By the same token, God cannot have come from nothing! If this cosmic Gepetto actually were to exist he would have to have a beginning other than ‘He has always been there.’ As we see again, no proof and circuitous argument is used to make sense of something that makes no sense to believe in!

Many apologists who have broken free of the cult of religion have found it to be an incredibly traumatic experience due to being ostracized and reviled in their former communities. Religious zealots forsake that all important love of man when it comes to dealing with people who have ripped off the blinders and unplugged from the toxic Matrix of belief. A great number of the formerly indoctrinated have actually written of the persecution and hatred poured upon them by former Kool-Ade ingesters who have actively vilified them and sought to punish them for opening there eyes to reality. Many people have moved far away from their ex communities while others have written books and immersed themselves in the local scientific community so as to drink in the truth and wash away a life spent wasted in the pursuit of the intangible. I, myself, had to do this because of the ignorance of the believers around me. 

The deluded will always use redundant arguments and parlor tricks to convince others to waste their lives on folly and ignorance. I could care less what a person believes, but I take offense to fights over whether prayer should be allowed in schools, it should not, or that both Evolution and the pseudoscience Creation should be taught side by side. Evolution is science FACT, Creation is mythological fallacy and should only be taught in theology class or a class on religious mythology, PERIOD! There are thousands of religions out there and no one religion should dominate the other and it sure as Hell shouldn’t dummy down the school system! Overpopulation is causing these stabbing and shooting crimes in the educational system, not the lack of God. Lack of mental health care and rampant liberalism is to blame for this madness, not taking God out of the schools! The Christian god sure lacks power in that He can be kicked out of a place by mere mortals! Shit man, there’s God over there on His ass thrown out of schools by His own creations! Yes, the infection of PC is the liberal version of sticking your head in the sand and ignores personal responsibility, but these are the causes of chaos. Realizing cause and effect does away with the childish need for cosmic puppeteers. 

The apologists will only fall back on Revelation and other biblical pronouncements in rebuttal to logical argument. They have no footing, they have no concrete proof except to demonstrate that their myth has no real power. It’s time to accept the truth that this is the only life that we have and to live it to the fullest, because living the unexamined life will leave you empty and unfulfilled when you discover no mansion in Heaven and no one waiting for you on the supposed ‘other side.’ I find that those who complain the loudest about other people’s lifestyles are the one’s not living it, so live the adventure as if tomorrow is the last day on Earth. 


My ultimate goal!


I have just concluded a very detailed explanation to my son of the very complex and fascinating concepts explained in Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s reboot of the Carl Sagan classic. I grew up with the Sagan version and was, of course, floored and dazed by the incredibly immense data presented in such a short documentary. The reboot is a series and not a limited documentary, but presents the proof and theory discovered since the release of the original Cosmos. I again , am floored by the incredible details provided by the genius Tyson about the origins of the universe and our human aspirations to decode the minute beginnings of this mystery called the Universe.

As I teach my 12 year old son and my six year old daughter the wonders of the universe, I am still challenged to answer questions posited by the information being presented. I go to the scientific texts and papers and glean the careful answers to these questions and am completely satisfied with the data given. Why? Because the answers are rooted in thousands and sometimes millions of hours of tried and true scientific data borne of provable discovery. The same discovery that is reviled by the religious scholar today. The same discovery that is refuted by the likes of William Lane Craig, Sye Ten Bruggencate and Ken Ham, the idiot titular head of the ridiculous Creation Museum. Now I know that the many thousands of factions that claim legitimacy in the Christian faith claim to have the right answer, but one should look at science when questioning because it has standards that hold ALL factions to same quality outcomes. Science, unlike religion, does not have different means in which to test it’s data, experiments are all held to the same standard and debunked if found to be completely in error!

I see the cosmic calendar that Tyson uses with it’s 12 months, and am taken aback by the reference that our species took only about 14 days within the 365 days to evolve. Compared to the 13.5 Billion year calendar, we were but a footnote in the last evolutionary phase in the cosmos to appear on the land of a backwater accretion disc in the ordinary galaxy called the Milky Way. Poor strange people trying to make sense of the unknown and trying to find a way to control less intelligent beings created an anthropomorphic god that had infinite power so as to intimidate the simple folks and their pliable minds.

Throughout history we see these types of gods used to control the greater populations because 90% of the people are sheep who are tractable, and 10% are held back by these followers. The creators of the gods of old do their best to control the people, but as science takes hold these people learn to think for themselves. If you look at most Catholics, they do not actually believe in God, they just are not ready to say so. This is fact, just watch Bill Maher’s Religulous and you will see this. Secular people are just those who lack the convictions to call themselves atheists.  They don’t believe, so what is that? ATHEISM!

Christians are just those who cannot read and do not believe that their God is an amoral genocidal, pedophile, maniac murderer, who carries out jealous homicidal campaigns of terror against innocent people who do not believe in the tenets of His tyrannical reign! Atheists and science buffs are people who put absolutely NO stock in biblical non-sensical bullshit and trust the scientists of this world to solve the mysteries and theories presented by scholars in this age of reason and logic! Sorry, but this is the most sensible course! Due to the overwhelming burden of evidence, I have to say that Creation survives as nothing more than an interesting story to be told as a footnote to explaining the history of Evolution!

New Earth Creation has already been debunked as total fallacy and retardo-bullshit. No one with credibility needs to go toe to toe with these delusional assholes because they are obviously completely crazy! If anyone, and I mean ANYONE can dispute the findings of the genius Tyson, then I will listen with open ears. Tell me it’s the free will of human beings or the ‘will’ of God, then I will be asking many more questions before the night is over! Thanks for the late soapbox and I will now climb down!

Berkeley site for fossil research

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Transitional Forms (1 of 2)

Fossils or organisms that show the intermediate states between an ancestral form and that of its descendants are referred to as transitional forms. There are numerous examples of transitional forms in the fossil record, providing an abundance of evidence for change over time.

Pakicetus (below left), is described as an early ancestor to modern whales. Although pakicetids were land mammals, it is clear that they are related to whales and dolphins based on a number of specializations of the ear, relating to hearing. The skull shown here displays nostrils at the front of the skull.

A skull of the gray whale that roams the seas today (below right) has its nostrils placed at the top of its skull. It would appear from these two specimens that the position of the nostril has changed over time and thus we would expect to see intermediate forms.


Read more about specific examples of transitional vertebrate fossils at the Talk.Origins Archive Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ.

  Note that the nostril placement in Aetiocetus is intermediate between the ancestral form Pakicetus and the modern gray whale — an excellent example of a transitional form in the fossil record!



• Aetiocetus skull image courtesy of Tom Deméré, San Diego Natural History Museum.
• Gray whale skull image provided by Pearson College and Race Rocks

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Gimme that Crocoduck Kirk!


Fossils Reveal Truth About Darwin’s Theory

Robin Lloyd   |   February 11, 2009 04:42am ET

Nichollsia borealis on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta. This plesiosaur swam in the Cretaceous seas over what is now part of North America.
Credit: Royal Tyrrell Museum

With the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin this week, people around the world are celebrating his role as the father of evolutionary theory. Events and press releases are geared, in part, to combat false claims made by some who would discredit the theory.

One frequently cited “hole” in the theory: Creationists claim there are no transitional fossils, aka missing links. Biologists and paleontologists, among others, know this claim is false.

As key evidence for evolution and species’ gradual change over time, transitional creatures should resemble intermediate species, having skeletal and other body features in common with two distinct groups of animals, such as reptiles and mammals, or fish and amphibians.



These animals sound wild, but the fossil record — which is far from complete — is full of them nonetheless, as documented by Occidental College geologist Donald Prothero in his book “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters” (Columbia University Press, 2007). Prothero discussed those fossils last month at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, along with transitional fossils that were announced since the book was published, including the “fishibian” and the “frogamander.”

At least hundreds, possibly thousands, of transitional fossils have been found so far by researchers. The exact count is unclear because some lineages of organisms are continuously evolving.

Here is a short list of transitional fossils documented by Prothero and that add to the mountain of evidence for Charles Darwin’s theory. A lot of us relate most to fossils of life closely related to humans, so the list focuses on mammals and other vertebrates, including dinosaurs.

Mammals, including us

  • It is now clear that the evolutionary tree for early and modern humans looks more like a bush than the line represented in cartoons. All the hominid fossils found to date form a complex nexus of specimens, Prothero says, but Sahelanthropus tchadensis, found in 2001 and 2002, threw everyone for a loop because it walked upright 7 million years ago on two feet but is quite chimp-like in its skull size, teeth, brow ridges and face. It could be a common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees, but many paleoanthropologists will remain unsure until more fossils are found. Previously, the earliest ancestor of our Homo genus found in the fossil record dated back 6 million years.
  • -Most fossil giraffes have short necks and today’s have long necks, but anatomist Nikos Solounias of the New York Institute of Technology’s New York College of Osteopathic Medicine is preparing a description of a giraffe fossil, Bohlinia, with a neck that is intermediate in length.
  • Manatees, also called sea cows, are marine mammals that have flippers and a down-turned snout for grazing in warm shallow waters. In 2001, scientists discovered the fossil of a “walking manatee,” Pezosiren portelli, which had feet rather than flippers and walked on land during the Eocene epoch (54.8 million years ago to 33.7 million years ago) in what is now Jamaica. Along with skull features like manatees (such as horizontal tooth replacement, like a conveyor belt), it also had heavy ribs for ballast, showing that it also had an aquatic lifestyle, like hippos.
  • Scientists know that mastodons, mammoths and elephants all share a common ancestor, but it gets hard to tell apart some of the earliest members of this group, called proboscideans, going back to fossils from the Oligocene epoch (33.7 million years ago to 23.8 million years ago). The primitive members of this group can be traced back to what Prothero calls “the ultimate transitional fossil,” Moeritherium, from the late Eocene of Egypt. It looked more like a small hippo than an elephant and probably lacked a long trunk, but it had short upper and lower tusks, the teeth of a primitive mastodon and ear features found only in other proboscideans.
  • The Dimetrodon was a big predatory reptile with a tail and a large sail or fin-back. It is often mistaken for a dinosaur, but it’s actually part of our mammalian lineage and more closely related to mammals than reptiles, which is seen in its specialized teeth for stabbing meat and skull features that only mammals and their ancestors had. It probably moved around like a lizard and had a jawbone made of multiple bones, like a reptile.

Dinosaurs and birds

  • The classic fossil of Archaeopteryx, sometimes called the first bird, has a wishbone (fully fused clavicle) which is only found in modern birds and some dinosaurs. But it also shows impressions from feathers on its body, as seen on many of the theropod dinosaurs from which it evolved. Its body, capable of flight or gliding, also had many of dinosaur features — teeth (no birds alive today have teeth), a long bony tail (tails on modern birds are entirely feathers, not bony), long hind legs and toes, and a specialized hand with long bony fingers (unlike modern bird wings in which the fingers are fused into a single element), Prothero said.
  • Sinornis was a bird that also has long bony fingers and teeth, like those seen in dinosaurs and not seen in modern birds.
  • Yinlong is a small bipedal dinosaur which shares features with two groups of dinosaurs known to many kids — ceratopsians, the beaked dinosaurs like Triceratops, and pachycephalosaurs, known for having a thick dome of bone in their skulls protecting their brains. Yinlong has the thick rostral bone that is otherwise unique to ceratopsians dinosaurs, and the thick skull roof found in the pachycephalosaurs.
  • Anchisaurus is a primitive sauropod dinosaur that has a lot of lizard-like features. It was only 8 feet long (the classic sauropods later on could be more than 100-feet long), had a short neck (sauropods are known for their long necks, while lizards are not), and delicate limbs and feet, unlike dinosaurs. Its spine was like that of a sauropod. The early sauropods were bipedal, while the latter were stood on all fours. Anchisaurus was probably capable of both stances, Prothero wrote.

Fish, frogs, turtles

  • Tiktaalik, aka the fishibian or the fishapod, is a large scaled fish that shows a perfect transition between fins and feet, aquatic and land animals. It had fish-like scales, as well as fish-like fin rays and jaw and mouth elements, but it had a shortened skull roof and mobile neck to catch prey, an ear that could hear in both land and water, and a wrist joint that is like those seen in land animals.
  • Last year, scientists announced the discovery of Gerobatrachus hottorni, aka the frogamander. Technically, it’s a toothed amphibian, but it shows the common origins of frogs and salamanders, scientists say, with a wide skull and large ear drum (like frogs) and two fused ankle bones as seen in salamanders.
  • A creature on the way to becoming a turtle, Odontochelys semistestacea, swam around in China’s coastal waters 200 million years ago. It had a belly shell but its back was basically bare of armor. Odontochelys had an elongated, pointed snout. Most modern turtles have short snouts. In addition, the roof of its mouth, along with the upper and lower jaws, was equipped with teeth, which the researchers said is a primitive feature for turtles whose mugs are now tipped with beaks but contain no teeth.


  • Charles Darwin’s Legacy
  • Gallery: Drawing Dinosaurs
  • All About Evolution


Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate


Bill Nye: Bible doesn’t tell Earth’s true history
Bill Nye: Bible doesn’t tell Earth’s true history
by Associated Press
Associated Press
Posted on February 5, 2014 at 3:32 AM
Updated yesterday at 11:52 AM
PETERSBURG, Ky. (AP) — True to his passionate and animated TV persona, “Science
Guy” Bill Nye tapped on the podium, threw up his hands and noted that science shows
the Earth is “billions and billions” of years old in a debate at a Kentucky museum
known for teaching that the planet’s age is only 6,000.
Nye was debating Creation Museum founder Ken Ham and promoting science in the
snappy way that made him a pop culture staple as host of “Bill Nye The Science Guy”2/6/2014 Bill Nye: Bible doesn’t tell Earth’s truehistory | kgw.com Portland
http://www.kgw.com/news/national/243641841.html 2/3
in the 1990s.
The event was meant to explore the age old question, “How did we get here?” from
the perspectives of faith and science.
Ham, an Australian native who has built a thriving ministry in Kentucky, said he trusts
the story of creation presented by the Bible.
“The Bible is the word of God,” Ham said. “I admit that’s where I start from.”
Nye delivered a passionate speech on science and challenged the museum’s teachings
on the age of the earth and the Bible’s flood story. Like most scientists, Nye believes
there is no credible evidence that the world is only 6,000 years old.
“If we accept Mr. Ham’s point of view … that the Bible serves as a science text and he
and his followers will interpret that for you, I want you to consider what that means,”
Nye said. “It means that Mr. Ham’s word is to be more respected than what you can
observe in nature, what you can find in your backyard in Kentucky.”
The event drew dozens of national media outlets and about 800 tickets sold out in
minutes. Ham said ahead of the debate that the Creation Museum was having a peak
day on its social media sites.
“I think it shows you that the majority of people out there, they’re interested in this
topic, they want to know about this, they don’t want debate shut down,” Ham said
before the debate.
At times, the debate had the feel of a university lecture, with slides and long-form
Responding to an audience question about where atoms and matter come from, Nye
said scientists are continuing to find out.
Ham said he already knows the answer.
“Bill, I want to tell you, there is a book that tells where atoms come from, and its starts
out, ‘In the beginning …,'” Ham said.
Nye said there are plenty of religious people around the world who don’t question
evolution science.
“I just want to remind us all there are billions of people in the world who are deeply
religious, who get enriched by the wonderful sense of community by their religion,”
said Nye, who wore his trademark bow tie. “But these same people do not embrace the
extraordinary view that the Earth is somehow only 6,000 years old.”2/6/2014 Bill Nye: Bible doesn’t tell Earth’s truehistory | kgw.com Portland
http://www.kgw.com/news/national/243641841.html 3/3
The debate drew a few Nye disciples in the audience, including Aaron Swomley, who
wore a red bowtie and white lab coat. Swomley said he was impressed by Ham’s
presentation and the debate’s respectful tone.
“I think they did a good job outlining their own arguments without getting too heated,
as these debates tend to get,” he said.
Some scientists had been critical of Nye for agreeing to debate the head of a Christian
ministry that is dismissive of evolution.
Jerry Coyne, an evolution professor at the University of Chicago, wrote on his blog
that “Nye’s appearance will be giving money to organizations who try to subvert the
mission Nye has had all his life: science education, particularly of kids.” Coyne pointed
out that the Creation Museum will be selling DVDs of the event.
The debate was hatched after Nye appeared in an online video in 2012 that urged
parents not to pass their religious-based doubts about evolution on to their children.
Ham rebutted Nye’s statements with his own online video and the two later agreed to
share a stage.