A very nice video on the evidence for evolution from cetaceans

January 8, 2016 • 10:00 am

At last! An evolution video that is informative and doesn’t have any big problems (at least none that I could find). This video, concentrating on cetacean evolution, might be useful for classes that give the evidence for evolution. There are some great photos and great evidence here. The video is made by Stated Clearly, which you can support on Patreon.

24 thoughts on “A very nice video on the evidence for evolution from cetaceans

  1. There’s an excellent review (free download; figures may be copied for educational non-profit) by Thewissen, wo was (is) involved in the crucial discoveries, at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12052-009-0135-2

    The story, by conicdence, gets a walkon part at my own https://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/how-to-lie-about-radiometric-dating-evolution-and-even-nuclear-physics/ which I will edit to include the link to this video

    1. But to the layman atheist it makes perfect sense and easy to follow. The truly faithful may be a lost cause, in the same sense as the civil war.

  2. Nicely done. I wonder if anyone can recommend a good video or book for very young children. I took my daughter (age 4) to the Smithsonian last week, and she’s completely enthralled with the concepts of ancestry and what animals “used to look like.” She wanted to know all about every single hominid. I wonder if there are good age-appropriate resources out there that will help feed this interest.

    1. There’s a book called ‘Grandmother Fish’ which isn’t precisely what you’re looking for, and perhaps too young for a smart 4 year old, but excellent all the same. I’m on the wrong device to find the link, but I’ll add it later.

  3. Stupid question: what gives the necessary shape and strength to whales’ flukes, and do their fossils give any indication of it, or do we have to guess about that?

    I ask ‘what’, because I find these contradictory claims:

    “The tail fin of whales is called the flukes and is also made entirely of cartilage.” http://www.marinebio.net/marinescience/05nekton/KWbodyform.htm

    “There aren’t any bones or cartilage in the dorsal fin and flukes. Instead, they’re made up of dense connective tissue.” http://oceantoday.noaa.gov/killerwhaleanatomy/

    I hope NOAA is the accurate one, but the other site is written by a retired marine biology teacher – http://www.marinebio.net/marinescience/msprf.htm

  4. This is an excellent video. Imaging a skeptic looking at this, though, I have one criticism. While showing that whales are related to land mammals, I am not sure it showed that they descended from land mammals. The common ancestor of the whale and the hippo might have been a water mammal (one could argue). I think they needed to show an older land mammal to establish the chain water-land-water.

  5. Great video. Though I am always struck by the defensiveness that evolutionary biology has to contend with because of Theism.

    Evolution is as true as gravity. The only difference is that gravity has no ostensible input into the contemptuous claim that humans are the most important thing in the universe.

  6. I’m embarrassed to admit I used to not accept evolution. Not until high school did I start questioning creationism. I wish there were videos like this back then, because even though my mind was addled by religious indoctrination, I’ve always been a skeptic. A video like this would have brought up a lot of questions and I would have “converted” much earlier.

      1. piker…heh, heh, living a stint in the state Nevada, nice to see the word. Me and my friends at the time were all pikers. It was all about fake id’s and free drinks.

  7. I like the systematic exposition! No big problems, but a nit:

    “All living on Earth are related. They evolved from a [universal] common ancestor.”

    Darwin was, as far as I know, more cautious and correct at the time. The process only guarantees common ancestors.

    It is either a fluke of history or some yet unknown constraint that has made all common ancestors go back to a universal one on Earth, something that genetic evidence has later revealed.

    1. What’s the alternative? Multiple independent origins of life? For that to happen, they’d have to be pretty much simultaneous; otherwise the first life to arise would have already consumed its chemical precursors and occupied all the energy-rich niches where life might originate. Surely that counts as a known constraint.

  8. Great video! I think I might share this with my Science Communication class. Lots of sound information packed into a clean and interesting package.

  9. Because I try to anticipate how creationists respond to videos like the one above, I have a criticism.

    At approximately the 3:35 point the narrator says:

    “Is this resemblance a mere coincidence or are these real leg bones, perhaps left overs from the whale’s evolutionary history? Before we draw any bold conclusions, let’s see if a completely separate line of evidence will confirm our suspicions.”

    Creationists will regard the question and following sentence as tentative and will likely be encouraged to quickly argue it is proof that evolution is only a “theory”

    I think it would have been better to say something similar to this:

    “Before you make the hasty conclusion that this resemblance is merely coincidence, wait until we review a completely separate line of evidence which will show they are in fact vestigial leg bones.”

    When talking to the general public, scientists need to make certain they do not appear tentative. They should make it a point of using unequivocal wording. They mustn’t make it easier for creationists to claim evolution is not a settled matter.

  10. There is something else this video does very well: attract interest from small children (well, my sample size is one :), his younger brother is not yet 2 and only interested in the keyboard, not the video).
    Since nearly 2 years now my 5 year old asks me on a regular basis: “When are we going to watch the whale?”, referring to this video. He even prefers it to Tom and Jerry, which is no mean feat.
    [note, if you had asked me where I found that video, I would have answered:’on WEIT’, but apparently is was on RD’s site]

  11. “Facts of Evolution” by the Cassiopeia Project is pretty long but it does a great job demonstrating the overwhelming evidence for evolution.

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