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Biblical Creation Trust, P.O. Box 325, Ely CB7 5YH, United Kingdom
Paul A. Garner is a full-time Researcher and Lecturer for Biblical Creation Trust in the UK. He has an MSc in Geoscience from University College London, where he specialised in palaeobiology. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of London and a member of several other scientific societies. His first book, The New Creationism: Building Scientific Theories on a Biblical Foundation, was published by Evangelical Press in 2009.
Jonathan Asher is currently studying for a BSc in Biochemistry at a British university.
According to evolutionary theory, the origin of tetrapods (or limbed vertebrates) from a fish-like ancestor during the Devonian Period was one of the major events in the history of life. Devonian sediments have yielded several families of tetrapod-like fishes, including the elpistostegids which range from the Givetian to Frasnian of the Middle to Upper Devonian and are regarded as close to the evolutionary ancestry of tetrapods. Two of the best-known ‘early’ tetrapods are Ichthyostega and Acanthostega, first described from fossil material discovered in the Famennian (uppermost Upper Devonian) sediments of East Greenland. These taxa (and others subsequently described) display mosaic combinations of fish-like and tetrapod-like characters, along with some unique traits (such as polydactyly) not found in more ‘derived’ tetrapods. Creationists have claimed that these organisms are not evolutionary intermediates, but were rather the inhabitants of aquatic environments associated with a pre-Flood floating forest biome, with morphologically intermediate traits that equipped them for life in an environment that was itself intermediate between the sea and the land. This paper evaluates the baraminic status of a range of Devonian and Carboniferous fishes and tetrapods using the techniques of statistical baraminology. Baraminic distance correlation (BDC) and three-dimensional multidimensional scaling (MDS) are applied to six previously published character-taxon matrices. The results reveal little evidence of continuity, and significant evidence of discontinuity, between the elpistostegids and tetrapods such as Ichthyostega and Acanthostega, consistent with the creationist claim of separate ancestry. However, further work will be required to elucidate the baraminic relationships within these presumably apobaraminic groups.
Tetrapods, tetrapodomorphs, Devonian, Carboniferous, baraminic distance, multidimensional scaling, discontinuity
Garner, P.A., and J. Asher. 2018. Baraminological analysis of Devonian and Carboniferous tetrapodomorphs. In Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Creationism, ed. J.H. Whitmore, pp. 458–471. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Creation Science Fellowship.