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The Dolphin With Leftover Legs

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the pass-me-the-speech-center-of-the-brain dept.

441

ectotherm writes "Japanese scientists have captured a dolphin with vestigial legs. Evidence, it would seem, of a land-dwelling past and observable evolution." From the article: "Fishermen captured the four-finned dolphin alive off the coast of Wakayama prefecture (state) in western Japan on Oct. 28, and alerted the nearby Taiji Whaling Museum, according to museum director Katsuki Hayashi. Fossil remains show dolphins and whales were four-footed land animals about 50 million years ago and share the same common ancestor as hippos and deer. Scientists believe they later transitioned to an aquatic lifestyle and their hind limbs disappeared. Whale and dolphin fetuses also show signs of hind protrusions but these generally disappear before birth."

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I urge you to be insightful (2, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723235)

On this article. You can't. You can be funny or informative. Let the challenge begin NOW...

Re:I urge you to be insightful (1)

Ed_1024 (744566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723273)

Most importantly, what does it taste like eaten raw?

Re:I urge you to be insightful (1)

rHBa (976986) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723327)

It tastes great with three eye'd soy sauce.

Re:I urge you to be insightful (-1, Flamebait)

ztransform (929641) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723289)

That's what I don't understand about evolution. In theory, if it takes many many years to evolve from one physical form to another then surely remnants of every combination in between the two forms should still exist?

Take human race for example, you have people with skin colour A and skin colour B. Then hundreds of years later you have many individuals of mixed race with varying skin colours between A and B. To me this is evidence of evolution.

But then you have dolfin A and human B but no in-between combinations (dolfin with stubbly legs) then surely this demonstrates that evolution can't have happened? Why the integral split between two physical forms with no inbetween? Even in presidential elections you have independants and small parties in between the two main parties!

Re:I urge you to be insightful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723309)

Environmental change is a bitch.

Re:I urge you to be insightful (1)

rHBa (976986) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723311)

Because the conditions in which the "in between" creatures flourished no longer exist.

Re:I urge you to be insightful (1)

Maian (887886) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723537)

Actually, to be more accurate, the conditions in which the "in between" creatures would flourish didn't exist at the time the species split into two. It may exist after the speciation event (perhaps even today), but by that time, the two populations can't produce viable offspring with each other (and thus are two different species according to the biological definition of species).

Examples of times when the "in between" conditions don't exist: the two populations are geographically separated; individuals possessing an "average" trait are killed off, leaving the two extremes of the trait to remain (e.g. bird migrates to island that has two types of seeds, one requiring smaller beaks, the other requiring bigger beaks); a portion of the population evolves separate mating behaviors and preferences.

Re:I urge you to be insightful (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723401)

The driving force behind evolution is natural selection, no one explicitly decides that species A will become B nor does A evolve into B by pure chance. If for twenty thousand years you killed off every kid who had white skin you would not have any more white people (save for freak mutations not probably even light skinned probably) that is evolution in essence.

Re:I urge you to be insightful (1)

MollyB (162595) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723611)

I find it strange that the example envisioning the killing of "white"-skinned kids for an arbitrary number of years is in any way illustrating the concept of natural selection. I suggest Wikipedia or anything written by Richard Dawkins would reveal that evolution (in the Darwinian sense) is not easily distilled into a bumper sticker, slogan, or single image.

I would also be interested in having you expand on "nor does A evolve into B by pure chance." I thought that IS natural selection, long term.

Please enlighten me, fellow /.er(s)...

Re:I urge you to be insightful (2, Informative)

misanthrope101 (253915) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723681)

If natural selection were purely random, there would be no speciation. I've read several books by Dawkins, and Darwin's Origin of Species and randomness, though present, is not the driving factor. There is a random variation in the gene pool of any population, but the selection process, which favors or disfavors certain traits, is far from random, and drives change in the population by predisposing individuals with certain characteristics to be more likely to leave offspring than their competitors. Yes, the randomness is a component, in that if there were no variation there would be no foothold for the selection process, and thus no evolution. But randomness with no selection does not drive speciation, just as variation with no selection would also fail to drive it.

Re:I urge you to be insightful (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723857)

I suggest Wikipedia or anything written by Richard Dawkins would reveal that evolution (in the Darwinian sense) is not easily distilled into a bumper sticker, slogan, or single image.

I don't see why that, note that I am quite familiar with genetics and so on, invalidates my example which was only given in response to the pervious posters example. All I said was that if one group has a lower survival rate then over time they will no longer be there thus the reason for no intermediates or ancestor species. It's meant to be a horribly simplified version although I don't see why it fails to convey the essence. I don't particularly feel like describing all of evolutionary genetic to someone in a Slashdot post you know.

I would also be interested in having you expand on "nor does A evolve into B by pure chance." I thought that IS natural selection, long term.

As the other poster said it's not which is the point, note the "selection" part. Something is selected for (or against), be it a gene or whatever, and over time its prevalence increases. Even short term (only a few generations) mutations aren't purely random as they need to be non-lethal to the cell and (possible) offspring.

Re:I urge you to be insightful (1)

strider44 (650833) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723341)

Easy. Just make a comment on the nature of evolution and how strange it is to think that dolphins, whales, hippos and deer share the same ancestor and you've won.

The headline is wrong (1)

Ignis Flatus (689403) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723497)

It should read: Scientists Capture Inbred Dolphin

So there you go smartass, insightful and funny.

Re:I urge you to be insightful (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723805)

When biologists uncover a squeleton from an unknown extinct species, the first question they ask themselves is : Is this a new species or a deformed member of a known species .Deformations can be caused by illness, by foetus development abnormality, by ponctual mutation.

How can they be sure this is not such a case ? This dolphin only have an extra pair of fins, couldn't this be an extreme case of conjointed twins ?

If there would be less debate about evolution in the US, I believe Fox News would have reported this as what it is : a dolphin with a malformation.

Re:I urge you to be insightful (1)

Rob Carr (780861) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723855)

I think you offer up a good point. Isn't the flipper supposed to be a merged pair of legs embyologically? If so, then why is there a flipper as well? This sounds more like a HOX gene activation that shouldn't have been, or (as you suggest) incomplete twinning.

FRIST PSOT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723241)

OMFG FRIST PSOT GNAA??!?

The Japanese Report was much more interesting (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723245)

In thier report, the finding was as exciting as finding a chicken with four drumsticks!

Not vestigial... (2, Funny)

kooky45 (785515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723255)

The dolphins are growing new limbs they'll need to construct their spaceships to get off the earth.

Re:Not vestigial... (1)

Takumi2501 (728347) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723631)

And they didn't even bother to thank us for the fish.

Geez, what's the world coming to?

Re:Not vestigial... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723645)

Demolishion.

People tend to get cranky when their about to die for some reason...

mod to my fish with legs ornament (1)

OffTheLip (636691) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723261)

I need to change that Darwin fish with legs thing on my automobile to a dolphin with legs. Nobody can be offended by that now, right?

Re:mod to my fish with legs ornament (1)

gameforge (965493) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723427)

I need to change that Darwin fish with legs thing on my automobile to a dolphin with legs. Nobody can be offended by that now, right?

No, just EVERY OTHER DOLPHIN EVERYWHERE you insensitive clod!!!

Self defense really. (5, Funny)

kooky45 (785515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723265)

The dolphins need hind legs to roundhouse the sharks with frickin' lasers on their heads.

let's here it for (1)

Neuropol (665537) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723271)

DOLPHINSE.CX!!!!

Re:let's here it for (1)

NeuralAbyss (12335) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723277)

It doesn't exist!

Re:let's here it for (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723679)

Just wait for the dns to propogate. ;)

Evidence of radioactive mutation more like.. (1)

Channard (693317) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723279)

So can we look forward to Super Dolphin fighting underwater crime? Or is it a member of the Brother of Evil Mutant Dolphins, led by the shape-shifting Fishtique?

Dolphine Overlord would invade human lands. (1)

oddmake (715380) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723473)

Picture shown Evil Dolphine Overlord's hostility to humanity existed. Look at FILEMAN GATEWAY [n1e.jp] or pya! [pya.cc]

Under the sea (1)

PhakeDC (932887) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723285)

Under the sea
Darling it's better
Down where it's wetter
Take it from me!

Dolphins coming ashore... (2, Funny)

Hamster Lover (558288) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723303)

Fishermen captured the four-finned dolphin alive off the coast of Wakayama prefecture (state) in western Japan on Oct. 28, and alerted the nearby Taiji Whaling Museum, according to museum director Katsuki Hayashi.

Anyone considered that dolphins are growing hind limbs so they can go ashore to capture a few Japanese to take back to their Hominid Museum?

They'll need to learn Karate first (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723505)

I really like the idea of dolphins growing new legs and coming ashore. What if they're really funny, or maybe they're really bad drunks? Now you won't be able to go into the mosh pit, 'cause some 800 pound drunk dolphin is there and he's tearing up the place.

Was it caught alive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723307)

The article exclaims that it's dead. I suppose they would have wanted it that way for their labs. Then on the other hand, if we kill all of the dolphins we shouldn't run out of fish by 2048 [slashdot.org] ?

Far cry from legs (5, Insightful)

eclectro (227083) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723313)

I read the article, and those aren't legs, they're fins.

I will only believe that a dolphin has legs when it walks up to me and shakes my hand.

Re:Far cry from legs (1)

riff420 (810435) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723407)

shakes it with what, smarty pants? it those are not hands, they are fins, remember?

Re:Far cry from legs (1)

phlipped (954058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723743)

I will only believe that a dolphin has legs when it walks up to me and shakes my hand.
Yeah, I think the same way, although I apply that stellar logic to ALL animals.

So far, I've established that many people I've met have legs, and so does my mate's dog.

Re:Far cry from legs (1)

benplaut (993145) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723773)

Since when do you shake hands... with your legs?

What next? (1)

EGSonikku (519478) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723317)

...Dolphins with opposable thumbs? wait...erm, we're screwed!

Re:What next? (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723449)

Who needs opposable thumbs when you have prehensile genitalia?

Re:What next? (1)

K8Fan (37875) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723721)

As foretold in the Onion [theonion.com]

Dolphins Evolve Opposable Thumbs

HONOLULU-In an announcement with grave implications for the primacy of the species of man, marine biologists at the Hawaii Oceanographic Institute reported Monday that dolphins, or family Delphinidae, have evolved opposable thumbs on their pectoral fins.

"I believe I speak for the entire human race when I say, 'Holy fuck,'" said Oceanographic Institute director Dr. James Aoki, noting that the dolphin has a cranial capacity 40 percent greater than that of humans. "That's it for us monkeys."

Aoki strongly urged humans, especially those living near the sea, to learn to communicate using a system of clicks and whistles in a frequency range of 4 to 150 kHz. He also encouraged humans to "start practicing their echolocation as soon as possible."

Delphinologists have reported more than 7,000 cases of spontaneous opposable-digit manifestation in the past two weeks alone, with "thumbs" observed on the bottle-nosed dolphin, the Atlantic humpback dolphin, and even the rare Ganges River dolphin.

"It appears to be species-wide," said dolphin specialist Clifford Brees of the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory, speaking from the shark cage he welded shut around himself late Monday. "And it may be even worse: We haven't exactly been eager to check for thumbs on other marine mammals belonging to the order of cetaceans, such as the killer whale. Oh, Christ, we're really in the soup now."

Thus far, all the opposable digits encountered appear to be fully functional, making it possible for dolphins-believed to be capable of faster and more complex cogitation than man-to manipulate objects, fashion tools, and construct rudimentary pulley and lever systems.

"They really seem to be making up for lost time with this thumb thing," said Dr. Jim Kuczaj, a University of California-San Diego biologist who has studied the seasonal behavior of dolphins for more than 30 years. "Last Friday, a crude seaweed-and-shell abacus washed up on the beach near Hilo, Hawaii. The next day, a far more sophisticated abacus, fashioned from some unknown material and capable of calculating equations involving numbers of up to 16 digits, washed up on the same beach. The day after that, the beach was littered with thousands of what turned out to be coral-silicate and kelp-based biomicrocircuitry."

"My God," Kuczaj added. "What are they doing down there?"

It is unknown what precipitated the dolphins' sudden development of opposable thumbs. Some dolphin behaviorists believe that the gentle marine mammal, pushed to the brink by humanity's reckless pollution and exploitation of the sea, tapped into some previously unmined mental powers to spontaneously generate a thumb-like appendage. However, given that 95 percent of the world's dolphin experts have committed suicide since learning of the development, the full story may never be known.

"You must believe, sleek ocean masters, that many of us homo sapiens weep with shame and disgust over the degradation to which our species has subjected our All-Mother, the Great World-Sea," read the suicide note of Dr. Richard Morse, a Brisbane, Australia, delphinologist and regular contributor to Marine Mammal Science. "If you are reading this, I estimate that it is the day we know as August 31, 2000. Please be decent and kind masters to our poor ape-race. Oh, God, I'm so sorry about the tracking collars."

"Scientists once wondered whether dolphins, with their remarkably advanced social and language structures, are actually smarter than we are," said Aoki, ushering reporters out of the laboratory he claimed "will either be a smoking hole or a zoo exhibit in the coming Dolphin Age." "Well, we're not wondering anymore."

Yet another piece of evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723323)

Yet another piece of evidence that dolphins are indeed smarter than us. They've already moved to the oceans living in peace and harmony while we still stumble around on land bashing each other's skulls in. I for one...

Scientists? no... Fishermen! (1)

RincewindTVD (1011435) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723339)

Yay for Japan, one of the few countries left that allows commercial fishing of endangered species.
</Sarcasm>

Re:Scientists? no... Fishermen! (1)

bockelboy (824282) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723399)

Correction - Japan only allows the commercial fishing of tasty endangered species. You can go ahead and have all the others.

Re:Scientists? no... Fishermen! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723469)

You know, dolphin is not endangered.

Re:Scientists? no... Fishermen! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723639)

Well, it is endangered...by the Japanese.

Re:Scientists? no... Fishermen! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723691)

Yet... give the japs a bit more time...

So.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723359)

.... what did they taste like?

Re:So.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723385)

Kinda like chicken teeth.

Do Not Be Swayed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723393)

God put those legs on that dolphin 10 minutes before they found it, just to test our faith! Do not be swayed!

Altering expression of an existing gene isn't news (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723405)

I believe the fins may be remains from the time when dolphins' ancient ancestors lived on land ... this is an unprecedented discovery


This article seems very weak - evidence that an ancestral dolphin had four fins does not necessarily mean that a dolphin ancestor lived on land, although I thought that enough evidence already existed. Other than that, what exactly is new here? We already know that dolphin and whale fetuses have fins that disappear before birth, so the gene must be there already.

The fact that a mutation present in one member of the dolphin population prevents the hind fins disappearing should hardly be newsworthy.

Christians where are you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723451)

Can't wait for the Christians' reply to this one...

Re:Christians where are you? (1)

Diedrich Vorberg (710751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723503)

Creationists not Christians. Though the Creationists want to make you think so, that's still not the same!

Re:Christians where are you? (1)

ksalter (1009029) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723543)

Exactly how are ALL creationists not christians?

Christians who believe in the literal interpretation of the first 2 chapters of Genesis are, de facto, creationists.

Re:Christians where are you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723581)

I don't know. What is the Islamic take on creation? Anyway aren't some Jews creationists too? There are other religions.

Re:Christians where are you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723587)

All Creationists are Christians. All Christians are not Creationists(and science-friendly Christians probably aren't enjoying the stigma all that much). Thus, the two categories are not equivalent, as pointed out by the grandparent. A => B does not prove that A <=> B.

Re:Christians where are you? (1)

Diedrich Vorberg (710751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723603)

Being Christians means to believe (among a host of other things) that the world has been created by God, and not (1) that it has been created in a specific way or (2) that Gen 1-3 are "literally" (whatever that means) true. Now, although one may say that this means all Christians are Creationists, I'd insist that there is a difference between serious interpretations of the Bible and the pseudy-scientiffic crap that usually goes under the name "Creationism".

Re:Christians where are you? (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723689)

Um...You dont know what 'literally' means?

Thats depressing. Go buy a dictionary.

Re:Christians where are you? (1)

Diedrich Vorberg (710751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723757)

You may have more confidence in my subtlety, buddy ;-) I believe there is no such thing as "reading literally".

Re:Christians where are you? (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723787)

Well there is a difference between reading for the underlying metaphor and reading as-is.
"Literally" in this case would be reading the bible as-is.

please don't insult the Christians (1)

misanthrope101 (253915) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723567)

I'm not one, but that is neither here nor there. Believing in evolution is not mutually exclusive with believing that Christ died for your sins. Most Christians do beleive in evolution, just as they believe in an old Earth, etc. Granted, the subset of Christians who are Creationists do refer to themselves as Christian, trying to claim the label for themselves, so I know it isn't easy, but don't go insulting everyone over a few (million) oddities. That's like insulting conservatives by saying they all support the Iraqi occupation and torture.

Re:please don't insult the Christians (1)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723605)

"Most Christians do beleive in evolution..."

Really? Could've sworn it was the opposite. I've had *far far far far* argue the preposterous impossibility of evolution with me, and only a small handful that would even admit to speciation. You sir, seem to be the minority.

Re:please don't insult the Christians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723613)

Maybe you're in the USA; most christians aren't.

Re:please don't insult the Christians (1)

misanthrope101 (253915) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723643)

Well, the evolution naysayers think they are on a mission from God, so they're a bit more passionate. Christians who DO believe in evolution just consider it a non-issue, and aren't going to buttonhole you on the street and subject you to a tirade on the lies of Darwinism. It's like judging the pushiness of CHristians by the ones who come to your door when you're trying to eat dinner. The sample gets skewed because you only notice the pushy ones.

I feel some compassion for the Christians who do believe in science, because they get a lot of hostility, a lot of accussations of not being a "real" Christian, from their wacked-out brethren and sistren. So though we are in a cultural battle with the fundamentalists for the broader culture, another culture battle is going on within the ranks of Christianity over their culture as well. Even if we don't share their faith, they need our help, at least to the extent of not lumping them in with the biblical literalists.

Try talking to a Catholic - Evolution is supported (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723779)

Catholics support evolution, old Earth, etc.
Don't let a few crazy loud mouthed Creationalists give you the impression that this is everyones viewpoint.

Catholics believe in evolution, fossil record, etc (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723761)

The Catholic Church has made it official that the age of the universe (15 billion years or so(,the fossil record are all valid. Evolution is understood to be valid.
Go check wikipedia if ya doubt me.

Re:Catholics believe in evolution, fossil record, (1)

tjark (411929) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723809)

... because the Catholic church is oh so accurate on everything else it says.

An endorsement by the catholic church of anything I agree with encourages me to reconsider my position.

Evolution in reverse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723457)

So there you go, you're the retarded offspring of five monkeys having butt sex with a fish squirrel. Congratulations.

When interviewed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723495)

...the dolphin said, "Thanks for all the fish!" and then disappeared.

10 minutes after this picture was taken... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723507)

...they killed and ate it.

And then... (2, Insightful)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723511)

... the Japanese killed the rare ocean dwelling animal in order to sell four flipper dolphin medicine and magical flipper medallions to the rich.

Re:And then... (1)

jack_csk (644290) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723729)

Oh, you should thank the Japanese for stopping an evolving animal specie, which may/may not replace the human being as the dominant specie in the future.

Confusing your asians (1)

Rosyna (80334) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723811)

... the Japanese killed the rare ocean dwelling animal in order to sell four flipper dolphin medicine and magical flipper medallions to the rich.

I do believe you're confusing the chinese with the japanese.

The Japanese made a mechanical exoskeleton for the dolphin and equipped it with a giant gun. That'll teach Godzilla not to mess with France.

Another thing about Taiji, Japan (5, Informative)

Wills (242929) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723519)

Taiji, Japan, is the site of the annual ritual dolphin massacre [earthisland.org] in which fishermen drive pods of dolphins into shallow coves and stab them with spears. You should see it. It is quite a sight. The sea water turns red with blood, and the air is filled with the extraordinary sounds of screaming dolphins (they literally seem to scream).

Re:Another thing about Taiji, Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723733)

"literally seem to scream" ??? It's not lobsters you're talking about here. It's dolphins. They're mammals. They're not "seeming to scream", They're screaming, for fuck's sake. The glorification of barbaric japanese "culture" by most geeks sickens me.

Re:Another thing about Taiji, Japan (0)

ndogg (158021) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723869)

Firstly, many dolphin species aren't even threatened, much less endangered, and so therefore don't need protection.

Secondly, Japan is an IUCN member, and therefore respects and enforces laws regarding threatened and endangered species, and monitors population numbers on species that are secure, which includes any number of dolphin species.

Thirdly, from what I've read, these so-called "massacres" are local, and not something endorsed or encouraged outside that area.

Finally, dolphins are a part of nature, and are therefore subject to the brutalities thereof. There's no reason to worry more about the "massacre" of dolphins than of other species except our own (unless someone wants to argue something from the specist angle, but I think that's a little extreme). Just because they're relatively intelligent compared to many other species doesn't inherently put them on some sort of pedestal. I would argue that many octopus and squid species are a lot more intelligent, but we don't give them any special value.

Yes, dolphins hold a special place in Western culture due to the centuries of mythology that has built up around them, but no more a special place than cows in Indian culture. Hell, they're less special because they hold no particular religious significance. Should people stop eating beef because of the significance of cows in Hinduism?

should the vestigial limbs be removed.... (5, Funny)

jemptymethod (1023003) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723523)

that would be de-feeting the porpoise

Re:should the vestigial limbs be removed.... (1)

Rideak (180158) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723647)

where o where id my moderator points go. there should have gone here.

You fools! (1)

StoatBringer (552938) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723529)

Don't you get it? They're not vestigial legs! They're re-evolved legs! The dolphins are clearly evolving BACK INTO LAND ANIMALS to reclaim the land they once ruled.

Remains from the past? Why not evolution? (1)

gabriel.dain (928879) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723533)

What makes scientists so sure that this is a malformation, a "remain from the past" as he put it, instead of a genetical change in dolphins in general, which could be evolution? TFA says that "Whale and dolphin fetuses also show signs of hind protrusions but these generally disappear before birth", couldn't this mean that the species have been changing for years and years, and this specimen is the first to show more developed fins/legs? I just want to know how they differentiate something that's genetically deformed (meaning it affects only the specimen, and not the species) to something that's evolving.

Re:Remains from the past? Why not evolution? (1)

catbutt (469582) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723623)

If it doesn't come from the vestigial genetic code for rear fins or rear legs, it's pretty unlikely for fins to just appear out of nothing. It would probably take 100's of millions of years for that kind of change to take place. In fact it would probably just never happen. Evolution (by natural selection, as opposed to intelligent design) just doesn't work that way.

That said, if the "vestigial" fins had a use for the dolphins, and a lot of individuals had them, they could be selected for and "evolve back", so to speak.

Re:Remains from the past? Why not evolution? (1)

gabriel.dain (928879) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723649)

so basicly, if they found another dolphin with similar characteristics and make them breed, and the same with their offspring, and again and again, you could force them to "evolve"? Gosh, we humans are pretty demented

In another part of the universe... (1)

not_yet_witty (1023005) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723545)

they've found out that the Dolphin's last words were (or will be) So long, and thanks for the fish!

It's in the wiki already (1)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723549)

I read about vestigial limbs on aquatic mammals in the Wiki about a month ago - where a throwback displays fingers/toes rather than properly formed flippers.

From what's written there, this is well understood and well recognized.

I've just had a go at finding the article again, but you know what it's like in the wiki, if you can't remember the article title, you're going to have trouble finding it again :-/

Obligatory.. (1)

tito13kfm (921987) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723551)

I, for one, welcome our 4 legged dolphin overlords.

An article pertaining to evolution, on Fox News? (1)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723557)

And not one single mention of intelligent design?

Re:An article pertaining to evolution, on Fox News (1)

misanthrope101 (253915) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723591)

Well, technically ID doesn't preclude common descent or vestigial organs (or limbs). ID doesn't preclude much, because it doesn't assert much, other than pointing at something or other and saying "evolution doesn't explain that." Behe himself believes in common descent, though not many of the ID advocates, many (most?) of whom are closet Creationsists, think about that much. The article would rankle Creationists, but they're already rankled by just about everything since Copernicus, so I don't see the big deal.

Re:An article pertaining to evolution, on Fox News (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723727)

Yeah, the Designer is still at work, drafting and experimenting with critters. Question is only if it is an intelligent act or pure randomness and selection of the best draft.

Kentucky Fried Dolphin (1)

gijoel (628142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723617)

It's Fin-Licking good!!!!

Obligitory Simpsons (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723619)

At least The Simpsons can still boast some scientific merit:

Night of the Dolphin [wikipedia.org]

scientists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723651)

How exactly do japanese whale catchers qualify as scientists?

Put it back! (1)

gogodidi (885953) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723699)

So now they are excited because they can see evolution happening? They should return it to the sea. The evolutionary chain will end if they put it into captivity!

Wait... (1)

aerthling (796790) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723711)

I have a few questions/points (and I'm not trying to start a flame war):
  1. I thought the theory of evolution revolved around land creatures evolving from sea creatures, not the other way around.
  2. If dolphins really did evolve from land creatures with four legs, why would they start devolving all of a sudden?
  3. Isn't it possible that the secondary set of fins is actually a mutation or disorder caused by all the crap we've been dumping into the ocean?

I've skimmed the comments here and the article, but AFAIC the possibility of it being something other than evolution doesn't seem to have been considered.

Re:Wait... (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723803)

1. The theory has nothing to do with how it happened. Its just that life started in the seas so for something to live on land it would need to evolve and adapt.

2. Dolphins devolving? They are smarter than us you know. ;)
They werent devolving. A set of evolutionary pressures just required them to evolve in to the water. Devolving would Dolphins turning in to ameoba.

3. Its possible for the genes to be activated by our crap or natural causes.
The instructions for making the legs are still (mostly) there however. They are just switched off.

Re:Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16723865)

1. I thought the theory of evolution revolved around land creatures evolving from sea creatures, not the other way around.

You thought wrong. Evolution explains how land to sea and sea to land transitions might happen reasonably, though. The theory of evolution is like the "theory" that things fall down (on earth) - it's something you can just wander round a bit and see happening. Things will fall down whether or not you believe in gravity. If you're religious, you can have "faith" that evolution is wrong, but that's just a fancy way of saying you believe stuff without evidence. Faith is the only real sin.

2. If dolphins really did evolve from land creatures with four legs, why would they start devolving all of a sudden?

Evolution isn't a directed scale thing, where something is "more" evolved implying that they're somehow better. You could describe something as more or less well-adapted to its environment, but even that's kind of a subjective judgement in practice, a lot of things just don't matter much or we don't know the full ramifications of them. If you insist on thinking that way various bacteria are the most "highly evolved" organisms, perfectly adapted to particular environments. Humans, if anything, are "specialised non-specialists". We're not particularly good at anything excepting adapting.

3. Isn't it possible that the secondary set of fins is actually a mutation or disorder caused by all the crap we've been dumping into the ocean?

Said crap could _cause_ a mutation. But it takes a _lot_ of mutations to gradually build a fin, it's most likely in this case to be a small mutation (indeed possibly pollution-induced, like polydactyl birth defects in humans exposed to nasty chemicals...) reversing a previous mutation that turned off ("suppressed") a previously active large segment of genetic "program code" for the rear fins. The particulars about how digits and limbs evolved as a long series of mutations makes such seemingly "large" changes quite likely (there's sort of a "cascade" effect), but honestly, either you're trolling or you're just too ignorant of evolution, genetics, etc. to make remotely intelligent comments or understand the issues at this point in your education. Ignorance is not necessarily your fault, nor should you be ashamed of it (you should only be ashamed if you're unwilling to correct it!). The USA's educational system is abysmal, for example, there are millions of people let down or actively mistaught. If you're willing to learn, try starting out at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution [wikipedia.org] . Avoid anything religious like the plague.

Two legs, two heads... (1)

oofoe (709282) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723775)

Eh, I wouldn't read too much into this without more data...

I used to live near a large chemical plant in TN. People often found mutant frogs in the river nearby -- two heads, an extra limb, etc. I'm pretty sure that wasn't evolution in action -- unless of course the poor thing just couldn't decide which way to go to get *out* of there.

Not needed for proof. (1)

Morky (577776) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723777)

Since we have a pretty clear fossil evidence that mammals evolved on land and that the earliest mammals had legs, we can conclude the ancestors of dolphins and whales had legs. Physical evidence has been shown in rear vestigal legs, found in various stages of development (or whatever the antonymn of development is) in the fossil record of ancient whales.

er... (1)

nizcolas (597301) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723821)

The line in the summary, "Whale and dolphin fetuses also show signs of hind protrusions but these generally disappear before birth.", isn't present in the article.

Also from the article:

[...Japanese researchers said Sunday that a bottlenose dolphin captured last month has an extra set of fins that could be the remains of back legs, a discovery that may provide further evidence that ocean-dwelling mammals once lived on land. ...]

How exactly could this be evidence of back legs? The article is pretty light on details. It seems more likely that an extra set of fins would be moving dolphin evolution forward. e.g., having a extra set of fins may allow the dolphin to swim faster, navigate better, etc. The article doesn't mention if the dolphin can use (move) the fins.

Let me get this straight (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723829)

This is *one* 4-finned dolphin? Why isn't this just one of those random genetic mutations everyone is always talking about? Why does it have to be the start/end of an evolutionary path? The interesting question is, did this dolphin pro-create, and if so, did its offspring have 4 fins?

Close shot of the four legged dolphin (2, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723853)

Close shot of the four legged dolphin can be seen here [pipex.com] .

Oceans with no fish by 2050, dolphins back on land (1)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723859)

Some scientists say there may be no fish left in the oceans by 2050, and we all know that dolphins descend from a land species. We also know that dolphins are smart. I wouldn't be surprised if dolphins decided to come back on land to avoid an ocean without food (fish)!
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