Mice and Elephants

A Cretan Dwarf Elephant skeletonFor March 16 on the DpSU front we had Mouse to Elephant Needs How Much Evolution? This, as I already alluded to, (incorrectly) accuses the authors of a study of circular reasoning.

How come? Well, in his own words:

How much time would evolution need in order to make a mouse the size of an elephant?

Since this kind of evolution supposedly occurs too slowly for biologists to observe, one place to look for answers is in the fossil record. But in order to answer this particular research question, a team of evolutionary biologists made some large assumptions.

The group published what amounts to a circularly-reasoned argument in a peer-reviewed journal. They estimated the maximum rate of evolution to achieve the most extreme change in mammal sizes. To do this, however, they had to first assume that small changes in size that are observed today had no limits in the past. In other words, they assumed that a mouse could turn into an elephant given enough time.

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