National Geographic is popularly regarded as an important scientific magazine that carries out research all over the planet and shares the results with its readers. The magazine is a major source of information in a great number of important areas, yet few readers are aware of the extent to which it passes this information through an ideological "filter" before handing it on to its readers, and sometimes even twists the data according to the demands of this ideology and builds-up completely imaginary stories.
The ideology in question in National Geographic is a blend of philosophical naturalism and the current brand of evolutionism, known as Neo-Darwinism. In the name of defending that theory, it generally presents prejudiced views of discoveries, and even opens the door to scientific falsehoods. For example, there was the falsehood of the Archaeoraptor fossil, which was presented by National Geographic in 1998 as an infallible evidence that birds evolved from dinosaurs, but which later proved to have been "hand made."
Even scientists who support the theory criticize the magazine for the blind propaganda it carries. According Dr. Storrs Olson, the Curator of Birds at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, "National Geographic has reached an all-time low for engaging in sensationalistic, unsubstantiated, tabloid journalism." (1)
One instance of National Geographic"s "sensational, unsubstantiated and tabloid" evolutionist propaganda was its "Evolution of Whales" article carried in the issue of November, 2001. The article maintained that a string of fossil discoveries had proved the evolution of whales thesis, and even quoted paleontologist Hans Thewissen as arguing that whales were one of the best examples of evolution. The pictures, reconstructions and diagrams plastered all over the 14-page article were intended to visually reinforce the same claim in readers" minds.
However, the "evolution of whales" scenario, so fiercely defended by National Geographic, was-and is-nothing but a fairy tale, devoid of any scientific evidence.
The parade of reconstructions on pages 66-69 in National Geographic"s November 2001 issue were meant to sum up the magazine"s claim regarding the origin of whales. A whole string of creatures were lined up one after the other and described as transitional forms in the evolution of the whale. According to the magazine, the order of these creatures, according to the geological periods they lived in, was as follows:
* Pakicetus (50 million years ago)
* Ambulocetus (49 million years ago)
* Rodhocetus (46.5 million years ago)
* Procetus (45 million years ago)
* Kutchicetus (43-46 million years ago)
* Durodon (37 million years ago)
* Basilosaurus (37 million years ago)
* Aeticetus (24-26 million years ago)
National Geographic"s list continued, but included known categories of dolphins and whales.
There are very misleading features in this list. Let us consider the most fundamental of these. According to National Geographic, the first two creatures in the list, Pakicetus and Ambulocetus , were both "walking whales," yet the claim that these two terrestrial creatures were "whales" is totally fictitious, even ridiculous.
Let us first consider Pakicetus .
Pakicetus inachus: A Quadrupedal
Forced to be the "Ancestor of the Whale"
Fossil remains of the extinct mammal Pakicetus inachus, to give it its proper name, first came onto the agenda in 1983. P. D. Gingerich and his assistants, who found the fossil, had no hesitation in immediately claiming that it was a "primitive whale," even though they actually only found a skull.
Yet the fossil has absolutely no connection with the whale. Its skeleton turned out to be a four-footed structure, similar to that of common wolves. It was found in a region full of iron ore, and containing fossils of such terrestrial creatures as snails, tortoises or crocodiles. In other words, it was part of a land stratum, not an aquatic one.
So, why was a quadrupedal land dweller announced to be a "primitive whale" and why is it still presented as such by National Geographic? The magazine gives the following reply:
What causes scientists to declare the creature a whale? Subtle clues in combination-the arrangement of cups on the molar teeth, a folding in a bone of the middle ear, and the positioning of the ear bones within the skull-are absent in other land mammals but a signature of later Eocene whales. (2)
In other words, based on some details in its teeth and ear bones, National Geographic felt able to describe this quadrupedal, wolf-like land dweller as a "walking whale." Just one look at the reconstruction of Pakicetus by the evolutionist illustrator Carl Buell will reveal the absurdity in terming it a "walking whale."
Distortions in The Reconstructions of National Geographic
The features of the details discussed by National Geographic, "the arrangement of cups on the molar teeth, a folding in a bone of the middle ear, and the positioning of the ear bones within the skull" are no compelling evidence on which to base a link between Pakicetus and the whale:
As National Geographic also indirectly stated while writing "subtle clues in combination", some of these features are actually found terrestrial animals as well.
None of the features in question are any evidence of an evolutionary relationship. Even evolutionists admit that most of the theoretical relationships built on the basis of anatomical similarities between animals are completely untrustworthy. If the marsupial Tasmanian wolf and the common placental wolf had both been extinct for a long time, then it is no doubt that evolutionists would picture them in the same taxon and define them as very close relatives. However, we know that these two different animals, although strikingly similar in their anatomy, are very far from each other in the supposed evolutionary tree of life. (In fact their similarity indicates common design-not common descent.) Pakicetus , which National Geographic declared to be a "walking whale," was a unique species harboring different features in its body. In fact, Carroll, an authority on vertebrate paleontology, describes the Mesonychid family, of which Pakicetus should be a member, as "exhibiting an odd combination of characters." (3) Such prominent evolutionists as Gould accept that "mosaic creatures" of this type cannot be considered as transitional forms.
In short, describing Pakicetus , which is clearly a land dweller, as "walking whale" simply on the structural features in its ear bones and molars, is nothing but another example of National Geographic"s tradition of "sensational, unsubstantiated, tabloid journalism." In his article "The Overselling of Whale Evolution," the creationist writer Ashby L. Camp reveals the total invalidity of the claim that the Mesonychid class, which should include land mammals such as Pakicetus , could have been the ancestors of Archaeocetea , or extinct whales, in these words:
"The reason evolutionists are confident that mesonychids gave rise to archaeocetes, despite the inability to identify any species in the actual lineage, is that known mesonychids and archaeocetes have some similarities. These similarities, however, are not sufficient to make the case for ancestry, especially in light of the vast differences. The subjective nature of such comparisons is evident from the fact so many groups of mammals and even reptiles have been suggested as ancestral to whales." (4)
natans: A False Whale with "Webbed" Claws
The second fossil creature after Pakicetus in National Geographic"s imaginary sequence is Ambulocetus natans. This fossil was first brought to the world"s attention in 1984 in an article in Science magazine. It is actually a land creature that evolutionists have insisted on "turning into a whale."
The name Ambulocetus natans comes from the Latin words "ambulare" (to walk), "cetus" (whale) and "natans" (swimming), and means "a walking and swimming whale." It is obvious the animal used to walk because it had four legs, like all other mammals, and even wide claws on its feet and hooves on its hind legs. Apart from evolutionists" prejudice however, there is absolutely no basis for the claim that it swam in water, or that it lived on land and in water (like an amphibian).
In order to see the border between science and wishful imagination on this subject, let us have a look at National Geographic"s reconstruction of Ambulocetus . This is how it is portrayed in the magazine:
National Geographic"s little manipulations: Imaginary webs added to claws, and rear legs made to look like fins.
If you look at it carefully you can easily see the two little visual manipulations that have been employed to "turn the land-dwelling Ambulocetus into a whale:
The animal"s rear legs are shown not with feet that would help it to walk, but as fins that would assist it to swim. However, Carroll, who examines the animal"s leg bones, says that it possessed the ability to move powerfully on land. (5)
In order to present an impression of adaptation for water, webbing has been drawn on its front feet. Yet it is impossible to draw any such conclusion from a study of Ambulocetus fossils. In the fossil record it is next to impossible to find soft tissues such as these. So reconstructions based on features beyond those of the skeleton are always speculative. That offers evolutionists a wide-ranging empty space of speculation to use their propaganda tools.
With the same kind of evolutionists touching up that has been applied to the Ambulocetus drawing, it is possible to make any animal look like any other. You could even take a monkey skeleton, draw fins on its back and webbing between its fingers and present it as the "primate ancestor of whales."
The invalidity of the deception carried out on the basis of the Ambulocetus fossil can be seen from the drawing below, based on real paleontological data:
The real Ambulocetus : The legs are real legs, not "fins," and there are no imaginary webs between its toes such as National Geographic had added. (Picture from Carroll, Patterns and Process of Vertebrate Evolution, p. 335)
In publishing the picture of the animal"s skeleton, National Geographic had to take a step back from the retouching it had carried out to the reconstruction picture which made it seem more like a whale. As the skeleton clearly shows, the animal"s feet were designed to carry it on land. There was no sign of the imaginary webs.
The Myth of the Walking Whale
In fact, there is no evidence that Pakicetus and Ambulocetus are ancestors of whales. They are merely described as "possible ancestors" by evolutionists keen to find a terrestrial ancestor for marine mammals in the light of their theory. There is no evidence linking these creatures with the marine mammals that emerge in the fossil record at a very similar geological time.
After Pakicetus and Ambulocetus , the National Geographic plan moves on to so-called sea mammals and sets out (extinct whale) species such as Procetus , Rodhocetus and Archaeocetea . The animals in question were mammals that lived in the sea and which are now extinct. (We shall be touching on this matter later). However, there are considerable anatomical differences between these and Pakicetus and Ambulocetus . No matter how much National Geographic tried to reduce these to a minimum by slight touches of the brush, when we look at the fossils it is clear they are not "transitional forms" linking each other:
In conclusion, despite all National Geographic"s best efforts, the fact that there were no transitional forms between land and sea mammals and that they both emerged with their own particular features has not changed. There is no evolutionary link. Robert Carroll accepts this, albeit unwillingly and in evolutionist language: "It is not possible to identify a sequence of mesonychids leading directly to whales." (7)
Other scientists accept that the animals that evolutionist publications such as National Geographic try to portray as "walking whales" actually have nothing to do with true whales, but are a separate living group. Although he is an evolutionist, the famous Russian whale expert G. A. Mchedlidze does not support the description of Pakicetus , Ambulocetus natans and similar four-legged creatures as "possible ancestors of the whale," and describes them instead as a completely isolated group. (8)
Problems With National Geographic"s Superficial Sequences
Visual effects (plans and drawings) play a major role in the imposition of Darwinism on society. Yet these are sometimes completely unscientific, and at other are scientific discoveries interpreted in a biased manner. National Geographic"s time scale diagram (pages 64-77) of mammals that become increasingly more "whale-like" through time is an example of these deceptive tools.
We have so far been considering small, but misleading adjustments to the reconstructions of the animals in the diagram. Alongside this, the dates ascribed to them by National Geographic have been selected in line with Darwinist prejudices. The animals are shown as following each other in a geological line, whereas these are questionable. Ashby L. Camp clarifies the situation, based on paleontological data:
"In the standard scheme, Pakicetus inachus is dated to the late Ypresian, but several experts acknowledge that it may date to the early Lutetian. If the younger date (early Lutetian) is accepted, then Pakicetus is nearly, if not actually, contemporaneous with Rodhocetus , an early Lutetian fossil from another formation in Pakistan. Moreover, the date of Ambulocetus , which was found in the same formation as Pakicetus but 120 meters higher, would have to be adjusted upward the same amount as Pakicetus . This would make Ambulocetus younger than Rodhocetus and possibly younger than Indocetus and even Protocetus." (9)
In brief, there are two different views of when the animals that National Geographic chronologically sets out one after the other really lived. If the second view is accepted, then Pakicetus and Ambulocetus , which National Geographic portrays as "the walking whale," are of the same age as, or even younger than true whales. In other words, no "evolutionary line" is possible. National Geographic has totally ignored the problem and has only used views that correspond to its own thesis. This is a method of propaganda, not of science.
Tales About Ears and Noses
Tales About Ears and Noses
Any evolutionary scenario between land and sea mammals has to explain the different ear and nose structures between the two groups. By means of the showy graphics it used, National Geographic has tried to give the impression that the question has been resolved. Yet that impression is a false one.
Let us first consider the ear structure. Like us, land mammals trap sounds in the outside world in the outer ear, amplify them with the bones in the middle ear, and turn them into signals in the inner ear. Marine mammals have no outer ear. They hear sounds by means of vibration-sensitive receptors in their lower jaws.
National Geographic claims that the second system evolved from the first. This is made clear on Page 71 in the diagram headed "hearing aids." This diagram has been drawn in such a way as to give the reader the impression that hearing organs evolved in stages. However, there is no evolution by stages here. A look at the text used by National Geographic will suffice to make this clear:
" Pakicetus ... This walking whale lacked the fat pad extending to the middle ear that modern ceteans have, a clue that it had kept terrestrial attributes. In later whales, the jawbone, with the fat pad, adapted to receive sounds."
We have already seen that Pakicetus was a typical land mammal, and that it is ridiculous to call it a "walking whale." The logic employed by National Geographic is no less ridiculous: It first describes the land-dwelling Pakicetus as a "walking whale" and then says that the animal kept terrestrial attributes. That is like calling the cow a "walking bat" and then saying, "It has no wings, it keeps its terrestrial attributes."
That is one aspect of the matter. The aspect that concerns us here is the clear difference between Pakicetus and whale ears. After the National Geographic extract above, we must naturally look to see if there is a transitional form between the two. After Pakicetus in the family tree comes Ambulocetus , which evolutionists call a "walking-swimming whale" but which was actually a land mammal. National Geographic uses the following words about Ambulocetus : "Though more aquatic than Pakicetus , Ambulocetus still heard directly through its ear."
In other words, there is no evolution towards a whale ear in Ambulocetus .
When we come to the third animal in the National Geographic list, we suddenly meet an enormous change. The above extract continues: Sounds were transmitted to the middle ears of Basilosaurus as vibrations from the lower jaw.
In other words, Basilosaurus possesses a typical whale ear. It was a creature that perceived sounds around it not through an outer ear but by vibrations reaching its jaw. And there is no transitional form between Basilosaurus " ear and that of Pakicetus and Ambulocetus , which National Geographic put before it in its scheme.
When the subject is examined theoretically, it can be seen that in any case such a transitional form would have no chance of surviving. Any evolution by stages between one perfect aural system to a completely different one is impossible. The transitional phases would not be advantageous. An animal that slowly loses its ability to hear with its ears, but has still not developed the ability to hear through its jaw is at a disadvantage.
The question of how such a "development" could come about is an insoluble dilemma for evolutionists. The mechanisms evolutionists put forward are mutations and these have never been seen to add unequivocally new and meaningful information to animals" genetic information. It is unreasonable to suggest that the complex hearing system in sea mammals could have emerged as the result of mutations.
A similar situation applies to National Geographic"s account of the "sliding nose." The magazine set out three skulls from Pakicetus , Rodhocetus and a Grey Whale from our own time above one another and claimed that these represented an evolutionary process. Whereas the three fossils" nasal structures, especially those of Rodhocetus and the Grey Whale are so different that it is impossible to accept them as transitional forms in the same series.
Furthermore, the movement of the nostrils to the forehead would require a "new design" in the anatomy of the animals in question, and believing that this could happen as the result of mutations is nothing but fantasy.
"s Lamarckian Tales
Actually, National Geographic"s writers and most of the evolutionist community share a basic superstition about the origin of living things, and that is the real problem. This superstition is the magical "natural force" that allows living things to acquire the organs, biological changes or anatomical features that they need. Let us have a look at a few interesting passages from National Geographic"s article "Evolution of Whales:"
"I tried to visualize some of the varieties of whale ancestors that had been found here and nearby... As the rear limbs dwindled, so did the hip bones that supported them. That made the spinal column more flexible to power the developing tail flukes. The neck shortened, turning the leading end of the body into more of a tubular hull to plow through the water with minimum drag, while arms assumed the shape of rudders. Having little need for outer ears any longer, some whales were receiving waterborne sounds directly through their lower jawbones and transmitting them to the inner ears via special fat pads. Each whale in the sequence was a little more streamlined than earlier models and roamed farther from shore." (10)
On close inspection, in this whole account the evolutionist mentality says that living things feel changing needs according to the changing environment they live in, and this need is perceived as an "evolutionary mechanism." According to this logic, less needed organs disappear, and needed organs appear of their own accord!
Anyone with the slightest knowledge of biology will know that our needs do not shape our organs. Ever since Lamarck"s theory of the transfer of acquired characteristics to subsequent generations was disproved, in other words for a century or so, that has been a known fact. Yet when one looks at evolutionist publications, they still seem to be thinking along Lamarckian lines. If you object, they will say: "No, we do not believe in Lamarck. What we say is that natural conditions put evolutionary pressure on living things, and that as a result of this, appropriate traits are selected, and in this way species evolve." Yet here lies the critical point: What evolutionists call "evolutionary pressure" cannot lead to living things acquiring new characteristics according to their needs. That is because the two so-called evolutionary mechanisms that supposedly respond to this pressure, natural selection and mutation, cannot provide new organs for animals:
Natural selection can only select characteristics that already exist, it cannot create new ones.
Mutations cannot add to the genetic information, they can only destroy the existing one. No mutation that adds unequivocally new, meaningful information to the genome (and which thus forms a new organ or new biochemical structure) has ever been observed.
If we look at the myth of National Geographic"s awkwardly moving whales one more time in the light of this fact, we see that they are actually engaging in a rather primitive Lamarckism. On close inspection, National Geographic writer Douglas H. Chadwick "visualizes" that "Each whale in the sequence was a little more streamlined than earlier models." How could a morphological change happen in a species over generations in one particular direction? In order for that to happen, representatives of that species in every "sequence" would have to undergo mutations to shorten their legs, that mutation would have to cause the animals no harm, those thus mutants would have to enjoy an advantage over normal ones, the next generations, by a great coincidence, would have to undergo the same mutation at the same point in its genes, this would have to carry on unchanged for many generations, and all of the above would have to happen by coincidence and quite flawlessly.
If the National Geographic writers believe that, then they will also believe someone who says: "My family enjoys flying. My son underwent a mutation and a few structures like bird feathers developed under his arms. My grandson will undergo the same mutation and the feathers will increase. This will go on for generations, and eventually my descendants will have wings and be able to fly." Both stories are equally ridiculous.
As we mentioned at the beginning, evolutionists display the superstition that living things" needs can be met by a magical force in nature. Ascribing consciousness to nature, a belief encountered in animist cultures, is interestingly rising up before our eyes in the 21st century under a "scientific" cloak. The well-known French biologist Paul Pierre Grassé, the former president of the French Academy of Sciences and a foremost critic of Darwinism, has once made it clear that this faith is just daydreaming:
"The opportune appearance of mutations permitting animals and plants to meet their needs seems hard to believe. Yet the Darwinian theory is even more demanding: A single plant, a single animal would require thousands and thousands of lucky, appropriate events. Thus, miracles would become the rule: events with an infinitesimal probability could not fail to occur… There is no law against daydreaming, but science must not indulge in it." (11)
More recently, Henry Gee, the science editor for the Nature magazine and an undisputedly prominent evolutionist, pointed to the same fact and admitted that explaining the origin of an organ by its necessity is like saying;
... our noses were made to carry spectacles, so we have spectacles. Yet evolutionary biologists do much the same thing when they interpret any structure in terms of adaptation to current utility while failing to acknowledge that current utility need tell us nothing about how a structure evolved, or indeed how the evolutionary history of a structure might itself have influenced the shape and properties of that structure. (12)
Another scenario which National Geographic is trying to impose, without too much discussion, concerns the body surface of the animals in question. Like other mammals, Pakicetus and Ambulocetus , which are accepted as land mammals, are generally agreed to have had fur-covered bodies. And they are both shown as covered in thick fur in National Geographic. Yet when we move on to later animals (true marine mammals), all the fur disappears. The evolutionist explanation of this is no different from the fantastical Lamarckian-type scenarios we have seen above. The truth of the matter is that all the animals in question were designed in the most appropriate manner for their environments. It is irrational to try to account for this design by means of mutation or facile Lamarck-type stories. Like all design in life, the design in these creatures is evidence for creation.
The Marine Mammal Scenario Itself
We have so far examined the evolutionist scenario that marine mammals evolved from terrestrial ones. Scientific evidence show no relationship between the two terrestrial mammals ( Pakicetus and Ambulocetus ) that National Geographic put at the beginning of the story. So what about the rest of the scenario? The theory of evolution is again in a great difficulty here. The theory tries to establish a phylogenetic link between Archaeocetea (archaic whales), sea mammals known to be extinct, and living whales and dolphins. National Geographic set the claim out in a very simplified form (Pages 156-159). However, many experts think rather differently. The evolutionary paleontologist Barbara J. Stahl writes: "The serpentine form of the body and the peculiar serrated cheek teeth make it plain that these archaeocetes could not possibly have been ancestral to any of the modern whales." (13)
The evolutionist account of the origin of marine mammals faces a huge impasse in the form of discoveries in the field of molecular biology. The classical evolutionist scenario assumes that they two major whale groups, the toothed whale (Odontoceti) and the baleen whale (Mysticeti), evolved from a common ancestor. Yet Michel Milinkovitch of the University of Brussels has opposed this view with a new theory. He stresses that this assumption, based on anatomical similarities, is disproved by molecular discoveries:
"Evolutionary relationships among the major groups of cetaceans is more problematic since morphological and molecular analyses reach very different conclusions. Indeed, based on the conventional interpretation of the morphological and behavioral data set, the echolocating toothed whales (about 67 species) and the filter-feeding baleen whales (10 species) are considered as two distinct monophyletic groups. ...On the other hand, phylogenetic analysis of DNA ... and amino acid ... sequences contradict this long-accepted taxonomic division. One group of toothed whales, the sperm whales, appear to be more closely related to the morphologically highly divergent baleen whales than to other odontocetes." (14)
In short, marine mammals defy the evolutionary scenarios for which they are being forced to be subjects.
Contrary to the claims of the paleontologist Hans Thewissen, who assumes a major role in evolutionist propaganda on the subject of the origin of marine mammals, and is one of National Geographic"s most important sources of information, we are dealing not with an evolutionary process backed up by empirical evidence, but by evidence coerced to fit a presupposed evolutionary family tree, despite the many contradictions between the two.
What emerges, if the evidence is looked at more objectively, is that different living groups emerged independently of each other in the past. This is compelling empirical evidence for accepting that God created all of these creatures.
Loud evolutionist propaganda about marine mammals, however, resembles the "horse series" that was once put forward in the same way, but which evolutionists then admitted was invalid. A number of extinct mammals that lived at different times were lined up behind one another, and the evolutionists of the time tried to impose this as "firm evidence." Yet the truth emerged over time, and it was realized that these animals could not be each others" ancestors, that they had emerged in different periods, and that they were actually independent extinct species. Niles Eldredge, the well-known paleontologist at American National History Museum, where the schemes of horse evolution were exhibited and where they are still kept in a basement, has this to say about them:
"There have been an awful lot of stories, some more imaginative than others, about what the nature of that history [of life] really is. The most famous example, still on exhibit downstairs, is the exhibit on horse evolution prepared perhaps fifty years ago. That has been presented as the literal truth in textbook after textbook. Now I think that is lamentable, particularly when the people who propose those kinds of stories may themselves be aware of the speculative nature of some of that stuff." (15)
The evolution of whales fairy story, so fiercely defended by National Geographic, is another of these fantasies of natural history. Like its predecessors, it too will soon find itself in the waste bin of science.
(1) Open Letter to National Geographic by Storrs L. Olson, Curator of Birds, National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian Institution
(2) National Geographic, "Evolution of Whales", November 2001, p. 68
(3) Robert L. Carroll, Patterns and Process of Vertebrate Evolution, Cambridge University Press, 1998, p.329
(4) Ashby L. Camp, "The Overselling of Whale Evolution", Creation Matters, a newsletter published by the Creation Research Society, May/June 1998
(5) Robert L. Carroll, Patterns and Process of Vertebrate Evolution, Cambridge University Press, 1998, p.333
(6) National Geographic, "Evolution of Whales", November 2001, p. 73
(7) Robert L. Carroll, Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution, Cambridge University Press, 1998, 329
(8) G. A. Mchedlidze, General Features of the Paleobiological Evolution of Cetacea, trans. from Russian (Rotterdam: A. A. Balkema, 1986), 91.
(9) Ashby L. Camp, "The Overselling of Whale Evolution", Creation Matters, a newsletter published by the Creation Research Society, May/June 1998
(10) National Geographic, "Evolution of Whales", November 2001, p. 69
(11) Pierre-P Grassé, Evolution of Living Organisms, New York: Academic Press, 1977, p. 103
(12) Henry Gee, In Search Of Deep Time: Beyond The Fossil Record To A New History Of Life, The Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1999, p. 103
(13) B.J. Stahl, Vertebrate History: Problems in Evolution, Dover Publications, Inc., 1985, p. 489.
(14) Michel C. Milinkovitch, "Molecular phylogeny of cetaceans prompts revision of morphological transformations," Trends in Ecology and Evolution 10 (August 1995): 328-334.
(15) Niles Eldredge, Harper"s, February 1984, p. 60