Giraffe Evolution, Was Darwin Wrong? Part 2: The Fossil Record

In The Origin of Species the giraffe was used as one of Charles Darwin’s most lasting examples of evolution. Darwin argued, that “by this process long-continued [natural selection] it seems to me almost certain that an ordinary hoofed quadruped [horse-like animals] might be converted into a giraffe.”

“The giraffe’, Darwin continued, “by its lofty stature, much elongated neck, fore-legs, head and tongue, has its whole frame beautifully adapted [evolved] for browsing on the higher branches of trees.”

Scientists, however, have since discovered that the giraffe does not browse “on the higher branches of the tree” during periods of drought as Darwin had been lead to believe−Darwin never studied the giraffe in the wild. Rather than reaching higher, giraffes migrate further, as explained in Part 1.

Darwin was wrong on browsing “on the higher branches of the tree”, but this error pales in comparison to the fossil record error. Against his own advice, Darwin never addressed the absence of giraffe ancestors in the fossil record.

In The Origin of Species, Darwin had argued that “we should always look for forms intermediate between each species and a common but unknown progenitor [ancestor].” Darwin, however, never discovered any fossil record evidence for intermediate [transitional] forms or a common ancestor.

Not until the mid-twentieth century were efforts undertaken to discover the missing transitional links expected by Darwin’s theory.

Evolutionary scientists early in the twentieth century, attempting to resolve fossil record dilemma, proposed that the African okapi, a “hoofed quadruped”, was the ancestor to the long-necked giraffe.

The okapi was first introduced to the western world in 1887 by reports from Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904), a British journalist and explorer in central Africa. Stanley is also popularly known for his search to find the Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingston. In 1871 upon finding Livingstone, Stanley allegedly uttered the now-famous greeting, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

Stanley called the okapi a “donkey-like animal.” In 1901, following up on Stanley’s initial okapi findings, the British colonial governor of Uganda, Sir Henry Johnston, created a media event by donating okapi skeleton and skins to the British Museum as the giraffe’s evolutionary ancestor.

This nocturnal “donkey-like animal” was named Okapia johnstoni. By 1918, prominent American journalist Shaw Albert touted the okapi as sharing an evolutionary ancestry with the giraffe in the article entitled “The African Okapi, A Beast Unknown to the Zoos”.

Amazingly, the okapi-giraffe evolutionary legend was widely accepted by the emerging evolution industry in Europe and America despite the fact that Albert had noted “striking differences between these two animals” despite noting that the okapi has “no external resemblance to the living giraffe.”

By the late twentieth century, scientists exploring the fossil record began finding gaping holes in the okapi-giraffe evolutionary legend.

In the paper entitled “On the origin, evolution and phylogeny of giraffes,” G Mitchell of the University of Wyoming and JD Skinner of the University of Pretoria, published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa (2003) after studying the fossil record and biochemical evidence concluded that the “origin, phylogeny, and evolution of modern giraffes is obscure.” Mitchell and Skinner, however, were not the first paleontologists to arrive at the end of the okapi-giraffe evolutionary legend.

The first big cracks in the okapi-giraffe evolutionary legend did not publically emerge within the evolution industry until the late twentieth century. In the 1993 book entitled “Evolution. An Evolving Theory” published by Springer-Verlag declared -

The giraffe and the okapi of the Congo rain forest are considered sister groups, the origins are still not known.

Two years later in 1995, German evolutionary anatomist, Dietrich Starck of the Universität zu Köln simply highlighted the problem with the waning popular okapi-giraffe evolutionary legend -

The ancestry of Giraffidae [giraffe] is disputed.

In 1996, infamous American evolutionary paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould referring to the giraffe said that “ancestral species are relatively short-necked and the spotty evidence gives no insight into how the long necked modern species arose” in the paper entitled “The Tallest Tale” published in the journal Natural History.

German evolution biologist Ulrich Kutschera, commenting on the 2005 film “Is the Bible Right After All” produced by Fritz Poppenberg, delivered a back-door gaff to the evolution establishment:

We know the 20-million-year-old fossils, fossil giraffes, short-necked forms, from which the long-necked giraffes inhabited the savannah, as well as the short-necked giraffes which inhabited the forests, have evolved. That is, the evolution of the long-necked giraffe can be reconstructed from fossils. We are dealing with a false statement.

Even evolutionary advocate and strict Darwin advocate, Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago, remained completely silent on the failing okapi-giraffe evolutionary legend in his 2009 book “Why Evolution is True.”

Geneticist Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig of the Max-Planck Institute in Germany in the book entitled “The Evolution of the Long-Necked Giraffe” (2011) estimates that of the expected “10,000 or more transitional links” between the okapi and giraffe in the fossil record, “no continuous series of fossil links lead to the Giraffa or Okapia.”

Many evolutionists, however, have not yet given up on the okapi-giraffe evolutionary legend, including Wikipedia or staunch Darwin advocate, Richard Dawkins or the “Evolution Happens” program sponsored by University of California, Berkley.

The fragmentation of the evolution industry continues as the number of new scientific discoveries continues undermine the basic fundamentals of evolution dogma founded by Darwin. Darwin was wrong.

Evolution was once a theory in crisis, now evolution is in crisis without a theory. Evolution exists only as a philosophy, not as a science.

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Darwin, Then and Now is a journey through the most amazing story in the history of science - the history of evolution; encapsulating who Darwin was, what he said, and what scientists have discovered since the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859.

With over 1,000 references, Darwin’s life, climaxing with the search for a natural law of evolution, is investigated in the context of the scientific evidence since discovered in the fossil record, embryology, molecular biology and genetics. Darwin The and Now is a historical chronicle of the rise and fall of biological evolution.

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