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Transitional Forms

The precise meaning of an evolutionary transition can confuse students. As NCSE's Louise Mead notes: "A common misconception of evolutionary biology is that it involves a search for 'missing links' in the history of life. Relying on this misconception, antievolutionists present the supposed absence of transitional forms from the fossil record as evidence against evolution." This is the precise strategy employed throughout Explore Evolution.

In this chapter, Explore Evolution obscures the scientific knowledge behind certain significant transitions in the history of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Rather than presenting students with a clear background on the underlying biology, and the fossil evidence we have in hand, the chapter presents every instance of ambiguity or uncertainty in our knowledge as an insurmountable problem for evolution, and indeed for science. Along the way, the book makes trivial errors regarding the biology of mammalian and reptile reproduction, obscures fascinating and well-established science about the evolution of lactation and live-birth in mammals, and how fossilized bones can tell us about the soft tissues of ancient animals.