By: PRLog
February 06, 2013 at 04:03 AM EST
Dr. Richard Dawkins Missing Link Goes Missing says AVC Films Producer Dr. Carl Werner
PR Log - Feb 06, 2013 - A fossil reported in Nature Magazine and promoted by evolution scientist Richard Dawkins as an important "missing link" for seals may turn out to be a simple otter.  The startling discovery was made by Dr. Carl Werner, producer for AVC films The Grand Experiment television series.    

Dr. Werner was intrigued by Dr. Dawkin's story of scientists finding the missing link for seals since this has been a vexing problem.  Although thousands of fossil seals had been found over the years, fossils demonstrating the evolution of seals from a land animal have been absent.  When Dr. Werner saw the fossil, Puijila darwini, for the first time, he was shocked how similar it appeared to the modern river otter.  His curiosity was not easily satisfied, so he jumped on a plane and flew to Washington D.C. to visit the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History.  His suspicions were confirmed when he placed his photograph of the modern river otter skeleton from the Smithsonian next to the photograph of the "walking seal" skeleton, "Puijila" as it had later came to be known.  They looked like a match.

"Pujila was supposed to be the missing link for seals but it is a mistake," Dr. Werner said.  "The authors of the article in Nature misled Dr. Dawkins by overstating their case.  Someone should be held accountable for this, either the authors who wrote the article or the reviewers at Nature who did not pick up on all of this. It is really quite embarrassing."

Dr. Werner's side by side comparison of Puijila and the modern river otter is detailed in a the e-book titled "Puijila and Pinniped Evolution." for sale on Amazon.com.  

Dr. Werner subsequently wrote a detailed scientific analysis how the authors made their mistake.  "The authors of the original article misreported the size of the orbits and the length of the toes of Puijila. They also failed to measure the classic pinniped characters in the animals they compared Puijila to, such as the size of the orbit, the length of the first digit etc. . Instead, they created an entire suite of inconsequential characters to measure, and compared these characters with the wrong animals, animals that have little to do with pinnipeds.  They then built charts and graphs using this information showing this new discovery was a missing link.  The data analysis is confused."

The original publication in Nature, (A semi-aquatic Arctic mammalian carnivore from the Miocene epoch and origin of Pinnipedia) was published April 23, 2009. Dawkins wrote that same year in his book, "The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution,"  "Puijila neatly straddles the gap between land and water in the ancestry of pinnipeds.  It is yet another deligthful addition to our growing list of 'links' that are no longer missing."  According to Dr. Werner, Dawkins was fed a line not worthy of science.

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