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Live plesiosaurs: weighing the evidence

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Author Topic: Live plesiosaurs: weighing the evidence  (Read 3419 times)
In the Mouth of Madness
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« Reply #30 on: October 15, 2011, 04:25:43 pm »

Conclusion

There is no scientific evidence supporting the existence of plesiosaurs living today. There is a lack of compelling photographic evidence and a lack of demonstrable plesiosaur corpses or living specimens.

In addition, there are other lines of reasoning why plesiosaurs do not exist today:

The relatively low number of sightings.

The fact that the first sightings coincide with the first discoveries of plesiosaurs.

Unfortunately, living plesiosaurs almost certainly do not exist today.
Epilogue - so why do people still believe in living-plesiosaurs?

This is an important question because while it is all well and good discrediting 'evidence', not all belief is based on evidence. There are three possible reasons for this. The first and most widespread reason is that 'monster fans' may want to believe in living plesiosaurs because it is such a cool prospect (it really is!). Maybe they cherry pick data, maybe they just haven't heard the above arguments, or maybe they just don't care for evidence either way?

The second reason applies to those who have dedicated much of their time investigating 'living plesiosaurs' and may have developed faith in the idea. In a personal article by Bauer, he describes his involvement searching for Nessie and reveals a touching emotional tie with his subject matter. He claimed that photographic proof was "no longer important to me...No such proof could add to the gifts that had already come to me through the mediation of Nessie". While proof may not be important to Bauer, it is important to me.

The third and potentially dangerous agenda is creationism and anti-evolution propaganda. Given that all of the evidence indicates plesiosaurs are extinct and that the youngest plesiosaur specimens in the fossil record date to 65 million years ago, it is easy to understand how a creationist might perceive the existence of living plesiosaurs as evidence against evolution and for a young earth. In reality, the discovery of living plesiosaurs would not threaten evolutionary biologists. Organisms may evolve at extremely slow rates, as has already been well documented in numerous other organisms, where is is known as stasis. Creationists may also believe that the discovery of living plesiosaurs would cause geologists to rethink the age of the earth, but the distribution of fossils throughout the rock record has no impact on the absolute dates of the rocks. Unfortunately, not everyone understands, wants to understand, or accepts, the robust science in support of evolution and the age of the earth. For these people, the propaganda for living plesiosaurs must seem quite convincing, and I hope they find this article for at least a little perspective.
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