Talk:Elephant

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The article states that the population of elephants tripled from January to June in 2006. As the gestation period of an elephant is 22 months, it would be impossible for the statement to be true.

Just revert anything that remotely sounds like "the population of elephants have tripled in the last 6 months", it's clear-cut vandalism. See Stephen Colbert's suggestion for the background. --Interiot 14:44, 31 March 2007 (EDT)

This page does not reference any of its statements, and contains several that are patently untrue--a surprisingly large number for such a short article. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence for the evolution of elephants, not from sea cows as stated in the article but from a common ancestor.

This should probably be merged with the page on Elephants (pl.) and forward to there, since that article is already longer and cited.

Debate

Cut from article:

Molecular and morphological evidence point to hyraxes and sirenians (sea cows and manatees) as the closest living relatives of elephants[1] these groups are hypothesized to have shared a common ancestor approximately 50 million years ago. The three extant species of elephant are sole survivors of a much more diverse Proboscidian fauna with some 170 described fossil species and including species of mammoth from North America and the massive Deinotherium, the second largest land mammal that ever lived, which sported two downward facing tusks.
According to the young earth creationist view Elephants were created on the sixth day with the other beasts of the earth (Genesis 1:24-25) and survived the Great Flood on Noah's Ark (Genesis 7:7-8). Some creationists are incredulous to how species as apparently different as hyraxes and sirenians could be related to elephants. This objection fails to take into account the vast periods of independent evolution taken by each lineage since they last shared a common ancestor - some 50 million years. Additionally evolutionary theory predicts that intermediate forms between related groups are unlikely to be found contemporaneously as more advanced forms will out compete and replace such intermediates (this is an argument first put forward by Darwin himself.) [2]. Some evolutionary biologists suggest elephants may have evolved from water living mammals much like modern hyraxes which developed trunks to use as snorkels (as modern elephants, do when swimming).
In the past, there were many different types of elephants like mammoths and mastodons, but most young earth creation scientists say that these species never made it onto the Ark and that these species. Scientists and scholars agree that Noah could not have trekked all the way to the arctic to collect a pair of mastodons before the earth was flooded, and they all drowned. Polar bear and penguins survived because both are excellent swimmers and could have swam to floating glaciers and ridden them through the Great Flood. This fact presumably means aquatic animals such as Polar bear, penguins and fish were not destroyed in the great flood and as such are still evil.

This poorly written debate section mars the article. I suspect the motivation for including it was to make the project 'look stupid'.

Having a debate is good, though. Let's just state the positions intelligently. Fish are evil? Be serious.

I think the fact that it remained unchallenged for about two weeks is what makes the project look foolish. In any case, you've removed a cited peer reviewed journal. Please elaborate as to why 'Molecular Biology and Evolution is not acceptable. Nematocyte 07:31, 12 April 2007 (EDT)

Antiochus was a Greek king, a descendant of Seleucus, not a Persian king.

"similar species"

The term "similar species" previously used in a heading of this article is misleading. The reference cited is a phylogenetic studies and the methods employed in these studies are not about similarity. I know people have trouble with the E-word but claiming these studies are about similarity is just outright wrong. Hence my edit --Igor nz 22:32, 25 March 2008 (EDT)

The effect is to make out that evolution is true (it's not the word that is the problem, but claiming the concept as true). On what basis are they considered to be related if not on similarity? Philip J. Rayment 22:54, 25 March 2008 (EDT)
Related and simlar are just different things. You might say that whales are similar to fish in a lot of ways but they aren't particularly closely related. Phylogentic methods (with a few exceptions) are about modelling the way things have changed within lineages to work backwards to recreate the most likely pattern of branching in a particular group in the light of the characters being studied. That's not the same thing as similarity. --Igor nz 00:16, 26 March 2008 (EDT)
You haven't actually answered the question: On what basis are they considered to be related? To put it more simply, why do they think they are related? Philip J. Rayment 01:32, 26 March 2008 (EDT)
Because of the peer reviewed journal article that is cited in the text? Or the 20 others that could take that place?--Igor nz 17:10, 26 March 2008 (EDT)
If you're asking if I'm after the specific reason given in that article, no. I'll restate it again: Why do evolutionists think that elephants are related to sea cows and manatees? Philip J. Rayment 18:54, 26 March 2008 (EDT)
Because of molecular, morphological and biogeographic evidence that supports the hypothesis --Igor nz 19:16, 26 March 2008 (EDT)
How does that evidence support the hypothesis? Isn't it because of molecular, morphological, and biogegraphical similarities? If not, then what is it? Philip J. Rayment 19:21, 26 March 2008 (EDT)
This is really very tiresome. Cladistic studies are not based on 'similarties' that's called phentics. If we studied whales, sirenians and elephants by phenetics using the criteria above we might group whales and sirenians as most similar (thick outer skin, reduced limbs, marine lifestyle, blubber...) but if we use cladistics, which is about shared characters and the change of characters over time then we arrive at the relationships talked about above. And morpholigcal and molecular data arrive at the same position. If you still fail to understand the difference I'd invite you to read an introduction to cladistic methods. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Igor nz (talk)
Yes, it is getting tiresome, but I'm trying my best to be patient and give you an opportunity to defend you pro-evolutionary edit rather than just revert it again. But I will if I don't get a satisfactory answer before my patience runs out. You are still not answering the question. I asked why evolutionists consider those creatures related, and your answer (dated 19:16, 26th March, above) said, in essence, that it's because that's what the evidence indicates. Which is not an answer, at least a satisfactory one, to the question! Your latest answer doesn't help either. But to try and get something useful out of it, if cladistics shows (or is based on) them having shared characters, then surely they are, to that extent, similar? Philip J. Rayment 22:10, 26 March 2008 (EDT)
They are similar in respect to presencee of lack of the characters being studies. They are not generically similar. Scientists believe that these animals are realted because the branching pattern described is the most parsimonous (or probable or likely depending on the statistical framework being used) way in which the character states observed in modern elephants sirenians... could have come to be. I know people have a problem with evolution but calling these species similar - which they clearly aren't for a lot of traits, is just mealymouthed weasel words. ---Igor nz 22:21, 26 March 2008 (EDT)
I think we might be finally getting somewhere. You've now (finally) admitted that they do have similarities. For my part, I'm quite happy to admit that the wording you changed could be improved, although it did already describe them as the "most similar" according to "Molecular and morphological evidence". But even if a bit simplistic, it was correct, as the creatures are similar in respect to the particular characteristics that are considered evolutionary significant.
But although I think we've reached some common ground, we haven't actually agreed on what the wording should be. The current wording that says that the different creatures are related is unacceptable, as it presumes the evolutionary view to be true (and by the way, your description ("... the branching pattern described is the most parsimonous...") appears to presume that creatures are related, and it's just a matter of working out which relationship is the correct one. As such, it doesn't show that they are related). So do you want to propose better wording, or shall we revert to what was there, which did at least suggest that they were similar insofar as the molecular and morphological evidence is concerned?
Philip J. Rayment 22:43, 26 March 2008 (EDT)
Well, it's more of a case of saying is it more likely that sea cows where created more or less as they are with exactly bones in their limbs as elephants, only creatly reduced in size and used for a completely different purpose, or could they be descended from a creature that already had these limb bones and in one lineage they've been retooled for swimming and in the other for holding a massive animal. It's even more ridiculous for the cited paper which is talking about retroposons - selfish DNA elements that also support a tree like structure. If you and your sister have a selfish gene inserted in the same location of the genome would you say it was more likely that you inherited from one of your parents or you both got it de novo? That's before we even start talking about methadological naturalism. This page shouldn't be a debate about universal common descent, a scientific fact that any theory of evolution needs to explain, I can see that this really is a waste of time. The admins here are so wedded to their views that there is no way reasoned debate will change them.--Igor nz 18:43, 27 March 2008 (EDT)
So instead of proposing better wording, you instead go off on a tangent and launch an attack on the view that you disagree with. Further, you criticise the admins here for supposedly being unwilling to change their views, when I'd be quite certain that you are just as unwilling to change your views. As you are unwilling to discuss the issue further, and have not proposed better neutral wording, I'll revert your pro-evolution wording back to the more neutral wording that was there before. And by the way, universal common descent is a hypothesis, not a fact that needs explaining. Philip J. Rayment 21:26, 27 March 2008 (EDT)
I've further modified the wording to hopefully make clearer just what the similarity is. Philip J. Rayment 21:46, 27 March 2008 (EDT)
AHHHRGH! The better wording was the first one. Common descent really is a scientific fact, attested to by overwhelming evidence and supported by all biologists and even the ID crowd, in the same way that gravity is. A wording that suggests evidence recovered by methodologies specifically designed to uncover relationships shows anything other than a relationship is somewhere between mealy mouthed an lying. If conservapedia wants to be a YEC wiki then just say it out loud. ATM it purports to be resource for, among others, home schooled kids and if this is what they are served then we are doing them a great disservice. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Igor nz (talk)

<- Just thought I'd point out the dangers associated with attesting something to be fact. True science holds no absolutes and as such you can only ever have at most a theory. It's just a case of which theory has more supporting evidence, and then using this to decide which will be the better wording. In this case, however, you'd probably be more productive in tossing a coin and going with whatever comes up, although I don't see what would be wrong with using the phase closest in genetic makeup. TheGySom 22:34, 27 March 2008 (EDT)

Obviously, I use the term in the same way the late great SJ Gould did:
Science does not deal in certainty, so "fact" can only mean a proposition affirmed to such high degree of certainty that it would be perverse to withhold one's provisional assent. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Igor nz (talk)
Common descent is a hypothesis, not a fact. There is no "overwhelming evidence", and I personally know biologists who do not agree with it, so that claim is also wrong. Gravity is observed every day, and is testable at any time. 99.999% of common descent is supposed to have happened before there was anyone around to observe it, and is not directly testable. So that analogy is quite inappropriate. And since when does an encyclopedia that in many cases reports both the evolutionary view and the YEC view become a "YEC wiki"? It seems that evolutionists are so bigoted that the only "neutral" view is the evolutionary view and any view that is actually neutral (i.e. gives both evolutionary and creationary viewpoints) is biased! That's nothing short of twisting the meaning of words, and this encyclopedia, unlike the biased and bigoted Wikipedia, won't stand for that. Your comment about being a resource for home-schooled students presumes your viewpoint to be correct, but if your viewpoint is not correct, that statement is nonsense. Philip J. Rayment 07:53, 28 March 2008 (EDT)
I don't see anything wrong with "closest in genetic makeup" either. Do you want to make that change, TheGySom? Philip J. Rayment 07:59, 28 March 2008 (EDT)
I will soon, and would also like to recommend that the heading be changed to "Zoological Similarities" or something along those lines rather than "Similar Species", if only for sounding more formal. That said, it seems that there are physical similarities as well, so the more appropriate phrase may be "closest in genetic makeup and physical qualities", but I'd like Igor nz's opinion to avoid any edit clashes. TheGySom 08:03, 28 March 2008 (EDT)
The thought did cross my mind that the heading could be changed to "genetically similar species", but your suggestion sounds good too. Philip J. Rayment 08:12, 28 March 2008 (EDT)

Citation Needed

The largest elephant ever recorded (the Fenykovi elephant, now in the Smithsonian Institution) was shot in Angola in 1954. It was male and weighed about 12,000 kg (26,400 lb), with a shoulder height of 4.2m, a meter taller than the average male African elephant. This sentence seems to have been plagiarized. In most of the cases of plagiarism I've found (and I'm beginning to suspect there are a horrifying number of plagiarized articles here), I've re-written the article to include the source, to provide proper attribution, and to minimize the amount of material lifted from any one source. In this particular case however, I Googled the sentence from the article and found an abundance of sites which included the sentence word-for-word. The first several sites I reviewed were not credible sources and thus were not appropriate to cite. I did not have time to review all of the potential sources and determine whether there was a credible one or not. I hope that whoever put this sentence in the article in the first place did indeed get it from a credible site - hopefully they have this article on their watchlist and will provide the source. If not, someone else will have to either find a source or remove the sentence. --Hsmom 10:53, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

The wording, without the parenthetical section, was apparently included by user:Spartan[1]. He hasn't edited since March 2007. The parenthetical part was added by user:Jeremiah4-22[2]. He hasn't edited since May 2007, and was blocked in August 2007. Philip J. Rayment 22:25, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Cite error: <ref> tags exist, but no <references/> tag was found
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