The Duck-Billed Platypus:
A Theory into the Origin of Monotremes
A Creation Theory into the
Origin of Marsupials
There exists a mystery concerning the origin
or migration of the marsupials (pouched mammals) following the
great Biblical flood of Noah. Prior to the modern introduction
of placentals into Australia, the continent was inhabited by
only marsupial and monotreme mammals.
Most of the 140 species of marsupials
in Australia are found nowhere else in the world. The only
naturally occurring marsupial in the United States is the possum,
Didelphis marsupialis. This overwhelming presence in Australia
should be explained through natural affects upon these animals
during their reoccupation of the postflood world.
The distribution pattern of marsupials is very
difficult to explain naturalistically, and it seems to imply interference
or added assistance. At the 2nd International Conference on
Creationism in 1990, John Woodmorappe presented a paper which proposed
that a postdiluvian civilization intentionally colonized Australia with
The evolutionists generally theorize that
the opossum was the primitive ancestor of the mammals before
the continental breakup of a southern landmass called Gondwanaland.
It is thought Australia and South America were once connected,
and following geographic separation the opossum developed into
the various marsupials which are now on Australia.
Another important detail for consideration
is the existence of numerous marsupials and placentals that are
identical to one another with the exception of the distinctions
in reproductive systems. This paper examines the similarities
and differences between the placental mammals and marsupials,
and presents a unique creation science theory for examination. It is
suspected that the overwhelming number of marsupials on one continent may
instead be the result of the convergent evolution of intelligently
Table of Contents
Marsupial | Placental
to many, there was a marsupial wolf. The Thylacine is more commonly
called the Tasmanian Tiger because it had lateral stripes across
its back, but the animal was a dog. The last surviving Thylacine
can be seen live in a period documentary, and numerous photos
are available. They were hunted to extinction by ranchers
in the late 1800s to early 1900s. A power lobbying group called
the Buckland and Spring Bay Tiger and Eagle Extermination Society
was largely responsible. Between 1888 and 1909, the Tasmanian
government paid 2072 bounties for tiger scalps. There are some
who believe the animal still exists, and others that hope for
bringing it back through cloning.
In addition to the wolf, there are numerous
other marsupials which are essentially identical to a placental
counterpart. There is a marsupial squirrel, anteater, mole, mouse,
and others which are indistinguishable from placental mammals
with the exception of the differences in their mode of gestation.
The evolutionists propose that the marsupial and placental mammals
diverged from one another about 100 million years ago and the
similarities that exist between these species have evolved coincidently
as a result of common environmental exposures. The creationists
on the other hand, generally assume each marsupial is a unique
kind from each other and from their placental twin.
Placentals | Marsupials
Marsupial | Placental
The principal difference between the marsupial
and placental mammals is the rate of gestation, or the length
of time the offspring is carried in the uterus. In all non-placental
vertebrates, such as the marsupials, the developing embryo is
isolated from its mother's body by the amniotic membrane. Following
fertilization the embryo becomes a new organism, and the mother's
auto-immune system will attack it. The amniotic membrane isolates
the embryo from all biological interaction with the parent, thus
protecting it from attack. However, no nutrients cross the barrier
either, and therefore its growth in the uterus is limited to
the quantity of nutrients contained within the egg. The short
gestation period in marsupials is due to this type of yolk-type
reproduction. Except for the Paramelidae, marsupial embryos do
not receive nutrients from their mother. Birth in marsupials
occurs much earlier in comparison to placental mammals, and the
almost helpless fetus journeys to the pouch and becomes attached
to a teat for weeks or months depending on the species. Marsupials
may spend as few as twelve days in the reproductive tract.
A longer gestation period results in offspring
that are born more fully developed. The extended maturation time
in placentals, as opposed to all other vertebrates, is a result
of the placenta, which allows nutrients to travel from the mother's
system to the embryo and waste to be carried away. The embryo
and the mother do not share the same blood supply, but instead
the placenta is composed of several layers which are richly supplied
with blood vessels, and acts as a preferential immigration barrier
letting nutrients and metabolites pass through, and preventing
the transfer of immunity system components. There are other significant
differences between the placental and marsupial reproduction.
In marsupials, pregnancy does not interrupt the continuation
of the next oestrus cycle as it does in placentals, but instead
ovarian inhibition is mediated by lactation or suckling stimulus.
This regulatory modification is necessary since the baby is no
longer carried internally, therefore, negative feedback stimulus
from the babies presence must come from nursing activity instead.
A New Creation
Theory of Marsupial Origins
After watching the last surviving Tasmanian-tiger
walking around in a pen on film, I began to wonder how significant
the difference was between the marsupial and placental reproductive
system. This marsupial wolf appeared and behaved just like any
other dog. Is it possible for it to belong to the same Biblical
kindship group as the dingo who later replaced him? The marsupial
counterparts are in many cases identical to a placental twin,
and distinguishing them as unrelated is not possible without
a much closer inspection than necessary for the differences we
typically use to distinguish the Biblical
The exclusive presence of marsupials
in Australia following the flood, and the fact that numerous
marsupial / placental counterparts exist forces the creation
theorist to reach out for a new explanation. If it was possible
for the marsupial mode of reproduction to evolve from the placental
mammal, then the exclusive existence of the marsupials in Australia
might be explained through the evolution of placental mammals
to marsupials. Convergent evolution occurs when several distinct
kinds exist in the same biotype, and are all exposed to the same
selection. This results in the evolution of similar traits or
behaviors in unrelated organisms.
The animals that migrated into Australia
after the flood were all exposed to similar conditions and potentially
the same environmental extremes which would be necessary to trigger
the obligatory convergent evolution of the trait in all local
mammals. The mammals that migrated to Australia were either all
marsupial by coincidence or there exists the ability for the
placentals to evolve to a marsupial mode of reproduction if it
is advantageous. The existence of the marsupial / placental twins
makes the latter seem a possible explanation
Although the advantages of marsupial vs.
placental birth may not be obvious, upon further examination
several trade-offs become apparent. The placenta is extremely
beneficial for many reasons, and allows the organism enough advantage
to replace its marsupial counterpart if introduced into the same
area. However, for everything there is a trade-off, and the gestation
length may represent a direct exchange between what's advantageous
for the child as opposed to the mother.
In particular circumstances or levels of
stress, the marsupial reproductive mode may be more beneficial
in reducing the deaths specifically related to the child-mother
union. Carrying a child internally for longer periods can have
its consequences: principally the death of one is frequently
remains concomitant to that of the other. If one dies the other
dies also if carried internally, but that is less frequently
the case with pouched babies. If the mother is killed, a pouched
baby can survive whereas birth subsequent to the mother's death
never occurs regardless of the level of maturity of the fetus.
Likewise, if the baby dies during gestation, a pouched baby will
not sacrifice the life of the mother. Giving birth to offspring
more fully developed can also have obvious disadvantages. Basically,
the larger the child at birth; the more difficult the delivery
is for the mother. Breech positions and such are not an issue
for marsupials, but only become problematic for mammals with
longer gestation periods.
At times when survival has become difficult
and the death rates of mothers and children are high, the marsupial
mode of reproduction may prevent high mortality rates from affecting
the death of the other. Under severe environmental stress when
giving birth earlier becomes advantageous for the success of
the population, then the marsupial reproductive mode may be selectable
from the natural variation that exists within the timing and
developmental rates of these events.
in Gestation Rates and Birth Maturity
The nature of the reproductive system especially
the timing and length of gestation appears to be provided significant
evolutionary potential through genetic
recombination. Likewise the level of maturity or ability
to self-support oneself following birth differs greatly between
animals which appear to belong to the same Biblical
kindship group. For example rats are born with closed eyes,
naked and fairly helpless after a 21 day gestation, while guinea
pigs are born with open eyes, covered in hair and able to feed
itself after a 67 day gestation period. A similar variability
exists between even more closely related animals such as the
Hare born with eyes open, and the Rabbit with eyes shut.
There is tremendous natural variation found
among the gestation rates in marsupials. In most marsupials the
broad sequence of changes in the ovary and the genital tract
are similar, however the general timing of events in the reproductive
cycles is different between marsupials and even between species
and subspecies. For example the kangaroo differs from the basic
marsupial pattern in that gestation is extended from half to
occupy almost all of the oestrus cycle, and there are timing
differences between the grey and red kangaroos or the wallaroos.
There also appears to be significant variability
related to placental development. The placenta grows from maternal
and embryo tissue, and lifestyle differences between various
species appears to affect the specifics of the complex. Among
placentals there are at least five different forms the placenta
can take in different species which involve changes in the degree
of contact and the number of layers of tissue between the maternal
blood supply and the embryos.
Likewise not all marsupials have a permanent
pouch and a few have none at all. There is clearly natural variability
of the features which distinguish the placentals from marsupials.
These variations are produced by genetic
recombination, and performed in attempt to specialize the
organism to specific conditions. The presence of variability within
the features that distinguish the placental from marsupial suggests
the ability to change from one mode to another. Although many
modifications would be required, in particular those that alter
the gestation rate, placental and pouch development have been
established as active.
The marsupial mode of reproduction is very
complex, and the evolution from placental to marsupial would
require the simultaneous alteration of several independent systems
not to mention the development of the pouch and the physical
capability necessary for the fetus to crawl to the pouch.
Regarding irreducible complexity it should
always be remembered that intelligently designed evolution occurs
through genetic recombination.
These reactions are not random, but instead are rearrangements
performed by the cell to drive the evolution of organism. The
specific capabilities of these reactions has not yet been determined,
and the alteration of such complex systems should not be ruled
out given our present level of understanding.
Since the development of any feature takes
many generations, an examination into the reducibility of any
system should look at each component to determine if they possess
the following characteristics.
- Survival must be expected prior to complete
formation of the new system. (Survival
must not be contingent upon the presence of all the components
of the system)
- The modifications must have improved benefit
at increasing levels of development.
Given this particular developmental scenario,
several questions may be examined to determine if the changeover
to marsupial reproduction is possible, or if the differences
between the two systems are irreducibly complex.
- Could a prematurely born child survive
without the pouch?
- YES - Although modern science has improved
the percentages, tremendously premature children survive with
- Could the child arrive at the teat and/or
survive without the muscular development currently possessed
by marsupials at birth?
- YES - The level of assistance afforded
the child is ultimately determined by the mother, and greater
or lesser extents can be awarded when necessary. The mother is
able to assist the child or position herself alternatively.
- Is it necessary for the child to remain
at the teat?
- NO - The pouch is not a necessary component,
but simply improves the survivability of the child by keeping
it with the mother.
- Is the placenta necessary?
- NO. The placental mammals are the only
vertebrates which possess a placenta. All others from birds,
reptiles, fish, etc., use the yolk-type reproductive system with
the amniotic membrane between which no nutrients are transferred.
The placenta is extremely beneficial, but
like everything else in nature, there is a trade-off. The child is much
safer gestating to greater maturity while being nourished by the mother's
continuous input, but being tied together also puts both at risk
if either of them experiences a complication. Under times of
stress, when the percentage of child or maternal deaths rates
rise significantly, it may becomes instead beneficial to drop
the placenta, and bare young much earlier in the marsupial manner
to eliminate this threat resulting from lengthy gestation periods.
The Bible says the ark of Noah came to
rest in the Mountains of Ararat which are now in Turkey. The
subsequent distribution of animals into the various regions on
earth was naturally driven except on rare occasion where livestock
or domestics were taken. It is possible the distribution
of marsupials to Australia was caused intentionally by human,
but it seems more likely that the migration of wild animals to
any given continent was largely a natural process. Post flood
civilization would not be expected to possess the knowledge and
ability Animals basically spread out in all direction while favoring
climate preferences, and post flood civilization would not be
expected to have the .
Why would numerous marsupials migrate into
Australia and not even one placental mammal? There appears to
be no other natural mechanism forthcoming from the creation
community. An explanation for this tremendously one-sided migratory
pattern may require a drastic new theory such as presented here,
and perhaps a reinvestigation of the evolutionary potential genetic recombination
provides organisms. We are hesitant to invoke natural selection-driven
evolution as a mechanism for the development of complex system,
but under the direction of genetic recombination this process
is not random, and exactly what is designed into these rearrangements
we can not say.
It could therefore be proposed that the
marsupial reproductive system can evolve from the placental
method, and has done so numerous times during the evolutionary
history of mammals. One possible factor effecting all who passed
into Australia would be the equatorial crossing following their
release from the ark in Turkey. The mammals which arrived in
Australia would have been the first to cross the equator, and
probably when environmental extremes were exceptional. It is
possible that this evolutionary adaptation can be forced upon
animals during times of severe stress or when mother/offspring
mortality reaches high frequencies.
If marsupials have indeed evolved, nature
must be able to select this alternative reproductive method from
the pool of genetic recombinants. However, recombination
is not random, and the rearrangements which affect reproductive
rates and such, almost certainly do so for the purpose of effecting
reproduction in a similarly profound manner. Another extreme
version of this ability may therefore be suggested by the marsupial
situation. If the marsupials have evolved, it would also propose
the duck-billed platypus or egg-laying
mammal may have also.
by Chris W. Ashcraft
1. Culp, G. Richard; The Geographical
Distribution of Animals and Plants, Creation Research Society
Quarterly, 25:24-27, June 1998.
2. Woodmorappe, John; "Causes for
the Biogeographic Distribution of Land Vertebrates After the
Flood" Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on
Creationism, 1990, Vol. II, pp. 361-370.
3. Woodmorappe, John; "Studies
in Creationism and Flood Geology" ICR IMPACT No. 238, April
Worldwide Distribution of the Order
Marsupial Mice, Marsupial Cats, Tasmanian Devil
Possums, Cuscuses, Gledero, Ringtails
Noolkanger or Honey Possum
Kangaroo/Wallabies, Potoroos, Rat Kangaroos
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