The gaps in the fossil record are huge and systematic. This is evidence against incremental evolution via mutation and natural selection. There is no postulated mechanism for creatures to evolve over these chasms. Really, truly — there is no scientific theory at all to account for the hopeless gaps of a naturalistic worldview.
An honest assessment of evolution would lead one to the conclusion that fossils should show a near-infinite series of creatures from simple to complex. If fossils are abundant in nature, then there should be no problem in finding a multitude of transitional forms for all of the animal and plant life on the earth today. In fact, many evolutionists admit the abundance – the enormous wealth – of fossils of creatures that once lived.
What is embarrassing is that the rule – not the exception – is that between the various classes of animals, both living and dead, are huge gaps. The transitional forms are absent. We regularly see the latest news story describing the latest potential “missing link” in the enigma of human evolution. But nothing ever gets settled. The advocates of human evolution can’t agree among themselves, not to mention present a case that would be compelling at all to a dispassionate observer.
The famous evolutionary paleontologist, Niles Eldridge, has admitted, “We paleontologists have said that the history of life supports (the idea of gradual evolutionary change), all the while knowing it does not.” Eldridge observes that those paleontologists who report that the data are inconsistent with the “theory” are relegated to the lunatic fringe of the community.
Why are evolutionists so tenacious in the face of an unsupportable “theory”? Because they are committed to naturalistic materialism. They won’t accept the possibility that God exists or that anything cannot be explained by natural physical processes.
Some evolutionists have given up on the idea of the random mutation / natural selection neo-Darwinian “theory” and suggested the idea of “punctuated equilibrium” in a desperate attempt to explain the fossil gaps. The idea is that when evolution occurred, lots of genes mutated very quickly and within a very few generations a new creature was “born.” The mathematics of this approach are so frightening, however, that some traditional evolutionists suspect that “punctuated equilibrium” was actually a joke when it was first introduced.
The subject of fossil evidence is huge, as are the rest of the topics covered in this short series. You’ll have to dig deeper on your own if you want to get into the details. The summary statements I’ll make are ultimately derived from evolutionary literature. I’m happy to use their own research against them.
So where are these “gaps”? They’re everywhere. The most ancient fossil-bearing rocks on planet earth are blessed with an abundance of multi-cellular marine invertebrates. (Evolution demands an ancient earth and postulates dating mechanisms for various rock layers – but the dates are often benchmarked on fossils, themselves. Talk about circular reasoning!) The forerunners to these creatures are nowhere to be found. The gap between single-celled and more complex creatures is genetically huge. Evolution should produce an abundant variety of transitional forms.
Evolution assumes that vertebrates evolved from invertebrates. At various times, almost every invertebrate group has been proposed as the ancestor of the vertebrates. This is an example of the non-falsifiability of evolutionary philosophy. It doesn’t matter what aspect of the “theory” is disproven – the fantasy is indestructible to evidence. Biologists can reason that a simple “chordate” creature must be intermediate. But the fossil evidence does not support this assumption. Evolutionists are embarrassed because they have a gap of “100 million years” where transitional creatures should lead to fish – and they can’t fill the gap.
Major works on paleontology show that all the major fish classes are distinctly set apart from each other with no transitional creatures linking them. One group of ancient fish fossils so perplexes researchers that one said, “It would have simplified the situation if they had never existed!”
Other gaps: A major disappointment to the evolutionary faithful is the absence of a transitional series of fossils to link fish to amphibians. There should be thousands of such specimens. The handful of fossil types that have been suggested as transitions show either distinct fins or distinct feet. There also is no credible explanation how the transitioning fish/amphibian hybrid will get along on feet-like fins or fin-like feet.
There are huge gaps between amphibians and reptiles and between reptiles and mammals. The jaw structure is entirely different between reptiles and mammals. There are no transitional fossils that bridge this gap. It’s hard to imagine how such missing links would eat while their jaw is being rewired, anyway. But then this is the generic problem for major genetic and physical design changes while creatures are still expected to live and reproduce.
The origin of flight and the alleged transition between reptiles and birds present awesome problems. I think I’ll deal with this issue in one of my later “points.” For now, I’m sure you remember seeing the drawings of “Archeopteryx,” the poster-child transitional form alleged to link reptiles with birds. But detailed analysis of this and a scant handful of similar creatures shows that these are fully and completely birds! The wings and feathers are fully developed and the body is finely tuned to work as a flying system. See the figures above of an archeopteryx fossil and an artist’s reconstruction of what the bird might have looked like.
The origin of man seems to hit the popular press several times per year. We are continually presented with the latest “missing link” that supposedly contradicts all previous discoveries and resets the evolutionary timeline to make all textbooks obsolete. But these claims – in attempting to undo the previous work of others –are invariably controversial within the evolutionary community. Consider: if the evolution of man is such a completely settled science, then how can the story be re-invented every few years?
What about the gaps? The fossil record shows huge gaps between the primates and their supposed ancestors. There are no transitional fossils. Ancient “ape” fossils are beset with controversy. Those that say that some of them may be ancestral to man are contradicted by those that are sure that they were fully apes.
There is lots of discussion over the last century with respect to various candidates for our great-great- . . . -grandpa. Ramapithecus, Australopithecus (“A”), A. africanus, A. robustus, Homo habilus, Java man, Peking man, Neanderthals, Cro magnons – there is a huge and controversial list, and alternative proposed evolutionary trees.
But here’s the problem: Fossils that are indistinguishble from modern humans have been dated as far as 4.5 million years old. (These are evolutionary dates – there are big problems with dating methods, but that’s a whole subject unto itself. Here we’re just going to play within the evolutionary sandbox and use their own evidence against them.) These ancient dates go well beyond the dates corresponding to our ancestors! Oops! Furthermore, there are lots of cases of fossils that “belong” in different parts of the “tree” that have been found in the same geographic and geological layers. This is conclusive evidence against the “theory.”
Here’s an extremely short list of embarrassing discoveries made by evolutionists regarding their supposed origin of man:
— Modern apes have simply “sprung out of nowhere.” There are no evolutionary precursors.
— Ancient fossil apes show fascinating variety and uniqueness that have no counterparts among living apes.
— Most alleged ancestors to man consist of just a few fossil teeth or bits of skull. The pictures you see in textbooks are imaginary.
— The alleged missing link Ramapithecus was judged to be manlike due to dental characteristics, but a study indicates that the teeth are well within the natural range of measurements of living chimpanzees.
— Australopithecus is considered by some scientists to be uniquely different from both man and ape and was probably alive when man was alive.
— Sinanthropus (Peking Man) is now considered by many to be an ape (perhaps a baboon) and there is suspicion that fraud was involved in the “discovery.” Most of the physical material disappeared during World War II.
— Java Man, from early in the 20th Century, also involved fraud. The discoverer admitted late in life that it was probably a giant gibbon.
— Neandertals are not essentially different from anyone you might see walking down the street. An early specimen’s oddities were likely due to disease. Modern DNA analysis show that they are just part of the human race.
— Homo erectus is indistinguishable from modern man, especially considering the variability anyone can observe among men and women across the planet.
— Several of the above “creatures” turn up in the same fossil time period, including an apparent 1 million year overlap between Australopithecus and Homo Erectus.
— Modern man — Homo sapiens — arrives in the fossil record in quantity and “suddenly.”
Niles Eldridge must have concerns about how the gaps affect the very foundations of evolutionary paleontology. In “Reinventing Darwin” he says, “When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no firm evidence that the fossils did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution cannot forever be going on somewhere else. Yet that’s how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution.”
To summarize this Top 10 point – The fossil evidence does not support evolution. An honest person would make predictions about fossil data that are opposite to what is actually observed. Evolutionists are not being very scientific here! The bottom line: Fossil evidence shows that a tremendous variety of life erupted in distinct forms – this sounds like creation to me!
By the way, just what is the fossil record? First of all, it’s a record of extinction, not the origin of life forms. The only explanation that makes sense for the very existence of over 99% of the fossils is the worldwide flood recorded in Genesis. If there was such a flood, that inundated the entire earth and lasted over a year, what would you expect? You would expect to see “billions of dead things, buried in rock layers, laid down by water, all over the earth.” (As Ken Ham of www.AnswersInGenesis.org likes to point out) And that’s exactly what you find.
An outstanding treatise on the subject of geology from a Biblical and scientific perspective is Snelling’s 2-volume work below. The next few paragraphs summarize a few points he makes about clear evidences around the globe that point to a worldwide flood catastrophe, and against the evolutionary, uniformitarian approach to the geologic record.
Sedimentary processes observed today are invariably local in scale. But worldwide we see abundant sedimentary strata with fossils embedded, up to miles in thickness, and continental in scale – sometimes inter-continental. The depth and nature of these sediments indicate that deep and fast-flowing water was involved. Marine fossils are found on mountain tops, indicating that terrain was once under water. (The mountains would have been uplifted at the end of the flood.) Current processes laying down sediments in river deltas or stream beds are clearly not representative in any way of what we see on a global scale, although such poor explanations are offered by evolutionists.
Within the sometimes mile-thick sedimentary beds, we find specific layers that are extremely non-local. For example, there exists a 30-meter thick sedimentary rock unit in western Canada that covers about 470,000 square kilometers. A thin layer only one meter thick has been found all over the Alpine chain in Europe. The Dakota Formation is a 30-meter average thickness sandstone layer that covers 815,000 square kilometers in the western US. Western Australia contains bands just 2 centimeters thick that are correlated over 52,000 square kilometers.
More spectacularly, the famous chalk beds of Northwest Europe (containing their characteristic fossils) are found, of course, along the coast of England, but also Northern Ireland, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Poland, Bulgaria, and Georgia (south of Russia). Identical chalk beds are found in Turkey, Israel, Egypt, and even across the Atlantic in Texas and other states. There are distinctive strata sequences of other rock types that have been correlated across England, Spain, and Bulgaria. The strata of the Newark Group along the US east coast matches strata in England, Germany, and the US Southwest.
In many cases it’s clear to geologists that the source materials for the sedimentary rocks of many regions had to be transported up to hundreds or even thousands of kilometers to get to their far-flung locations. It should be clear to anyone that global catastrophic processes were at work to fashion the earth’s surface that we observe today.
The very presence of massive fossil graveyards indicates large scale, catastrophic, and rapid burial. For example, the dinosaur graveyard in the Morrison Formation covers an area of 1.5 million square kilometers in 13 US states and 3 Canadian provinces. Such graveyards typically show much evidence of water transport, with mostly disarticulated bones of all sizes, and mixing of many different species, plus mixing of flora and fauna from very different types of habitats. A worldwide flood would explain such data.
A German formation (Grube Messel) mixes bones of fish, salamanders, frogs, turtles, lizards, crocodiles, birds, various mammals, and hundreds of types of insects and plants.
In the German lignite beds of Geiseltal are found wonderfully preserved plants and insects, plus thousands of vertebrates, insects, and mollusks. The preservation of soft parts, plant chlorophyll, hair, and other fragile parts make it clear that rapid catastrophic burial occurred, as opposed to the gradual processes observed in normal life, which lead to decay and disappearance.
Another point – the evolutionary geologist must often postulate that millions of years transpired between deposition of certain strata, in order to explain a given sequence of fossils in the layers. But many strata boundaries are flat and show knife-like edges, showing little or no erosion at all – over thousands of square kilometers. There could not possibly be gaps of millions of years in such cases. Where evidence of erosion is observed, it can be shown that it was catastrophically rapid or miniscule, compared to a typical present-day land surface. The flat, continental sized layering speaks clearly to a massive flood event.
Many large scale sedimentary rock formations show dramatic curves from folding under tectonic uplift, but without the fracturing and buckling that must occur if the rocks were dried out over thousands or millions of years. Such rock layers must have been still wet throughout in order to allow for such smooth folding. Also, there are many instances of polystrate (“many layer”) tree fossils, extending through layers that are often alleged to have been deposited over millions of years. (Exposed dead trees don’t persist through millions of years.)
There are many other fascinating issues to explore in geology – it’s a huge subject. If you’re interested, I encourage you to acquire Snelling’s book and check out the archived articles at
www.icr.org and www.AnswersInGenesis.org.
Duane T. Gish, Evolution: The Fossils Say No!, Creation-Life Publishers, 1977.
Duane T. Gish, Evolution: The Fossils Still Say No!, Institute for Creation Research, 1995.
Marvin L. Lubenow, Bones of Contention – A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils, Baker Books, 1992.
Niles Eldridge, Time Frames, Simon & Schuster, 1985.
Niles Eldridge, Reinventing Darwin.
Andrew Snelling, Earth’s Catastrophic Past – Geology, Creation, & the Flood, Volumes 1 & 2, Institute for Creation Research, 2009.