Table of Contents
A handbook for students, parents, and teachers countering the latest arguments for evolution
First published in Refuting Evolution, Chapter 3
Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science discusses the fossil record in several places. Creationists and evolutionists, with their different assumptions, predict different things about the fossil record. If living things had really evolved from other kinds of creatures, then there would have been many intermediate or transitional forms, with halfway structures. However, if different kinds had been created separately, the fossil record should show creatures appearing abruptly and fully formed.
Charles Darwin was worried that the fossil record did not show what his theory predicted:
Why is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory.1
Is it any different today? The late Dr Colin Patterson, senior paleontologist of the British Museum of Natural History, wrote a book, Evolution. In reply to a questioner who asked why he had not included any pictures of transitional forms, he wrote:
I fully agree with your comments about the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them … . I will lay it on the line—there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.2
The renowned evolutionist (and Marxist — see documentation) Stephen Jay Gould wrote:
The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution.3
As Sunderland points out:
Palaeochiropteryx tupaiodon— one of the ‘oldest’ (by evolutionary reckoning) fossil bats. It was found in the Messel oil shale pit near Darmstadt, Germany, and is ‘dated’ between 48 and 54 million years old. It clearly had fully developed wings, and its inner ear had the same construction as those of modern bats, showing that it had full sonar equipment (see chapter 9 for more details of this exquisitely designed system).
Teaching about Evolution avoids discussing the vast gulf between non-living matter and the first living cell, single-celled and multicelled creatures, and invertebrates and vertebrates. The gaps between these groups should be enough to show that molecules-to-man evolution is without foundation.
There are many other examples of different organisms appearing abruptly and fully formed in the fossil record. For example, the first bats, pterosaurs, and birds were fully fledged flyers. The photograph to the right shows that bats have always been bats.6
Turtles are a well designed and specialized group of reptiles, with a distinctive shell protecting the body’s vital organs. However, evolutionists admit ‘Intermediates between turtles and cotylosaurs, the primitive reptiles from which [evolutionists believe] turtles probably sprang, are entirely lacking.’ They can’t plead an incomplete fossil record because ‘turtles leave more and better fossil remains than do other vertebrates.’7 The ‘oldest known sea turtle’ was a fully formed turtle, not at all transitional. It had a fully developed system for excreting salt, without which a marine reptile would quickly dehydrate. This is shown by skull cavities which would have held large salt-excreting glands around the eyes.8
All 32 mammal orders appear abruptly and fully formed in the fossil record. The evolutionist paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson wrote in 1944:
The earliest and most primitive members of every order already have the basic ordinal characters, and in no case is an approximately continuous series from one order to another known. In most cases the break is so sharp and the gap so large that the origin of the order is speculative and much disputed.10
There is little to overturn that today.11
Like most evolutionary propaganda, Teaching about Evolution makes assertions that there are many transitional forms, and gives a few ‘examples.’ A box on page 15 contains the gleeful article by the evolutionist (and atheist) E.O. Wilson, ‘Discovery of a Missing Link.’ He claimed to have studied ‘nearly exact intermediates between solitary wasps and the highly social modern ants.’ But another atheistic evolutionist, W.B. Provine, says that Wilson’s ‘assertions are explicitly denied by the text … . Wilson’s comments are misleading at best.’12
Teaching about Evolution emphasizes Archaeopteryx and an alleged land mammal-to-whale transition series, so they are covered in chapters 4 and 5 of this book. Teaching about Evolution also makes the following excuse on page 57:
Some changes in populations might occur too rapidly to leave many transitional fossils. Also, many organisms were very unlikely to leave fossils because of their habitats or because they had no body parts that could easily be fossilized.
Darwin also excused the lack of transitional fossils by ‘the extreme imperfection of the fossil record.’ But as we have seen, even organisms that leave excellent fossils, like turtles, are lacking in intermediates. Michael Denton points out that 97.7 percent of living orders of land vertebrates are represented as fossils and 79.1 percent of living families of land vertebrates—87.8 percent if birds are excluded, as they are less likely to become fossilized.13
Artist’s impression of a living horseshoe bat.9
It’s true that fossilization requires specific conditions. Normally, when a fish dies, it floats to the top and rots and is eaten by scavengers. Even if some parts reach the bottom, the scavengers take care of them. Scuba divers don’t find the sea floor covered with dead animals being slowly fossilized. The same applies to land animals. Millions of buffaloes (bison) were killed in North America last century, but there are very few fossils.
In nature, a well-preserved fossil generally requires rapid burial (so scavengers don’t obliterate the carcass), and cementing agents to harden the fossil quickly. Teaching about Evolution has some good photos of a fossil fish with well-preserved features (p. 3) and a jellyfish (p. 36). Such fossils certainly could not have formed gradually—how long do dead jellyfish normally retain their features? If you wanted to form such fossils, the best way might be to dump a load of concrete on top of the creature! Only catastrophic conditions can explain most fossils—for example, a global flood and its aftermath of widespread regional catastrophism.
Teaching about Evolution goes on to assert after the previous quote:
But Teaching about Evolution provides no evidence for this! We can briefly examine some of the usual evolutionary claims below (for reptile-to-bird, see the next chapter on birds):
The inability to imagine functional intermediates is a real problem. If a bat or bird evolved from a land animal, the transitional forms would have forelimbs that were neither good legs nor good wings. So how would such things be selected? The fragile long limbs of hypothetical halfway stages of bats and pterosaurs would seem more like a hindrance than a help.
Of course, the soft parts of many creatures would also have needed to change drastically, and there is little chance of preserving them in the fossil record. For example, the development of the amniotic egg would have required many different innovations, including:
Another example is the mammals—they have many soft-part differences from reptiles, for example: