The Origin of Species According to the Fossil Record: CREATION
The theory of evolution claims that all the living species on Earth descended, by means of a series of minute changes, from a common ancestor. To state the theory another way, living species are not separated from one another by absolute differences, but exhibit an inner continuity. However, actual observations in nature have indicated that there is no such continuity as claimed. What we see in the living world are different categories of organisms, separated by vast and distinct differences. Robert Carroll, an expert on vertebrate paleontology, admits this in his book Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution:
Although an almost incomprehensible number of species inhabit Earth today, they do not form a continuous spectrum of barely distinguishable intermediates. Instead, nearly all species can be recognized as belonging to a relatively limited number of clearly distinct major groups... 1
Evolution is a process alleged to have taken place in the past, and fossil discoveries are the only scientific source that can tell us about the history of life. Pierre Grassé says this on the subject:
Naturalists must remember that the process of evolution is revealed only through fossil forms. ... Only paleontology can provide them with the evidence of evolution and reveal its course or mechanisms. 2
In order for the fossil record to shed light on this subject, we need to compare what the theory of evolution predicts against the actual fossil discoveries.
According to the theory, all living things have descended from various "ancestral" forms. A living species that existed before gradually turned into another species, and every present species emerged in this way. According to the theory, this transition took place slowly over hundreds of millions of years and progressed in stages. That being the case, countless numbers of "intermediate forms" must have emerged and lived over the long process of transition in question. And a few of them must certainly have been fossilized.
For example, half-fish, half-amphibian creatures that still bore fish-like characteristics but which had also acquired certain amphibious features must have existed. And reptile-birds with both reptilian and avian features must have emerged. Since these creatures were in a process of transition, they must have been deformed, deficient and flawed. These theoretical creatures claimed to have existed in the distant past are known as "intermediate forms."
If any such living species really did exist, then they should number, in the millions, or even billions. Abundant traces of them should be found in the fossil record, because the number of intermediate forms should be even greater than the number of animal species known today. The geologic strata should be full of the remains of fossilized intermediate forms. Darwin himself admitted this. As he wrote in his book, The Origin of Species:
If my theory be true, numberless intermediate varieties, linking most closely all of the species of the same group together must assuredly have existed... Consequently evidence of their former existence could be found only amongst fossil remains. 3
Yet Darwin was aware that no intermediate forms had yet been found, and regarded this as a major dilemma facing his theory. In the chapter "Difficulties on Theory," he wrote:
... Why, if species have descended from other species by insensibly fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all nature in confusion instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined?… But, as by this theory innumerable transitional forms must have existed, why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?… Why then 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, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. 4
In the face of this difficulty, the only explanation Darwin could offer was that the fossil records of his time were insufficient. He claimed that later, when the fossil records had been examined in detail, the missing intermediate forms would definitely be found.
The Sufficiency of the Fossil Record
In the face of the lack of intermediate forms, Darwin claimed, 140 years ago, that they were not available then but new research would definitely unearth them. But has it? To put the question another way, after looking at the results of all the fossil research carried out to date, should we accept that intermediate forms never actually existed—or should we await the results of still further excavations?
The answer to that question of course depends on the wealth of the fossil record we already have available. Looking at the paleontological data, we see that the fossil records are extraordinarily rich, with literally billions of fossil specimens obtained from different regions of the world.5 From examining these fossils, experts have identified some 250,000 different species, many of which bear an extraordinarily close resemblance to the 1.5 million species living today.6 (Of the 1.5 million species alive today, fully 1 million are insects.) Yet among these countless fossil specimens, no supposed intermediate form has ever been found. It seems impossible for the intermediate forms, that have not been discovered despite the rich fossil records, to be unearthed in new excavations.
T. Neville George, the Glasgow University professor of paleontology, admitted as much many years ago:
There is no need to apologize any longer for the poverty of the fossil record. In some ways it has become almost unmanageably rich, and discovery is outpacing integration … The fossil record nevertheless continues to be composed mainly of gaps.7
Niles Eldredge, a well-known paleontologist and director of the American Museum of Natural History, states that Darwin's claim to the effect that "the fossil record is deficient, which is why we cannot find any intermediate forms" is invalid:
The record jumps, and all the evidence shows that the record is real: The gaps we see [in the fossil record] reflect real events in life's history – not the artifact of a poor fossil record. 8
In his 1991 book, Beyond Natural Selection, Robert Wesson says that the gaps in the fossil record are real and phenomenal:
The gaps in the record are real, however. The absence of any record of any important branching is quite phenomenal. Species are usually static, or nearly so, for long periods, ... genera never show evolution into new species or genera but replacement of one by another, and change is more or less abrupt.9
The argument put forward 140 years ago that "no intermediate forms have been found yet, but they will be in the future" is no longer tenable today. The fossil record is sufficiently rich to account for the origin of life, and it reveals a concrete picture: Different species all emerged independently of one another, suddenly, and with all their different structures. No imaginary evolutionary "intermediate forms" existed among them.
Facts Revealed by the Fossil Record
What is the origin of the "evolution-paleontology" relationship that has been installed in society's subconscious? Why is it that when the fossil record is mentioned, most people assume that there's a definite, positive link between this record and Darwin's theory? The answers are set out in an article in the magazine Science:
A large number of well-trained scientists outside of evolutionary biology and paleontology have unfortunately gotten the idea that the fossil record is far more Darwinian than it is. This probably comes from the oversimplification inevitable in secondary sources: low-level textbooks, semipopular articles, and so on. Also, there is probably some wishful thinking involved. In the years after Darwin, his advocates hoped to find predictable progressions. In general these have not been found yet the optimism has died hard, and some pure fantasy has crept into textbooks.10
N. Eldredge and Ian Tattershall make the following important comment on that matter:
That individual kinds of fossils remain recognizably the same throughout the length of their occurrence in the fossil record had been known to paleontologists long before Darwin published his Origin. Darwin himself, ... prophesied that future generations of paleontologists would fill in these gaps by diligent search ... One hundred and twenty years of paleontological research later, it has become abundantly clear that the fossil record will not confirm this part of Darwin's predictions. Nor is the problem a miserably poor record. The fossil record simply shows that this prediction is wrong.
The observation that species are amazingly conservative and static entities throughout long periods of time has all the qualities of the emperor's new clothes: everyone knew it but preferred to ignore it. Paleontologists, faced with a recalcitrant record obstinately refusing to yield Darwin's predicted pattern, simply looked the other way. 11
The American paleontologist S. M. Stanley describes how this fact, revealed by the fossil record, is ignored by the Darwinist dogma that dominates the scientific world, and how others are also encouraged to ignore it:
The known fossil record is not, and never has been, in accord with gradualism. What is remarkable is that, through a variety of historical circumstances, even the history of opposition has been obscured. ... "The majority of paleontologists felt their evidence simply contradicted Darwin's stress on minute, slow, and cumulative changes leading to species transformation." ... their story has been suppressed. 12
Let us now examine this truth revealed by the fossil record, which has so far been "suppressed," in rather more detail.