Evolution and the Fossil Record

The fossil record is probably one of the biggest problems for evolutionist, the theory of evolution predicts certain results to be found in the fossil record. When the evolutionist are looking at the fossil record they would expect to find a slow and simple progressive evolution. However, we actually find a complex and abrupt beginning as one would expect to find if they were a creationist. Many renown evolutionist acknowledge that this is a serious hole in the theory of evolution, Richard Dawkins says this of the fossils:

“And we find many of them already in advanced state of evolution, the very first time they appear”

Furthermore, Charles Darwin says:

“innumerable transitional forms must have existed but why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?.. Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain and this perhaps is the greatest objection which can be urged against my theory.”

It’s refreshing that men such as Darwin were at least genuine enough to be objective with the facts. Today our textbooks are littered with graphs depicting the slow harmonious progression of the fossil record, yet this is the furthest thing from the truth. Shouldn’t we just be focused on providing the evidence and letting people make their own decisions? why is the school system so set on pushing their liberal agenda? Stephen J. Gould, an American paleontologist and evolutionary biologist actually acknowledges this misrepresentation in the textbooks.

“the evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of the fossils.

The fossil record is the only compelling and tangible source of evidence that we will ever have in studying the evolution of our species, why then do we as a society claim that evolution is a sound explanation when it is in direct conflict with the fossil record? perhaps blind faith? perhaps people just don’t know the facts and they have been brainwashed into believing these delusional theories. S.M. Stanley from Johns Hopkins University says:

“In fact, the fossil record does not convincingly document a single transition from one species to another.”

The reality is that the fossil record supports the creationist view. Interesting fact to end with is that about 95% of the fossil record is actually marine deposit. Nicholas Steno a historical creationist, held by even the secular world to be the father of geology, and a pioneer in paleontology and stratigraphy, asserted that this was undeniable evidence for a universal flood, while Steno never appealed to the story of Noah, I think we all know the implications, just a parting thought!


Source for quotes

Charles Dawkins – The Blind Watchmaker. pg 229

Charles Darwin – Origin of the Species

Stephen J. Gould – Natural History. V 86, pg 13

S.M Stanley – New Evolutionary Timetable. pg 95

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26 thoughts on “Evolution and the Fossil Record

    • The onus is not on me to disprove descent with modification, the onus is on you to prove it. This idea that we all descended from a common ancestor, there’s simply no evidence for it. We have not even a single case of one species developing from another, even Dawkins famously gets stumped when asked if he could provide one example of a genetic mutation and evolutionary process which has increased the information in a genome. This idea is simply an assumption based on no compelling evidence.

      Natural selection has nothing to do with the evolution of new species. Natural selection has to do with inherited traits and how species within themselves interact with the environment.

      Besides you can not reconcile the lack of evidence in the fossil record by simply offering alternative evidence, the reality is that if evolution is true, it mos assuredly should be found in the fossil record, and it most certainly is not.

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      • I’m afraid you don’t quite get how science works after the Popper Revolution of the scientific method. Basically, proof is relegated to number theory. In science, a hypothesis is put forth to explain observations and predict future observations. If those future observations invalidate the hypothesis, then the hypothesis must be discarded or modified. And the process repeats. As for your claim that speciation does not occur, this is refuted by many examples listed here: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

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    • I understand what your saying, my argument though was that indeed the observations do invalidate the evolutionary hypothesis of speciation, because we have never actually observed speciation happen. Dawkins already admits this, he says speciation happened over three hundred million years ago and we wouldn’t expect to see it today. its not observable and it would take millions of years according to him for a single species to change.

      If you noticed in my article and in my comments I only quote antagonistic view points to support my claim. If I tell you God is real then send you to a Christian website to prove it, its not really gonna be to convincing. Sorry but Joseph Boxhorn, a Senior Environmental Planner talking about prim roses and hemp nettle, not exactly gonna convince me, especially when the likes of Dawkins have already admitted otherwise.

      Nice way of avoiding the actual topic of the fossil record though. 😉

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      • The link I provided shows all the evidence of speciation that has been observed, and yet you persist in claiming it has not. And you know what that must mean.

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  1. I’m not sure these scattered quotes are relevant to the modern state of paleontology in supporting common descent.

    Even in Darwin’s day, however, the fossil record provided one of the strongest evidences for his theory, despite the paucity of data. His few comments on the incompleteness of the record, which potentially could falsify his theory, do not support your claim that the fossil record (as we know it today) fails to support evolution. The claim by Stanley, for example, is flatly false; we do have documented transitions.

    Steno was a brilliant observer, but we now know why marine sediments dominate the geologic column: they have higher preservation potential. Terrestrial sediments are far more likely to be uplifted, eroded, and erased from the geological record. None of these marine sediments could provide evidence for a great flood, because their characteristics are that of calm, placid waters with healthy ecosystems living and dying where those sediments are actively deposited.

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    • With regards to fossil record I have to say it seems to be the general consensus, even among’st evolutionist, that the fossil record simply does not appear the way it would be expected to if evolution was indeed true. David M. Raup a Paleontologist at the University of Chicago say the following:
      “Darwin was completely aware of this, he was completely embarrassed by the fossil record because it didn’t look the way he predicted it to. We are now a 120 years after Darwin and the knowledge of the fossil record has been greatly expanded. We now have a quarter of a million fossils but the situation hasn’t changed much. Ironically we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwins time” (F.M.O.N.H.B.,V.50, Pg 35)
      These quotes as well as the ones I mentioned in my post are very compelling when you consider there coming from evolutionist, these are not creationist.

      Furthermore, men like Nicholas Steno did in fact support the idea of the Noachian Deluge. Ultimately such credibility speaks volumes.

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      • I think you need to get to know more paleontologists. The only consensus that you’ll find is that the fossil record firmly supports evolutionary theory. Your quote from Raup is extremely out of date, but even at the time, most would have disagreed with his exaggerated conclusions.

        So the quotes are not compelling at all. Neither is it compelling that Steno supported a Noachian deluge (he had little reason not to). I’ve written about Steno myself, even why it would be sensible in his day to interpret geological features in terms of a great flood. But that position could not be held, even into the 18th century.

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      • perhaps you could point me to a couple of credible paleontologist that support the idea of the fossil record and evolution being in harmony, I would be interested to see what they have to say

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      • In terms of accessible, popular works, I think Neil Shubin (author of “Your Inner Fish”, a book and a 3-part documentary) explains that harmony very well. He is most famous for finding the major transitional forms between fish/amphibians and amphibians/reptiles. Another resource in that category is Donald Prothero’s “The Fossils Say Yes!” and “What the fossils say and why it matters”. His tone is more candid and might feel harsh from your perspective, but he is beyond credible as a paleontologist and has made the case very clearly.

        Alternatively, there are thousands and thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles that explain the support of evolution in the fossil record, while none see it as a challenge. If your claim were true that modern paleontologists are uncomfortable with the structure of the fossil record, then it would show up in their primary research, but it doesn’t.

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    • In regards to fossils specifically It appears to me that the proposed transitional fossils presented by Shubin and others do not clearly represent any consistently conclusive evidence; in that if all reptiles and mammals today descended from fish we should ultimately have innumerable fossils displaying all kinds of mutated looking creatures across the spectrum, but it seems that the proposed transitional fossils are usually something simple at either the beginning or the end of the spectrum, like Neil Shubin’s flat-headed fish. When looking for transitional fossils I would expect to find numerous variations of creatures that were completely unrecognizable from creatures today.

      It seems to me that is what Paleontologist like Stephen G. Gould are expressing when the said things such as “In fact, the fossil record does not convincingly document a single transition from one species to another.” We might have some significant alterations amongst species in themselves, but nothing that clearly represent the transition from one species to another. Which is ultimately why the likes of Stephen G. Gould have adapted and refined their beliefs to fit this irregularity, hence the advent of Punctuated Equilibrium – the idea that evolution wasn’t slow and progressive but rather drastic and sudden, which would explain the lack of evidence.

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      • “It appears to me that the proposed transitional fossils presented by Shubin and others do not clearly represent any consistently conclusive evidence”

        But it is clear to the vast majority of (if not all) trained paleontologists. Tiktaalik does not match your description of something simple at either end of the spectrum; rather, it fits neatly between those end-members and resembles nothing in the modern world.

        The problem is that you predict something which evolutionary and basic geology do not: that we should ever find a seamless spectrum of lifeforms in the fossil record. You can’t falsify a theory by testing claims that it never made! Geological records (particularly terrestrial ones) are notably spotty and discontinuous. Fossilization, moreover, is more an exception than the rule. Combine these with the fact that we have sampled less than 0.1% of all sedimentary rocks for their fossil content and, well, what kind of predictions can you really make?

        In any case, Gould’s proposal has excellent support (not simply from a lack of evidence), because we’ve observed 1) how rapidly isolated populations (e.g. African cichlids) can evolve in response to environmental pressure, and 2) how genetically stable populations are without those environmental pressures (e.g. Golden Eagles; http://www.donaldprothero.com/files/92368310.pdf).

        “When looking for transitional fossils I would expect to find numerous variations of creatures that were completely unrecognizable from creatures today.”

        And that is precisely what we find. 😉 Check out reconstructions of Cambrian fauna, and you’ll see what I mean.

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      • By the way, your quote from Stanley is both incomplete and very misleading. Here is the full paragraph:

        “Superb fossil data have recently been gathered from deposits of early Cenozoic Age in the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming. These deposits represent the first part of the Eocene Epoch, a critical interval when many types of modern mammals came into being. The Bighorn Basin, in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, received large volumes of sediment from the Rockies when they were being uplifted, early in the Age of Mammals. In its remarkable degree of completeness, the fossil record here for the Early Eocene is unmatched by contemporary deposits exposed elsewhere in the world. The deposits of the Bighorn Basin provide a nearly continuous local depositional record for this interval, which lasted some five million years. It used to be assumed that certain populations of the basin could be linked together in such a way as to illustrate continuous evolution. Careful collecting has now shown otherwise. Species that were once thought to have turned into others have been found to overlap in time with these alleged descendants. In fact, the fossil record does not convincingly document a single transition from one species to another. Furthermore, species lasted for astoundingly long periods of time. David M. Schankler has recently gathered data for about eighty mammal species that are known from more than two stratigraphic levels in the Bighorn Basin. Very few of these species existed for less than half a million years, and their average duration was greater than a million years.”

        When Stanley said that the fossil record does not convincingly document a single transition, he was not referring to the fossil record as a whole—only the fossil record of Lower Cenozoic sediments in the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming.

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    • “Tiktaalik does not match your description of something simple at either end of the spectrum; rather, it fits neatly between those end-members and resembles nothing in the modern world.”

      I suppose we will simply have to disagree with the idea Tiktaalik fits neatly in the middle of the spectrum. To me the Chimp would be a better argument for fitting in the middle of the spectrum than Tiktaalkik – I’m just not seeing it. And again to reiterate my point, it simply doesn’t qualify as a creature which resembles nothing in the modern world. When I say resembles nothing like what we see today, I mean literally something that would resemble a half mammal and half fish, I mean if fish transitioned into mammals there had to have been a time when they contrasted a fish and a mammal pretty distinctly, there had to have been that awkward stage in between their new identity and their old one, this is simply logical.

      “The problem is that you predict something which evolutionary and basic geology do not: that we should ever find a seamless spectrum of lifeforms in the fossil record”

      I have a hard time swallowing this one, its just seems to convenient of an excuse for the evolutionist ; when we can’t find evidence for something, we just sort of fabricate a reason why that evidence shouldn’t exist in the first place. The field is just constantly being tilted in favor of the evolutionist. Anything that would disprove it just gets written off as inconclusive.

      “And that is precisely what we find. 😉 Check out reconstructions of Cambrian fauna, and you’ll see what I mean.”

      With regards to the Cambrian fauna, again I’m just not seeing it, I don’t mean to be stubborn, there just simply isn’t enough here that would convince a skeptic like myself, its like me telling someone that miracles exist by showing them medical records of someone being healed of a sickness, while its enough to reinforce my belief, it probably wouldn’t do much to convert a skeptic. Besides the diversity of life is so extensive, even today we still happen to come across new species that we never see before.

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      • With all due respect, the status of any given fossil as transitional does not depend on whether or not “you’re seeing it”. The importance of fossils like Tiktaalik to the evolutionary story is determined by skilled anatomists, who utilize a scientific criteria, whereas your stubbornness is rooted in a subjective one. This is demonstrated by your description of the “half mammal, half fish”, which you claim logically should have existed. But nothing in evolutionary biology predicts this, because that’s not how body plans, tissues, and organs develop over time through genetic modification.

        Whether or not you have a hard time swallowing the fact that geological records are notably incomplete and speciation can proceed rapidly (we observe both today as the rule, not the exception, in biology/geology), nobody is using this as an excuse. The longer paleontology exists as a discipline, the more evidence we contribute to the evolutionary story. As an example, look at how many gaps we’ve filled in bird evolution and the development of the earliest animals (~635 m.y. ago) from Chinese localities only in the last decade. That’s why not serious paleontologist doubts the evolutionary story: it continues to explain the form and locality of fossils with extreme precision.

        “Anything that would disprove it just gets written off as inconclusive.”

        Such as what? What has been written off as inconclusive? Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence—this is true for any field. Any claim that the fossil record is too incomplete to support evolution must maintain some level of ignorance (it’s not very incomplete) and break this rule simultaneously (by demanding that absence of evidence be evidence of absence).

        “With regards to the Cambrian fauna, again I’m just not seeing it”

        So, in your mind, these life forms resemble what we find today? Can you make any specific comparisons?

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      • I must add (and I don’t mean this as a quibble), there is no such thing as an evolutionist. 🙂 This is not a battle between belief systems—it’s truly not. Besides, no belief system is built around evolutionary biology. It is simply the proposed mechanism by which life diversified, whether by divine providence or not.

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    • Hey Age I just wanted to say i respect your opinion and have no desire to get into a head bashing argument. I realize you are very knowledgeable and persuaded of your ideas, I know that in your conclave and in the crowds that you run around with what your saying is absolute truth, so I guess i’ll just stay in my stubborn ignorance while you basque in the light.

      The reality for me is that your and other evolutionist bold assertions simply don’t match up with what I see in the fossil record. You tell me there numerous evidence for transitional fossils, yet when you research it all i see and hear is tiktaalik! tiktaalik! I mean if Tiktaalik is the most convincing piece of evidence, which it appears it is, then I’m gonna have to respectfully hold out.

      I appreciate you weighing in on the subject.

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      • Well I’m sorry, then, I didn’t mean to be overly assertive. But I’m not sure what you mean by “in your conclave and the crowds that you run around with”. What sort of crowds and conclaves do you see me in, exactly? 🙂

        I’ve spent most of my life in an awkward minority within conservative Christianity, who has pursued a research career in the natural sciences. I originally found an interest in geology because of the bold (and to me, persuasive) claims being made by Henry Morris and other ‘Flood geologists’. It wasn’t until I saw firsthand that what they said about rocks and fossils simply didn’t square up that I changed course.

        But many of the things I perceive now as truth are regularly insulted and dismissed, depending on which crowd I’m running with at the time (my scientific colleagues or my fellow congregants). So it’s not very helpful to group people categorically (like I said, it’s even inappropriate to term anyone an “evolutionist”), as though one side has their beliefs and the other has a clashing set of beliefs. We are all a mosaic of sorts.

        I realize that the so-called “bold assertions” don’t match up with your expectations for the fossil record, which is why I was so interested in commenting here. I didn’t think your expectations were reasonably based, nor your perception of the record to be complete and accurate. I think these points are worth pursuing (what is truth, if not something to be shared?).

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      • So on that point, I recommended a couple of popular works on the fossil record. Keep in mind, it was you that brought up Tiktaalik, not me. 🙂 Either way, it’s not that it represents the best or most convincing piece of evidence (we should base any theory on isolated data). It just happens to be the story that was popularized, because…well, it really is a good story that is fairly accessible to the non-scientist.

        I could have cited specific examples like Pezosiren portelli or Eunotosaurus or Yinlong and Sinornis or Moeritherium or Anchiornis huxleyi or Kenichthys or a thousand others that have come up in the primary literature over the past decade. Each has certain anatomical features that are transitional and explain the development of shared characteristics among descendant branches. But I’m not sure you’re willing to consider the preponderance of evidence here, because I keep hearing blanket dismissals: e.g. “It’s just not what I expect to find in the fossil record”. In fact, I still don’t know why you’re unconvinced that even Tiktaalik is a great example of a transitional fossil?

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    • Hey age

      So after looking up some more examples of the transitional fossils that you were mentioning, I think I’m better able to articulate the root of my skepticism a little better.

      To me when I see things like: Pezosiren the walking manatee! or the Eunotosaurus with its turtle like rib-cage! I simply see them reflecting the diversity of life, not an evolving tree of evolutionary complexity. This is what I was touching on when I mentioned how even today we are still discovering new species.

      You said how the idea of punctuated equilibrium is sound, that we all rapidly descended from fish to men, yet you say we shouldn’t expect to find any sort of extreme mutations, only things like the Pezosiren and the Eunotosaurus or Yinglong.

      The argument commonly used by people who don’t believe in miracles, is that they would need to see something happen that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt. They need something so extreme and supernatural to occur that it would blow their socks off and be utterly impossible to refute. This is simply the same logic I’m applying to evolution. I need to see that five foot “half mammal/half fish” before I’m convinced

      ultimately there’s other factors that play into my skepticism to its not just the fossil record; theres the origins of life and the huge improbability of chemical evolution, which is why renown chemical evolutionary theorist like Dean Kenyon converted to creationism and Christianity. And Stephen Meyer offers some very compelling evidence of how evolutionary ogirigins are completely illogical. There’s also the idea of consciousness, all these pertinent questions that just can’t seem to reasonably be answered.

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      • What makes the theory of evolution so spectacular and robust is that it explains in advance why we’d find things like the “walking manatee” or the “half-turtle”, and specifically where in the geologic column we should find them. Your alternative is completely ad hoc: “Well, I just see diversity of creation.” I understand your skepticism and why you would resist accepting evolution as a plausible explanation (I’ve had those reservations), but you must admit, it’s not for scientific reasons.

        Yes, punctuated equilibrium is soundly rooted in observational evidence, which you seem not to have acknowledged. But I never suggested that the transition from fish-men was “rapid”. It was a ~400 million-year process—what’s rapid about that? 😉

        “…yet you say we shouldn’t expect to find any sort of extreme mutations, only things like the Pezosiren and the Eunotosaurus or Yinglong.”

        What kind of extreme mutations? Like a fish that one day grew a human foot? The examples I cited are precisely what you asked for—clearly transitional forms from one genera to the next. Combined, these form a nice spectrum from fish to men. We know these are transitional and not simply examples of “ex nihilo” creative diversity, by the way, due to the details in their anatomy. This interpretation is confirmed by the fact that transitional forms also fall between end members within the fossil record.

        So I see you working very hard to avoid the most parsimonious conclusion. That is the root of your skepticism—ideological resistance to deep time and evolutionary creation.

        “This is simply the same logic I’m applying to evolution.”

        No, you’re not. What exactly is a half mammal/half fish? A mermaid? If your demand were fulfilled, it would falsify evolutionary theory as we know it. This statement tells me that perhaps your biggest stumbling block is that you do not understand evolutionary theory. Otherwise, you might say: “We already have mammal-fish intermediates! They’re called reptiles and amphibians.”

        Lastly, what do the origin of life and consciousness have to do with the theory of evolution in terms of explaining the diversity of life? Even if it were possible to disprove that life could originate ‘spontaneously’, you would not have found reason to reject evolution.

        I’m not sure Stephen Meyer helps you; never does he make the case that evolutionary origins are illogical. Rather, he argues that the mechanism is incomplete. But note, he will accept that evolution by natural selection is one of the main drivers for the diversification of life, and that we all share common descent.

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    • Stephen Meyer offers this explanation of Intelligent design in one of his debates: Key features of living systems can best be explained by the activity of a designing intelligence not an undirected natural process such as natural selection acting on random variations. Furthermore, he explains how biological machines like the bacteria flagella motor with its rotary engine are irreducibly complex and thus genetic mutation and natural selection can not produce systems like this.

      Another argument against genetic mutation and natural selection is digital information. He says that in the cell, like in a computer program, the show is run by information or digital coding. We know that new evolutionary biological forms would require new information; thus when explaining things like the Cambrian explosions where we find fundamentally new forms rising, we need to ask where did the new information come from to build them?

      This is what ex-evolutionary theorist Dean Kenyon described, he says how self-organization through genetic mutation is impossible, that amino acids can’t organize themselves in a meaningful biological sequence without a PRE-EXISTING set of genetic instructions. Kenyon explains how the enormous problem that is neglected is the origins of genetic information itself. Where does this new information come from? people like Stephen Meyer argue that it can only come from intelligent design and not mutations and natural selection.

      when are trying to explain the past we shouldn’t create events and exotic causes, the effects of which we have never seen before. Meyer says the present cause of digital information is intelligence. We know from experience that when we find irreducibly complex system like internal combustion engines invariably intelligence played a roll. Thus using the idea of mutations and natural selection to explain new digital information and irreducibly complex systems would be an exotic explanation not based on the knowledge of cause and effect that we see today.

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      • But Meyer does accept the standard timeline over which this took place, as well as common descent and evolution by natural selection for all but those key features.

        In any case, these questions have all been answered at length. We know the origin of genetic information, and we know that flagella are not irreducibly complex. There is a reason that nobody takes these gentlemen seriously within the field.

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