The Fossil Record

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Administrator2, Jan 11, 2002.

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    HAL PARKER
    Importance of Fossils to the Origins Issue

    Fossils are the dead remains of a plant or animal that is preserved in rock. Fossils should provide the best evidence to decide between Creation or evolution. If there is any evidence of evolution at all, the fossil record should conclusively demonstrate it. If fossils don't provide clear evidence for evolution, everything else an evolutionist says is just interesting speculation.

    A few quotes should make it clear how important fossils are to evolution.

    "Most people just assume that fossils and evolution go hand in hand. Some people even seem to think that believing in fossils is almost the same as believing in evolution. We've been thoroughly indoctrinated with educational materials and entertainment touting evolution, and it's hard to even think that fossils argue so strongly against evolution and for creation." Henry Morris and Gary Parker, What Is Creation Science?, p. 130.

    "Although the comparative study of living animals and plants may give very convincing circumstantial evidence, fossils provide the only historical, documentary evidence that life has evolved from simpler to more and more complex forms." Carl O. Dunbar, Historical Geology (New York: Wiley, 1949), p. 52.

    "While many inferences about evolution are derived from living organisms, we must look to the fossil record for the ultimate documentation of large-scale change. In the absence of a fossil record, the credibility of evolutionists would be severely weakened. We might wonder whether the doctrine of evolution would qualify as anything more than an outrageous hypothesis." Steven M. Stanley, Macroevolution: Pattern and Process (San Francisco, CA: W.H. Freeman, 1979), p.2.

    Predictions For The Fossil Record

    Let’s consider the predictions each model (Creation and Evolution) makes concerning fossils. We can then compare the predictions with the actual evidence. Remember, the model that predicts more of the evidence, without resorting to ad hoc explanations, is probably closest to the actual situation.

    Creation Model Predictions

    Sudden Appearance

    When organisms appear as fossils, they will have a great variety even in the oldest rocks (lower layers). The Creation was complete after the initial period of Creation. The oldest fossils would already be fully functional and have complete ecosystems. The organisms would already have their characteristics complete from the initial Creation period, so they would not need to develop characteristics. Each major group would appear fully functional in a rock layer. The same system of biological classification used today should work when studying fossils. Their would be no fossils (transitional forms) showing a gradual change in characteristics from one type to another.

    Stasis

    Once a type of organism appears in the fossil record it will not change significantly over time. The fossils near the bottom layers will look almost the same as the fossils near the top layers (for the same type of organism).
    Organisms would have been created with their characteristics complete in the first representatives and would not need to change.

    Number Of Phyla Over Time

    All of the organisms that were ever going to exist began during the initial Creation event. The oldest rock layers should have more phyla represented as fossils than the top layers. As organisms went extinct, the number of phyla would decrease. (Remember, a phyla is just below the kingdom in the classification scheme.)

    Evolution Model Predictions

    Gradual Development

    The simplest organisms would evolve first. These organisms would then branch out and become more complex species. The simplest fossils should be found in the lower rock layers. The more complex fossils should only be found in the higher rock layers.

    Transitional Forms

    There should be fossils showing gradual changes in traits from one fossil to another fossil. There should be clear transitions between the higher categories of biological classification. These have the most differences between them and should be ideal examples of evolution because of the many structural changes required. The modern system of biological classification should be difficult to use when studying fossils. There should be so many in between stages, that it is hard to decide where one group ends and another group starts.

    Number Of Phyla Over Time

    The lower rock layers should only have a few types of organisms. As evolution proceeded, more types of organisms would develop. The fossil record should show a consistent increase in the number of different phyla from the bottom to the top layers of rock.

    The Cambrian Explosion

    The Cambrian rock layer is usually one of the bottom layers (sea-floor creatures, starfish, clams, etc.). Since they are on the bottom they are older (not much according to a biblical time frame) than the other layers. Since these are the oldest fossils they should be the simplest according to evolution. If evolution happened, these fossils should be some of the first to evolve after the first living cell formed from molecules floating around in the ocean.

    The Cambrian rock layer has fossils of all of the major body forms (phyla). The layers below it have very few fossils. This rapid increase in body types has so surprised the experts it was called the Cambrian explosion. The second stage of the evolution of living things had an incredible amount of diversity so evolutionarily young. The Cambrian also had life more complex than would be expected if the evolution model were true.

    The Cambrian explosion is consistent with the prediction of sudden appearance by the Creation model for the fossils. Many varieties of organisms appeared suddenly in the fossil record. The fossils found in the Cambrian rock layers contain fossils that require high levels of design. The Cambrian explosion is inconsistent with the prediction of gradual development by the evolution model. The evolutionary process that would be required to produce almost eighty different body designs in only ten million years by random processes. This is inconsistent with the random approach to evolution. Either evolutionists will give up or change the process of evolution to an impersonal intelligence.

    Relevant Quotes

    "Studies that began in the early 1950s and continue at an accelerating pace today have revealed an extensive Precambrian fossil record, but the problem of the Cambrian explosion has not receded, since our more extensive labor has still failed to identify any creature that might serve as a plausible immediate ancestor for the Cambrian fauna. . . . Where, then, are all the Precambrian ancestors—or, if they didn’t exist in recognizable form, how did complexity get off to such a fast start?"
    Stephen Jay Gould, "A Short Way to Big Ends," Natural History, Vol. 95 (January 1986), p. 18.

    "Students of evolutionary history have observed repeatedly that in an adaptive radiation, the major subgroups appear early and at about the same time. . . . Nearly all living phyla of marine invertebrates that have reasonably good fossil records have first occurrences either in the late Precambrian or early to middle Cambrian. At the class level there are 27 paleontologically important living groups and all have documented occurrences which are Silurian or older. . . . The same relative pattern can be seen in the geologic records of vertebrates and land plants, although origins are generally displaced in time toward the recent."
    David M. Raup, "On the Early Origin of Major Biologic Groups," Paleobiology, Vol. 9, No. 2 (1983), p. 107.

    "One of the major unsolved problems of geology and evolution is the occurrence of diversified, multi-cellular marine invertebrates in Lower Cambrian rocks and their absence in rocks of greater age. These Early Cambrian fossils included porifera, coelenterates, brachiopods, mollusca, echinoids, and arthropods. Their high degree of organization clearly indicates that a long period of evolution preceded their appearance in the record. However, when we turn to examine the pre-Cambrian rocks for the forerunners of these Early Cambrian fossils, they are nowhere to be found. Many thick (over 5000 feet) sections or sedimentary rock are now known to lie in unbroken succession below strata containing the earliest Cambrian fossils. These sediments apparently were suitable for the preservation of fossils because they are often identical with overlying rocks which are fossiliferous, yet no fossils are found in them"
    D. Axelrod; Science, 128, 7(1958)

    "The fossil record suggests that the major pulse of diversification of phyla occurs before that of classes, classes before that of orders, and orders before families. This is not to say that each higher taxon originated before species (each phylum, class, or order contained at least one species, genus, family, etc. upon appearance), but the higher taxa do not seem to have diverged through an accumulation of lower taxa."
    Erwin, D., Valentine, J., and Sepkoski, J. (1988) "A Comparative Study of Diversification Events" Evolution, vol. 41, p. 1183

    "Described recently as "the most important evolutionary event during the entire history of the Metazoa," the Cambrian explosion established virtually all the major animal body forms — Baupläne or phyla — that would exist thereafter, including many that were quickly "weeded out" and became extinct. Compared with the 30 or so extant, some people estimate that the Cambrian Explosion may have generated 100. The evolution innovation of the Precambrian/Cambrian boundary had clearly been extremely broad."
    Roger Lewin, "A Lopsided Look at Evolution," Science, Vol. 241 (July 15, 1988), p. 291.

    "If ever we were to expect to find ancestors to or intermediates between higher taxa, it would be in the rocks of late Precambrian to Ordovician times, when the bulk of the world’s higher animal taxa evolved. Yet transitional alliances are unknown or unconfirmed for any of the phyla or classes appearing then."
    James W. Valentine and Douglas H. Erwin, "Interpreting Great Developmental Experiments: The Fossil Record," in Development as an Evolutionary Process (Alan R. Lias, Inc. 1987), p. 84.


    Number of Phyla Over Time

    This information is easier to understand graphically. Check out the graphs at: http://id-www.ucsb.edu/fscf/library/origins/graphics-captions/sub3.html

    They show a definite problem with the number of phyla over time from a Darwinian standpoint. Darwinian theory predicts an increase in the number of phyla with time. However, the fossil record shows a spike (the Cambrian explosion) and then a decrease in the number of phyla with time. That is more consistent with a Creation interpretation of the fossil evidence than with a Darwinian one.



    KEYLAN
    Thank You!


    KATHY
    Speaking of fossils...where is the evidence of "transitional" fossils? If we evolved, where is the proof in the fossils?
    There aren't any because it's not true.


    HAL PARKER
    I was just about to post some things about transitional forms when I read your post.

    General Lack of Transitional Forms

    Transitional forms are organisms that have different types of organisms as descendents. The figure at the right shows how evolutionists believe animals are related. The animals that should located where the magnifying glasses are would be transitional forms.
    Transitional forms are also called common ancestors and missing links.
    Take a look at the figure at
    http://id-www.ucsb.edu/fscf/library/origins/CATALOG/FIGB.html

    Notice that no animals are located where the magnifying glasses are looking. You can tell what is coming from this fact alone.

    Take a look at the figure at http://id-www.ucsb.edu/fscf/library/origins/CATALOG/FIGD.html

    The figure represents what the actual fossil evidence indicates. (We would disagree with the ages, though.) Most of the animals fit into the present day classification system. The animals appear fully formed in a lower rock layer and remain unchanged up to the top rock layers.

    This is consistent with the Creation model’s prediction of sudden appearance and stasis. The evolution model predicts transitional fossils, and they aren’t found.

    Darwin admitted in his book that fossils are a problem for his theory (read the quote below). Darwin did have a reasonable excuse at the time. The study of fossils was a relatively new science and not much effort had been put into it yet. He expected that with time the transitional fossils would be found.

    "... The number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, (must) be truly enormous. 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."
    Charles Darwin (1859) The Origin of Species (Reprint of the first edition) Avenel Books, Crown Publishers, New York, 1979, p. 292

    Darwin did have an excuse for the lack of transitional fossils. That excuse doesn’t hold water today. Fossil experts have many tons of fossils to examine. What is the situation today? Notice in the quote below that David Raup admits transitional fossils are still not found. He even says there are fewer examples of evolutionary transitions now than in Darwin’s time. Remember Darwin admitted there weren’t many. You can see why punctuated equilibrium would be an easy way out of this predicament for an evolutionist.

    "Well, we are now about 120 years after Darwin, and knowledge of the fossil record has been greatly expanded ... ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin's time. By this I mean that some of the classic cases of darwinian change in the fossil record, such as the evolution of the horse in North America, have had to be discarded as a result of more detailed information ...."
    David Raup "Conflicts Between Darwin and Paleontology" Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin, Vol. 50 (1), p. 24, 25

    The rest of this chapter is a survey of evolutionary transitions that would require many transitional forms. We will examine only the key transitions that would require clear changes in form.

    Supposed Transitions

    Invertebrate to Vertebrate

    If evolution occurred, then the transition from invertebrates (animals without backbones) to vertebrates (animals with backbones) should be a major test because of the dramatic changes in structure required.

    Lets look at what evolutionist experts have to say.

    Testimony of F. Ommaney:
    "How this earliest chordate stock evolved, what stages of development it went through to eventually give rise to truly fish-like creatures, we do not know. Between the Cambrian, when it probably originated, and the Ordovician, when the first fossils of animals with really fish-like characteristics appeared, there is a gap of perhaps 100 million years which we will probably never be able to fill."
    F. D. Ommaney, The Fishes, Life Nature Library (New York: Time-Life, Inc., 1964), p. 60.

    Testimony of A. Romer:
    "In sediments of the late Silurian and early Devonian age, numerous fish-like vertebrates of varied types are present, and it is obvious that a long evolutionary history had taken place before that time. But of that history we are mainly ignorant."
    A. S. Romer, Vertebrate Paleontology, 3rd Ed., (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966), p.15.

    Testimony of G. T. Todd:
    "All three subdivisions of the bony fishes appear in the fossil record at approximately the same time. They are widely divergent morphologically, and they are heavily armored. How did they originate? What allowed them to diverge so widely? How did they all come to have heavy armor? And why is there no trace of earlier intermediate forms?"
    G. T. Todd, American Zoology 20(4): 757 (1980).

    These evolutionists admit there is no evidence for evolution of invertebrates into vertebrates (fish in particular). They still believe evolution; they probably think the best evidence for evolution is elsewhere. The Creation model fits the fossil evidence better than the evolution model for the origin of vertebrates.

    Fish to Amphibian

    This should be an ideal case for evolution because the bone structure of a fish is clearly different from the bone structure of an amphibian. The skeleton of a fish would have to change in clear detectable ways to turn into the skeleton of an amphibian. Also, bones fossilize well. There should be unmistakable transitional forms between a fish and an amphibian.

    The body of a fish is supported by the water. The fins of a fish are not connected to the backbone by other bones. The body of an amphibian is supported by its legs when it is on land. The legs of an amphibian are connected to the backbone by other bones. If a fish evolved into an amphibian, then either a fish-like creature that had its fins connected to its backbone should be found as a fossil, or an amphibian-like creature with its legs not connected to its backbone should be found as a fossil. No such creature has been found as a fossil.

    I have more about the vertebrate fossils, but that should be enough for now.


    JOHN WELLS
    Hal,
    I really appreciate this information. If I may ask, what qualifications on this subject do you have? You are certainly more informed than me . . . but I'm learning!


    HELEN
    I know who Hal Parker is and I can guarantee to you that this man has his information together.

    In the meantime, for those who are involved in creation/evolution debates on the web or otherwise, I might mention that transitionals, like beauty, exist in the eye of the beholder. What I would see as an interesting variation an evolutionist might declare a transitional. Keeping this in mind, be careful how you approach the subject. Ask why they think it is a transitional, and a transitional to what other form. You might mention that if a chihuahua were fossilized below a spaniel and both were below a great Dane, it would sure look like evolutionary progress!


    HAL PARKER
    John Wells asked about about my credentials. That is a reasonable question.

    I became interested in the origins issue in the late 70s. I read several of Dr. Henry Morris' books before I went to college.

    I went to Christian Heritage College and studied under Dr. Henry Morris, Dr. Gary Parker, Dr. Steve Austin, Dr. Ken Cumming, Dr. Don DeYoung, and other leaders in the Creation movement.

    I graduated with a double major in biology and geophysics.

    I did my graduate work in physics at Ball State University. I took all the graduate classes offerred in astronomy at Ball State. I also took some graduate geology courses there. My thesis in physics was a topic in theoretical geophysics.

    I have taught high school science, math, and computers for several years. Then I started teaching science at the college level at a Christian college.

    This semester I am teaching an online class on origins. I wrote an online book for the class: A Survey of Modern Creationary Thought. It is a survey of the best in Creationary scholarship. It focuses on the development of a true Creation model of science.

    I also teach all of my other science classes from a Creationary perspective and regularly bring in the best in Creationary scholarship as they touch on the various subjects.

    I am a voting member of the Creation Research Society. I am also a participant in the society's listserve, CRSNet. That is where I first came across Helen and I consider what she wrote about me as a great compliment.
     
  2. Administrator2

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    JOHN WELLS
    Thanks Hal. I appreciate you and Helen very much. I wish now that I had not shyed away from the sciences in high school and college, but then I would have just gotten more evolution tripe 35 years ago. Anyway, I'm catching up now and appreciate all the info you and Helen have brought here, even if a few on the BB don't have eyes to see and ears to hear. Thank you for defending the truth of God's Word and credible science.


    ADVOCATE
    A couple of years ago I read Michael Denton's "Evolution: a Theory in Crisis," and was certainly impressed by his scholarship and research. He's an Australian molecular biologist and a medical doctor. I have no knowledge that he is a Christian, but he certainly sees evidence of teleology in Creation. And, by the way, he sees no transitional forms in the fossil record either. If any of you have read this book, I'd be interested in your opinion of his conclusions.


    HAL PARKER
    Michael Denton's "Evolution: a Theory in Crisis" is a well written book. He deals with the issues honestly and with an eye to careful scholarship. I do think he is a theistic evolutionist of some sort. The book is definitely worth having.

    Denton's second book "Nature's Destiny" is also worth reading. It is in this book, that his ideas of theistic evolution come out. This book deals with the evidence for design in nature.

    Denton is wrong about the evolution part but is right about his critiques of atheistic evolution and his arguments for design (for the most part).


    THE BARBARIAN
    Fossilization for most animals is pretty rare. But we do have many instances of gradual evolution in the fossil record. Horses are one of these. Raup was speaking of the fact that new finds had shown that horses had branched into many kinds of animals, and that when numerous new fossils were found, it became clear how this had happened.

    We can see that kind of detail in ammonites, in the therapsid/mammal transitions, and others.

    Even Gould, who pushes Punctuated Equillibrium, has admitted that there are enough examples of gradual evolution to show that it is a fact.


    TIM THOMPSON
    Number of Phyla Over Time
    According to Hal, the number of phyla over time is decreasing, in contradiction to an evolutionary model. The evidence that I have at hand indicates that this is incorrect. The number of phyla has increased with time, as the evolutionist scenario would predict (the same is true for families, orders & classes). My source for this is the statistical analysis of the Fossil Record 2 Database [http://palaeo.gly.bris.ac.uk/frwhole/FR2.html].
    Select the Summary of data on phyla [http://palaeo.gly.bris.ac.uk/frwhole/FR2.phyla], which shows a slow but consistent increase in the number of phyla. Families, orders & classes do likewise, but all 3 show an intermediate peak with decline, and then renewed increase to a current maximum, indicative of an extinction event, followed by renewed evolution. These data would seem to contradict the creationist requirement for the number of phyla to decrease.

    Transitional Fossils
    It is a matter of some controversy, I think, what exactly constitutes a "transitional" fossil. However, there are adequate numbers of fossils, recognized by paleontologists as "trasnsitional" between all levels of taxonomic classification. I have written this up already elsewhere, "On Creation Science and Transitional Fossils http://www.geocities.com/Tim_J_Thompson/trans-fossils.html


    On the Compatibility of the Fossil Record
    This is a matter not brought up by Mr. Parker, but one of some interest I think. The fossil record reflects much agreement with totally independent findings from molecular phylogeny. The agreement between fossils & molecules seems rather to support the evolutionary scenario than to weaken it.

    As evidence, I offer the following paper, with abstract appended: Quality of the fossil record through time,
    M.J. Benton, M.A. Wills & R. Hitchin, Nature 403(6769): 534-537, February 3, 2000. Abstract: Does the fossil record present a true picture of the history of life, or should it be viewed with caution? Raup argued that plots of the diversification of life were an illustration of bias: the older the rocks, the less we know. The debate was partially resolved by the observation that different data sets gave similar patterns of rising diversity through time. Here we show that new assessment methods, in which the order of fossils in the rocks (stratigraphy) is compared with the order inherent in evolutionary trees (phylogeny), provide a more convincing analytical tool: stratigraphy and phylogeny offer independent data on history. Assessments of congruence between stratigraphy and phylogeny for a sample of 1,000 published phylogenies show no evidence of diminution of quality backwards in time. Ancient rocks clearly preserve less information, on average, than more recent rocks. However, if scaled to the stratigraphic level of the stage and the taxonomic level of the family, the past 540 million years of the fossil record provide uniformly good documentation of the life of the past.

    And there is another kind of compatibility to consider. In the last decade or so, there has been a significant amount of work done on making mathematical models of biological evolution, especially as a process featuring self organized criticality (i.e., the Bak-Sneppen model). There is evidence to indicate that self organized criticality, as predicted by mathematical models, is also reflected in the fossil record. As evidence, I offer this paper, with abstract appended:
    Evolutionary patterns from mass originations and mass extinctions, D. Hewzulla et al.,
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B - Biological Sciences 354(1382): 463-469, February 28, 1999.
    Abstract: The Fossil Record 2 database gives a stratigraphic range of most known animal and plant families. We have used it to plot the number of families extant through time and argue for an exponential fit, rather than a logistic one, on the basis of power spectra of the residuals from the exponential. The times of origins and extinctions, when plotted for all families of marine and terrestrial organisms over the last 600 Myr, reveal different origination and extinction peaks. This suggests that patterns of biological evolution are driven by its own internal dynamics as well as responding to upsets from external causes. Spectral analysis shows that the residuals from the exponential model of the marine system are more consistent with 1/f noise suggesting that self-organized criticality phenomena may be involved.

    I submit that one should not so quickly write off the fossil record as a liability to evolutionary theory. It seems to me that the two are quite compatible. And if one holds that it is a requirement of creation theory that the number of phyla (or other taxa) must decrease with time, or at least not increase with time, then it would seem that in fact the fossil record argues against creation, and in favor of evolution.

    TGAMBLE
    Originally posted by Hal Parker:
    The Cambrian Explosion
    The Cambrian rock layer is usually one of the bottom layers (sea-floor creatures, starfish, clams, etc.). Since they are on the bottom they are older (not much according to a biblical time frame) than the other layers. Since these are the oldest fossils they should be the simplest according to evolution.


    they are not the oldest fossils. There's such a thing as precambrian.


    If evolution happened, these fossils should be some of the first to evolve after the first living cell formed from molecules floating around in the ocean.

    Wrong. The cambrian period only stared 540 million years ago. The oldest life is over 3 billion.


    The Cambrian rock layer has fossils of all of the major body forms (phyla).

    Not true. Some phyla don't appear in the cambrian. Other phyla appear in precambrian rock. Not all members of the phyla appear at the same time.


    The layers below it have very few fossils. This rapid increase in body types has so surprised the experts it was called the Cambrian explosion.

    No, it's called the explosion because it marks the period of hard bodied organisims and rapid diversity.


    The Cambrian explosion is consistent with the prediction of sudden appearance by the Creation model for the fossils.

    No it's not. The cambrian period lasted millions of years. Life didn't suddenly appeard but evolved from precambrain life. Further, there were no birds, mammals, or reptiles in the cambrian "explosion".


    Many varieties of organisms appeared suddenly in the fossil record. The fossils found in the Cambrian rock layers contain fossils that require high levels of design.

    which evolved from precambrian life.


    The Cambrian explosion is inconsistent with the prediction of gradual development by the evolution model. The evolutionary process that would be required to produce almost eighty different body designs in only ten million years by random processes.

    Why eighty? Where'd you get the 10 million years figure? http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/help/timeform.html

    SHAUNR shuanr
    THank you,Hal, for an excellent and well researched post. But lets slow down and consider a couple of things...
    "Cambrian explosion?" That describes the appearance of a bunch of different lifeforms over a period of 30 million years. Thats a long time Hal. Thats 3000 creation-universe lifetimes(3000 x10,000).We're not talking about the sudden, instantaneous appearance of lifeforms, no matter what your quote mined scientists said (BTW, did any of those guys later go on to affirm their belief in YEC? I didnt think so.
    Here is an article by Glenn Morton which dicusses both the Cambrian explosion and the ancestral PreCambrian lifeforms. He actually shows the fossils, so that we know what we are talking about. Look and learn, folks! http://www.glenn.morton.btinternet.co.uk/cambevol.htm

    More on transitional forms. According to evolutionary theory, whales were originally land mammals that evolved to become ocean dwellers. As they evolved, various transitional forms had legs that gotsmaller and smaller till they virtually disappeared.
    Now, the fossil record is still very incomplete but it is gradually becoming more complete.New discoveries in the last decade have filled out the whale sequence with forms that clearly transitional, i.e.whales with smaller and smaller legs. Read about that here http://www.talkorigins.org/features/whales/

    The article discusses several kinds of independant evidence that supports whale evolution, including chronological, genetic and environmental evidence.
    Here is a question for Hal and all YECs. Evolution can explain whales with legs. What is the YEC explanation for such a creature? What is the ID explanation?


    THE BARBARIAN
    The Cambrian Explosion
    The Cambrian rock layer is usually one of the bottom layers (sea-floor creatures, starfish, clams, etc.). Since they are on the bottom they are older (not much according to a biblical time frame) than the other layers. Since these are the oldest fossils they should be the simplest according to evolution. If evolution happened, these fossils should be some of the first to evolve after the first living cell formed from molecules floating around in the ocean.


    Turns out that's not the case. We see both prokaryotes and multicellular life long before the Cambrian. See here: http://www.geo.utep.edu/class_notes/3102_Miller/Lectures/Lecture_15.html
    http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/bacteria/cyanofr.html


    The Cambrian rock layer has fossils of all of the major body forms (phyla).

    Maybe. But the Precambrian does not.


    The layers below it have very few fossils.

    Relatively few. But by the Cambrian, we see a lot of new body plans evolving.


    This rapid increase in body types has so surprised the experts it was called the Cambrian explosion. The second stage of the evolution of living things had an incredible amount of diversity so evolutionarily young.

    Actually, we see a lot of signs of living things in the immediate Precambrian, but being soft-bodied, they mostly left traces of burrows, tracks on mud, and the like. But there are all those small sclerites of partially-armored animals for which we have no adequate fossils. All that remains are the hard parts. Most likely, these became increasingly covered by sclerites, and as they did, we can find entire fossils. Not surprisingly, this coincides with the "Cambrian Explosion".


    The Cambrian also had life more complex than would be expected if the evolution model were true.

    Last time I looked, evolutionary theory was willing to admit hard parts could evolve in tens of millions of years. Since we have both partially scleritized bodies and multicellular organisms in the Precambrian, there doesn't seem to be any problem here.


    The Cambrian explosion is consistent with the prediction of sudden appearance by the Creation model for the fossils.

    The major problem for the "creationism model" is that the "sudden appearance" of multicellular organisms came about over many millions of years.


    Many varieties of organisms appeared suddenly in the fossil record. The fossils found in the Cambrian rock layers contain fossils that require high levels of design.

    "Design" is a religious notion, not a scientific one. It's not a Christian notion, though, since it's a blasphemy to say that God must "design" like a limited creature.


    The Cambrian explosion is inconsistent with the prediction of gradual development by the evolution model.

    No, that's wrong. Unless you want to pretend all those Precambrian fossils don't exist.


    DM
    Originally posted by Hal Parker:
    Fish to Amphibian
    This should be an ideal case for evolution because the bone structure of a fish is clearly different from the bone structure of an amphibian. The skeleton of a fish would have to change in clear detectable ways to turn into the skeleton of an amphibian. Also, bones fossilize well. There should be unmistakable transitional forms between a fish and an amphibian.
    The body of a fish is supported by the water. The fins of a fish are not connected to the backbone by other bones. The body of an amphibian is supported by its legs when it is on land. The legs of an amphibian are connected to the backbone by other bones. If a fish evolved into an amphibian, then either a fish-like creature that had its fins connected to its backbone should be found as a fossil, or an amphibian-like creature with its legs not connected to its backbone should be found as a fossil. No such creature has been found as a fossil.
    I have more about the vertebrate fossils, but that should be enough for now.


    From fish to amphibian (more properly, tetrapod) is quite apparent in the fossil record. There are a number of significant fossils which demonstrate the very things that you ask. First, though, there needs to be a bit of clarification: Tetrapods did not originate from teleosts ("bony fish", for example perch or salmon), but sarcopterygians, aka the lobe-finned fishes. Modern lobe-finned fish include the three species of lungfish and the coelacanth. Therefore the specific transitions you "expect" to see will not be found, because you have mistakenly identified the originating branch of fish (it should also be noted that coelacanths are a separate lineage of lobe-finned fish from sarcopterygii, and are thus not on the tetrapod lineage).

    There are a number of fossil lineages of lobe-finned fishes, but the osteolepiformes are thought to be the ones that represent ancestral forms of tetrapods. These are clearly fish, but they possess pelvic and pectoral girdles (a bony complex that attach the bones of the lobe-fin to the backbone), and fin bones of a pattern homologous to that found in tetrapod limbs. They have a fish-like skull, but with a pattern of paired vault bones that approaches the tetrapod condition. A new bone, the squamosal, separates the preopercular bone from the maxilla. This bone is found in tetrapod skulls. One of the best known osteolepiform lobe-finned fish is Eusthenopteron. This vertebrate had a skull with paired vault bones, well developed shoulder and hip girdles, and limb bones with the tetrapod pattern: a single proximal limb bone attached to the shoulder or hip girdle (homologous to the humerus or femur), paired distal limb bones attached to the single bone (the radius/ulna or tibia/fibula pairing), and radiating distal elements (not homologous to digits in these particular fish). The attachments are real articulating joints. As well, the vertebrae (backbone elements) of Eusthenopteron begin to show the pattern of tetrapods: a tripartite arrangements of small bones that shows the early development of a bony ring around the notochord, and the origin of vertebral spines.

    Acanthostega is a primitive tetrapod that shows strong fish-like affinities: it is very similar to Eusthenopteron except that it has actual limbs, although they are very fin-like. The tetrapod limb pattern is more pronounced, and the radiating bony elements have been reduced to 8 digits. It also retains gill arches and a tail, and a more strongly-derived skull in the tetrapod direction. It appears that Acanthostega did not move about on land, although its "fins" are unmistakable limbs.

    Ichthyostega is another rather fish-like tetrapod, which had the ability to support its body terrestrially (it possessed extremely robust, overlapping ribs). It had 7 toes (the hands are unknown), and retained a fish-like tail. Its skull is flattened as in tetrapods, but the pattern of paired vault bones in the skull echoes that of the osteolepform fish Eusthenopteron.

    There are other primitive fish and tetrapods that fill the gaps between Eusthenopteron, Acanthostega and Ichthyostega, such as the panderichthyids (lobe-finned fishes that are quite tetrapod-like) but most of those are not as well known as Eusthenopteron and Ichthyostega. There is no question, though, that the fossil record displays precisely the changes you claim it should: fish with bony attachments of fin to pectoral and pelvic girdles; fish with limbs of the same bony pattern as tetrapod limbs; a series of lobe-finned fishes that acquire more and more traits found in tetrapods (possession of internal nares, changes to number and pattern of skull bones, increasingly derived condition of the vertebrae, among others); forms almost exactly intermediate between fish and tetrapods (Acanthostega-a fish with limbs, or an aquatic tetrapod?), a tetrapod that retains many fish-like characters (Ichthyostega). You are correct-there are indeed unmistakable transitional forms between fish and amphibians, and this transition is very well documented in the fossil record.

    ******

    I must hasten to correct an error: I noted that coelacanths were a separate lineage from sarcopterygians, but this is incorrect. Coelacanths are a separate lineage from the rhipidistian osteolepiformes (wherein Eusthenopteron is located); both of these lineages are sarcopterygians (lobe-fins).

    Sorry for the confusion.
     
  3. Administrator2

    Administrator2
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    [Administrator: The following is from another thread dealing with the same subject. We apologize that the name of the person writing the first post here was somehow deleted. If that person would like to claim his or her post, we will insert the name in the correct spot.]

    [NAME –fG?]
    If you are after an example of an incorrect dating of a layer using fossils, here’s one:

    The Devonian/Carboniferous stratigraphic section southeast of Hutk, southeastern Iran is easily accessible and one of several good reference sections within the region. It is well exposed, fossiliferous, and has been the subject of previous studies, including part of the 1998 IGCP 421 field conference. In the Hutk section the Bahram Formation was reported to be Late Devonian and Early Carboniferous, including over 100m of both Frasnian and Famennian strata. A similar stratigraphic section, slightly less accessible, occurs northeast of Shams Abad, 35 kilometers southwest of Hutk. A rich crinoid horizon, one to two meters thick, was found in what had been considered the Famennian, approximately 15m above the Frasnian/Famennian contact. The fauna, numerically and systematically dominated by glossocrinids, contains additional cladids, camerates, and flexibles.
    The crinoid-bearing beds initially were considered to be Famennian because the crinoid fauna compares more closely with Famennian than with coeval or nearly coeval Tournaisian crinoid faunas from Germany, England, and North America, and because of the previously assigned stratigraphic age. Conodonts retrieved from matrix of in situ blocks containing the crinoid specimens came from two localities. Conodonts from the Shams Abad area (lower horizon) included Polygnathus bischoffi, P. bartensis, and P. communis communis. The combination of P. bischoffi and P. bartensis indicates an Early Carboniferous age within the Lower crenulata Biozone to isosticha-Upper crenulata Biozone. Conodonts from southeast of Hutk (upper horizon) yielded Protognathus praedelicatus, Gnathodus typicus, and Polygnathus communis communis, which suggest that the horizon can be no older than isosticha-Upper crenulata Biozone (because G. typicus first occurs within this zone) and no younger than anchoralis-latus Biozone (because all three taxa are known to occur in this biozone). Consequently, the crinoidal interval may span parts of two Early Carboniferous conodont biozones. This new information also indicates that the Famennian, if present, is much thinner in the Hutk region than previously recognized.

    MAPLES, Christopher G., Department of Geological Sciences, Indiana Univ, WEBSTER, Gary D., Department of Geology, Washington State Univ, MAWSON, Ruth, School of Earth Sciences, Macquarie Univ, New South Wales,
    TALENT, John A., Macquarie Univ, Dept Earth & Planetary Science, and DASTANPOUR, Mohammad, Department of Geology, Shahid Bahonar Univ, Kerman, Iran.

    Poster presented at GSA Annual Meeting, Boston, Mass. 2001.

    The link is found here. http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2001AM/finalprogram/abstract_28211.htm

    These things, of course, happen from time to time. More detailed investigations of outcrops can yield fossils previously unrecognised, leading to a re-interpretation of the age of the section.

    I don’t think there is any circular reasoning here, but since you asked for an example of incorrect dating of rock layers I am happy to oblige, even though I am not a creationist!


    [Administrator: this is from a third thread which dealt with the fossil record]

    JOHN PAUL
    How do evolutionists think the fossil record was formed?

    This is key to any 'transitional' debate. So before we venture there, please answer this so we can have a good reference point.

    How do evolutionists date fossils?

    This is also key to the 'transitional' debate. In order to understand the transitional nature of a fossil it is important to know if it is indeed younger than its alleged ancesters and older than its alleged descendants.


    TGAMBLE
    The fossil record WAS formed over millions of years of natural life, death and burial processes.
    Geologists date rocks using radiometric dating methods.
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-age-of-earth.html
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dating.html
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/isochron-dating.html
    http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/8851/radiometric.html



    JOHN PAUL
    I did NOT ask how rocks are dated tg. I guess the best you can do is biostratigraphy. But that does NOT answer if the fossils are found on the surface- very similar to the large dinosaur that was found in the Sahara.


    LAFLAVOR
    im not sure what you want to know then. minerals seep into organic matter over time leaving a fossil.

    what do you think a fossil is?


    JOHN PAUL
    im not sure what you want to know then. minerals seep into organic matter over time leaving a fossil.

    That is IF the organism is buried after it died and before it decayed or was scavenged.

    What I want to know is if you guys think fossilization can occur without the dead organism being buried. Because if rapid burial IS a requirement that would put a damper on biostratigraphy.


    RADIOCHEMIST
    John Paul, can you explain how being found on the surface causes any problem with dating?


    JOHN PAUL
    Biostratigraphy requires a fossil to be between date-able strata. If a fossil is on the surface it is not between strata. (Not to mention that biostraigraphy assumes 'mainstream' geology is correct about its PoV of the geologic column)

    So, how is such a (surface) fossil dated?


    DANEEL
    You might first explain what it is that you are talking about. There is no "fossil record" there are just fossils. Not only are there fossils there are many different kinds of fossils.

    Being a botanist I cannot speak for the animal fossils but plant fossils come in compressions, cast and mold, and petrifactions. Each has its own information but the petrifactions have the most. Do a search on coal balls. These are plant petrifactions that are found in coal seams and give us a neat picture of what those plants that lived in the coal swamps were like 300 million years ago. You can actually see the outline of individual cells in the plant organs that existed then. Guess what, all the plants found produced spores and were related to a few rare phyla that are alive today.


    HRG/ALTER EGO
    In order to understand the transitional nature of a fossil it is important to know if it is indeed younger than its alleged ancesters and older than its alleged descendants.

    No, it isn't; it is quite sufficient that it fits plus/minus a few 10 million years. A transitional does not have to belong to the actual line of descent *). Archaeopteryx is a transitional between theropod and birds since it shows unmistakeable properties of both groups. It doesn't matter that it might have died without recent descendants.

    *) In the absence of birth and marriage certificates, that would be difficult to prove anyway ....

    There are some dialects still spoken in the Swiss alps which are transitional between Old and Middle High German (and thus evidence that MHG developed from OHG), although both languages themselves are "extinct".


    JOHN PAUL
    You might first explain what it is that you are talking about. There is no "fossil record" there are just fossils.

    Then why do evolutionists keep asking Creationists to explain the fossil record? BTW, encyclopedia Brtitannica talks about the fossil record. A google search turns up articles on the fossil record.


    Not only are there fossils there are many different kinds of fossils.

    Yup.


    Being a botanist I cannot speak for the animal fossils but plant fossils come in compressions, cast and mold, and petrifactions.

    Would all of these require rapid burial? Can a plant petrify by dying and then just hanging out on the ground?


    These are plant petrifactions that are found in coal seams and give us a neat picture of what those plants that lived in the coal swamps were like 300 million years ago.

    How did you arrive at that time period?


    …it is quite sufficient that it fits plus/minus a few 10 million years.

    That's your answer?


    A transitional does not have to belong to the actual line of descent *).

    Then what is it a transition to and from?


    Archaeopteryx is a transitional between theropod and birds since it shows unmistakeable properties of both groups.

    There is data that says dinos did not evolve into birds. One is from embryology that froggie brought up in another thread and the other is from Feduccia- "It's biophysically impossible to evolve flight from such large bipeds with foreshortened forelimbs and heavy, balancing tails," exactly the wrong anatomy for flight.


    It doesn't matter that it might have died without recent descendants.

    My point is if the alleged ancestor cannot be dated before its alleged descendant, how can anyone claim 'transition'?

    JEFF
    So, how is such a (surface) fossil dated?

    Hey !! Great question! …and though I’m no expert, I’d still like to take a shot at it.

    The Geologic column typically has uniform layers that can be traced across entire regions and in some cases, around the globe. If there are any cliff sides near ( or not-so-near ) the surface fossil where erosion has left samples of multiple rock layers , geologists can identify the layer in which the fossil resides and then compare this layer to the eroded cliff side. When they identify where this layer is in context with those above, then a tentative date can be given to specimens found between the layers.

    It’s not a perfect solution, but science isn’t perfect either. If geologists are unable to identify the superior layers from eroded sites nearby, they can still obtain a tentative date from the layer containing the fossil. We could conclude the upper limit of the fossil's age is no older than the layer in which it was found. Now, whether geologists currently possess an estimated age for a particular rock layer is another question, entirely.


    EDGE
    Biostratigraphy requires a fossil to be between date-able strata.

    Not entirely true. This is one aspect of biostratigraphy that creationists do not seem to understand. Long before there were absolute dates, geologists knew that that fossils could be put in a relative order. In other words some types of fossil trilobites, for instance, were ALWAYS found below others. This allowed relative ages to be inferred. Creationists do not acknowledge this, partly because they have never been told about it by their creationist leaders and partly because they do not believe that geologists can actually create a geological column.


    If a fossil is on the surface it is not between strata. (Not to mention that biostraigraphy assumes 'mainstream' geology is coorect about its PoV of the geologic column)

    Not true at all unless the fossil is out of place or somehow transported. Usually we can tell which stratum a fossil came from. If not, the data may not be accepted.


    So, how is such a (surface) fossil dated?

    By correlating it with a stratum from which it is known to occur.


    Can a plant petrify by dying and then just hanging out on the ground?

    Actually, no and yes, depending, that is on your definition of "rapid." Even after an organism is completely decayed or scavenged, the imprint might last for a long time on the surface or in quiet water. Even a thin layer ofdust might make it preservable in the geological record. Perhaps you should think about the difference between a footprint and a carcass.


    MR BEN
    There is good reason to believe that the geological strata we see formed through the same processes we see today. Dramatic fast processes which leave deep deposits in short episodes like big floods (like the breaking of the glacier dams in North America) (flow hills), volcanos (bassalt, rhyolite, pumice, etc.), and slow processes which form very thinner layers like sedimentary deposit of mud (slate, mudstone), sand and gravel (conglomerate, sandstone), sand dunes (sandstone), marine carbonate deposits (limestone), and the reprocessing and remelting of these under pressure and heat (quartz, granite, marble, etc.).

    Since the geology that fossils are found in bear the same fingerprints (and same chemical makeup, as well as structure) as todays modern deposits, it is strongly indicated that the fossils found in these geological deposits were burried in the same way they are in these types of deposits today. Fast burial in floods and volcanic events, decomposition and slow burial due to sedimentation in mud flats, estuaries, and other sedimentary structures, being covered with sand and petrified, covered with tree sap, etc.

    As to your second statement, the sequence of transitionals depends on only one assumption.. that the layers were formed bottom first.


    How do evolutionists date fossils?

    First of all, broad dating of fossils is determined by the relative depth in the geological sequence of the layer the fossil was found in. Geological strata stretch widely across continents, and overlap. By tracing what layers are always above and below other layers, you can get a sequence of layers called the geological column for any given broad area. This is what the early geologists did in Brittain and Europe before Darwin was born, and is why the geological epochs have names such as Cambrian and Devonian.

    Obviously layers which are below other layers are 'older', and layers which are above are 'younger'.

    The next step is to meticulously catalogue what fossils are found in which layers in the sequence. Since the sequences intermeshes across continents, it is possible to order all layers in a common sequence, and since only certain fossils are found in certain layers, it is possible to produce a timewise 'stairstep' sequence of fossils.

    The 'age' of the layers were unknown, but estimated to be quite old to explain both the number of layers, the time needed for long processes such as volcanic activity to build up and wear down volcanic strata, the time for mountains to wear down, the time for granites to crystalize, etc.

    Finally, it was discovered that by plotting what is known as an isochron of multiple samples of certain types of isotopes, you could eliminate the uncertainty of radioisotope dating, identify bad or undatable samples, and produce a line from all samples which would indicate the amount of parent/daughter products of an isotope that had formed since the sample was last molten. Thousands of independent samples using a variety of different isotopes with 'different' decay rates have been taken over the years, and all converge on the same set of dates for the same set of layers which were previously dated using their relative position. These dates also, suprisingly, indicated that the earth was dramatically older than some estimates, at least 3 billion years old.

    As to your second statement, the only assumption that is needed to trace the sequence of transitional species correctly is that fossils from lower layers are older than those in higher layers, and that layer formations that overlap each other are ordered bottom up.

    The dating of a fossil relative to other fossils does NOT depend on radiometric dating techniques.

    This is why early paleontologists reffered to fossils as 'Cambrian' or 'Permian', etc. And since the order of these layers, and the fossils in them, are always found with the 'Cambrian' under the 'Devonian', etc. the age of 'Cambrian' fossils must be older than the 'Permian' fossils. Were we ever to find a permian fossil in Cambrian layers, or below them.. this whole dating idea would have to be thrown out the window.

    Such a fossil has yet to be found after several hundred years of hunting.


    If a fossil is on the surface it is not between strata. (Not to mention that biostraigraphy assumes 'mainstream' geology is coorect about its PoV of the geologic column)
    So, how is such a (surface) fossil dated?


    Some fossils are found 'lying' on the surface, but most are found 'poking out' of the ground, articulated or embedded in the strata they are in. If the position of the strata in the local and region wide sequence is known, you can determine the era the fossil is from.


    EDGE
    Biostratigraphy requires a fossil to be between date-able strata.

    Sorry, but I can't let this one go. Biostratigraphy requires no such thing. It only requires a recognizable pattern of fossil development. So, we only need fossils to be between other fossils. Then, once a pattern is established you can date other fossils/rocks, by comparing them to the original pattern. I think this is what creationists refer to as "circular reasoning." At any rate, according to biostratigraphy, if we have the correct fossils we can date any rock, out of context or not, on the surface, in a pile of gravel in your driveway, or on your bookshelf. It doesn't really matter. There is enough in situ data now to provide realistic dates for most previously known fossils.


    If a fossil is on the surface it is not between strata.

    I know we have been over this ground before, but this statement is not entirely true. Pretty much any undergrad geology student can link a "surface fossil" to some underlying geological unit.

    [ January 19, 2002: Message edited by: Administrator ]
     

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