Assumption Five, part two: Transitional fossils demonstrate the “fact” of evolution.
If macroevolution is true (see part one), if simple life forms evolved into complex life forms, the fossil record should contain an enormous number of transitional fossils—intermediate stages between major groups of plants and animals. In particular, there should be a plethora of transitional fossils between classes of animals: between fish and amphibians, amphibians and reptiles, reptiles and birds, and reptiles and mammals. This should include countless examples of distinct body parts in the process of change, such as reptile scales evolving into bird feathers and mammal fur, or legs evolving into wings—or some other easily identifiable intermediate stage. But no such fossils have been found.
Consider for a moment what such physical changes would require, even among animals within a particular class. A widely held macroevolutionary scenario is that whales evolved from an ancestral land mammal fifty millions years ago. For this to have happened, it would require, among other things, forearms evolving into fins, nostrils moving to the top of the head, and the emergence of tail flukes—not to mention all the changes that would have to take place simultaneously with internal organs. Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, David Belinski, calculated (his “most modest estimate”) that it would take 50,000 intermediate transitional stages for a land-dwelling mammal to evolve into a sea-dwelling marine mammal! Where are they? The fossil record has yet to reveal them.
The fact is, despite the accumulation of many tons of fossils over more than a hundred and fifty years, paleontologists have yet to produce credible fossil specimens of any intermediate stage between any of the major groupings of animals. Fossil specimens that evolutionists claim are intermediate stages always turn out to be extinct species of fully formed fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, and so on. A classic example of this is the alleged evolutionary link between reptiles and birds, Archaeopteryx. Evolutionists once considered Archaeopteryx their fossil ace-in-the-hole—a perfect example of an intermediate species. It turned out, however, that Archaeopteryx was just an extinct species of bird with an odd assortment of bird and reptile-like features. ( I document this in The Christian Combat Manual)
Archaeopteryx isn’t unique. Other creatures possess characteristics common to various classes of animal. The duckbilled platypus is a fury mammal with mammary glands, but it lays eggs like a reptile and is venomous. The lungfish has fins and gills like other fish but also lungs and a larval stage like an amphibian. In both cases, none of their organs are transitional—they are fully developed. Lungfish organs that resemble a fish are typical of ordinary fish, and those that resemble an amphibian are like those of other amphibians. Yet the lungfish is a fish and the platypus a mammal. No paleontologists believe either creature represents intermediate stages. They are just odd—but unique—species of their respective groups.
But what about the transitional fossils portrayed in high school and college textbooks, magazines like National Geographic, museums, and television documentaries? They are merely artists conceptions of what such transitional stages would look like if they did exist! This is nowhere more evident than in so-called human evolution, which has a long history of fossil fakes, frauds, and fanciful drawings of alleged pre-human ancestors. Henry Gee, British paleontologist and senior biological editor of the scientific journal Nature, points out “that all the evidence for human evolution ‘between about 10 and 5 million years ago . . . can be fitted into a small box.’” Gee adds that the Darwinist portrayal of human evolution is “a completely human invention created after the fact, shaped to accord with human prejudices.”
The fact is the fossil record actually works against Darwinism and supports creation. In an evolutionary timeline there should have existed billions of transitional specimens. Yet the scarcity of even contested specimens in the fossil record is widely acknowledged among Darwinists. When animal kinds first appear in the fossil record, they are fully formed with no fossil evidence they evolved from ancestral species. Indeed, as I pointed out, there are not even examples of gradually evolving body parts. Insect wings, for example, are well-developed and complex when they first appear in the fossil record. Likewise there is no evolutionary evidence that feathers or fur evolved from scales; both are fully formed when they appear in the fossil record.
So, what does the fossil record really reveal—even on an evolutionary timeline? I’ll let it speak for itself.
The Cambrian Explosion
In an evolutionary timeline, the oldest and most primitive life forms to inhabit the earth were single-celled organism (such as bacteria and algae), which allegedly evolved out of inorganic chemicals several billion years ago. Then, some 550 million years ago, these primitive organisms were thought to have somehow evolved into multi-cellular life, initiating biological evolution. We saw in a previous blog article, however, that there is no evidence that singled-celled organisms evolved out of some kind of mythical prebiotic soup (chemical evolution). Nor is there any fossil evidence to support the assumption that complex, multi-cellular life forms evolved from single-celled organisms. This is supported by what evolutionary paleontologists call the “Cambrian explosion”.
Around 550 million years ago, representative fossils of nearly every phylum of invertebrates that ever lived (animals without backbones) suddenly appeared in the fossil record—without a trace of pre-Cambrian ancestors. This massive surge of new life occurred within five to ten millions years—merely minutes on an evolutionary timeline!. Some of these ancient creatures became extinct, but others have remained virtually unchanged through all the millions of years of their assumed existence on earth.
This same absence of fossil ancestors is a characteristic of every other stage of alleged animal evolution. Insects, for example, supposedly evolved over a period of 250 million years, yet no pre-insect fossils have been found anywhere in the fossil record. They are all fully formed when they first appear, and are basically the same as their modern counterparts (except for size—extinct insects were generally much larger). In other words, these highly complex invertebrates not only have no evolutionary past, they have no evolutionary future. Similarly, other members in the phylum Arthropoda—including crustaceans, spiders, dragonflies, cockroaches, centipedes, and myriad others creatures—have changed little or not at all throughout their entire hypothetical evolutionary history.
Continuing on the evolutionary timeline, we come to vertebrates (animals with backbones). The earliest vertebrates were fish, which supposedly evolved some hundred millions years after the Cambrian invertebrates. Have any pre-fish fossils from that hundred million year period been found? Not one. Fish appear in the fossil record fully developed with fins, scales, and gills. Next, amphibians are said to have evolved from fish, and later reptiles from amphibians. Although some reptiles have skeletal features similar to amphibians (an example of common design), in all cases they appear suddenly and without transitional predecessors in the fossil record.
I could continue on to birds and mammals, but I’m sure you get the picture. The fossil record consistently shows the sudden appearance of animal phylum and classes without evidence of intermediate transitional species. Clearly, this disqualifies gradual, random, mutation-drive macroevolution. On the other hand, the lack of intermediate, transitional species fits perfectly in a creationist’s model. God created the original “prototypes” off all the animals that every lived on earth. How they adapted and changed to become the myriad varieties we see today is the subject of my next (and final) blog article in this series.
* This and the other blog articles in this series are copyrighted material and may not be reproduced electronically or in print. But feel free to link this blog to your own website, personal email list, or Facebook friends. I have a chapter on the lack of transitional fossils in my book The Christian Combat Manual (AMG Publishers). My sources are documented there.