The Fossil Record Problem-Part I

Ever since my earliest days, I was always fascinated with, and collected, fossils. I was a country kid (still am–although the kid part is euphemistic–I hope). There were no close neighbors or friends for me to play with during one period. But there was plenty to do. We had a big woods behind our house (probably 4 square miles). I spent enumerable hours exploring. My father showed me two of his childhood discoveries, which gave me a great deal of pleasure. One was a limestone-bottom creek that was fed by a spring, and the other was a cave system. Both the creek, and the cave were lined with fossils of ancient marine life. Beware, there are chiggers out in the sticks.1 I became accustomed to having scabs on my legs from poison ivy, chiggers, and mosquito bites. That was just part of summer.

There were entire sheets, or masses, of limestone with the same type of fossils. Certain of which, must have been rapidly covered and fossilized. Brachiopods2 were at the top of my list of most coveted fossils (most often Neospirifer or Derbyia).

My father gave me the standard uniformitarian view–that this part of middle America was once an ancient sea bed–millions of years ago.  He also told me that he thought it could be from the great flood, because it was clear that the ancient life forms had been covered rapidly.  I think I just imagined then that it was from millions of years ago, but the wonder of the sheets of fossils stuck with me.  Millions of years is a quite compelling romantic notion for youth (of the tall and short variety).3

Most of these forms are extinct today. But the ones that continue to live are virtually unchanged from their fossilized forms.4,5

So, as always, the problem of the blind search of evolution will be up to you to decide. It’s difficult for me to look at the illustration above, and believe that a virtually blind process can create the complexity of this organism. Perhaps that’s a failure of my imagination, or perhaps I am correct. Your personal beliefs and views will determine what you decide.

    References:

1 City folk warn on the ‘disaster’ of chiggers for fossil hunting (amusing)
2 Wiki – Brachiopods
3 Milton Erickson — “You will see many children in your practice. Some of the short variety and some of the tall variety.”
4 Wiki – Craniidae
5 Wiki – Rhynchonellida

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5 Responses

  1. Most of these forms are extinct today. But the ones that continue to live are virtually unchanged from their fossilized forms.

    I understand your point here, but I can’t help but ask some questions that come to mind when I see this kind of evidence.

    So if the newbies are virtually unchanged from the “millions of years” old fossils, then where is the evidence for evolution? Why are there not hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of fossilized variations (evolutionary stages) of these creatures, which I would think that you and others, including scientists, would have found as you explored? Were these particular creatures an exception to the rule of evolution? In other words, were these particular creatures created whole from the beginning? If so, then the theory of evolution has some really inventive explaining to do!

  2. Consider the modern shark species, which have remained more or less unchanged in the last 100 million years (where they just start “appearing”). And ancient sharks are thought be have been around for as much as 400 million years. Yet sharks have always been predatory fish and nothing else according to the fossil record.

    The fossil record cannot account for the countless mutations and transitional forms from single-celled marine life to a shark (and I don’t think anyone is suggesting sharks evolved from land creatures).
    And these fossils are not in hard to access places, like under the ocean floors. They can be found in the eastern USA. So the fossil record cannot account for how sharks evolved, or why they stopped evolving.

    (Also note this is the same evolutionary science that also claims that in a mere 60 million years or so, a T-Rex can evolve all the way into a chicken!)

    But, yeah, sharks evolved none-the-less. No fossil evidence. No DNA evidence via reproducible, observable patterns of genetic adaptations. But, yeah, it “happened”. After all somebody couldn’t have just “put them there”.

  3. DB and Mike, you have anticipated my next post!

  4. Since sharks have a cartilaginous skeleton, they will leave few remains compared to bony fish, mollusks, and arthropods living in the same or comparable environments.

  5. Since sharks have a cartilaginous skeleton, they will leave few remains compared to bony fish, mollusks, and arthropods living in the same or comparable environments.

    Yes, in many cases, all that is found are teeth (as they made of bone, and sharks grow thousands of them during their lifetime). Apparently, that’s quite sufficient to reconstruct 400 million years of history.

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