Fossil Fantasy -- By: Austin Robbins
BSP 10:1 (Winter 1997) p. 1
Austin Robbins, DDS, recently retired from private practice in New Jersey. He was previously on the faculties of Georgetown University School of Dentistry, Temple University Dental School, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Robbins is a member of the Board of Directors of the Associates for Biblical Research.
Few people are aware of the true nature of the fossil record. Most think it demonstrates slow, step-by-step changes from simple to more complex forms of life. While it is true that fossils are usually found in successive layers of rock with smaller, mostly marine creatures in the underlying layers, this is by no means always the case. Missing layers of sedimentary rock frequently create great gaps in the arrangement of fossil sequences. Reversals of the “proper” order of the rock layers are common.
The most striking feature of the fossils, however, is the lack of change. Most fossils are similar to or exactly like their living counterparts. Fossilized clams, jellyfish and sea urchins, for instance, look just like those today. Bats, long fossilized, are indistinguishable from modern ones. Practically every creature alive today has its counterpart somewhere in the fossil-bearing rocks.
A second striking observation is the fact of extinction. Many more lifeforms died and were fossilized than are presently alive. Extinction is the rule. For every creature now alive, many more have become extinct.
Another observation, confirmed by paleontologists themselves, is the absence of transitions between groups of plants and animals. Creatures appear suddenly in the rocks with no apparent ancestors. In the lowest layer of fossil-bearing rocks, the Cambrian, every major group (phylum) of animals has been found. This includes both animals without backbones (invertebrates) and those with backbones (vertebrates). The sudden appearance of these fossilized animals in the Cambrian layer, with no ancestors, has been termed the “Cambrian explosion of life.” Dr. Nils Eldredge of the American Museum of Natural History is quoted as saying,
there is still a tremendous problem with the sudden diversification of multi-cellular life (Sunderland 1984: 45).
Breaks always exist between the larger groups of plants and animals. No continuous sequence leads from one to another. Leading paleontologists, such as Dr. Colin Patterson of the British Museum of Natural History, Dr. David Raup at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and Dr. David Pilbeam of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University, acknowledge this. For instance, the transition between invertebrates and vertebrates is a mystery. Fi...
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