Origin of Species in Fossil Records
The evolutionist assertion is that each species on earth came from a single common ancestor through minor changes. In other words, the theory considers life as a continuous phenomenon, without any preordained or fixed categories. However, the observation of nature clearly does not reveal such a continuous picture. What emerges from the living world is that life forms are strictly separated in very distinct categories. Robert Carroll, an evolutionist authority, admits this fact in his Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution:
Although an almost incomprehensible number of species inhabit Earth today, they do not form a continuous spectrum of barely distinguishable intermediates. Instead, nearly all species can be recognized as belonging to a relatively limited number of clearly distinct major groups, with very few illustrating intermediate structures or ways of life.
Therefore, evolutionists assume that "intermediate" life forms that constitute links between living organisms have lived in the past. This is why it is considered that the fundamental science that can shed light on the matter is paleontology, the science of the study of fossils. Evolution is alleged to be a process that took place in the past, and the only scientific source that can provide us with information on the history of life is fossil discoveries. The well-known French paleontologist Pierre-Paul Grassé has this to say on the subject:
Naturalists must remember that the process of evolution is revealed only through fossil forms... only paleontology can provide them with the evidence of evolution and reveal its course or mechanisms.
In order for the fossil record to shed any light on the subject, we shall have to compare the hypotheses of the theory of evolution with fossil discoveries.
According to the theory of evolution, every species has emerged from a predecessor. One species which existed previously turned into something else over time, and all species have come into being in this way. According to the theory, this transformation proceeds gradually over millions of years.
If this were the case, then innumerable intermediate species should have lived during the immense period of time when these transformations were supposedly occurring. For instance, there should have lived in the past some half-fish/half-reptile creatures which had acquired some reptilian traits in addition to the fish traits they already had. Or there should have existed some reptile/bird creatures, which had acquired some avian traits in addition to the reptilian traits they already possessed. Evolutionists refer to these imaginary creatures, which they believe to have lived in the past, as "transitional forms."
If such animals had really existed, there would have been millions, even billions, of them. More importantly, the remains of these creatures should be present in the fossil record. The number of these transitional forms should have been even greater than that of present animal species, and their remains should be found all over the world. In The Origin of Species, Darwin accepted this fact and explained:
If my theory be true, numberless intermediate varieties, linking most closely all of the species of the same group together must assuredly have existed... Consequently evidence of their former existence could be found only amongst fossil remains.
Even Darwin himself was aware of the absence of such transitional forms. He hoped that they would be found in the future. Despite his optimism, he realized that these missing intermediate forms were the biggest stumbling-block for his theory. That is why he wrote the following in the chapter of the The Origin of Species entitled "Difficulties on Theory":
…Why, if species have descended from other species by fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all nature in confusion, instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined?… But, as by this theory innumerable transitional forms must have existed, why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?… But in the intermediate region, having intermediate conditions of life, why do we not now find closely-linking intermediate varieties? This difficulty for a long time quite confounded me.
The only explanation Darwin could come up with to counter this objection was the argument that the fossil record uncovered so far was inadequate. He asserted that when the fossil record had been studied in detail, the missing links would be found.
The Question of Transitional Forms and Stasis
Believing in Darwin's prophecy, evolutionary paleontologists have been digging up fossils and searching for missing links all over the world since the middle of the nineteenth century. Despite their best efforts, no transitional forms have yet been uncovered. All the fossils unearthed in excavations have shown that, contrary to the beliefs of evolutionists, life appeared on earth all of a sudden and fully-formed.
Robert Carroll, an expert on vertebrate paleontology and a committed evolutionist, comes to admit that the Darwinist hope has not been satisfied with fossil discoveries:
Despite more than a hundred years of intense collecting efforts since the time of Darwin's death, the fossil record still does not yield the picture of infinitely numerous transitional links that he expected.
Another evolutionary paleontologist, K. S. Thomson, tells us that new groups of organisms appear very abruptly in the fossil record:
When a major group of organisms arises and first appears in the record, it seems to come fully equipped with a suite of new characters not seen in related, putatively ancestral groups. These radical changes in morphology and function appear to arise very quickly…
Biologist Francis Hitching, in his book The Neck of the Giraffe: Where Darwin Went Wrong, states:
If we find fossils, and if Darwin's theory was right, we can predict what the rock should contain; finely graduated fossils leading from one group of creatures to another group of creatures at a higher level of complexity. The 'minor improvements' in successive generations should be as readily preserved as the species themselves. But this is hardly ever the case. In fact, the opposite holds true, as Darwin himself complained; "innumerable transitional forms must have existed, but why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?" Darwin felt though that the "extreme imperfection" of the fossil record was simply a matter of digging up more fossils. But as more and more fossils were dug up, it was found that almost all of them, without exception, were very close to current living animals.
The fossil record reveals that species emerged suddenly, and with totally different structures, and remained exactly the same over the longest geological periods. Stephen Jay Gould, a Harvard University paleontologist and well-known evolutionist, admitted this fact first in the late 70s:
The history of most fossil species include two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism: 1) Stasis - most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless; 2) Sudden appearance - in any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and 'fully formed'.
Further research only strengthened the facts of stasis and sudden appearance. Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge write in 1993 that "most species, during their geological history, either do not change in any appreciable way, or else they fluctuate mildly in morphology, with no apparent direction."45 Robert Carroll is forced to agree in 1997 that "Most major groups appear to originate and diversify over geologically very short durations, and to persist for much longer periods without major morphological or trophic change."
At this point, it is necessary to clarify just what the concept of "transitional form" means. The intermediate forms predicted by the theory of evolution are living things falling between two species, but which possess deficient or semi-developed organs. But sometimes the concept of intermediate form is misunderstood, and living structures which do not possess the features of transitional forms are seen as actually doing so. For instance, if one group of living things possesses features which belong to another, this is not an intermediate form feature. The platypus, a mammal living in Australia, reproduces by laying eggs just like reptiles. In addition, it has a bill similar to that of a duck. Scientists describe such creatures as the platypus as "mosaic creatures." That mosaic creatures do not count as intermediate forms is also accepted by such foremost paleontologists as Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge.
The Adequacy of the Fossil Record
Some 140 years ago Darwin put forward the following argument: "Right now there are no transitional forms, yet further research will uncover them." Is this argument still valid today? In other words, considering the conclusions from the entire fossil record, should we accept that transitional forms never existed, or should we wait for the results of new research?
The wealth of the existing fossil record will surely answer this question. When we look at the paleontological findings, we come across an abundance of fossils. Billions of fossils have been uncovered all around the world.48 Based on these fossils, 250,000 distinct species have been identified, and these bear striking similarities to the 1.5 million identified species currently living on earth.49 (Of these 1.5 million species, 1 million are insects.) Despite the abundance of fossil sources, not a single transitional form has been uncovered, and it is unlikely that any transitional forms will be found as a result of new excavations.
A professor of paleontology from Glasgow University, T. Neville George, admitted this fact years ago:
There is no need to apologize any longer for the poverty of the fossil record. In some ways it has become almost unmanageably rich and discovery is outpacing integration… The fossil record nevertheless continues to be composed mainly of gaps.
And Niles Eldredge, the well-known paleontologist and curator of the American Museum of Natural History, expresses as follows the invalidity of Darwin's claim that the insufficiency of the fossil record is the reason why no transitional forms have been found:
The record jumps, and all the evidence shows that the record is real: the gaps we see reflect real events in life's history - not the artifact of a poor fossil record.
Another American scholar, Robert Wesson, states in his 1991 book Beyond Natural Selection, that "the gaps in the fossil record are real and meaningful." He elaborates this claim in this way:
The gaps in the record are real, however. The absence of a record of any important branching is quite phenomenal. Species are usually static, or nearly so, for long periods, species seldom and genera never show evolution into new species or genera but replacement of one by another, and change is more or less abrupt.
This situation invalidates the above argument, which has been stated by Darwinism for 140 years. The fossil record is rich enough for us to understand the origins of life, and explicitly reveals that distinct species came into existence on earth all of a sudden, with all their distinct forms.
The Truth Revealed by the Fossil Record
But where does the "evolution-paleontology" relationship, which has taken subconscious root in society over many decades, actually stem from? Why do most people have the impression that there is a positive connection between Darwin's theory and the fossil record whenever the latter is mentioned? The answer to these questions is supplied in an article in the leading journal Science:
A large number of well-trained scientists outside of evolutionary biology and paleontology have unfortunately gotten the idea that the fossil record is far more Darwinian than it is. This probably comes from the oversimplification inevitable in secondary sources: low-level textbooks, semipopular articles, and so on. Also, there is probably some wishful thinking involved. In the years after Darwin, his advocates hoped to find predictable progressions. In general these have not been found yet the optimism has died hard, and some pure fantasy has crept into textbooks.
N. Eldredge and I. Tattersall also make an important comment:
That individual kinds of fossils remain recognizably the same throughout the length of their occurrence in the fossil record had been known to paleontologists long before Darwin published his Origin. Darwin himself, ...prophesied that future generations of paleontologists would fill in these gaps by diligent search ...One hundred and twenty years of paleontological research later, it has become abundantly clear that the fossil record will not confirm this part of Darwin's predictions. Nor is the problem a miserably poor record. The fossil record simply shows that this prediction is wrong.
The observation that species are amazingly conservative and static entities throughout long periods of time has all the qualities of the emperor's new clothes: everyone knew it but preferred to ignore it. Paleontologists, faced with a recalcitrant record obstinately refusing to yield Darwin's predicted pattern, simply looked the other way.
Likewise, the American paleontologist Steven M. Stanley describes how the Darwinist dogma, which dominates the world of science, has ignored this reality demonstrated by the fossil record:
The known fossil record is not, and never has been, in accord with gradualism. What is remarkable is that, through a variety of historical circumstances, even the history of opposition has been obscured. ... 'The majority of paleontologists felt their evidence simply contradicted Darwin's stress on minute, slow, and cumulative changes leading to species transformation.' ... their story has been suppressed.
Let us now examine the facts of the fossil record, which have been silenced for so long, in a bit more detail. In order to do this, we shall have to consider natural history from the most remote ages to the present, stage by stage.