Scientists can usually tell whether something is alive or dead but have failed to find some kind of material that constitutes life. There is no substance called "life." On top of that no Darwinist has the slightest idea how life could have developed from non-life. They will tell you "they are working on it" while in fact they know it is chemically impossible. They are just going to stonewall it as long as the general public has not figured this out. I am of course doing my best to make this obvious using evidence instead of derision and assaults on my knowledge, certifications or character. Go for it! Doesn't change the evidence which you cannot deal with intelligently.
Scientists know what information is, they just cannot find any substance to it nor a natural source for it. The pathetic attempt to sound "science-y" to to give mutations credit for information. Well, you have to have information to begin with in order to mutate it. Mutations are also mistakes and breaks so they hardly qualify as new information, they are breaks in information strings. Giving mutations credit for producing new information is like crediting a car accident for manufacturing the car. I'm sorry for being critical but I have logically proved this without doubt and the Darwinists keep giving back the same old falsified BS so, hey, it is what it is.
Thought is becoming more and more astounding to science. We see large portions of the brain lighting up but we cannot associate the activity with the thought. The more we look inside the brain the more complex it becomes, but beyond that we cannot directly connect synapses firing with what is being visualized or considered by human beings. We cannot segregate and identify a material substance labeled "thought" so, again, naturalistic materialism fails and is falsified by the evidence.
Finally, existence is an obvious problem. Darwinists can use all the terminology the like but they still say that nothing expoded to make everything and that doesn't sound like science, does it? Wishful thinking perhaps but in no way science.
Now, fossils have been an issue recently. As previously pointed out, the Geologic Column is a myth and is a lie.
Second, uniformitarianism is dead. The sedimentary rock layers are catastrophic in nature, which is why they are often packed full of fossils. Think now, how often are fossils being formed in your neighborhood? Things die, they decompose and get converted to raw materials that will be recycled with a certain amount of energy loss in the process. Fossils happen occasionally now and quite quickly but always in fluky ways. Nothing is making millions of bottom-dwelling creatures into fossils right now because there is no world-wide flood.
The following articles have an increasing techical bent until, by the third article, you are considering semi-technical material using many terms and names you may not be familiar with, but the logic and reasoning are sound so I do recommend you soldier on to the end if you would? Thanks! It is hard to make a strong point if the final massive straw is not dumped on the camel's back.
For most people, the two words ‘fast fossils’ don’t seem to go together. Say ‘fossils’, and they think ‘slow and gradual processes; millions of years’. Unfortunately, even though many leading evolutionists are now conceding that catastrophic, rapid processes are needed to explain many fossils, the average person is still left with this deeply-ingrained belief.
If the fossil record did take millions of years to form, then the Bible is wrong about the history of the earth and life on it. Fossils show death; there are also many instances of disease (see T-rex with gout, e.g.), violence and bloodshed evidenced in the fossil record. So, if these existed millions of years before there were people, then the Bible is wrong when it indicates that these ‘bad’ things are part of the Curse on creation, which only came about because of the rebellion of the first man, Adam, against his Creator.
However, the Bible is the very Word of God, affirmed as absolutely true by the Lord Jesus Christ (e.g. John 10:35). Thus, we can expect the evidence to be consistent with what the Bible teaches, regardless of how many people believe otherwise. According to the book of Genesis, there was a global catastrophe—a world flood which by implication was capable of burying billions of creatures rapidly in sedimentary layers.
So, reasoning from Scripture, we would expect that most fossils were formed by rapid processes. What does the evidence show?
The fish fossil shown here [Ed. note: Please see Creation 19(4):24–25, September 1997; due to copyright restrictions.] is a wonderfully preserved specimen. Though not all are as beautifully preserved as this one, there are literally billions of fish fossils in rocks around the world, so well preserved that they still show details such as scales, fin structure, etc. In fact, most people would have seen such fossil fish at one time or another.1
not the same fish, but there are two for the price of one!
What do these billions of well-preserved fossils fit—the common belief in slow and gradual processes, or the biblical implications of fast burial?
The easiest way to answer this is to imagine what happens to a fish when it dies. After (for most) floating on the surface while being attacked by various scavengers, what is left (if anything) sinks to the bottom. Here, rather than lying quietly for thousands of years being gradually covered up by slowly settling sediment, it will be attacked further by fish, crabs, and many other creatures.
Bacterial attack will also contribute to the process of disintegration. Even in a sterile, low oxygen environment, the flesh rapidly becomes soggy and falls apart,2 leaving no trace of the beautiful structures which the fossil illustrated, for example, shows. That is why, when snorkelling on the sea floor, one does not see thousands of dead fish resting quietly on the ocean bottom in part-way stages of fossilization!
To preserve such features, it is obvious that the creature needs to be buried quickly. Not just that, but the enclosing sediment needs to harden fairly quickly. If it stayed soft and unconsolidated for years, the fact that oxygen, moisture and bacteria could easily access the carcass means that one would very quickly have a disintegrated, stinking mess. To try to imitate how such features as scales and fins can possibly be preserved, the best experimental analogy would be to bury a fish rapidly in wet cement!
How would hordes of fish be buried during the Flood? The upheavals necessarily associated with a year-long global Flood would generate ideal conditions for rapid sedimentation. Today, for example, localized earthquakes can trigger large submarine avalanches (called ‘turbidity currents’) which have been clocked as carrying millions of tonnes of sediment at over 50 kph (30 mph) underwater.3
The silent testimony of the billions of well-preserved fossil fish around the world is, by the most obvious common sense, to rapid processes—rapid burial and rapid hardening (of the encasing sediment). Sadly, the mindset of our culture is such that most people miss the obvious, and continue to think ‘slow and gradual’ when they see fossils—even beautifully preserved ones like this.
References and notes
- Since marine creatures would be the most likely ones buried—land creatures would tend to disintegrate and rot—we would expect that most fossils would be marine. Marine fossils do indeed represent more than 95% of the fossil record (see J. Morris, The Young Earth, Master Books, p. 70, 1994).
- This has been shown by experiment—see R. Zangerl and E. Richardson, The paleoecological history of two Pennsylvanian black shales, Fieldiana: Geology Memoirs 4, 1963.
- F. Press and R. Siever, Earth (4th Edition), W.H. Freeman and Company, New York, p. 284, 1986.
It is unfortunate but true. Similar fossils can be given different names when found in strata of different supposed ages. This practice masks the true range of the fossil within the geological time scale. In a recent example, even though the fossils were almost identical, they were assigned to different species. Such practices multiply the number of names, confuse our knowledge of fossil distribution, and hide the fact that the geological column may well be compromised.
It would be great if we could know the actual three-dimensional distribution of the fossils in the earth. This would go a long way towards understanding their deposition during the Flood. Usually all that is available is a fossil sample along a cliff, ravine or some other cut into a particular formation.
One might think that good extrapolations have been made from these limited, two-dimensional outcrops and that the fossil content in the remainder of the formation is well understood. But some surprises would be in store if we could actually know the distribution of all the fossils in the formation. The more the sedimentary rocks of the earth are examined, the more the fossil ranges are expanded—especially downward.
One such surprise occurred on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, when a sponge of Upper Triassic ‘age’ (the standard geological time scale is used for communication purposes only) was discovered in a carbonate formation.1 It was named Nucha? vancouverensis sp. nov. Now, the formation where the sponge was found is considered a standard reference for the North American Triassic because of its ammonoid index fossils. Surprisingly, the sponge is nearly identical to one previously found only in the Middle Cambrian of western New South Wales, Australia, named Nucha naucum.2
In spite of the obvious similarity, because the Vancouver Island specimen was not exactly the same as its Australian counterpart, a question mark was placed after its genus name and it was given a different species name. Still, the researcher who reported the find, George Stanley, believes the similarities are striking enough to put the fossil in the same genus.
The Vancouver Island fossil is used to support some very large geological ideas—that an exotic terrane3 (the Wrangellia terrane) was plastered onto the western side of the North America plate from an unknown, tropical-ocean locality. The problem is that the two fossils are located on opposite sides of Pangaea, the hypothetical, huge ancient landmass of the Paleozoic. Their respective oceans were supposedly separated by thousands of kilometres of continent.
Because it was previously only known from Australia, Nucha is considered a Tethyan taxon from the Paleozoic tropics.4 So the two fossils, although very similar in appearance, are separated greatly in space and time.
Stanley downplays the significance of the separation in time: ‘The absence of Nucha between Middle Cambrian and Late Triassic time is somewhat of a conundrum.’5 The reason for this nonchalant attitude toward a fossil not found during a supposed 300 million-year period and separated spatially by a considerable distance is, I believe, because this case is not isolated.
In fact, Stanley mentions several examples and refers to other authors who know of a number of other examples. These seeming anomalies are referred to as ‘holdover taxa’, ‘refugia species’, or even ‘Lazarus taxa’. Of course, if a representative of the fossil is found alive today, it is called a ‘living fossil’. The importance of such holdover taxa to paleontologists is stated by Stanley:
‘Of great interest to paleontologists and evolutionary biologists alike is the occurrence of relict or holdover faunas, also known as Lazarus taxa. These taxa, mostly at family, genus, and species levels, appear to leapfrog large intervals of geologic time, including the recovery phases following mass extinctions. They seem to elude our most concerted sampling efforts, failing to be accounted for over considerable intervals of time.’2
What lessons do such holdover taxa have for creationists? First, they show that geologists and paleontologists do not know the three-dimensional distribution of fossils, although they may have reasonable estimates in isolated formations. There have been and will always be surprises. Fossils seem to be constantly extending their geological time ranges. We should be sceptical of statements to the effect that a particular fossil is an index fossil that is restricted to, say, the Cambrian ‘period’, or the Permian ‘period’, etc.
Second, such holdover taxa make it hard to believe that the alleged millions of years between the fossil occurrences are real. Where was the organism living all those millions of years? Why is there no fossil record of its existence throughout all that time? In this particular example, paleontologists may eventually find fossils of this sponge between the ‘Middle Cambrian’ and the ‘Upper Triassic’. Even so, the fossils would still be very scarce between these two ‘periods’ and a few finds would not alter the obvious conclusion that the time gap is illusory.
Third, a fossil can be assigned to a different species because it is found at a supposed different geologic time, obscuring the true range of the taxon within the geological time scale. In the case of Nucha, the difference between the Vancouver Island sponge and the Australian sponge was slight, but the former fossil was given a different species name with a question mark after the genus name.
Similar practices with other taxan contribute to the multiplication of names and a more limited distribution of taxa. Thus, the true range of any organism is likely broader than one is led to believe by the examination of its taxonomy.
Since much variability is present within any given organism and hence its fossils, paleontologists often do not know where to draw the line in their classification schemes. Different names for nearly identical fossils are probably common. This tendency to give different names to similar fossils found in formations with supposedly different ages, even to placing them in different superfamilies, has been demonstrated by Tammy Tosk for the microfossils called foraminifers.6
John Woodmorappe found that much of the stratigraphic order in the ammonoids is due to time-stratigraphic concepts and taxonomic manipulations.7 This is particularly serious because particular types of foraminifera and ammonoids are used as index fossils for dating formations.
Geologists do not know the three-dimensional distribution of fossils in the rocks, and tend to invent different names for similar fossils, just because they are found in strata of supposedly different ages.8 This does not engender confidence in the geological column they construct, or in the fossil-dating scheme on which it is based.
I thank Peter Klevberg for reviewing the manuscript and for providing input into this issue.
(Oh, yes they are!)
References and notes
- Stanley, G.D., Jr, A Triassic sponge from Vancouver Island: possible holdover from the Cambrian, Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 35:1037–1043, 1998. Return to text.
- Picket, J. and Jell, P.A., Middle Cambrian Sphinctozoa (Porifera) from New South Wales, Memoirs of the Association of Australian Palaeontologists 1:85–92, 1982. Return to text.
- A terrane is a fault-bounded geologic entity distinctively different from its adjoining neighbour. Return to text.
- Stanley, Ref. 1, p. 1037. The Tethys Sea is a hypothetical, Palaeozoic sea on the east coast of Pangaea, located in the tropics between Laurasia in the north and Gondwana in the south. Return to text.
- Stanley, Ref. 1, p. 1042. Return to text.
- Tosk, T., Foraminifers in the fossil record: implications for an ecological zonation model, Origins 15(1):8–18, 1988. Return to text.
- Woodmorappe, J., The cephalopods in the creation and the universal deluge: in: Studies in Flood Geology, 2nd edition, Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA, pp. 177–197, 1999. Return to text.
- Dietz, R.S. and Holden, J.C., The Breakup of Pangaea, Scientific American, 1970; Quoted in: Press, F. and Siever, R., Earth, 4th ed., W.H. Freeman and Co., New York, p. 518, 1986. Return to text.
The fossil record
For approximately the last two hundred years, this succession of fossils in sedimentary rock has been used to argue that the earth has undergone successive events. For instance, trilobite-bearing beds are supposed to reflect a time when trilobites were the dominant life form on earth, and dinosaur-bearing beds are supposed to reflect a time when dinosaurs were dominant on the earth. However this view is weakened because the range of fossils from one supposed time period keeps extending and overlapping fossils ostensibly typical of another period of time in the past. In this article, I will examine some examples of increases of overlap of fossils that are assigned to different geologic periods of time.
Implications of fossil successionAt first, Bible-believers tried to cope with this discovery of successively-different types of fossils by retreating from the single Creation and Flood as clearly described in the Bible and replacing them with a series of creations and global floods. That was Baron Cuvier’s compromise, and it did superficially seem to account for multiple and differing horizons of fossils. But Cuvier’s notions obviously violated Scripture. The Word of God teaches only one episode of special creation, and only one global Flood, not many!
As is the eventual fate of all compromises, it was only a matter of time before any semblance to Scripture (in this case, the multiple creations and the multiple floods) had been dropped altogether. After Darwin, evolution was added to the picture, and thus the notion of transformation of one life-form to another replaced the earlier belief that each horizon of fossils represented a separate creation and world-destroying flood. Both considerations, of course, tacitly suppose that each type of horizon of fossils represents a distinctive period of time over which the particular organism lived.
But what are the ramifications of fossils seeming to occur in multiple, different horizons in the earth’s rock strata? Is the succession of life-forms, over long periods of time, the only way to explain the succession of fossils in earth’s sedimentary rocks? Certainly not.
Creationists, including myself,1 have provided a variety of alternative explanations for fossil succession. These include such mechanisms as the sorting of organisms during the Flood, differential escape of organisms during the same, ecological zonation of life-forms in the antediluvian world (such that different life-forms in different strata reflect the serial burial of ecological life-zones during the Flood), and TABs (Tectonically-Associated Biological Provinces—wherein different life forms occur in successive horizons of rock as a reflection of successive crustal downwarp of different life-bearing biogeographic communities).
All of these mechanisms do away with the notion that horizons of fossils demand successive passages of time during which the organisms lived. In other words, they allow for there to have been only one set of mutually-contemporaneous living things on a young earth, instead of a repetitive replacement of living things over vast periods of time. Most of the earth’s sedimentary record is viewed as being deposited by the Noachian Deluge, and not over successive depositional events in analogues of modern sedimentary environments on an evolving earth.
Unfortunately, some modern creationists have also bought into the belief that successive fossils represent horizons of time. These neo-Cuvierists have, as their original namesakes, relegated the Noachian Deluge to only a small fraction of the earth’s fossiliferous sedimentary rocks. This contradicts common sense as well as Scripture. After all, if all kinds of life had been created by God in six normal-length days several thousand years ago, then all fossil and contemporary life-forms must have been contemporaneous, and it makes absolutely no sense to use succession of fossils to delineate time-stratigraphic horizons in sedimentary rock.
For example, although trilobites and dinosaurs were contemporaries of each other, there is no basis for believing that trilobite-bearing and dinosaur-bearing rocks were necessarily deposited at the same time all over the world. During the Flood, trilobite-bearing beds at one point on earth were probably being deposited at the same time as dinosaur-bearing beds at another place on earth.
Nor can it be said that, when dinosaur-bearing beds locally overlie trilobite-bearing beds, the former are significantly younger than the latter. This, of course, excepts the small amount of difference in time, within the Flood, that elapsed between the burial of the trilobites and the burial of the overlying dinosaurs.
Just how real is fossil succession?The irony of the position taken by Cuvierists, neo-Cuvierists, and standard evolutionary-uniformitarians is the fact that fossil succession is a reality only to a limited extent. As we shall see, the Flood-related mechanisms discussed above need not have been overly efficient to account for only the limited degree of fossil succession that does exist. Successive episodes of time, however conceived, also are completely unnecessary to explain the limited degree of fossil succession.
When we consider the fact that fossil succession is limited in overall extent, it is another way of stating that there are many fossils which are found at many stratigraphic intervals. In fact, only a minority are confined to rocks attributed to only one geologic period.2
Since the early days of the acceptance of the standard geologic column, fossils have been turning up in ‘wrong’ places as more and more fossils have been collected, and this process continues to this very day.3,4,5 And even this does not include the numerous instances where fossils are supposed to be reworked from older strata, often with no independent supporting evidence.6
Furthermore, extension of stratigraphic ranges occurs not only for individual fossils, but also for presumed grade of biologic complexity (that is, so-called stratomorphic intermediates). A stratomorphic intermediate is supposed to reflect a certain grade of complexity attained by all living things up to a certain point in the geologic time scale. An example would be the first appearance of vertebrate legs in the stratigraphic record. I will discuss stratomorphic intermediates shortly. Let us now consider some recent examples of stratigraphic range extension.
Dasycladalean algaeAs a result of a recent find, a dramatic increase in the stratigraphic range of Dasycladalean algae has occurred. Dasycladales are members of the algal family Dasycladaceae. It consists of 175 live and extinct genera. The extension of this plant has been into presumably-older strata:
‘Uncatoella possesses a suite of features usually associated with late Mesozoic and Cenozoic Dasycladales, and our proposed relationships imply very large range extensions (200-350 Myr) to some groups.’ 7This stratigraphic-range extension is dramatic, and equivalent to more than half of the entire Phanerozoic geologic column. Moreover, this discovery upends earlier notions of stratomorphic intermediates that were believed to be true of the evolutionary history of plant-reproductive traits:
‘Choristospore gametangiophores are usually associated with Mesozoic and Cenozoic Dasycladales, but the new data on Uncatoella show that this form of reproduction had already developed by the Early Devonian.’ 8Many evolutionists, and also unfortunately some professing creationists, have made much of the presumed significance of stratomorphic intermediates. But, as the above example proves vividly, it takes only one well-placed life-form to completely demolish existing notions of stratomorphic intermediates. A certain grade of complexity can be moved back considerably earlier in time with just one discovery of fossils! In the above example, a grade of morphological complexity, formerly believed to be of relatively recent origins (Mesozoic and Cenozoic) suddenly has become much more ancient (Devonian).
PipiscidsThe pipiscid group of metazoan animals represents another example of an extension of fossils into much older strata. Formerly thought to be restricted to the Upper Carboniferous, remains of possible pipiscids have now been discovered in Cambrian strata.9 If the identification is correct, this find suddenly ages the pipiscids by nearly five geologic periods.
The foregoing instances may perhaps be belittled by the fact that both marine plants and soft-bodied fossils are said to have a poor fossil record, and hence stratigraphic-range extensions are perhaps not so surprising for that reason. But this consideration cannot possibly be applicable to the remaining examples in this report because their respective fossil records are good to excellent.
Agnathan (jawless) fishesMany groups of fossils appear suddenly in the Early Cambrian. This is so much so that it is often called the ‘Cambrian explosion’. As more and more fossils experience a stratigraphic-range increase down to the Early Cambrian, the ‘Cambrian explosion’ becomes more and more pronounced. Apropos to this, vertebrates have just recently been found in the Early Cambrian of south China.10 These are agnathan fish, whose previous undisputed earliest appearance had been in the Lower Ordovician.
The therapsid reptile LystrosaurusFossils of the mammal-like reptile, Lystrosaurus, are so common, notably in South Africa, that it is said that paleontologists don’t even bother to pick up specimens when they see them at their feet. Lystrosaurus is an important index fossil. Directly or indirectly, it is used to correlate Early Triassic continental beds throughout much of the southern hemisphere. Let us therefore consider the implications of the recent discovery of Lystrosaurus in the Permian of Zambia.11 Without question, it can no longer be straightforwardly believed, on uniformitarians’ own terms, to represent a horizon of time and to correlate strata accordingly:
‘… the widespread Lystrosaurus, hitherto regarded as characteristic of the Lower Triassic, cannot be used in isolation as a biostratigraphical zone fossil … The occurrence of Lystrosaurus in Late Permian rocks indicates that isolated specimens of the genus should no longer be used for biostratigraphical purposes … use of Lystrosaurus alone could be misleading. This is obviously unfortunate, since Lystrosaurus is the most common genus in many assemblages and so most likely to be encountered in the course of stratigraphical work.’11There are other implications of the fact that Lystrosaurus-bearing rocks can no longer automatically be assumed to be Early Triassic. The supposed chain of evolving mammal-like reptiles is placed in chronological sequence largely through the use of Lystrosaurus, or on spore-bearing beds which are correlated with beds containing Lystrosaurus. In fact, for decades at least, beds all over the southern hemisphere have been assigned to the lowermost Triassic solely because they contain Lystrosaurus.12
In view of the extension of this genus downward into the Permian, the chronological sequence of mammal-like reptiles needs to be re-examined. It is more than possible that some ‘more mammal-like’ therapsids will now be found to be contemporaneous with ‘less mammal-like’ therapsids. At worst, the entire chain of mammal-like reptiles and their presumed progression to mammals will come crashing down. A detailed analysis of the intercontinental correlation of the relevant strata should be undertaken to evaluate this possibility.
The Permo-Triassic boundary is conventionally believed to have been one at which there had been a greater turnover of living things than at any other comparable interval throughout the Phanerozoic fossil record. It is therefore interesting to note that this discovery admittedly blurs the distinctiveness of the Permo-Triassic boundary,13 as do a variety of other, transitional Permo-Triassic faunas and floras.14
The sponge Neoguadalupia — another Permo-Triassic boundary ‘violator’Up to now, all of the examples discussed have been ones where specific fossils have unexpectedly been found in strata older than where they were ‘supposed’ to be found. The remaining examples in this work are fossils whose stratigraphic ranges have been extended into presumed younger rocks. To show that Lystrosaurus was no fluke in terms of the crossing of the Permo-Triassic boundary, consider the sponge genus Neoguadalupia oregonensis. Formerly assumed to be found in strata no younger than Permian, it has been discovered in the Triassic (and Upper Triassic at that) in Oregon.15
The bivalve CamptochlamysLet us now turn our attention to the K-T (Cretaceous-Tertiary) boundary. Consider the implications of Camptochlamys found occurring in the K-T beds of the North Slope, Alaska:
‘The occurrence of Camptochlamys extends the chronostratigraphic and geographic range of this genus, previously unknown from any strata above the uppermost Jurassic (Tithonian) of Europe and unknown from any strata in North America.’16In this particular instance, we have more than a stratigraphic-range extension. We also have a contradiction between this particular fossil’s stratigraphic occurrence in European strata, and that of North America. So much for the myth that there is a consistent succession of fossils from one continent to another! Of course, this is not the only such instance. Whenever a fossil is listed as having a long stratigraphic range (say, Cambrian to Devonian), this range may conceal a contradictory stratigraphic occurrence of the fossil from one part of the world to another. Thus, the fossil in question may occur in only Cambrian rock on one continent, only in Ordovician rock on another continent, only in Silurian on another, and only in Devonian on still another continent.
Let us now take a closer look at the K-T boundary. Second to the Permo-Triassic boundary, in terms of faunal turnover, is the K-T boundary. It is at this boundary that dinosaurs, ammonites, and other Mesozoic animals became extinct, according to standard evolutionary-uniformitarian interpretations. Yet more and more hitherto-believed Cretaceous life-forms are turning up in Tertiary rock. These include marine fossils, for which a poor fossil record cannot be used as an excuse for their appearance beyond the ‘proper’ stratigraphic intervals. And these do not include the many instances of late Cretaceous life forms found in earliest Tertiary rock, for which a reworking rationalisation is frequently invoked.
The gastropod ParafususThe remaining example in this report is an erstwhile Cretaceous fossil that has turned up in Tertiary strata. Formerly restricted to Upper Cretaceous rocks, members of the gastropod Parafusus have been found in large numbers in the Palaeocene rocks of northeastern Mexico.17
The norm or the exception?Are the foregoing examples of stratigraphic-range extensions, and thus the corresponding randomisation of global fossil succession, the exception or the rule? To begin with, it must be stressed that the instances discussed in this brief report are hardly comprehensive. To the contrary, they are in fact only those instances which have inadvertently come to my attention while I was in the process of researching other topics.
So how common are stratigraphic-range extensions? Two recent comprehensive databases of the stratigraphic occurrence of fossils give a clear answer to this question. Maxwell and Benton18 have compared the stratigraphic ranges of all of the fossil vertebrate families (excluding Aves, which have a spotty fossil record) as perceived in 1966–1967, and again in 1987. For 96 families, there was no change in stratigraphic range. Another 87 fossil families went through a decrease in their accepted stratigraphic range. Yet considerably more families (150) underwent an increase in the amount of strata which they overlap. This trend is even more evident in fossil marine families. In just ten years (1982–1992), Sepkoski19 reports that 513 fossil families underwent a decline in their stratigraphic range. A decline in range may mean that the first and/or last occurrence had been misidentified. But whatever the cause, the number of fossil-range declines is dwarfed by the 1026 families that enjoyed an increase in either their first occurrence, or their last occurrence, or both.
Clearly, then, extension of stratigraphic ranges is the rule and not the exception. This is even more remarkable when we remember that there is the ever-present evolutionary bias which tends to cause overemphasis of minute differences in fossils located in different horizons of strata, and hence the proliferation of questionable taxonomic names for essentially the same organism found at different stratigraphic horizons.
The disappearing geological columnLet us now examine the progressive randomisation of the fossil record in the light of the history of the geologic column. Modern researchers are not the first to notice the progressive extension of fossil stratigraphic ranges with increasing collection of fossil specimens from the world’s sedimentary strata. During the time that parts of the geologic column were still being worked out in the mid 19th century, the Victorian philosopher Herbert Spencer commented on the illogicity of the geologic column in his appropriately-named essay, Illogical Geology.20 In doing this, Spencer could hardly be accused of creationist bias. After all, he was a hardened atheist who had been an enthusiastic supporter of both social Darwinism and ‘scientific’ Darwinism.
One of the things Spencer challenged was the use of fossils for the correlation and dating of strata. Specifically, he took issue with the practice of using particular fossils as supposed time-markers for the global correlation of strata, and then not questioning the whole procedure when frequently finding such fossils in the ‘wrong’ strata with further collecting of fossil specimens.21 As we have seen, the finding of fossils in previously-unrecognised stratigraphic horizons has continued unabated to this very day, and dwarfs anything that Spencer could have been familiar with. What would Spencer think were he alive today?
Let us take the aforementioned occurrence of Lystrosaurus to its logical conclusion. Since Lystrosaurus has always been used to correlate rocks into time-equivalent horizons, and to place them all into the Early Triassic, the Permian find of Lystrosaurus should now mean that Permian and Triassic are contemporaneous! An analogous line of reasoning should lead to the position that Cretaceous and Tertiary are now contemporaneous because the Upper Cretaceous genus Parafusus is now known from Early Tertiary rocks.
Of course, the uniformitarians would never follow their own reasoning to its logical conclusion because it would lead to the very reductio ad absurdum discussed in the previous paragraph. At minimum, it would require the uniformitarians to acknowledge the fact that the Permian-Triassic and Cretaceous-Tertiary are now respectively contemporaneous. Such a conclusion, of course, destroys the very foundations of the geologic column, and is unthinkable to standard uniformitarian dogma. In order to paper over this fatal flaw in the geologic column, uniformitarians simply back-pedal, discard Lystrosaurus as well as other once-esteemed index fossils as time-stratigraphic indicators, choose other index fossils as presumed time-indicators, and otherwise act as if nothing has happened in terms of empirical evidence. This enables them to go right on believing in such things as the Permian, Triassic, Cretaceous, and Tertiary periods. Heads I win, tails you lose. Clearly, the evolutionary-uniformitarian geologic column has become protected from falsification. To the uniformitarian, no possible fossil discovery would ever count as evidence that would invalidate the sacrosanct geologic column. It is thus clear that use of index fossils and assemblages of such fossils for correlation of strata is an exercise in special pleading.
Some scientific creationist implicationsClearly, now more then ever, creationist scientists should resist the temptation of buying into any sort of scheme which presumes that fossils can be used to delineate time-horizons in the earth’s sedimentary rocks. Even at the local level, fossil succession is related to Flood-related processes instead of changes in fauna over time. This fact discounts neo-Cuvierism. And, for the mainstream diluvialist, the extension of stratigraphic ranges has implications in terms of Flood-related depositional processes. As the fossil record comes closer to randomness, proposed Flood-originated non-temporal mechanisms22 for fossil succession need to be less and less efficient in order to account for a fossil succession that is becoming more and more crude as more and more fossils are gathered23 .
- Woodmorappe, J., Studies in Flood Geology, 2nd Edition. Institute for Creation Research, California (USA), 1999; see especially pp. 41–61. Return to text.
- Woodmorappe, Ref. 1, pp. 25–26. Return to text.
- Oard, M.J., Evolution pushed further into the past, CEN Tech. J. 10(2):171–172, 1996. Return to text.
- Oard, M.J., How well do palaeontologists know fossil distribution? CEN Tech. J. 14(1):7–8, 2000. Return to text.
- Woodmorappe, Ref 1, pp. 26, 97, 135. Return to text.
- Woodmorappe, Ref. 1, pp. 87–94. Return to text.
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