Claimed ‘oldest-ever’ amber fossil—millions-of-years mighty mites?
Published: 16 May 2013 (GMT+10)
Amber1 (or fossilized tree resin) has been known to entomb many things including ants,2 ‘Gladiator’ insects,3 crustaceans, water beetles, barnacles, oysters, clams and water striders.4 Evolutionists sometimes express surprise at how amber can preserve its contents and remain intact for millions of years.5 This is especially true of a recent find.
Amber droplets excavated from outcrops high in the Alps of northeastern Italy rocked evolutionary scientists by revealing a pair of gall mites (arthropods) supposedly 100 million years older than any other arthropod encased in amber ever found (the oldest prior arthropod found is dated at 130 million years).6
If these tiny creatures evolved from some common arthropod ancestor, then one would surely reasonably expect that the fossil record should show a variety of transitional forms from that arthropod ancestor to today’s gall mites. However, when scientists recently described some of the earliest gall mites from these fossils, they found the contrary. The ancient gall mites look just like modern ones. Study lead author David Grimaldi said, “they’re dead ringers for (modern) gall mites.”7
So, for the duration of the claimed 230 million years, there have been no significant changes in these organisms. This is the classic ‘living fossil’ syndrome, highlighting the problem of ‘evolutionary stasis’.
Does this mean that these evolutionary scientists are going to dismiss the ‘millions of years’ paradigm?
Not at all. Grimaldi stated, “Amber is an extremely valuable tool for paleontologists because it preserves specimens with microscopic fidelity, allowing uniquely accurate estimates of the amount of evolutionary change over millions of years.” Or in this case, no evolutionary change. “And that’s surprising because the world has changed a lot from when these bugs were alive.”6
It may be surprising to those who imagine millions of years of evolution. However, this is not surprising at all to biblical creationists who expect mites to produce mites. Scripture tells us that God created everything in six ordinary days, roughly 6,000 years ago. God told these creatures to reproduce “after their kind” (10 times in Genesis 1).
However, sin entered the world through Adam’s actions and as a result the whole of creation was cursed. After about 1656 years, God had had enough of mankind’s sin and destroyed the earth with a global flood.8 The fossils found inside amber are much better explained as dating from this global Flood around 4,500 years ago.
Uprooted trees, smashing against each other in the swirling currents and waves, would lose their bark and release copious quantities of tree resin. While still fluid, the resin would have enveloped organisms displaced from their usual habitat by the floodwaters. Also, heat is said to have been a likely factor in promoting resin flow from wood. Perhaps the Flood waters—heated in places by the ‘fountains of the great deep’ (Genesis 7:11)—provided ideal conditions for large quantities of liquid amber to ooze from mats of floating logs, enveloping the likes of these mites, and other flood debris, before hardening.
- The Amber Mystery, Creation 25(2):51–52, 2003; creation.com/gladiator-an-extinct-insect-is-found-alive#amber. Return to text.
- Fossil ant found alive! Creation 28(4): 56, 2006; creation.com/fossil-ant-found-alive. Return to text.
- Gladiator—an ‘extinct’ insect is found alive, Creation 25(2): 51–53, 2003; creation.com/gladiator-an-extinct-insect-is-found-alive. Return to text.
- Amber needed water (and lots of it), Creation 31(2): 20–22, 2009; creation.com/amber-needed-water. Return to text.
- 320-million-year-old amber has flowering plant chemistry, Creation 24(2): 16, 2010; creation.com/amber-with-flowering-plant-chemistry. Return to text.
- American Museum of Natural History, Oldest occurrence of arthropods preserved in amber: Fly, mite specimens are 100 million years older than previous amber inclusions, ScienceDaily, www.sciencedaily.com, 27 Aug. 2012. Return to text.
- Prehistoric bugs from time of dinosaurs found frozen in amber, foxnews.com, 27 August 2012. Return to text.
- See also: Sarfati, J., Why Bible history matters (and the timing of the Fall, and Ark-building), Creation 33(4):18–21, 2011; creation.com/bible-history-fall-ark. Return to text.
Lol i like Chandrashaker (astrophysicist? jokes)M's comment got a good laugh out of it haha.
@ R.M. If tests were carried out resulting in C-14 ages in the range of what YE creationists would expect, would it alter your view? Or would you prefer to convince yourself it is contamination etc.?
The evolution science establishment and media have a track record in censoring such results and presentations (see Radiocarbon in dino bones 22/01/13 on this site).
You must have already convinced yourself that soft tissue and DNA in a T-Rex can survive 75 million years.
With a hardened heart, no 'evidence' will convince you that our creator exists. You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain by asking Jesus into your life. Your approach to the 'evidence' will change.
Dear CMI –
So we have yet another creationist article which claims that the similarity of amber-trapped insects to modern forms is powerful evidence against evolution. Reading this article, with its gratuitous dig at ‘evolutionary scientists’ (“Does this mean that these evolutionary scientists are going to dismiss the ‘millions of years’ paradigm? Not at all.”) prompts me to pose the following.
By creationist reckoning, every piece of amber, without exception, must be less than 6,000 years old. Since this is roughly the half-life of C-14, every piece of amber, without exception, should contain abundant C-14 at a level far above the threshold of detection. So why not do the obvious experiment? This would be to survey the C-14 content of a large number of samples of amber from various regions and geologic ages. If all samples contained significant C-14, this would be positive evidence for the creationist position.
Such an experiment would be quite doable, and for a cost much less than, for instance, the RATE Project of the ICR. There must have been a reason that they didn’t choose this sort of definitive experiment, and why it has never been done (to my knowledge) by any other creationist organization. I suspect that it has been thought better to choose an experimental topic whose results would be sufficiently equivocal to provide plenty of opportunity for endless ad hoc hypothesizing (i.e., amber originally created with no C-14 vs. naturally-formed amber, or accelerated decay of C-14 in some amber specimens, but not others, and so forth).
The results of the suggested experiment, honestly reported, would be very interesting to read.
Hi R.M., we are actually very excited to read this submission of yours, because it indicates to us, after the many years of your skeptical letters to CMI (e.g. at Is evolution really essential for biology?), that this might be a hopeful sign that you are beginning to think like a creationist!
As long-time readers of our website know, there have already been numerous carbon-14 measurements arranged by creationists on organic samples that are supposedly millions of years old. These routinely found measurable C-14: for example, Jurassic wood, Sydney Sandstone and Crinum mine. We would regard these organic samples to have been buried during the Flood. (And similarly the RATE project found C-14 in diamonds.)
Thus, these measurements suggest that the carbon-14 level in pre-Flood vegetation would give an ‘age’ of around 40,000 years, which is a concentration of about 0.5% of modern C-14 levels. This is well within the ability of modern equipment to measure C-14.
Similar results were reported by Baumgardner et al. in their 2003 paper at the International Conference of Creationism called, “Measurable 14-C in fossilize organic materials: confirming the young-earth creation-Flood model” (pp.127–142). In that paper they tabulate 90 measurements of c-14 from various sources, plus more that they had made, but none was of amber.
So, what you suggest would be a great project, and we are very excited that you are now endorsing our long-time calls for such to happen. I would anticipate that you would find an ‘age’ of around 40,000 years.
We are beginning to see a paradigm shift. Classic Darwinism is facing a real possibility of extinction.
I've been excitedly studying what you all have to say about amber. What I'm not understanding is how already uprooted trees could produce so much amber once they are killed.
It seems to me they could easily have come from high forests surviving the first month or two of the Flood and producing large amounts of resin in response to the ash, lightning, and violent rain they would have been exposed to while still growing.
Is there some sign to suggest one scenario is more likely than the other? I'd really love to know!
My dear Chandra--,
Your comment shows quite readily the flexibility and plasticity that renders the theory of evolution so unbelievable. If it changes, it's evolution; if it doesn't change, it's evolution; if it shows, it's evolution; if it doesn't show, it's evolution! What kind of scientist, accustomed and trained in rigorous proof and natural law, would accept such an inane (insane?) suggestion of a theory?
If things appear that they haven't changed for millions of years, can you at least accept two possibilities? 1) They look like they have not changed, BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT CHANGED; and 2) They look like modern species, BECAUSE THEY ARE MODERN. Neither of these suggestions challenge the facts: and though neither absolutely proves creation, both bolster the theory very well.
Evolution science is a mighty science, peer reviewed science. If there had been changes, downhill changes, in mites, it is, of course, evolution. When there have been virtually no changes in mites, it is evolution too because the mighty evolution does not necessarily require any changes always. When there are no uphill changes in mites, well for the mighty evolution, this does not imply there is no evolution; it is simply that the uphill changes were not observed or captured. If any uphill changes were observed or captured, it is not evolution for evolution is elusive and does not leave any evidence behind.
Shane, you say that sin entered the world through Adam’s actions and as a result the whole of creation was "cursed". I believe you should be careful how you use the term "curse" or "cursed" when speaking of the actions of God. Those who do not know their Bible well, or know their Lord well, and who read this article, might interpret the word in the same way as they would interpret the actions of satanists or witches who are cruel, unjust and petty. Our God is none of these. The English word "curse" belongs in the category of the words "curb", "curtail", "curtain" or "curfew". It means "to limit" in some way. Adam was given the world and all that was in it in possession to manage, to look after. When he sinned he brought on himself limitations to his powers and his life and he dragged the whole of his possessions, the world, along with him. We must take care not to make our beautiful Lord look like a monster in the eyes of those who do not know him well. To punish Adam for his sin is understandable but for Him to extend that punishment to innocent creatures would be unfair which He is not. That said, thank you for your interesting article.
Thank you for your comment.
"Curse" is an appropriate translation of the Hebrew in this instance. The Hebrew word in question connotes both imprecation and a decree with divine authority. The Septuagint also translates it with the word best translated 'cursed'. Witchcraft, and other false religions, 'stole' cursing from God; whose sole prerogative it is to bless or curse whom He will.
Of course, we must keep in mind that not all people understand what the Bible means when it talks about certain concepts. But we stick to the Bible's terminology, because that's what God inspired.
In this particular case, God pronounced punishment to those in the Garden of Eden for their sin. He cursed the serpent for what it did making it crawl on it's belly, eat dust and eventually be crushed by the heel of the Seed of the woman (Gen 3:14 & 15). Then He punished Eve by multiplying her childbirth pains (Gen 3:16). Finally, God curses the ground (and all of creation) for Adam's sin (Gen 3:17-19). Now, Adam has to work the ground to get things to grow.
Speaker & Event Coordinator, CMI-USA