Claimed ‘oldest-ever’ amber fossil—millions-of-years mighty mites?
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.