This article is from
Creation 16(2):38–39, March 1994

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Editor’s note: As Creation magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this. For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones suggested in the Related Articles and Further Reading below.

Exploding evolution

Creatures found as fossils in ‘Cambrian’ rocks have no evolutionary ancestors. And no new basic body plans have appeared since.


‘Evolutionary biology’s deepest paradox’. That was how a Scientific American article described an evolutionary problem concerning the so-called ‘Cambrian explosion’.1

‘Cambrian’ rocks are a system of fossil-bearing rocks containing certain ‘index fossils’. In evolutionary theory, these rocks represent an ‘age’ beginning nearly 600 million years ago and ending about 500 million years ago. Going from the bottom of the evolutionist’s geological column upwards, the ‘Cambrian’ has for years been known as the ‘first’ system in which there is a proliferation of significant, multicelled animals.2

Top row: Echinodermata and Mollusca. Bottom row: Arthropoda and Chordata.

Some of the 26 animal phyla are shown here. These phyla, the largest taxonomic groupings, are distinguished by the fact that each incorporates a unique body plan, with all smaller groupings within the phylum representing design variations on that basic theme. Within each phylum there are generally a number of separately created kinds, sharing the same Grundbauplan or fundamental design concept in the mind of their original Creator. For instance, the green sea turtle clearly belongs to a different created kind (baramin) than does the parrot, yet both share the design concept of a segmented backbone. Though both are linked conceptually by common design, they have no genetic links, whereas organisms varying within a kind have all descended from the same ancestral pool of genetic information. Representatives of every one of the animal phyla are found In ‘Cambrian’ rock.

In creation theory, of course, the division between ‘Cambrian’ rocks and other catastrophically deposited fossil-bearing rocks is not due to vast periods of time. The reasons for the distinctive fossil assemblages are largely sought in physical and ecological areas. Marine creatures would tend to be buried in a Flood catastrophe in different zones (and at varying stages during the Flood) than those living on land, for example. The kinds of creatures found fossilized in ‘Cambrian’ rocks once inhabited the same earth at the same time as those kinds found fossilized higher up the ‘geological column’.

Creationists have long pointed out the problem for evolution theory, namely that all the major groups (phyla) of life which we know today appear in the Cambrian with no evolutionary ancestors. This is why evolutionists refer to it as an ‘explosion’ of evolution. There are no groups which have been identified as ancestral to any of the phyla, and geologically these phyla ‘seem to have appeared suddenly and simultaneously’.

The evolutionary conundrum, the deep puzzle to which the Scientific American article refers, is not, however, this absence of ancestors. Each of the phyla represents a basic blueprint, or unique body plan. Evolution’s ‘deepest paradox’, claims Professor Levinton in this article, is that in rock layers above the ‘Cambrian’ no new or different body plans appear.

This is, of course, no puzzle at all in the context of creation. All animals were created as variations on a given set of unique themes. The groups which were buried in the layers now called ‘Cambrian’ included representatives of all of these unique themes. The ‘Cambrian’ creatures are a subset of all animals created, with no need to regard them in any way as more ‘primitive’ than those found in other rock systems.

If in fact more and more ‘unique body plans’ appeared as one went higher through the rocks, this would fit the predictions of evolution better than creation. As it stands, however, the deep, puzzling question being asked by evolutionists is stated in this article like this:

‘Why haven’t new animal body plans continued to crawl out of the evolutionary cauldron during the past hundreds of millions of years?’

According to evolution theory, enormous and radical evolutionary changes have taken place in this time, and evolution has not ceased today. So why no new ‘body plans’ (Grundbäuplane) since the time they all allegedly evolved in the Cambrian?

The author of the article in question, Professor of Ecology and Evolution at the State University of New York, describes the experimental development in aquatic worms of resistance to the toxic metal cadmium in only three generations (see sidebar). He says that he finds this ‘capacity for rapid evolutionary change in the face of a novel environmental challenge’ to be ‘startling’. If evolution is this fast, he wonders, why is it, as evolutionary biologists are still trying to determine, that no new body plans have appeared during the past half a billion years?’3

Why indeed?

Evolutionists at present have no real answer. However, the paradox vanishes when one removes the glasses of evolutionary presuppositions and sees the data in the light of biblical creation/Flood. The entire set of unique body plans ever created is represented in all rocks bearing substantial numbers of animal fossils. The ‘Cambrian’ creatures, many of which are now extinct, are not ‘primitive ancestors’ to today’s, but are complex creatures in their own right, with no trace of evolutionary ancestors.

Evolution in action?

What about Professor Levinton’s experimental observations, mentioned in this article, of evolution’s allegedly happening today?

Here is what he and a collaborator did.

Worms from a cadmium-free site were exposed to cadmium-laden sediments, and then they ‘bred the survivors’. Clearly the only ones which would have survived were those which already had the necessary genetics to enable them to resist the effects of this poison to the degree necessary.

There is no evidence that any evolutionary novelty arose through mutation—no evidence that any additional genetic information was added to the gene pool in those three generations of worm-breeding. All that happened is that those which were already resistant were selected for, and the others died.

The sort of process needed to eventually transform a one-celled organism into a fish, horse or philosopher involves the addition of new genetic information. Choosing from what is already there, as is the case for all the examples (insecticide resistance, peppered moths, artificial breeding, etc.) commonly used to show ‘evolution’ happening, does not add any information.

Unfortunately, most who read about such ‘examples of evolution’ miss this obvious point, as Professor Levinton himself seems to have done.

References and Footnotes

  1. J. Levinton, ‘The Big Bang of Animal Evolution’, Scientific American, November 1992, pp.52–59. Return to text.
  2. The only multicellular animal fossils found beneath ‘Cambrian’ rocks are the so-called Ediacaran group, a peculiar group which is regarded as an evolutionary dead end. The article frankly admits that they cannot represent the ancestors of the ‘Cambrian’ types or any creatures alive today. Return to text.
  3. He mentions the suggestion that the ‘Cambrian’ explosion of diversity was because there were so many unfilled ecological niches, but dismisses it because according to an evolutionary way of looking at the geological column, more than 96 per cent of marine species disappeared in the ‘Permian’, but no new body plans appear in this group of rocks or higher ones. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

The Greatest Hoax on Earth?
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