Are fossils ever found in the wrong place?
When it comes to evidence, many people think that the fossils prove evolution. You may have seen a diagram of the geologic column (figure 1) with pictures of plants and animals showing how evolution progressed over millions of years. It gives you the impression that fossils are always found in the same definite order and that no fossils are ever found ‘in the wrong place’.
You may be surprised to learn that fossils are being found “in the wrong place” all the time. Out of place, that is, compared with the areas, or ranges, shown for them on the geological column. But evolutionists don’t think of them as being ‘wrong’ because they have a way of ‘explaining’ every new fossil discovery, no matter where it’s found. All they do is change their story about how evolution happened. Evolution is never questioned.
The fact is that we know very little about where fossils are buried on the earth. We only find them on the surface from scattered rock outcrops and from cores removed from boreholes. So, it is not surprising that new fossils are regularly found in places where they were previously unknown.1
For example, sometimes we will find an organism alive-and-well that was ‘extinct’ for ‘millions of years’. That creates a great surprise and paleontologists call them ‘living fossils’, or even ‘Lazarus taxa’.2 Of course, they must have been alive for those ‘millions of years’ after they went ‘extinct’, even though their fossils had not been found. These discoveries are no problem for evolutionists; they just extend the range of these animals upward on the geological column.
The Wollemi pine (figure 2) is a remarkable example of a living fossil. In recent years a grove of trees was found just 100 kilometres west of Sydney, Australia’s largest city, in the Blue Mountains.3 It was thought to be extinct since the so-called Jurassic period—about 150 million years ago on the uniformitarian timescale. So the Wollemi pine would have been living even though it has not been found in strata between the Jurassic and the present. One researcher said it was like “finding a live dinosaur”. Obviously, the Wollemi pine has not evolved over the alleged 150 million years, which in any case never ever existed. Catastrophic burial during Noah’s Flood about 4,500 years ago as well as survival and regrowth explains living fossils such as the Wollemi pine.
On Vancouver Island, just off the west coast of Canada, in the late 1990s, a paleontologist found a sponge, which he called Nucha vancouverensis, claiming it was a new species.4,5 It was buried in rocks classified on the geologic column as Upper Triassic, which are supposedly some 220 million years old. Surprisingly, this sponge is virtually identical to one previously found in western New South Wales, Australia, named Nucha naucum, from Middle Cambrian rocks, supposedly 520 million years old.6 But why wasn’t it found in any strata from those 300 million intervening years? The Nucha from Vancouver has greatly extended the range for this particular fossil upward in the geological column.
Fossil ranges have also been extended downward. For instance, vertebrates (animals with backbones such as fish and reptiles) have been pushed back into the Cambrian7,8 where 50% to possibly as high as 85% of all the phyla (i.e. the major types of animal designs) originated “suddenly” in what has been graphically called the Cambrian Big Bang.9 Sharks have been pushed back 25 million years into the Upper Ordovician.7 Vascular plants (i.e. land plants) have also been pushed back 25 million years into the Lower Silurian.7 Based on tracks of a lobster-sized, centipede-like creature, arthropods invaded the land 40 million years earlier (Upper Cambrian) than previously thought.10,11 The discovery of an apparent winged insect has pushed back the origin of winged insects and flight by more than 80 million years into the Lower Silurian. That means the origin of the supposed first land plants, which insects depend on, has to be pushed back even earlier into the Ordovician.12,13
By analyzing rocks for organic molecules, researchers have said that eukaryote cells (containing a nucleus and other complex structures) originated 2.7 billion years ago in the Upper Archean, in the Precambrian.14,15 That’s one billion years earlier than previously thought. This raises the question, “Where are the remains of all the billions of organisms with eukaryote cells that lived between 2.7 billion years ago and the time of the Cambrian Big Bang?”
These are just a few examples of how the evolutionary time ranges of fossils are continually being expanded, millions of years earlier and later. The evolutionary story is presented in textbooks, movies, museums and documentaries, and we get the impression that the fossils reveal evolution.
But the fact is that evolution is assumed and then used to explain the fossils. So, when fossils are found in odd places not known before, the evolutionists just change their story about evolution. Creationists, on the other hand, assume that the Bible records what really happened in the past. They find that the fossil evidence can be explained from the order of burial during Noah’s Flood and the 4,500 years since.
References and notes
- Woodmorappe, J., An anthology of matters significant to creationism and diluviology, report 1 in: Studies in Flood Geology, 2nd ed., Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA, pp. 135–136, 1999. Return to text.
- See creation.com/lazarus. Return to text.
- Wieland, C., Sensational Australian tree … like finding a live dinosaur, Creation 17(2):13, 1995; creation.com/woll. Return to text.
- Stanley, G., Triassic sponge from Vancouver Island: possible holdover from the Cambrian, Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 35(9):1037–1043, 1998. Return to text.
- Stanley’s actual label was: Nucha? vancouverensis sp. nov. Return to text.
- Oard, M., How well do paleontologists know fossil distributions? Journal of Creation 14(1):7–8, 2000; creation.com/Oard1417. Return to text.
- Oard, M., Evolution pushed further into the past, Journal of Creation 10(2):171–172, 1996; creation.com/Oard102171. Return to text.
- Oard, M., Origin of vertebrates confirmed in the Early Cambrian, Journal of Creation 18(1):10–11, 2004; creation.com/Oard18110. Return to text.
- For example, as used by Oxford University zoologist Andrew Parker in the title of his book, In the Blink of an Eye: How Vision Sparked the Big Bang of Evolution, Perseus Publishing, Cambridge, MA, 2003. Return to text.
- MacNaughton, R., Cole, J., Dalrymple, R., Braddy, S., Briggs, D. and Lukie, T., First steps on land: arthropod trackways in Cambrian-Ordovician aeolian sandstone, southeastern Ontario, Canada, Geology 30(5):391–394, 2002. Return to text.
- Oard, M., Arthropods supposedly invaded land 40 million years earlier, Journal of Creation 17(2):3–4, 2003; creation.com/Oard1723. Return to text.
- Engel, M. and Grimaldi, D., New light shed on the oldest insect, Nature 427(6975):627–630, 2004. Return to text.
- Oard, M., Evolutionary origins continue to be pushed back in time, Journal of Creation 18(3):7, 2004; creation.com/Oard1837. Return to text.
- Brocks, J., Logan, G., Buick, R. and Summons, R., Archean molecular fossils and the early rise of eukaryotes, Science 285(5430):1033–1036, 1999. Return to text.
- Oard, M., Supposed eukaryote evolution pushed back one billion years, Journal of Creation 15(1):4, 2001; creation.com/Oard1514. Return to text.