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Creation 21(4):33, September 1999

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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.

Golden oldie


Joachim Scheven
Joachim Scheven

The leaf portion visible in the fossil at left is just like the pinnae (leaflet) of compound leaves of living Koelreuteria paniculata today—the Panicled Golden Raintree. This ‘living fossil’ is indeed a ‘golden oldie’.

It’s not surprising that the natural distribution of many plants today is limited to certain areas suited to those particular species, and often not anywhere near where fossils of those plants have been found.

The fossilised Koelreuteria leaf in the photograph was found in ‘Pliocene’ deposits at Willershausen, Germany. Fossil seedpods of this genus are also found in the USA in deposits allegedly 50 million years old. Today, this plant lives in its natural state only in China, Japan and Korea.1,2 Keen gardeners might recognise the plant in the companion photograph as Koelreuteria paniculata, the Panicled Golden Raintree (so named because of its golden flower blooms), which is promoted in plant nursery catalogues as virtually the only tree to flower in mid-Summer (July) in northern latitudes.3

Evolutionists believe that millions of years separate the two specimens shown here (courtesy of Dr Joachim Scheven, of the German creationist museum LEBENDIGE VORWELT). However, Dr Scheven points out that the more reliable conclusion from God’s Word (the Bible) is that the leaf was buried and fossilized in the aftermath of Noah’s Flood (thousands, not millions of years ago), more precisely at a time when a warm-temperate vegetation had re-established itself in what is now Germany.4 In addition to burying masses of plant and animal life, it is likely that the biblical Flood also resulted in enormous changes in climatic zoning and geography compared to the pre-Flood world. It is therefore not surprising that the natural distribution of many plants today is limited to certain areas suited to those particular species, and often not anywhere near where fossils of those plants have been found.

To evolutionists, examples such as the Golden Raintree remain a mystery, whereas for those who abide in God’s Word, there is no mystery: the ‘Golden Oldie’ fossil and the modern ‘Golden Raintree’ garden plant are one and the same, after their kind—no evolution has taken place.


  1. Plant profile: Koelreuteria paniculata, floridata.com, 15 July, 1999. Return to text.
  2. Living Fossils: Confirmation of Creation, video by Dr Joachim Scheven. Return to text.
  3. Koelreuteria paniculata, hvp.osu.edu, accessed 3 August 2016. Return to text.
  4. Scheven J., Megasuccessions and Climax in the Tertiary—Catastrophes between the Flood and the Ice Age. (Text available in English and German at members.aol.com, 26 July, 1999.) Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Living Fossils book
by Dr Carl Werner
US $30.00
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Readers’ comments

Josef L.
I think Alex misses the point about living fossils. The point is that if a fossil leaf is believed to be 50 million years old and is virtually identical to its modern counterpart, then that suggests that the earth hasn't changed much in 50 million years. And earth is such a dynamic planet, that I find it REALLY hard to believe that the earth wouldn't have changed drastically over 50 million years. 4500 years, no problem, but 50 million? Forget it.
Marc K.
Re the growing of grapes in England, grapes have never stopped being planted there (e.g. Kent and some ares around London) but the widespread planting has. In the last few years, however, English wine makers are making a large comeback in order to challenge some of the French market (good luck chaps - ha!) and thus are planting "large" areas of southern and middle(?) England.

Romans drank wine so when they conquered England 2000 years ago there were no local bottle shops and so, due to the tyranny of distance, they made their own. In modern times, it's easier for the English to import while growing, according to their traditions, hops and barley for their far superior beer (compared to the French).
Alex F.
What mystery? A plant, once widespread, is now limited to Asia? Even in historical times we have seen fluctuations in the distribution of plants as climate changed. (For example the Romans grew grapes extensively in Northern England; nowadays grapes are only really successful in Central and Southern Europe). I don't see why this fossil presents any problem to conventional geology.
David Catchpoole
The article refers to "examples such as the Golden Raintree"—in other words, this is but one of the many 'living fossils' that evolutionary scientists speak of using terms such as 'mystery', 'enigma', 'conundrum', 'puzzle', 'enigmatic', etc. (If you don't believe me, search the scientific literature for those terms yourself, and you'll soon see what I mean.)
The golden raintree: fifty million years and still the same. The coelacanth? Sixty-five million years absent from the 'fossil record', yet here it is living with us today, alive and well. I remember the headlines when the Wollemi pine was found: Over one hundred million years since the last one was fossilised, yet here it is growing happily in a canyon eroded since that time (i.e. ostensibly 60 million years ago). No wonder it was described as 'a scientific mystery'. Why absent from the 'fossil record' for so long?
The problem is that the 'fossil record' is not a historical record of a millions-and-billions-of-years evolutionary and extinction sequence. It's not the 'fossil record' that tells us that Romans grew grapes in northern England; rather, historical eyewitness accounts tell us that. Just as they tell us (in Genesis 6-9) there was a global Flood about 4,500 years ago—little wonder that we have such a legacy of sedimentary rock with embedded fossils today. No mystery.
Incidentally, when the Wollemi pine was found to be alive, in subsequent months there was a frantic re-assessment of the 'dating' of its fossils, with many commentators revising their 'age' to be much more recent. Not the first time that evolutionists revise 'dates' that don't suit them—see The pigs took it all!

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