This article is from
Creation 27(3):20–22, June 2005

Browse our latest digital issue Subscribe

‘Holy Grail’ or another evolutionary tale?
Fascinating Flinders fossil find falls flat (for evolution)


A fossil found by a keen-eyed farmer (pictures only available in magazine) in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, and which had been sitting on his verandah for years, is now being hailed as an evolutionary sensation.1

The area of its discovery, Ediacara in South Australia’s northern Flinders Ranges, has long provided a host of interesting fossils, many of them jellyfish and other softbodied creatures. The geological formation in question is a huge area of sandstone which extends over thousands of square kilometres. It has long been regarded as ‘PreCambrian’, older than the Cambrian, which traditionally was supposed to contain the first multicelled animals. These are in a huge range of forms so diverse that evolutionists refer to it as the Cambrian ‘explosion’.

Evolutionary believers have had a hard time identifying ancestors of the Cambrian fossil creatures, which represent virtually all the phyla (major groups) of life. The Ediacaran organisms are multicelled, and are geologically ‘below’ the Cambrian. But rather than providing the missing ancestors, they appear to be uniquely different from the Cambrian animals.2 In fact, a new geological ‘period’ has been named after them, the ‘Ediacaran’ (sometimes also called the ‘Vendian’ period), some 620 to 540 million alleged evolutionary years ago. Similar fossil assemblages are found elsewhere; ‘Ediacaran’ fossil communities have also been found in South Africa, for example.

The fossil generating all the excitement is quite different from any other Ediacaran fossil found to date—quite simply, it’s believed to be a fully-fledged vertebrate (an animal with a backbone).

Only 6 cm (2.4 inches) long, it has also been shown to have had muscles, a fin on its back, and a head. And yet it’s supposedly 560 million years old, from a time when it was previously believed vertebrates had not evolved yet! This is so stunning that when it was first mooted in the press in late 2003 most evolutionists denied that it could be a vertebrate. Vertebrates were just not supposed to be there.

One expert on Ediacaran fossils, Dr Ben Wagoner of the University of Arkansas, insisted that it was simply an ‘oddly scrunched’ specimen of a common Ediacaran creature, Kimberella. He is cited as saying, ‘I’ll bet my first-born child on it.’3 Hopefully no-one took him up on it, because now, about a year later, it has apparently been confirmed as the ‘oldest vertebrate’.

It would have been too much to hope for the evolutionized media to acknowledge the fact that this find is great news for creationists (because with a stroke it appears to wipe out all, and any, previous multicelled fossils as candidates for the ancestry of all vertebrates). Instead, this is being beat up in such a way that the public will mostly get the impression that it somehow supports evolution! (The ABC report1 referred to even said, in what would have to rate as irrational exuberance even to an informed evolutionist, that this fossil could be ‘the elusive Holy Grail that scientists dream of—showing the origin of life itself.’1 Huh?)

All this is not really surprising, though, because a worldview that starts with evolution as fact (because of an a priori commitment to materialism, as Lewontin admitted4) will only ever interpret all finds in that framework. So all finds will tend to ‘support’ the framework. But when starting from a biblical perspective, it becomes obvious that the fact itself is, so far from being supportive of evolution, a reinforcement of the biblical creation model.

The Ediacaran fossils do not give us a snapshot of some primitive life on Earth countless eons ago; they are a now-extinct5 fauna. And it just so happened that a vertebrate, of a type probably now extinct, was buried with them. Catastrophically, too—the very existence of the soft-bodied fauna at Ediacara over a huge area within sandstone is evidence of vast catastrophic watery action. This transported huge volumes of sand that buried these creatures rapidly before they had time to start decaying. Everyday observation indicates that jellyfish will start to disintegrate within hours of their death (see ‘Hundreds of jellyfish fossils!’6).

Interesting, isn’t it, how the same ‘fact’ that is beaten up as the ‘Holy Grail’ of evolution really speaks starkly for both creation and Noah’s Flood? But then, these are the very same two things the Apostle Peter said that ‘scoffers’, who would deny the Second Coming in judgment of the Lord Jesus Christ, would be ‘willingly ignorant’ of (2 Peter 3:3–6).

References and notes

  1. SA fossil find challenges evolution assumptions, ABC (Australia) radio The World Today, Thursday, 16 December, 2004—transcript at <www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2004/s1266616.htm>.
  2. Some evolutionists would argue that worm burrows found in Ediacaran rocks were from ‘primitive worms’ which were the ancestors of Cambrian worms. But how could one possibly establish that the cast of a burrow was from a ‘pre-worm’ as opposed to just a worm?
  3. Salleh, A., Hot debate over earliest vertebrate claim, ABC Science Online, <abc.net.au/science/news/stories/s984724.htm>, 5 January 2005.
  4. Lewontin, R., Billions and billions of demons, The New York Review, p. 31, 9 January 1997. Richard Lewontin is a leading geneticist who is Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Professor of Biology at Harvard University.
  5. There are apparently jellyfish floating in the nearby Spencer Gulf which are very much like some of the Ediacaran ones, possibly representing the same created kind.
  6. Catchpoole, D., Hundreds of jellyfish fossils! Creation 25(4):32–33, 2003.