‘Oldest’ fossil shrimp?
Published: 30 November 2010 (GMT+10)
Researchers have recently found what has been dubbed the oldest known fossil shrimp. Found in Upper Devonian shale in Oklahoma, the specimen of Aciculopoda mapesi was exceptionally preserved: “the muscles … have been preserved completely enough that discrete muscle bands are discernable.”1
The news reports commented that “The fossil is a very important step in unraveling the evolution of decapods.”2
However, one looks in vain in either the popular reports or the original research to find justification for this statement.
Extension of fossil ranges
Does the claimed age of the fossil tell us something new about the evolution of decapods? The more we investigate the fossil record, the larger fossil ranges tend to get.3 Aciculopoda adds to this trend by extending the known fossil range of shrimps and prawns from the early Triassic (‘dated’ by uniformitarians to 245 Ma) to late Devonian (360 Ma), completely skipping the Carboniferous and Permian geologic ‘ages’. This is a 115-million-year extension in fossil range on the basis of one fossil! This is one more, particularly extreme, example of a progressive randomization of the fossil record.
The classification of strata in the geologic column depends on index fossils, which are supposed to only occur over short spans in the rocks, and thus enable researchers to globally correlate strata. However, if fossils as a rule continually have their stratigraphic ranges extended, how reliable can the geologic column concept be since it relies on index fossils?4
Not only does Aciculopoda resemble ‘younger’ fossil shrimp, it closely resembles modern shrimp (figure 1). So shrimp are not only older than was thought, but they’ve stayed the same much longer. This is one more case of “evolutionary stasis”, which is a contradiction in terms that mean “change that stays the same”. As such, “evolutionary stasis” is a meaningless concept; you can convey the meaning properly by simply calling it stasis. However, evolutionists often feel the need to add “evolutionary” to make sure the public gets the impression that stasis, like every other conceivable pattern in the fossils, can be ‘explained’ with an evolutionary story. And since evolution can apparently explain anything, it ultimately explains nothing.5 “Evolutionary stasis” is nothing more than a meaningless nod to a meaningless concept to accommodate an evolution-contrary pattern in the fossils. Things staying the same is not evolution.
Fine preservation evidence for rapid burial
Lead researcher Rodney Feldmann pointed out that the exceptional preservation of the muscles in the fossil points to rapid burial: “When the animal died, it came to rest on the seafloor. The muscles then were preserved by a combination of acidic waters and a low oxygen content as the animal was buried rapidly.”2 In order to preserve the muscles, they had to be permineralized quickly: “Under conditions of low pH and anoxia, it has been estimated that phosphatization of the soft tissue will occur within a few weeks.”1 Rapid burial and permineralization is completely consistent with a Flood setting.
Evolutionary spin of the fossils
Nevertheless, the news story proclaims: “The fossil is a very important step in unraveling the evolution of decapods.”2 This is mere spin—the fossil tells us nothing about how shrimp or decapods evolved because it’s little different from modern shrimp. Decapods were already ‘dated’ as far back as the Devonian, just not shrimp. So this fossil has neither changed the age range of decapods, nor told us anything about the supposed changes the ancestral decapod went through to become a shrimp. Shrimp are simply older than originally thought.
Fossils make for good stories, but they’re not much help for evolution. Paleontology by itself can’t conclusively demonstrate whether creation or evolution is true. Historical interpretation of the fossil record, like long-age dating, is notoriously subjective. Fossil patterns can’t give a history; that is imposed on the evidence.6 However, we can say that these fossils are consistent with rapid burial during the biblical Flood.
- Feldmann, R.M. and Schweitzer, C.E., The oldest shrimp (Devonian: Famennian) and remarkable preservation of soft tissue, Journal of Crustacean Biology 30(4):629–635, 2010. Return to text.
- Oldest fossil shrimp preserved with muscles, PhysOrg.com, 9 November 2010 (accessed 15 November 2010). Return to text.
- Woodmorappe, J., The fossil record: becoming more random all the time, Journal of Creation (CENTJ) 14(1):110–116, 2000. Return to text.
- Oard, M.J., How well do paleontologists know fossil distributions? Journal of Creation (CENTJ) 14(1):7–8, 2000. Return to text.
- It’s not that evolution does explain all the fossil patterns, but that evolution’s practitioners think it can. So it is just a matter of thinking of a scenario that seems to explain each observation. But these scenarios are often contradictory. The flexibility of the just-so story telling makes evolution effectively unfalsifiable. Return to text.
- Reed, J.K., Cuvier’s analogy and its consequences: forensics vs testimony as historical evidence, Journal of Creation 22(3):115–120, 2008. Return to text.
I just don’t get it. You say, inter alia, that,
- The news reports commented that “The fossil is a very important step in unraveling the evolution of decapods.”2 However, one looks in vain in either the popular reports or the original research to find justification for this statement.
- The more we investigate the fossil record, the larger fossil ranges tend to get.3 Aciculopoda adds to this trend by extending the known fossil range of shrimps and prawns from the early Triassic (‘dated’ by uniformitarians to 245 Ma) to late Devonian (360 Ma), completely skipping the Carboniferous and Permian geologic ‘ages’. This is a 115-million-year extension in fossil range on the basis of one fossil!
- Not only does Aciculopoda resemble ‘younger’ fossil shrimp, it closely resembles modern shrimp (figure 1). So shrimp are not only older than was thought, but they’ve stayed the same much longer. This is one more case of “evolutionary stasis”, which is a contradiction in terms that mean “change that stays the same”. As such, “evolutionary stasis” is a meaningless concept.
Then you claim that, “Paleontology by itself can’t conclusively demonstrate whether creation or evolution is true”.
But, surely, if fossils do not support an evolutionary old-age “history” then palaeontology by itself can conclusively demonstrate evolution to be false. After all, if evolution did not happen, if the world is not 4.5 billion years old, then the evidence won’t support evolution or a 4.5 billion dating.
Personally, I don’t think paleontological evidence has much value by itself because it’s a relatively weak form of evidence. It’s so incomplete and open to speculation on its own. That’s why I say both creation and evolution can be used to explain pretty much any pattern you see in the fossils. I think the continual extension of fossil “ranges” helps to refute current evolutionary reconstructions of it, but that doesn’t preclude evolutionists coming up with other “reconstructions” that better fit the fossil patterns in the rocks.
I think modern experimental evidence in biology is a much more reliable apologetic against evolution and for design than paleontology is because it’s not as subjective. From that and the testimony of Scripture (which I think is externally verifiable to some extent using the worldwide spread of “Flood myths”), I then infer that evolutionary history according to the fossils is a priori unlikely. I’m not confident in abandoning evolution solely on paleontological evidence because evolution is essentially unfalsifiable from the fossils. Popper once used the phrase “metaphysical research program” to explain natural selection. However applicable that may be to natural selection qua experimental biology, it’s certainly apt to describe what goes on in evolutionary paleontology.
One can present a modest case for creation based on the fossils alone: the abrupt appearance of fully formed organisms, the paucity of transitional fossils, increasing fossil ranges, and stasis in organismal morphology as the norm all point towards creation. These factors cause evolutionists to resort to weaker explanations than they would perhaps like (e.g. punctuated equilibrium), but the flexibility of evolution allows them to do so with minimum fuss. Therefore, I don’t think it’s enough conclusively refute naturalism, so fossils are not conclusive evidence for creation.
Back in 1958, my science textbook, (showing the evolution of man), had a step by step drawing from mans prehistoric beginning to his modern form. It started in the ocean with an animal that resembled a sea horse. From that point, it progressed to a fish called a Coelacanth that had four fins that resembled legs.
From the Coelacanth, it progressed to a Salamander, to a lizard, to a Screw, to a lemur, and finally to an ape that instantaneously mutated into a man – leaving a missing link.
Although they had no direct evidence showing a slow progression, they created this scenario and taught children that man sprang from a fish that they thought was extinct. Evolutionists claimed that this fish was a predecessor of man and had been extinct for over 65 million years.
However, fishermen in India and Africa were still catching Coelacanths. It came to the attention of scientists in the 1930’s when a live Coelacanth was caught off the coat of Africa. How could this formerly extinct fish, an ancestor of man, still be swimming around the ocean when evolutionists had already deemed him an extinct ancestor?
When living specimens of this extinct fish started to show up, science had to write the Coelacanth off as a predecessor. The Coelacanth did not evolve into another species. In fact, they are still around today in their original fossil form.
What about the lizards and the Lemurs? The ones that didn’t become extinct are still around today. As for the Apes and the monkeys, they are still around too! There’s no scientific evidence that can link man to a monkey or an ape. Like many other living things from the fossil record, the Coelacanth is not extinct, and it’s still around unchanged today – as are Alligators, Whales, and Sharks.
What evolved from them? Nothing! We have all these living things from the fossil record that survived unchanged – without evolving into anything else. How could this be? Although there’s plenty of evidence for adaptation, there’s absolutely no evidence to support the theory of evolution.
In reality, a fish doesn’t evolve into anything other than a fish, and a lizard, (a reptile), doesn’t evolve into a man, (a mammal). Man did not evolve from an ape. It does not matter how much science compares DNA and how much they exclaim that we share 98% of our DNA with apes. All of the extinct apes are just extinct apes, and the fact that they are extinct doesn’t make them our ancestors.
For years evolutionists looked for a missing link between man and ape. They couldn’t find the link. It was like man just appeared all of the sudden. Why can’t science find the missing link? They stopped talking about the missing link between man and ape because there is no missing link to find.
Extinct apes did not evolve into humans; they died out! We are still here in our original form just like the Coelacanth and the apes are – just like all the other species that didn’t die out.
I would like to comment on,
Oldest’ fossil shrimp?
by Shaun Doyle
first off, I am not a scientist. I have no scientific training.
The fossil pictured brings to me, my observation that This fossil shrimp my have had a larger brain. As there is (in my obsevation) a larger brain vault. As the skull seems to raise up before it get to the eyes. It continues along the same plain right through to the tail. Also compared with the shrimp in the picture. also the feelers and spear on the front of the fossil are turned down. They do not appear to be broken just turned under the shrimp.
As a creationist, I would prefere this is perhaps not the same species.
Keep up your good work, and fly the flag high, we can never give up fighting the good fight.