Zoogenesis—a theory of desperation

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Austin Clark joined the Smithsonian Institution in 1908, and was Curator of Echinoderms at the US National Museum of Natural History from 1920 to 1950.


Austin H. Clark (1880–1954) was an American evolutionary zoologist who wrote 630 articles and books in six languages.1 Not many people have heard of him today, because he had a major problem with Darwinism, and to get around this he proposed a new theory, which challenged the evolutionary orthodoxy of his contemporaries.

The problem

In an extraordinary book, The New Evolution: Zoogenesis,2 Clark showed that there was no evidence that any major type of plant or animal had evolved from or into any other type. He wrote, ‘When we examine a series of fossils of any age we may pick out one and say with confidence “This is a crustacean”—or a starfish, or a brachiopod, or an annelid, or any other type of creature as the case may be.’ This is because all these fossils look so much like their living counterparts today. He pointed out that none of today’s definitions of the phyla or major groups of animals needs to be altered to include the fossils, and he said, ‘[I]t naturally follows that throughout the fossil record these major groups have remained essentially unchanged … the interrelationships between them likewise have remained unchanged.’3

He even said, ‘Thus so far as concerns the major groups of animals, the creationists seem to have the better of the argument. There is not the slightest evidence that any one of the major groups arose from any other.’4

None of today’s definitions of the phyla or major groups of animals needs to be altered to include the fossils.

His solution: a new theory

With all this lack of fossil evidence discrediting rather than supporting Darwin’s theory of evolution, what was an intransigent evolutionist to do? Propose a brand-new theory of his own, of course! Clark declared that each major type of life form must have evolved separately and independently from all the others. He called this idea ‘zoogenesis’.

Clark put his faith in the omnipotence of the ‘primitive single cell’ from which he said, ‘there simultaneously appeared through mutation as many different types of animals as were capable of successful existence … .’5

Lest anyone should think that he had ‘changed camps’, he wrote, ‘Is this creationism? Not at all. It simply means that life at its very first beginnings from the single cell developed simultaneously and at once in every possible direction.’6 And he stated, ‘The only acceptable hypothesis is that in its broader features the development of animal forms took place by concurrent evolution.’7 (Emphasis in original.)

The 1930, hardcover, 1st edition of Austin Clark’s book

Clark’s mechanism for this was mutation. But even here he said some startling things (for an evolutionist) such as, ‘Organs may gradually become reduced and perhaps disappear, but nothing is ever added. Specialization is always a matter of subtraction … a structural feature that has once begun to lose importance and to dwindle never reverses the developmental path; it never recovers any of its lost significance.’8 He went on to say, ‘The more an animal type has lost through this process of progressive subtraction, the less there remains for the production of mutants which will be capable of existence.’9 Today we would say that he was correctly saying that all such changes go in the wrong direction for evolution to occur.10

When he mentioned the appearance of man, Clark had some more interesting things to say. He wrote, ‘Every bone in the body of a man is at once distinguishable from the corresponding bone in the body of any of the apes. … Man is not an ape, and in spite of the similarity between them there is not the slightest evidence that man is descended from an ape.’11 Likewise, ‘[I]n the light of all the evidence available at the present time there is no justification in assuming that such a thing as a “missing link” ever existed, or indeed could have existed.’12 Despite these admissions, Clark then says in the next paragraph, confusingly, ‘[M]an and the apes must have had at some time in the past a common ancestor.’12


Austin Clark’s evolutionist colleagues were not impressed. Clark’s proposal was, they knew, totally preposterous. It required an utterly miraculous series of evolutionary transformations in the early history of life to explain the lack of evidence thereafter.

W. D. Matthew, writing in Scientific American, said that paleontology did not warrant Clark’s conclusion concerning concurrent development.13

G. J. Dudycha, writing in The Ohio Journal of Science said, ‘By some mysterious means all the types of life burst forth simultaneously from the primitive single cell. There is certainly no conclusive evidence that such a thing ever did occur, nor can we comprehend how it could have been the case since that has quite apparently not been the method of nature during historic times.’14

Today evolutionists decree Darwinism to be a fact, This conveniently allows them to disregard the lack of required evidence, whether in the fossil record or elsewhere.

More ideas to explain the gaps

Well, that was 1930, and evolution theory has moved on since then, so what is the current situation? Not much has changed. The fossil record still has not produced the needed plethora of transitional fossils whose absence Clark noted. Some evolutionists have grudgingly acknowledged this fact. In 1977, Stephen J. Gould wrote, ‘The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology.’15 In 2001, Ernst Mayr wrote, ‘Given the fact of evolution, one would expect the fossils to document a gradual steady change from ancestral forms to the descendants. But this is not what the paleontologist finds. Instead, he or she finds gaps in just about every phyletic series.’16

Several other evolutionists have put forward their own imaginative theories to try to explain this. In 1940, Richard Goldschmidt proposed the ‘hopeful monster’ solution to describe the instantaneous formation of new species—in essence, a reptile laid an egg and a bird hatched out! In 1972, Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould17 proposed a theory they called ‘punctuated equilibria’,18 namely that major changes between types happened so fast (geologically speaking), and in such small isolated populations, they didn’t leave any evidence that they had occurred at all. This means that the evidence to support their theory was the fact that there was no evidence!

The best explanation of all is that the evidence in the fossil record is consistent with what we would expect from the global Flood of Noah’s day. Nevertheless, today evolutionists decree Darwinism to be a fact. This conveniently allows them to disregard the lack of the required evidence, whether in the fossil record or elsewhere.

References and notes

  1. According to Smithsonian Institution Archives, siarchives.si.edu/findingaids/FARu 7183.htm, 23 August 2007. Clark joined the Smithsonian Institution in 1908, and was Curator of Echinoderms at the US National Museum of Natural History from 1920 to 1950. Return to text.
  2. Clark, A.H., The New Evolution: Zoogenesis, Williams & Wilkins Co., Baltimore, 1930. Return to text.
  3. Ref. 2, pp. 100–101. Return to text.
  4. Clark, A.H., Animal evolution, Quarterly Review of Biology 3(4):539, Dec. 1928. Return to text.
  5. Ref. 2, p. 220. Return to text.
  6. Ref. 2, p. 168. Return to text.
  7. Ref. 2, p. 211. Return to text.
  8. Ref. 2, p. 212. Return to text.
  9. Ref. 2, p. 218. Return to text.
  10. See Wieland, C., The evolution train’s a-comin’ (Sorry, a-goin’—in the wrong direction) Creation 24(2):16–19, 2002. Return to text.
  11. Ref. 2, p. 224. Return to text.
  12. Ref. 2, p. 226–227. Return to text.
  13. Matthew, W.D., The pattern of evolution, Scientific American, 143:192–96, September 1930, cited from ref. 15, p. 135. Return to text.
  14. Dudycha, G.J., Present tendencies in the philosophy of biological evolution, The Ohio Journal of Science, 31(3):129–142, May 1931. Return to text.
  15. Gould, S.J., Evolution’s erratic pace, Natural History 86(5):12–16, May 1977. Return to text.
  16. Mayr, E., What Evolution Is, Basic Books, New York, p. 14, 2001. Mayr was Professor Emeritus, Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. Return to text.
  17. Eldredge has been Curator in the Dept. of Invertebrates at the American Museum of Natural History for almost 30 years. Gould was Professor of Geology, Biology, and the History of Science, at Harvard University for over 30 years, as well as Curator for Invertebrate Paleontology at the institution’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. Return to text.
  18. Eldredge, N. and Gould, S.J., Punctuated equilibria: an alternative to phyletic gradualism, in Models in Paleobiology, edited by T.J.M. Schopf, Freeman Cooper, San Francisco, pp. 82–115, 1972. See review, Batten, D. Return to text.

Reader’s comments

Chelle B.
Thank you for this article. I am a big fan of Creation.com! I do have one question. Sometimes, I will browse the internet looking for atheist and/or evolutionist argumentation. One complaint that I often find goes something like this: "Creationists are always *saying* that no 'missing links' have been found, but they actually have... and lots of them. Evolution has been proven over and over again." Like you, I believe this is completely false, but assuming they aren't all out to deceive people, how are they able to say those things and really believe them?
Carl Wieland
I sincerely apologize that this fell between the cracks for so long. I trust that this article will help: creation.com/missing-links-parade

If not, please feel free to write to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (please include the entire exchange to this point) and I will elaborate further if required.


Carl Wieland
Josef L.
Joel T.,
Dr Sarfati’s article, “Loving God with all your mind: logic and creation” would be a FANTASTIC article to print out and give to your philosophy professor and a great way to get him to start reading the material on the site.
Mark B.
This really should not surprise any of us. The willfulness with which the Word of God is ignored (both in Genesis and elsewhere) is a symptom of a bigger problem; namely, the fear of the Lord. Proverbs 1:7 tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” If one does not fear God, even what he claims as knowledge is suspect because knowledge itself begins with “the fear of the Lord”. This is why atheists have no problem just making stuff up to explain a world without God. In Austin Clark’s case, even the “wisdom” he possessed in recognizing that “classic” evolution could not have occurred is brought to naught by his starting position that God’s Word is not true (i.e. there is no need to fear God and the Word he has given us).
Douglas B.
Robert: “But before there was any life at all, what would have caused dumb and lifeless atoms to conspire with one another, to suddenly decide to start arranging themselves into complicated life forms, since they have no intelligence and would therefore have no reason or inclination to do so.”

Robert S.
But before there was any life at all, what would have caused dumb and lifeless atoms to conspire with one another, to suddenly decide to start arranging themselves into complicated life forms, since they have no intelligence and would therefore have no reason or inclination to do so. A lot of information, which atoms don’t have, is required for them to be constucted into something that can contain life. This information had to originate from a source indepedent of and outside of the atoms or ‘bricks’ themselves. The information required to organise bricks into a house is not contained in the bricks, but in the mind of the builder. This information is non-physical (like our thoughts) but is manifested physically in the bricks of the completed house [For every house is built by someone, but he who built all things is God. Hebrews 3:4].
Joel T.
As my philosophy lecturer said (referring to God) "absence [of evidence] it the mark of non-existence." Though, I doubt that he has ever visited creation.com!

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