May 20th, 2011

Living Fossils

Living on this earth are some interesting creatures which, according to evolutionary theory, “should have” been extinct millions of years ago, yet they live on, virtually unchanged.  Some of these include the opossum, the horseshoe crab, the snapping turtle, the cockroach, the platypus, and the famous coelacanth.

             

The coelacanth is a strange fish that was thought to have become extinct along with the dinosaurs over 70 million years ago.  It was known only from fossils until one was caught by fishermen in 1938 off the southeast coast of Africa.  The discovery caused quite a stir and scientists offered a $400 reward for another.  It was not until 1952 that another specimen was caught.  Thereafter, several more were caught and preserved.

             

The coelacanth has heavy scales, a powerful jaw, and fleshy fins.  The scientist who examined the first specimen remarked, “Here is the closest living relative of the long-extinct fish that is accepted as the ancestor of all land animals.  He is almost in the direct line of man’s ancestry.”  Supposedly, the fleshy fins of fish like the coelacanth changed into limbs of the first land creatures the amphibians.  These amphibians then developed over the ages into reptiles and finally into mammals, apes and men.  The question is, “Why should a near relative change so much while the coelacanth remained virtually the same over all those millions of years?”

             

Evolutionary scientists can’t seem to agree on an answer.  Some say these “living fossils” haven’t changed because they lacked competition.  Others say they were so specialized that they weren’t able to evolve because they were so well adapted to a particular range.  Others say just the opposite, that they were so unspecialized that they could adapt to a wide variety of conditions.  Still others say that evolution proceeds by spurts instead of gradually and that the “living fossils” just happen to have a longer period of stasis (periods of no change) than others.  The main problem with this view is that they haven’t proposed a viable mechanism for these rapid spurts of evolution.

Actually, “living fossils” fit in nicely with a creationist viewpoint.  In the first place, the time involved is probably not as great as evolutionists propose.  Secondly, if creatures were created as separate kinds, we might expect that some would persist without much change, others would die out, and some would exhibit minor changes.  This is just what we see in the fossil record.

 

by Dave Nutting

 

Originally published in the July/Aug 1987 issue of Think and Believe

Product Recommendation:

The Fossil Record;

The Fossil Book

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