Fossils (from Classical Latin fossilis; literally, "obtained by digging") are the preserved remains or traces of animals, plants, and other organisms from the remote past. The totality of fossils, both discovered and undiscovered, and their placement in fossiliferous (fossil-containing) rock formations and sedimentary layers (strata) is known as the fossil record.
- If progressive evolution from simple to complex is correct, the ancestors of these full-blown living creatures in the Cambrian should be found; but they have not been found and scientists admit there is little prospect of their ever being found. On the basis of the facts alone, on the basis of what is actually found in the earth, the theory of a sudden creative act in which the major forms of life were established fits best.
- Harold Coffin, Liberty, September/October 1975, p. 12
- To the question why we do not find rich fossiliferous deposits belonging to these assumed earliest periods prior to the Cambrian system, I can give no satisfactory answer.
- Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, Part Two, p. 90.
- The intervals of time that separate the fossils are so huge that we cannot say anything definite about their possible connection through ancestry and descent.
- Henry Gee, In Search of Deep Time—Beyond the Fossil Record to a New History of Life (1999), p. 23.
- To take a line of fossils and claim that they represent a lineage is not a scientific hypothesis that can be tested, but an assertion that carries the same validity as a bedtime story—amusing, perhaps even instructive, but not scientific.
- Henry Gee, In Search of Deep Time—Beyond the Fossil Record to a New History of Life, pp. 116-117.
- When you look for links between major groups of animals, they simply aren’t there.
- Francis Hitching, The Neck of the Giraffe, 1982, p. 19.
- Fossil residues of ancient life-forms discovered in the rocks do not reveal a simple beginning. Although we may care to think of fossil bacteria and fossil algae and microfungi as being simple compared to a dog or horse, the information standard remains enormously high. Most of the biochemical complexity of life was present already at the time the oldest surface rocks of the Earth were formed.
- Sometime in the first billion years, life appeared on the earth’s surface. Slowly, the fossil record indicates, living organisms climbed the ladder from simple to more advanced forms.
- Robert Jastrow, Red Giants and White Dwarfs, 1979, p. 97.
- The critical first billion years, during which life began, are blank pages in the earth’s history.
- Robert Jastrow, Red Giants and White Dwarfs, 1979, p. 97. Letting the Fossil Record Speak, Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?
- The fossil record contains no trace of these preliminary stages in the development of many-celled organisms.
- Robert Jastrow, Red Giants and White Dwarfs, p. 249.
- The record of the rocks contains very little, other than bacteria and one-celled plants until, about a billion years ago, after some three billion years of invisible progress, a major breakthrough occurred. The first many-celled creatures appeared on earth.
- Robert Jastrow, The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe, by Robert Jastrow, 1981, p. 23. Letting the Fossil Record Speak; Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?
- There are a hundred million fossils, all catalogued and identified, in museums around the world.
- Porter Kier, Smithsonian Institution scientist, New Scientist, January 15, 1981, p. 129.
- Beginning at the base of the Cambrian period and extending for about 10 million years, all the major groups of skeletonized invertebrates made their first appearance in the most spectacular rise in diversity ever recorded on our planet.
- Geologists have discovered many unaltered Precambrian sediments, and they contain no fossils of complex organisms.
- Some 120 scientists, all specialists, prepared 30 chapters in a monumental work of over 800 pages to present the fossil record for plants and animals . . . Each major form or kind of plant and animal is shown to have a separate and distinct history from all the other forms or kinds! Groups of both plants and animals appear suddenly in the fossil record. . . . There is not a trace of a common ancestor, much less a link with any reptile, the supposed progenitor.
- John Moore, Should Evolution Be Taught?, 1970, pages 9, 14.
- Evolution necessarily implies the concept of "descent from a common ancestor or ancestors." Yet no ancestor/descendant relationship can be advocated with certainty based on the fossils. Indeed, the differences are obvious and make classification between types possible.
- John D. Morris, The Real Nature of the Fossil Record , 2010, 39 (2): 12-14.
- It is not even possible to make a caricature of an evolution out of palaeobiological facts. The fossil material is now so complete that . . . the lack of transitional series cannot be explained as due to the scarcity of material. The deficiencies are real, they will never be filled.
- Heribert Nilsson, Swedish botanist, Synthetische Artbildung (The Synthetic Origin of Species), by Heribert Nilsson, 1953, p. 1212. Letting the Fossil Record Speak, Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?
- Instead of finding the gradual unfolding of life, what geologists of Darwin’s time, and geologists of the present day actually find is a highly uneven or jerky record; that is, species appear in the sequence very suddenly, show little or no change during their existence in the record, then abruptly go out of the record.
- David M. Raup, Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin, “Conflicts Between Darwin and Paleontology,” January 1979, p. 23.
- Populations in the process of speciating are probably small and geographically separated from their ancestral population, so the full course of speciation would not be preserved at any one site of fossil deposition. What we would see is a series replaced by another, obviously related and yet with no gradual intermediate forms. In any case, no real evolutionist, whether gradualist or punctuationist, uses the fossil record as evidence in favor of evolution as opposed to special creation. This does not mean that the theory of evolution is unproven.
So what is the evidence that species have evolved? There have traditionally been three kinds of evidence, and it is these, not the "fossil evidence", that the critics should be thinking about. The three arguments are from the observed evolution of species, from biogeography, and from the hierarchical structure of taxonomy.
- The fossil evidence could be consistent with the idea of a Great Designer; perhaps some species are destroyed when the Designer becomes dissatisfied with them, and new experiments are attempted on an improved design. But this notion is a little disconcerting. Each plant and animal is exquisitely made; should not a supremely competent Designer have been able to make the intended variety from the start? The fossil record implies trial and error, an inability to anticipate the future, features inconsistent with an efficient Great Designer (although not with a Designer of a more remote and indirect temperament).
- Carl Sagan, Cosmos, by Carl Sagan, 1980, p. 29. Letting the Fossil Record Speak; Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?