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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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 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?