Fossils come in a variety of manifestations – not always bone. They could be leaf imprints, whole animals trapped in amber, footprints, or mineral traces made by once-living organisms. Some recent fossil finds are having trouble fitting into evolutionary theory. But one thing about those Darwinists: they always find a way.
- Graph fight: Evolutionists have used the mineral graphite as a biomarker – a sign of fossilized life. By dating the rocks containing the graphite, they have inferred the age of the fossils. Science Daily has some bad news: the graphite could be much younger. A study of rocks in Canada by a team from four scientific institutions has concluded that “carbonaceous particles are millions of years younger than the rock in which they’re found, pointing to the likelihood that the carbon was mixed in with the metamorphic rock later than the rock’s earliest formation – estimated to be 3.8 to 4.2 billion years ago.”
What does this do to evolutionary theory? One team member, Dominic Papineau of Boston College, said, “That can only ring a bell and require us to ask if we need to reconsider earlier studies.” He added, “We can no longer assume that carbon is indigenous in the oldest metamorphosed sedimentary rock.” The article paraphrased his remarks and the impact of this upset on evolutionary theory:
Nearly 4,000-million years old samples from Greenland have been used to develop the dominant time line regarding the emergence of the earliest biosphere. The recent findings suggest the biosphere may have emerged millions of years later, a hypothesis that now demands a rigorous study, said Papineau.…
The presence of carbon and the specific characteristics of that carbon’s source material are crucial to understanding the evolution of the early microbial biosphere. The subject of much debate within scientific circles, a new set of assumptions may be required when using the presence of carbon to date milestones in Earth’s evolution.
- Croco-bird split: The phrase “earlier than thought” appears often in fossil news. Here’s a case noted by University of Washington: “China fossil shows bird, crocodile family trees split earlier than thought.” A specimen of Xilousuchus sapingensis, looking like a crocodile with four legs under its body and a sail-like fin like that of dimetrodon, has been reclassified as an archosaur. This means it “turns out to have come from the crocodile family tree after it had already split from the bird family tree,” the article claimed (birds are assumed to have come from the archosaur branch).
What does this mean to the evolutionary picture? “The work could sharpen debate among paleontologists about whether archosaurs existed before the Permian period and survived the extinction event, or if only archosaur precursors were on the scene before the end of the Permian.” It also means “early members of the crocodile and bird family trees evolved earlier than previously thought.”
- Snake lizard: There are lizards alive today that resemble snakes, because they have no legs (see (05/13/2011, bullet 5). A press release from the University of Toronto published on PhysOrg reported the discovery of a tiny lizard said to be 47 million years old that resolves a controversy about the relationship of snakes and lizards. According to a lead author, “This fossil refutes the theory that snakes and other burrowing reptiles share a common ancestry and reveals that their body shapes evolved independently.” In that case, why PhysOrg called this a “missing link” is anyone’s guess.
- Genetic fossils: Genes can be an indirect type of fossil – provided one believes the evolutionary story connecting genomes by phylogenetic trees. A press release at the University of Texas announced, “Sodium Channels Evolved Before Animals’ Nervous Systems, Research Shows.” The old story was that sodium channels came along with the first nervous systems in jellyfish.
The research team found genes for sodium channels (highly important in the nervous systems of complex animals) in a one-celled animal that has no nervous system: a choanoflagellate. They “discovered the genes for such sodium channels hiding within an organism that isn’t even made of multiple cells, much less any neurons.” What does this do to evolutionary theory? “Because the sodium channel genes were found in choanoflagellates, the scientists propose that the genes originated not only before the advent of the nervous system, but even before the evolution of multicellularity itself.”
Sodium channels are pretty complex systems (01/17/2002). That would be quite an innovation for a poor one-celled organism. David Hillis rescued evolution thusly: “This study shows how complex traits, such as the nervous system, can evolve gradually, often from parts that evolved for other purposes.” His colleague Harold Zakon picked up on the co-option theme: “Evolutionarily novel organs do not spring up from nowhere,” he said, “but from pre-existing genes that were likely doing something else previously.” What they were doing in the choanoflagellate was not explained; apparently that is the next research project.
- Texas lemur: Speaking of Texas, Science Daily “announced the discovery of a previously unknown species of fossil primate, Mescalerolemur horneri, in the Devil’s Graveyard badlands of West Texas.” The only primates living in the wild in Texas today are those on football fields and freeways.
The press release was ready to explain how this primate evolved so far from its ancestors in Africa: “Mescalerolemur’s dental anatomy reveals a close evolutionary relationship with adapiform primates from Eurasia and Africa, including Darwinius masillae, a German fossil primate previously claimed to be a human ancestor,” the reporter wrote (05/19/2009, 03/03/2010). “However, the discovery of Mescalerolemur provides further evidence that adapiform primates like Darwinius are more closely related to living lemurs and bush babies than they are to humans” (bush babies are small nocturnal primates resembling lemurs). The article also appealed to convergent evolution to explain fusion of lower jaws in a related lemur and those of apes and humans.
A picture of the lemur’s jaw was posted at the University of Texas website.
- Dog or cat? One might suppose that paleontologists are good at telling dogs from cats, but when it comes to marsupial mammals in Australia, they’ve had trouble classifying thylacines – alternately classed as “marsupial wolf” or “Tasmanian tiger.” Recently, Brown University researchers voted it into the cat category, according to Science Daily.
The old story was one of evolutionary convergence, the article explained: “The conventional thinking had been that dingoes were the placental spitting image of the marsupial thylacines, evolved in isolated settings, which biologists term evolutionary convergence. When dingoes [dogs] arrived in Australia, they helped push the thylacines out.” Now, the picture is more subtle and complicated: “What that means for the dingo’s role in the thylacine’s disappearance from continental Australia is not clear, but it does show the animals, while similar in many respects, likely hunted differently.” No further evolutionary explanation was offered for the remarkable convergence of many marsupials to their placental look-alikes (for chart, see NWCreation.com).
- Marsupial flood: Speaking of marsupials, about 35 fossilized marsupial rats were found buried together in a mass grave in Bolivia, according to Live Science. From the collection, researchers concluded that they were social animals, unlike today’s marsupials. But the mechanism of burial might lead to other inferences: “They seem to have all died at the same time, possibly during a flash flood or other natural catastrophe.” PhysOrg provided more detail and noted that the bones showed “exceptional preservation”.
- Raindrop tales: How much can you tell from fossil raindrops? David Catling [U of Washington] thinks quite a lot. According to New Scientist, he is deducing atmospheric pressure 2.7 billion years ago from the size and shape of the tiny craters made by raindrops in “an ancient bed of volcanic ash in South Africa”. The number of variables involved would seem to make any conclusions dubious.
- Spider detail: Remains of a spider trapped in Baltic amber have been revealed in exquisite detail thanks to X-ray computed tomography, reported Science Daily. The article includes an image of the spider taken at University of Manchester from Karl Berendt’s 19th century collection.
Nothing was said about spider evolution in the article, but Science Daily did focus attention on the evolutionary age in its headline, “Imaging Technology Reveals Intricate Details of 49-Million-Year-Old Spider.” But in the body of the article, there was this detail about what happens to amber fossils in one fifty-thousandth of that time: “A problem here is that these old, historical amber pieces have reacted with oxygen over time and are now often dark or cracked, making it hard to see the animal specimens inside.” Apparently they were clear when Berendt collected them.
How about human fossils? An intact fossil canine tooth said to be from Peking Man (Homo erectus) has been found in an unopened box of fossils originally dug up in China, reported PhysOrg. Per Ahlberg from Uppsala University remarked that this is “an absolutely incredible find” because most of the Peking Man fossils were lost during World War II. This adds a fourth tooth to their collection, and the only canine tooth. The press release did not explore what this means to the story of human evolution; they just want to figure out the person’s diet.
Last month, Ann Gibbons on Science Magazine News showed fossil footprints of about 30 “archaic” humans of various ages found in volcanic ash near an African lake. They look surprisingly modern for being “120,000 years old”. Gibbons said that researchers “have uncovered 350 tracks made by anatomically modern humans (as shown by their arched feet), over an area of 150 square meters.” In her focus on what the tracks reveal about the social behavior of the group, she did not explain how the “well-preserved trail” could have lasted for 120,000 years.
If you were to look at these fossils without the Charlie & Charlie Brand Eyeglasses (Lyell & Darwin), they would look completely different. Would you see evolution? Would you see phylogenetic trees emerging from the data? Would you see exquisite preservation lasting millions of years? Arguably not. You would see catastrophic burial and young-looking objects.
Evolutionists are blind to their contradictions because they begin with the premise that evolution is true. It is impossible for fossils to falsify evolution, therefore, because evolution is a given. The truth of evolution is not under investigation. Neither is the evolutionary timetable. Their only challenge is keeping their imaginations exercised enough to come up with stories that sound plausible to keep the public in check and give the illusion of understanding, so that they can maintain their brotherhood and authority. They all know the price of disunity.