December 5, 2003 | David F. Coppedge

New Record-Setting Living Fossil Flabbergasts Scientists

A remarkably-detailed fossil ostracode, a type of crustacean, has been announced in the Dec. 5 issue of Science1 that is blowing the socks off its discoverers.  Erik Stokstad in a review of the discovery in the same issue2 explains its significance in the evolutionary picture of prehistory:

Over the past half-billion years, evolution has dished up an almost endless variety of novelties: lungs, legs, eyes, wings, scales, feathers, fur.  So when paleontologists find a creature that doesn’t change, they take note. (Emphasis added in all quotes.)

Two things about this fossil are exceptional.  (1) It has a “jaw-dropping” amount of detail, such that even small fragile parts and soft tissues were perfectly preserved.  (2) It is indistinguishable from modern ostracodes:

What’s most amazing, ostracode experts say, is how eerily similar the soft-tissue anatomy is to that of modern relatives.  “I was flabbergasted,” says Koen Martens, a zoologist at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. 

This fossil, found near Herefordshire, U.K., was found in Silurian deposits estimated to be 425 million years old.  That means that its modern counterparts are living fossils, virtually unchanged for all that time:

Some ostracode specialists are stunned.  “This is a demonstration of unbelievable stability,” says Tom Cronin of the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia.  Whereas ostracodes diversified into some 33,000 living and extinct species, “these guys have just been plodding along totally unfazed.

This fossil, named Colymbosathon, is also upsetting those who look for evolution in the genes:

Finding a modern cylindroleberid in the Silurian clashes with molecular data, which suggest that the group and related families originated relatively recently, says evolutionary biologist Todd Oakley of the University of California, Santa Barbara.  There’s no conflict for zoologist Anne Cohen, a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, who thinks Colymbosathon actually belongs to a long-extinct family.  In any case, the new fossil indicates that a basic ostracode body plan was already present in the Silurian.  It could also help sort out evolutionary relationships of fossil ostracodes.

David Horne (Queen Mary College, London) predicts more “long-lost evolutionary blueprints” may emerge from these deposits.  “The probability that they will find similarly preserved representatives of other ostracode lineages, and of other arthropods, is both high and extremely exciting.”


1Siveter et al., “An Ostracode Crustacean with Soft Parts from the Lower Silurian,” Science Dec. 5, 2003.
2Erik Stokstad, “Invertebrate Paleontology: Gutsy Fossil Sets Record for Staying the Course,” Science Volume 302, Number 5651, Issue of 5 Dec 2003, p. 1645.

This is just one more of many remarkable, astounding, flabbergasting examples of living fossils.  “Unbelievable stability” is not a prediction of Darwinism.  The Darwinian world is supposed to be a fluid world, filled with diversification, radiation, and innovation.  During the imaginary 425 million years, the continents moved all over the world, animals crawled onto the land and became geckos and crocodiles and birds and caribou.  Mountains rose and valleys sank, and glaciers repeatedly advanced and retreated over much of the planet.  Some animals moved back into the oceans and became whales, porpoises, manatees and sea lions in just a small fraction of this much time, and humans emerged from grunting chimpanzees, invented language and abstract thought, and conquered space.  Is it reasonable to assume that in this slow whirlwind of continuous dynamical change, these ostracodes just reproduced themselves over and over millions of times without any change whatsoever?
    Darwinists are caught in a crossfire of antagonistic evidence.  Only a well-armored Darwinist could be excited about incoming bombshells like this.  Only by wearing Kevlar-lined lead helmets around their brains can they keep the bullets from penetrating and the insides from exploding.

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Categories: Fossils

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