January 31, 2015 | David F. Coppedge

These "Evolutionary" Fossils Don't Help Evolutionary Theory

Anti-evolutionary implications can stare paleontologists in the face, yet they still invoke evolutionary theory.

The following fossil discoveries do not tell a clear evolutionary story. In fact, certain aspects are downright un-evolutionary. Why does Darwin get the credit?

Oldest snakes: New snake fossils push the origin of snakes back another 70 million years, Sid Perkins writes for Science Magazine, but they appear to be 100% snake.  “Four new species of ancient snakes, including one that lived in what is now southern England, push back the known kin of today’s slitherers almost 70 million years earlier than thought,” he comments. A cow turned into a whale in 1/10th that time, evolutionists believe; what happened? Since snakes already were slithering snakily 167 million Darwin years ago in as widely-distributed locales as the USA, England and Portugal, evolutionists now have to push back snake ancestry into the 220-240 million year range.  Live Science notes, “The new fossils challenge previous theories that suggested that the long, thin skull structure that is characteristic of snakes is a feature that evolved after the animals became legless and developed their elongated bodies.” A researcher at the University of Alberta connects the dots: “If we have got them at 167 million years old, it means that the group had evolved and radiated long before that.”  No evidence for that notion was provided, just a lateral pass to an unknown receiver: “He adds that the distribution of these newly identified oldest snakes, and the anatomy of the skull and skeletal elements, makes it clear that even older snake fossils are waiting to be found.” The U of Alberta press release also states that “evolution within the group called ‘snakes’ is much more complex than previously thought.

Snake development:  A press release from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln promises it “sheds new light on snake evolution” but delivers a conflicted message. “Snakes may not have shoulders, but their bodies aren’t as simple as commonly thought, according to a new study that could change how scientists think snakes evolved.” The scientists found that “When combined with information from fossils, these findings indicate that the direction of snake evolution is the opposite of what had been concluded from developmental genetics alone” – so much so, that “Our findings turn the sequence of evolutionary events on its head,” one remarked.  The upshot is that snakes are just as advanced as the limbless lizards they supposedly evolved from. “Snake skeletons are just as regionalized as lizards, despite loss of limbs and increase in number of vertebrae.”

Reptile evolution: Another article, this one on PhysOrg, promises to “shed light on the origin of reptiles,” but actually shines the light on diversity, not evolution. An unusual reptile found in 1995 on Prince Edward Island was examined, and determined to be a new genus living in the “Carboniferous period” (~360-300 mya) that would have looked something like “a modern-day desert iguana.

Basal ichthyosaur: Nature reported a “basal ichthyosaur” discovery. Calling it “basal” might sound like it is primitive or moving from land to the sea for the first time. But the creature had “unusually large flippers” and “was probably a suction feeder.” The “same stratigraphic unit” in south China also contains sauropterygians, which were already fully-aquatic, so this does not indicate the start of something new.

Chinese dragon:  The neck on a newly-discovered sauropod from China was half the length of its entire body, paleontologists believe. A press release from the University of Alberta notes that the head was still attached to the skeleton (unusual for dinosaurs). Nothing about the data suggests it had evolved from something else. The construction of this “cool animal” might lead an unbiased observer to think it was designed. “Unique among mamenchisaurids, Qijianglong had neck vertebrae that were filled with air, making their necks relatively lightweight despite their enormous size. Interlocking joints between the vertebrae also indicate a surprisingly stiff neck that was much more mobile bending vertically than sideways, similar to a construction crane.”  One of the paleontologists quipped, “If you imagine a big animal that is half neck, you can see that evolution can do quite extraordinary things.”  Another puzzle was mentioned: “It is still a mystery why mamenchisaurids did not migrate to other continents” since they were around for such a long time. The article ends with a speculation: “China is home to the ancient myths of dragons,” says Miyashita. “I wonder if the ancient Chinese stumbled upon a skeleton of a long-necked dinosaur like Qijianglong and pictured that mythical creature.” But would that explain Marco Polo’s observations?

Fossils and volcanoes:  A press release from Uppsala University expresses surprise that delicate microfossils could have survived volcanic eruptions on the Canary Islands, but can these tiny fossils really tell anything about the origin of the islands? It seems like a judgment call. The theory requires trusting the “mantle plume” hypothesis of island formation; this has been a controversial subject for years now. It also relies on dating the marine fossils by just looking at them and imagining them evolving.

Sea monster living fossil: News media got all excited about a rare frilled shark caught off the coast of Australia. National Geographic, among others, thinks this long, eel-like shark with a gaping mouth gave rise to legends of sea monsters. It’s easy to see why from the picture: “It looks prehistoric,” the fisherman exclaimed. “It looks like it’s from another time!” One caught in 1880 was 25 feet long. More importantly, “The frilled shark is often called a ‘living fossil’ because it is thought to have changed little in about 80 million years,” the article says. “The fish also bears a resemblance to ancestor species that lived during the time of the dinosaurs.”

Sea scorpion evolve: Recently, an evolutionary rethink put sea snakes as ancestors of land snakes. Now, some evolutionists are revising the evolutionary history of scorpions, putting their ancestry deep in the ocean as well. Science Magazine bases this new interpretation on 11 fossil specimens found in southwestern Ontario, Canada. “The origins of scorpions are murky,” Sid Perkins admits, but these fossils “suggest that the animals originated in the seas—and may have been able to clamber onto shore well before the time scientists previously recognized.” From the photo, the fossil scorpion seems to have all the essential parts, except for slight variations in flat-footedness. “The scorpion’s ability to fully support its own weight when out of water (and therefore escape solely aquatic predators) would have been a tremendous evolutionary benefit,” the Darwinians speculated.

Rearranging the deck chairs: Everything you knew about arthropod evolution just changed, according to Elizabeth Pennisi at Science Magazine:

The next time you are about to dig into a freshly steamed lobster for dinner, think “cockroach,” or better yet, “dragonfly.” A decade of genetic data and other evidence has persuaded most researchers that insects and crustaceans, long considered widely separated branches of the arthropod family tree, actually belong together. Now they are exploring the consequences of the revision, which traces insect ancestry to certain crustaceans. “When I think about traits in insects, I now have a context for where they came from,” says Jon Harrison, an evolutionary physiologist at Arizona State University, Tempe, who has spent 25 years investigating insect respiration. “It’s a total change.”

One wouldn’t know which are related just by looking at them. Teasing apart the relationships is a bit of a dark art that relies on the persuasion skills of the investigator:

In the new arthropod tree, hexapods—six-limbed creatures that include insects, springtails, and silverfish—are closer kin to crabs, lobster, shrimp, and crayfish than those “standard” crustaceans are to others such as seed shrimp (ostracods). Many researchers also now put hexapods next to remipedes, shrimplike crustaceans discovered in 1979 that live in land-bound caves infiltrated with seawater. (The all-inclusive group of hexapods and crustaceans has been dubbed pancrustacea.)

The old view of insect evolution may explain why paleontologists have had so much trouble identifying the ancestral insect: They were looking for something that had insectlike and millipedelike traits, rather than a crustacean. “We’ve been looking from the wrong perspective,” says Thorsten Burmester, a comparative physiologist at the University of Hamburg in Germany.

Look past the fossils: The environment in which a fossil is buried is part of the story, paleontologist Mark Patzkowsky cautions readers of a Penn State News brief. The article reveals less about evolution, and more about risks of misinterpreting fossils: e.g., “when it comes to extinctions in specific locales, a close look at the sedimentary architecture often suggests a different interpretation.” Strangely, he himself doesn’t appear willing to take a straightforward interpretation of the evidence sometimes:

Another situation ripe for misinterpretation occurs in places where a layer of sediment eroded for an extended time, followed by another long period of sedimentation. In such a case, the younger sediments (and dead organisms destined to become fossils) were deposited directly on top of much older sediments. Species living in the area may have evolved gradually during the entire time, but in the fossil record the changes will look abrupt.

One could easily interpret this as being due to a short, intense interval of extinction and speciation, when what really happened was gradual change in species through time,” says Patzkowsky, “but with the time gap, the gradual change is not seen.

This takes evolutionary evidence out of the realm of observation and puts it in a gap. But in another place, Patzkowsky admits that the animals after a gap look just like the ones before the gap.  Working with his colleague Steve Holland at a site, “They concluded that the original warm habitat had cooled significantly, driving out the earlier residents and allowing other species to move in. Millions of years later, the area warmed again, and the original species returned.” This after he claimed that species and environments are always changing.

He criticizes some of his colleagues for being too quick to make conclusions without knowledge of sedimentology and lateral changes from one locale to the next. Pointing to various possibilities for bias and incomplete information, Patzkowsky says, “We’re left with what we see on the other side, and then to try to reconstruct what was there.” The take-home lesson is to be cautious: “Trying to understand the fossil record is always challenging, like putting together a puzzle when you don’t even know how big it is or whether you have all the pieces.

Darwin and his partner in crime, Charles Lyell (The Charlie & Charlie Snake Oil Co.) are the biggest con artists in modern history. They have rigged their story so that any observation, no matter how falsifying, can be twisted into support for Darwinism. That’s why so many evolutionists believe it! It guarantees job security. They never have to risk being proven wrong. This is their “scientific method”: (1) Believe in evolution with all your heart. (2) Observe a fact. (3) Make up a story to smush the fact into the theory. Phillip Johnson put it more graciously and eloquently this way:

“I do not think that many scientists would be comfortable accepting Darwinism solely as a philosophical principle, without seeking to find at least some empirical evidence that it is true. But there is an important difference between going to the empirical evidence to test a doubtful theory against some plausible alternative, and going to the evidence to look for confirmation of the only theory that one is willing to tolerate.” (Evolution on Trial, p. 28)





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