February 1, 2016 | David F. Coppedge

Animals that Defy Long Ages

A lizard and an elephant join forces to question evolutionary dates.

Tuatara questions: After 38 years of trying, England’s Chester Zoo is celebrating its first successful hatch of a tuatara, a beak-headed lizard that is a classic “living fossil.” Found only on some islands off New Zealand, this creature is a remnant of an order of reptiles that “once flourished as long ago as 225 million years,” according to the BBC News. This implies that their current plight is not due to a lack of fitness, even though they breed slowly today. According to the evolutionary timeline, this creature should have gone extinct with the dinosaurs. According to NewZealand.com, it disappeared from the fossil record 60 million years ago. Did the 60 million years even exist? “They really are a living fossil and an evolutionary wonder,” the BBC says.

Megafauna questions: An entry on the Oxford Science blog, opening with artwork of a Columbian mammoth, discusses the disappearance of megafauna, primarily large mammals, in many parts of the world. “Over the last 50,000 years, a blink of an eye in geological and evolutionary time, something extraordinary happened,” the entry says. “These giants have disappeared completely from many continents, and been greatly reduced in diversity, abundance and range in other continents.” The vanishing act corresponds with the spread of humans around the globe. Consider what has been lost:

We live in the shadows of lost giants. Until relatively recently almost every major vegetated land area on Earth possessed an abundance of large animals that we now only associate with African game parks. Mesmerizing early art shows how much these giant creatures dominated the psyche of our ancestors. They included larger relatives of familiar creatures such as elephants and lions, but also exotic wonders such as giant sloths, car-sized glyptodonts in the Americas, rhino-sized marsupials in Australia, and gorilla-sized lemurs in Madagascar.

We know from tragic news stories about poaching that many of today’s large mammals are in danger of disappearing at the hands of humans: African elephants and rhinos in particular.

Putting the evidence together: Can we make these two articles synchronize? The tuatara article says that 60 million years went by without any tuatara fossils forming. The megafauna article says a vast array of large mammals disappeared in “a blink of an eye in geological and evolutionary time.” So in the first case, too much time is the problem. In the second case, too little time is the problem. Is the assumption of vast ages of time the real problem?

While the evolutionists are scratching their heads over the mysteries of their own making, let’s consider the Biblical timeline with a global flood as a solution. Most of the tuatara order vanished in the Flood; so did most of the megafauna. Some repopulated the Earth in the centuries afterward on land bridges, along with a few dinosaurs, as the ice age continued, but they did not reach every continent. Humans, in disobedience to God’s instructions, stayed in Mesopotamia and built the Tower of Babel. Only after the confusion of languages did they spread out, but life was harsh over much of the world till the ice age waned.

Wherever they migrated, people survived first by hunting and gathering, but as they settled, they built villages, then cities, and eventually civilizations. Large herbivores would have provided good meat for the intelligent, capable hunters, but large carnivores (including dinosaurs) would have been pests. Humans had incentives to wipe them out, and few environmental concerns at the time. None (or extremely few) of the remains would be fossilized, except in unusual cases like cave pits.

That this could have happened quickly is evident from historical cases. In Roman times, emperors sent hunting parties to bring exotic animals they could kill in their sports arenas.  In India, the human population is strongly motivated to kill tigers before they eat people. California grizzlies were driven extinct in half a century by ranchers tired of seeing their livestock destroyed. Wolves suffered a similar fate in large areas of the American and Canadian northwest.Look how quickly the American bison were nearly driven extinct. Of the million buffalo killed in America, not one fossilized. That’s because fossilization requires rapid burial, as occurred in the flood. We know, therefore, that humans have multiple motivations and capabilities for causing significant ecological change, whether for bravado, money, food, or self-defense. Even today, some African megafauna could disappear in a matter of decades, conservationists warn, over the lust for ivory, aphrodisiacs, or folk medicine cures; rhinos are killed for their horns, not for meat, elephants for their tusks. As for remnant dinosaurs, they were known from the dragon legends and pictographs in various places, but they were driven extinct by hunters who probably found them to be dangerous pests. The honor of being a dragon slayer is preserved in medieval tales like Beowulf and the legend of St. George and the Dragon. Megafauna have been described and pictured in carvings and cave art, but they did not fossilize except where their bones are found with human remains in some caves.

This explanation solves both problems for the evolutionist. Tuatara survive because their ancestors did not go extinct millions of years ago, but only thousands. The megafauna disappeared because humans killed them as they are doing now. None of this took long ages. We know that man-caused extinction can occur in decades.

The creation solution also has a benefit: the fear of the Lord tends to conservation. When people see God’s creation as His handiwork, it motivates appreciation for each animal’s design and the desire to preserve it. At least it should; Bible believers should be very alarmed at the rapid disappearance of elephants and rhinos, and work to conserve them. But if animals are in a fluid state over millions of years of unguided evolution, so what if an animal goes extinct? It’s been happening throughout the history of the Earth. The proper application of the Genesis mandate is to be good stewards of God’s creation, because it belongs to Him, not us. Wise stewards manage resources without depleting them.

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  • John C says:

    Just the size of these issues (Circulation: PNAS, 5000; Ecography, unknown) and their potential for thousands of copies in print makes me wonder what the size of the carbon footprint for the entire conference, in fossil fuels expended in assembling and home-going, in lighting, heating and food costs, in trees destroyed for producing glossy paper with plastic bindings, (for presentations), both which will last for eons. All of this to promote what appears to our author to have been a religious experience complete with ghosts and echoes (of absence yet). Point the way to minimize your impact on Nature’s bounty, or shut up about it. Otherwise, it is merely an exercise in hypocrisy.

  • John C says:

    My last comment regarding the conference on Megafauna extinction.

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