A 300 Million-Year-Old Fully Modern Beetle Causes Astonishment
by Jerry Bergman, PhD
A newly discovered bug—a beetle—has really bugged some Darwinists. As explained in a report based on a study by Friedrich-Schiller-Universitaet scientists in Jena Germany, the half centimeter-long beetle that closely resembles a modern beetle is “currently causing astonishment among both entomologists and paleontologists.”[i] The beetle, one of the oldest known beetles ever discovered, “is throwing a completely new light on the earliest developments in this group of insects.” The report, published in the current issue of the leading scientific journal titled the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, is about a fossilized beetle found in a former marshland in Belmont, Australia.
Previously known beetle fossils have all belonged to a beetle lineage that exhibited a series of what were judged as primitive characteristics, such as wing cases (elytra) that were not completely hardened, or a body surface densely covered with small tubercles. Both of these traits are very different from modern beetles. Modern beetles have wing cases that are completely hardened, and have a largely smooth body surface.
The problem was these very modern traits were found on a beetle claimed to be 300 million years old. Furthermore, the thoracic segments responsible for locomotion on the ancient beetle also show modern features, including antennae resembling a string of beads, and antennal grooves.[ii] Beetles preserve better in the fossil record than many other kinds of insects due to their unusually robust reinforced exoskeleton.[iii] The claimed modern features were determined from elaborate reconstructions of the fossils using computer 3D models of the complete fossil preserved by a “snapshot” kill caused by a sudden volcanic ash dump. Consequently, much fine detail has been preserved, allowing a detailed study of the insect. Because of its combination of ancestral and modern characteristics, this beetle does not fit in any of the current system of four suborders of beetles. Thus, some evolutionists decided that the evolutionary tree must be greatly revised.
The problem Darwinists have is, what is a modern beetle doing in the same geological strata with ancient extinct beetles? This is like discovering the fossil of a fully modern western man buried in a geological stratum next to an animal believed to have become extinct 300 million years ago. Either the dating of the fossil is grossly inaccurate, or our beliefs about modern and primitive beetles are totally wrong. I discuss a third possibility below.
The difference between the ancient and modern beetles could be due to their lifestyle difference. The newly discovered beetle did not live under the bark of trees like most of its contemporaries. Instead, the beetle lived on the plant’s surface, and thus was exposed to the atmosphere to a greater degree than other beetles living at this time. This explains its completely hardened wing cases, and its largely smooth body surface.
This explanation seems to be the most logical, and judgments about primitive vs modern features appear to have distorted the scientist’s conclusions. We simply have two different beetles that were different because of lifestyle adaptation differences. They may simply be two more different types of the approximately 350,000 known beetle species on Earth, and the possibly thousands more yet to be discovered. Beetles now account for around 25 percent of all known life forms existing on our planet.
[i] Friedrich-Schiller-Universitaet Jena. “300 million-year-old ‘modern’ beetle from Australia reconstructed.” ScienceDaily, 24 July 2017.
[ii] Evgeny Viktorovich Yan, John Francis Lawrence, Robert Beattie, Rolf Georg Beutel. At the dawn of the great rise: †Ponomarenkia belmonthensis (Insecta: Coleoptera), a remarkable new Late Permian beetle from the Southern Hemisphere. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 2017; 1 DOI: 10.1080/14772019.2017.1343259.
[iii] Evgeny Viktorovich, 2017. p. 4.
Dr Jerry Bergman, professor, author and speaker, is a frequent contributor to Creation-Evolution Headlines. See his Author Profile for his previous articles.
Recommended Resource: Dr. Bergman’s book Fossil Forensics analyzes every animal and plant category, showing that the fossil record does not support Darwinian evolution.