December 21, 2018 | David F. Coppedge

Bad Lip Reading with Fossils

Nobody hears fossils, but that doesn’t excuse bad lip reading about what they were trying to say when they died.

Over 7 million subscribers on YouTube enjoy the uproariously funny videos by Bad Lip Reading, a comedy group that puts ridiculous words into speakers’ mouths based on the visual appearance of their lips and body language. Some paleontologists do that with fossils. Here are some recent fossil discoveries spun to make up stories about evolution, even when the evidence appears to contradict Darwin’s theory.

World’s Oldest Flower Unfurled Its Petals More Than 174 Million Years Ago (Live Science). “The origin of angiosperms has long been an academic headache for many botanists,” [evolutionary botanists, that is; Linneaus was a creationist]. this article admits; indeed, the subject has long been called Darwin’s abominable mystery (see DAM law in the Darwin Dictionary). In fact, “Researchers were not certain where and how flowers came into existence, because it seems that many flowers just popped up in the Cretaceous from nowhere,” one evolutionist says. It must be a species of popcorn flower. To evolutionists, though, the newfound fossil, however, speaks only Darwinese: ” The scientists are still trying to figure out whether N. dendrostyla is monophyletic, which would mean it’s part of an early angiosperm group that gave rise to later flower species, or polyphyletic, which would mean it’s an evolutionary dead end that has little to do with flowers that sprouted after it.” Either way, if it exists, it evolved, the bad lip reader says.

Death near the shoreline, not life on land ( Something about 121 millipede trackways in England didn’t look right, according to this press release from the Geological Society of America. Evolutionists admit the trace fossil site “overturns what is known about the earliest life on land” [known by evolutionists, that is]. The mass death site seems downright non-evolutionary, suggesting that “invasion of the continents happened globally at the same time.” The bad lip reading goes: the finding “casts new light onto one of the key evolutionary events in the history of life on Earth.”

450 fossilized millipedes found in 100-million-year-old amber (Science Daily). Speaking of millipedes, fossil hunters found 450 of them encased in Burmese amber. They appear larger than modern ones. Also, “the scientists confirmed species representing as many as 13 out of the 16 main orders walking the Earth today.” This sounds very non-evolutionary, but here comes the Bad Lip Reading: “science will be finally looking at solving long-standing mysteries, such as whether the local millipede diversity in the southern Alps of Italy or on the island of Madagascar is the result of evolutionary processes which have taken place one, ten or more than 100-million years ago.

Bizarre fossil that baffled us for years is early starfish ancestor (New Scientist). Thousands of new stylophoran fossils have been discovered in Morocco. These Cambrian animals have challenged classification. The new story is that they are ancestors of starfish (echinoderms; see paper in Geobios). If so, it puts this complex phylum even further back in time, because these stylophorans are “too far evolved as echinoderms” to be the first deuterostomes, as evolutionists had previously thought. (Note: humans are deuterostomes, with two openings in our digestive tracts.) Here comes the bad lip reading: “The finding will force a rethink about the early evolution of animals.” It will not force an overturn of evolution, mind you: just a “rethink.” But is anyone really thinking? “That leaves the evolutionary events that occurred early in our deuterostome evolution something of a mystery.

Dead Sea fossils hint at earlier start for some ancient plants (Nature). “Tracking plant evolution is particularly difficult,” Heidi Ledford admits, but she hopes that fossil ferns discovered in the Dead Sea region might help “our understanding of plant evolution” (see paper in Science Magazine).  Admittedly, “it is rare to find fossils that preserve the intricate details of a plant’s key anatomical features, such as its reproductive organs or characteristics of its epidermis,” especially in a region that experiences drought – all the more rare during a period when evolutionists believe “The Great Dying” occurred (the Permian extinction, said to have occurred 252 million Darwin Years ago). Ledford likes the bad lip reading by paleobotanist Cindy Looy. “It has far-reaching consequences for our understanding of plant evolution and the origins of several of the major plant lineages,” she says. “The major innovations in the seed plants were taking place in drier environments,” innovations meaning lucky mutations kept by natural selection, if one overlooks the problem of irreducible complexity. The paper in Science with 29 mentions of evolution is too filled with bad lip readings to list here, so we’ll just pick one gem from the summary by Andrew M. Sugden in Science: “Thus, early evolutionary innovations can occur in drought-prone tropical habitats—which rarely offer the conditions needed for fossil preservation.

Five reasons why 2018 was a big year for palaeontology (The Conversation). Every item in evolutionary paleontologist Julien Benoit’s list has a bad lip reading. A thigh bone represents “an important piece of evidence in the story of human evolution.” A giant dinosaur “sheds new light” on the question, “when and where did gigantism among dinosaurs first evolve?” In another case, “Mammals evolved from an unexpected source: reptiles, and specifically a group of ‘mammal-like reptiles’ called the cynodonts.” Two fossil amphibians constitute “a missing link between fish, amphibians and reptiles.” Evolution, evolution, evolution. Every fossil says evolution, the bad lip reader says.

Benoit, ironically, dislikes a bad lip reading by other evolutionists. Some had proposed a multi-regional emergence of humans to explain their widely-separated appearances in Asia and Africa. It’s “a theory ripe with racist undertones,” he complains—which is ironic, also, because historically, Darwinists have been among the worst advocates of “scientific racism” and eugenics. Benoit thinks a tooth analysis that shows “parallel evolution” between widely scattered specimens of Homo erectus offers “yet more proof that humankind’s family tree is solidly rooted in Africa.” How parallel evolution avoids being ripe with racism he does not explain. Another fossil he discusses casts doubt on any connection of Toumaï to the human lineage (); “if it turns out not to be a hominin, evolutionary history shifts once more.” It shifts, but only within the boundaries of evolutionary explanations.

Just the Facts

Paleontology doesn’t have to lip-read Darwin into every find. Here are some examples of more straightforward reports without inserting speculations about ancestry, evolution, and millions of years.

First-ever look at complete skeleton of Thylacoleo, Australia’s extinct ‘marsupial lion’ ( This article sticks to the facts of the skeleton and the history of discoveries of this animal.

Huge Marsupial Lion Terrorized Ancient Australia, Sat Adorably on Its Tail (Live Science). Laura Geggel claims it lived 50,000 years ago, and shares paleontologists’ speculations about its lifestyle and behavior, but mostly keeps to facts. Actually, she qualifies interpretations, quoting one who says, “Drawing very confident inferences [about behavior] can be difficult.” For instance, you would never know from goat skeletons that they are good at climbing trees.

Australia’s ‘marsupial lion’ was a meat-ripping, tree-climbing terror (New Scientist). Alice Klein also tempers her speculation about this animal and sticks mostly to describing it.

Scientists study fossil evidence of shark hunting flying reptile mid-air (Fox News Science). If this large shark really did leap into the air to nab an extinct flying reptile, that would be exciting. But obviously, nobody was there to watch. That story, depicted in the artwork, is only one interpretation of a fossil that shows “a tooth from a large Cretoxyrhina mantelli shark lodged between the neck vertebrae of a Pteranodon.” Reporter Nicole Darrah qualifies the interpretation somewhat. She stays away from the e-word evolution, but does quote an evolutionist who says the animals lived 80 million years ago. That part seems to contribute nothing empirical to the article.

Even the factual articles omit other facts that would weaken the evolutionary case. For instance, how could marsupial lions evolve to look and act so similar to placental lions? Fortunately, the reporters do not fall into the easy out of calling it “convergent evolution,” but this is a challenge. The shark & reptile fossil calls into question evolutionary beliefs about slow-and-gradual processes. If the shark actually caught a flying reptile, something had to bury these two creatures rapidly in sediments—a highly unusual circumstance for animals out in the ocean.


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