December 16, 2019 | Jerry Bergman

Spectacularly-Preserved Fossil Shrimp Look Modern


More Fossil Evidence Again Fails to Show Evolution; Instead, It Shows No Evolution

by Jerry Bergman, PhD

Most evidence used to document evolution is based on fossil bones and teeth. When a new fossil trove of shrimp was discovered recently, amazing detail of the creatures’ external morphology was revealed, giving researchers a close picture of what the living animal looked like eons ago. Darwin complained about the poor fossil record as one of the most serious problems with his theory, and assumed, as more fossils are discovered, it would vindicate his theory of evolution. He said,

the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, [must] be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.”[1]

The find reviewed here is important because, as the peer-reviewed article explained:

Cumaceans are a group of small, extant peracarid crustaceans (1–35 mm long) consisting of eight families and over 1900 species worldwide, commonly found in marine sediments from the intertidal zone to deep-sea trenches. Surprisingly, despite their modern diversity, abundance and global distribution, almost nothing is known about the cumacean fossil record and thus their evolutionary history. This is intriguing because cumaceans are largely benthic crustaceans that live in the sediment–water interface, mostly associated with fine sands and muds, which have a high fossilization potential.[2]

The statement “almost nothing is known about the cumacean fossil record and thus their evolutionary history” means scientists believe they evolved, but have no good fossil evidence to document what they know (actually believe) has occurred. Has this new important find remedied this major problem? It certainly seems it should have.

The Fossils

Exquisite details of hundreds of shrimp were found. Photo: Javier Luque

The “discovery of hundreds of finely preserved … fossils in South America” has allowed “paleontologists to discern eyes, antennae, mouth parts and even fine hairs, and create a 3-D reconstruction of what the creatures might have looked like while alive.”[3] What we see is a creature claimed to be 90 million Darwin years old and, when examined in detail, has shown no evidence of change in the 90-million Darwin years it was alleged to have lived in the past.  The detail was so great that the team was able to create a very realistic 3-D movie of the creature which is available on-line.[4]

The discovery was important because “shrimp are small, delicate crustaceans with one of the poorest fossil records among marine arthropods—which is shocking as they are abundant today and live in soft sediments with good fossilization potential.”[5] The research even further found details of the gut, mouth parts, thoracic legs, pleopods [swimming legs used for brooding eggs, and catching food which these arms sweep the food into their mouth], uropods [posterior appendages that typically function in locomotion] bearing setae [both mechano- and chemosensory hair-like appendages present on the mouthparts of crustaceans], antennal flagella and even small eyes bearing ommatidia.”[6] The discovery of hundreds of finely-preserved fossils in South America has revealed these and more details of the oldest direct ancestor of the comma shrimp, dubbed “comma” because their shape, which resembles a comma. The species is very common today.

Common shrimp, Crangon crangon (Wikipedia). Shrimp are complex crustaceans with numerous organ systems. The fossil shrimp look the same as modern shrimp despite 200 million alleged years.

No Change at All

What Yale paleontologist Javier Luque, lead author of the study, learned from these enormous details is, “We are amazed by how similar Eobodotria muisca is to today’s species” of shrimp.[7] Furthermore, “the similarity between Eobodotria muisca and its modern relatives suggests that the rates of external anatomical changes over millions of years in this group was low.”[8] The word low does not really describe the difference. Nonexistent is a better word. The authors were unable to note a single difference between their fossils and the living shrimp in spite of the fact that the level of detail preserved was enormous. If differences existed, the authors did not identify them, and they would have if they found such to support what they openly stated was the goal of their research, to document evolution.

Most of the Eobodotria muisca fossils found were part of large aggregations of males. We know they were males due to their large antennae that they use for smelling, and their flappy tail appendages used for swimming—both structures that females lack. The researchers concluded that males gathered in the water column for the purpose of searching for females.[9] The hundreds of adult males likely died suddenly in an unexpected water column while the creatures were swarming during mating season. The victims that fell through the water sustained very little, if any, water damage.

Lying for Darwin

Most of the articles about the shrimp claim that the discovery fills in a huge fossil gap, but not one article mentions where that gap is that it supposedly fills.[10] Their claim implies that some very ancient pre-shrimp existed and the new find lived and died between this ancient pre-shrimp and a modern shrimp. One article stated “One of the most incomplete fossil records of marine life is being filled in by a new find by a team of paleontologists from the University of Alberta, Yale University, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute,”[11] yet never mentions where the big hole is that the fossil supposedly fills.

One other claim is that a shrimp, called the tadpole shrimp, which “may be the most ancient animal species on Earth is alive and well in Britain.” According to researchers from the University of Glasgow, the “Fossil finds show that the shrimp is virtually the same today as it was 200 million years ago, when the first dinosaurs evolved” [12] No evolution at all is seen!

The name tadpole shrimp comes from where the shrimp live, namely in temporary water pools. When the water dries up, all of the adults die, but leave behind eggs that are able to remain dormant for years until the wet conditions return. Amazingly, these shrimp contain both male and female reproductive systems. Consequently, only one egg needs to survive to regenerate the entire population.[13]

The shrimp fossil record, as described by the authors of the paper reviewed here, is very poor:

The oldest alleged cumacean-like fossils known are a handful of incomplete and poorly preserved specimens from the Permo–Carboniferous of the USA, the Permian of Germany and the Middle Jurassic of France However, none of the Palaeozoic fossils show the diagnostic features of true cumaceans, so their stem-group cumacean affinities are still unclear. The only fossil known assignable to the crown-group Cumacea is Palaeocuma hessi from the Callovian (approx. 165 Ma) of France. Yet, the type material is poorly preserved and represented by …  few specimens.[14]

Consequently, the new find could not fit into any hole between a pre-shrimp or less-evolved shrimp and a modern shrimp. There was no hole to fill because no clear evidence of an earlier shrimp exists.


The statement “almost nothing is known about the cumacean fossil record and thus their evolutionary history” is no longer true. We now have a good fossil record, what the authors describe as the “first unambiguous fossil record,” of shrimp. But instead of documenting evolution, it supports the opposite worldview: creation, and stasis ever since. From what we know from the find, the first known shrimp was a complete, functional shrimp almost identical to those swimming in the waters today.

A major reason given by paleontologists for the supposed lack of evolutionary evidence in the fossil record is fossilization problems, especially of anatomical minutiae such as mouth details, thoracic legs, antennae, fine hairs of the antennal flagella, and compound eyes with ommatidia. All of these details have been unambiguously identified by seasoned paleontologists involved in the fossil find reviewed here, and the researchers were unable to identify a single structure they concluded provided evidence of evolution. They believe their fossil is 90 million years old, but it shows no evidence of evolution. Instead, it shows rather good evidence of stasis (no evolution) in the enormously long time span they believe it lived. These  “Exceptionally preserved fossils provide a crucial glimpse into the Earth’s past” and the message it shouts is clear: No evolution has occurred![15]


[1] Darwin, Charles. 1859. On the Origin of Species. London, UK: John Murray, p. 280.
[2] Luque, Javier and Sarah Gerken. 2019. “Exceptional Preservation of Comma Shrimp From a mid-Cretaceous Lagerstätte of Colombia, and the Origins of Crown Cumacea,” Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 286(1916): 1-8, December 4.
[3] Lyle, Andrew. 2019. Tiny well-preserved fossils discovered in South America reveal oldest known relative of species that still thrives today. 90-million-year-old ‘comma’ shrimp fossil sheds new light on modern species.
[4] See
[5] Lyle, 2019. Ref. 3.
[6] Javier and Gerken, 2019. Ref. 2.
[7] Shelton, Jim. 2019. World’s oldest comma shrimp was way ahead of the curve.
[8] Shelton, 2019. Ref. 7. Emphasis added.
[9] Shelton, 2019. Ref. 7.
[10]  Paleontologists Discover Odd Shrimp That Fills Hole in Fossil Record.
[11] Ref 10.
[12] Shrimp ‘is world’s oldest surviving animal’
[13] Ridley, Kimberly. Extreme Survivors: Animals That Time Forgot. Thomaston, ME: Tilbury House Publishers, p. 12.
[14] Luque and Gerken, 2019. Ref. 2.
[15] Lyle, 2019. Ref. 3.

Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology for over 40 years at several colleges and universities including Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored are in over 1,500 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 40 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.

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