William Gibbons and the Fossil Record

In the comments on a post made some weeks ago, an exchange has begun between myself and William Gibbons, a creationist, concerning the evidence for evolution. There are several issues there that really can't be settled for quite some time, but I want to move the main part of the dispute, the evidence for evolution, up here into its own post so it won't get lost in the shuffle. Examining issues like this and the creationist claims concerning them is important, I think. He asked me to provide the 10 best evidences for evolution and I said let's just start with one and referred to a statement I had previously made in the comments on that post. That statement is as follows:

If evolution is true, and each of these major animal groups split off from the previous one, then what would we expect? Well, we would expect that since each of these new groups split off from an already existing one, the order of appearance within those groups should be as conspicuous as the order of appearance in general. If the first amphibians split off from fish, then the first amphibians could only be slightly different than fish; if birds evolved from reptiles, then the first birds must have been very similar to reptiles; and so forth. And what does the fossil record show? Precisely that. The first amphibians to appear are the most fish-like, so much so that they retained internal gills and were still primarily aquatic. Over time, amphibians become more and more diversified and less fish-like, with later forms being successively more terrestrial and less aquatic. The first birds to appear are so reptile-like that they would be classified as theropod dinosaurs if not for the feathers. We now have multiple feathered theropod species to bridge the gap, and they all appear very early and share most of their traits with reptiles, not with modern birds. Over time, they diversified and became less reptile-like. The same can be said of the first mammals, which are so identical to the therapsid reptiles that they evolved from that where exactly you draw the line between the two groups is largely academic. And just like the other lineages, they start out with only one or two species that looks just like their presumed ancestor, then over time new branches appear that are successively less like those ancestors and more like modern mammals. This is exactly what evolution would predict. Indeed, if it wasn't that way, evolution would be falsified. If modern birds appeared all at once in the fossil record, with entirely avian skeletal structure and feathers and fully adapted for powered flight, there would be no way to link them to reptiles, and the same is true of every other major animal group. But they don't appear that way, and the order in which they do appear is precisely what evolution predicts.

This is called "biostratigraphy". As you go up the geologic column, from older strata to more recent strata, the types of plants and animals that you find fossilized within them change rather dramatically, but they change in a very specific pattern. In the oldest rocks you find nothing but bacteria and the chemical traces thereof, and that continues for over 2 billion years of the earth's history. Then you find simple multi-celled organisms in the form of algal stromatolites. Then in the late Precambrian, more complex life forms begin to appear, all marine invertebrates. The pattern continues in this basic order: hemichordates --> chordates -->jawless fishes --> jawed fishes --> amphibians --> reptiles --> birds and mammals. That's a very rough overview, of course, and there is a lot of detail to be filled in. But the important fact here is that the order of appearance is exactly what one would predict if evolution is true, and within each of those major animal groups we find the same predicted order. Now, from the perspective of a young earth creationist, what is the explanation for this order of appearance? That is the question I posed to Mr. Gibbons. Here is the specific question I asked after posting the above statement about biostratigraphy:

In my response to Patterico above, I discussed biostratigraphy and laid out the order of appearance of the major animal groups. Do you have another reasonable explanation for the biostratigraphic patterns other than evolution? I'd be more than happy to discuss flood geology and "hydrodynamic sorting" and show why it is a complete failure as an explanation.

It is a question he pretty much ignores entirely, instead focusing on whether the fossil record is perfect in a specific evolutionary lineage, the reptile to mammal transition. But that was not my argument. My argument doesn't deal with a specific lineage, though we can discuss that, it deals with the overall order of apperance of the major animal groups and the order of appearance within those groups as well. This is an argument he does not bother to engage, choosing instead to try and poke holes in one specific evolutionary transitional sequence. Even if he is absolutely correct and there is not enough compelling fossil evidence to show the transition from reptile to mammal (and I would certainly argue that this transition is quite solidly established by the evidence), this would not touch my argument at all. It would not begin to provide a rational explanation for the order of appearance that I detailed. Under Mr. Gibbons' young earth creationist perspective, which posits that all the major animal groups, indeed nearly all animals and plants (they do typically allow some speciation after the flood these days) were created virtually simultaneously about 6000 thousand years ago and nearly all of whom were killed off in a global flood some 4500 years ago, how does one explain biostratigraphy? Well, since they believe that the vast majority of the sedimentary strata on earth were deposited by that global flood, they can only argue that the flood somehow sorted them that way. But that explanation has a myriad of contradictory assumptions and outright laughers in it. The substance of my argument has been made before, by many critics of creationism and advocates of evolution. Perhaps the best explanation of it was made by Gould in an article entitled Genesis v. Geology:

In "flood geology," we find our richest source of testable creationist claims. Creationists have been forced into this uncharacteristically vulnerable stance by a troubling fact too well known to be denied: namely, that the geological record of fossils follows a single, invariant order throughout the world. The oldest rocks contain only single-celled creatures; invertebrates dominate later strata, followed by the first fishes, then dinosaurs, and finally large mammals. One might be tempted to take a "liberal," or allegorical, view of Scripture and identify this sequence with the order of creation in Genesis 1, allowing millions or billions of years for the "days" of Moses. But creationists will admit no such reconciliation. Their fundamentalism is absolute and uncompromising. If Moses said "days," he meant periods of twenty-four hours, to the second. (Creationist literature is often less charitable to liberal theology than to evolution. As a subject for wrath, nothing matches the enemy within.)

Since God created with such alacrity, all creatures once must have lived simultaneously on the earth. How, then, did their fossil remains get sorted into an invariable order in the earth's strata? To resolve this particularly knotty dilemma, creationists invoke Noah's flood: all creatures were churned together in the great flood and their fossilized succession reflects the order of their settling as the waters receded. But what natural processes would produce such a predictable order from a singular chaos? The testable proposals of "flood geology" have been advanced to explain the causes of this sorting.

Whitcomb and Morris offer three suggestions. The first -- hydrological -- holds that denser and more streamlined objects would have descended more rapidly and should populate the bottom strata (in conventional geology, the oldest strata). The second -- ecological -- envisions a sorting responsive to environment. Denizens of the ocean bottom were overcome by the flood waters first, and should lie in the lower strata; inhabitants of mountaintops postponed their inevitable demise, and now adorn our upper strata. The third -- anatomical or functional -- argues that certain animals, by their high intelligence or superior mobility, might have struggled successfully for a time, and ended up at the top.

All three proposals have been proven false. The lower strata abound in delicate, floating creatures, as well as spherical globs. Many oceanic creatures -- whales and teleost fishes in particular -- appear only in upper strata, well above hordes of terrestrial forms. Clumsy sloths (not to mention hundreds of species of marine invertebrates) are restricted to strata lying well above others that serve as exclusive homes for scores of lithe and nimble small dinosaurs and pterosaurs.

The very invariance of the universal fossil sequence is the strongest argument against its production in a single gulp. Could exceptionless order possibly arise from a contemporaneous mixture by such dubious processes of sorting? Surely, somewhere, at least one courageous trilobite would have paddled on valiantly (as its colleagues succumbed) and won a place in the upper strata. Surely, on some primordial beach, a man would have suffered a heart attack and been washed into the lower strata before intelligence had a chance to plot temporary escape. But if the strata represent vast stretches of sequential time, then invariant order is an expectation, not a problem. No trilobite lies in the upper strata because they all perished 225 million years ago. No man keeps lithified company with a dinosaur, because we were still 60 million years in the future when the last dinosaur perished.

I hope Mr. Gibbons will return and engage my argument directly.

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..huh. I thought Gibbons was over in Africa right now, searching for that supposed sauropod, the mokele-mbembe.

Having debated (and debunked) his arguments on cryptozoology.com, I can say you're facing the same wall as I did - The quintessential fingers-in-ears, LALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALA attitude. Even resorts to *Hovindisms*.

Quite sad, really. But have you seen his amazing website, where we find out _Pteranodon_ was 50 feet *long*?

By Marcus Good (not verified) on 09 Jul 2004 #permalink

Marcus-

I would certainly be interested in any information you have on mokele-mbembe and the claims made about it. Please e-mail me.

I am not a Creationist I am a Christian and I reject evolution based on my Faith in the Bible being the infallible word of God, but I have to admit that the seemingly universal sorted order of the fossil record is one of evolutionists best argument. I have read most of the Creationists theories about this and must admit, they dont work for me.

Since you are obviously more knowledgeable in the area of geology than I am, let me ask you a favor. Can you come up with a workable theory for us Christians, on how, taking the Biblical accounts of Genesis as literal truths, the fossil record became sorted? Just a little role reversal here.

Please dont just say, I cant do it. Its impossible. and dismiss my request. If you dont want to try thats fine, Im just asking you to give it your best shot.

Thanks a Lot,

I am not a Creationist I am a Christian and I reject evolution based on my Faith in the Bible being the infallible word of God, but I have to admit that the seemingly universal sorted order of the fossil record is one of evolutionists best argument. I have read most of the Creationists theories about this and must admit, they dont work for me.

First, I would say that if you reject evolution based on your faith in the Bible as the word of God, then you ARE a creationist. That's pretty much the definition of a creationist. Second, I would say that creationist explanations for the fossil record don't work for you because they don't work at all.

Since you are obviously more knowledgeable in the area of geology than I am, let me ask you a favor. Can you come up with a workable theory for us Christians, on how, taking the Biblical accounts of Genesis as literal truths, the fossil record became sorted? Just a little role reversal here.

No, I can't do that. I don't think it can be done, simply because a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 and evolution are not compatible. I will, however, point you to someone who disagrees with me on this and is a geophysicist, Glenn Morton. I've known Glenn for many years and as far as I know, he is unique in that he is both pro-evolution and a biblical inerrantist. That requires some reinterpretation of some passages in the bible from the standard literal interpretation. You can find a great deal of information on Glenn's webpage, including this article called Why I Believe Genesis is Historically Accurate. Glenn's views are rather controversial among Christians, but he is the only person I know of who has managed to treat the bible as inerrant without rejecting evolution. Hope that helps.

It is simply a matter of labeling, if you are going to call me anything, call me a Christian.

Ive read over Mr. Mortons arguments and I would say its an interesting theory, but overall I reject it because I cannot reconcile it to my fundamental belief, again, the infallible word of the Bible. He, in my opinion, is attempting to make Gods words, fit with mans observations. What I am interested in is making mans observations fit with Gods word.

You stated that it is impossible to even come up with a workable theory to do this. I say you just didnt try. But thats OK, you are under no obligation to try. I think it is always possible to come up with a theory, even a weak one. If only strong theories could be advanced, science journals would be pretty thin, (Wouldnt be good for advertising).

Thanks.

It is simply a matter of labeling, if you are going to call me anything, call me a Christian.

I don't think labels are terribly important, but I will say that the problem with using this one is that it doesn't tell us anything about your position on this issue at all. There are Christians who accept evolution, who reject evolution, who think the world is 6000 years old, who think the world is 15 billion years old, and lots of variations in between. I accept that you are a Christian, of course, but that's just not terribly useful in this setting.

Ive read over Mr. Mortons arguments and I would say its an interesting theory, but overall I reject it because I cannot reconcile it to my fundamental belief, again, the infallible word of the Bible. He, in my opinion, is attempting to make Gods words, fit with mans observations. What I am interested in is making mans observations fit with Gods word.

If you insist that the bible be taken as literally true up front, then I'm afraid it is quite impossible to come up with an explanation for the patterns found in the fossil record; they simply don't fit.

You stated that it is impossible to even come up with a workable theory to do this. I say you just didnt try. But thats OK, you are under no obligation to try. I think it is always possible to come up with a theory, even a weak one. If only strong theories could be advanced, science journals would be pretty thin, (Wouldnt be good for advertising).

Well lots of people have already come up with weak theories that attempt to explain biostratigraphy. You mentioned them in your initial post and said that you find them weak and unconvincing. Hydrological sorting and progressive creation are the only two non-evolutionary positions that I know of that attempt to explain the patterns of the fossil record. The first one is easily falsified and the second is sterile because it doesn't make any predictions (it could explain absolutely anything, hence explains nothing). I guess I do not understand why you think I, or anyone, should spend their time coming up with other weak explanations for you to reject.

You are wrong, by the way, to say that I didn't try. I spent several years trying to reconcile my belief in the bible with the evidence; I ultimately concluded that it cannot be done. But that doesn't mean other people haven't found ways to do it that they are comfortable with.

Hello,

I posted my second commentary on the fossil record recentl, but it appears to have disappeared into cyber space. Here again are my comments:

First off, let us start our look at the fossil record at the beginning, starting with the Cambrian explosion. According to the theory of evolution, every living species has emerged from a predecessor. One species which existed previously evolved into a higher, more complex form over time, and all species have come into being in this way. According to the theory, this transformation proceeds gradually over hundreds of millions of years. The Cambrian explosion supposedly happened some 500-550 million years ago. The living creatures found in the strata belonging to the Cambrian period emerged suddenly in the fossil record, with no pre-existing ancestors. Cambrian rocks are packed with the fossils of snails, trilobites, sponges, earthworms, jellyfish, sea hedgehogs, sea cucumbers and other complex invertebrates. This wide mosaic of living organisms made up of such a great number of complex creatures emerged so suddenly that this is referred to as the "Cambrian Explosion" in geological literature.

Most of the creatures in this layer have complex systems and advanced fuctional structures, such as eyes, gills, and circulatory systems, exactly the same as those in modern species. For instance, the double-lensed, combed eye structure of trilobites is a wonder of design. David Raup, a professor of geology in Harvard, Rochester, and Chicago Universities, says:

"the trilobites 450 million years ago used an optimal design which would require a well trained and imaginative optical engineer to develop today". David Raup, "Conflicts Between Darwin and Paleontology", Bulletin, Field Museum of Natural History, Vol 50, January 1979, p. 24.

Indeed, there are two gaps in the fossil record so large that they are indisputable. Preceding the Cambrian rocks are the Precambrian rocks, which are many thousands of feet thick and completetly undisturbed in most places. Thus we would expect to find the beautifully preserved fossil ancestors of the complex trilobite revealing a clear lineage of transitional forms from the simple to the complex. Yet the Precambrian rocks do not reveal any such thing. Where are all the transitional forms that would have existed over the alleged 3.8 billion years leading up to the precambrian and the Cambrian?

Recent findings indicate that almost all phyla, the most basic animal divisions, emerged abruptly in the Cambrian period. An article published in Science magazine in 2001 says:

"The beginning of the Cambrian period, some 545 million years ago, saw the sudden appearance in the fossil record of almost all the main types of animals (phyla) that still dominate the biota today". Richard Fortey, "The Cambrian Explosion Exploded?", Science, vol 293, No 5529, 20 July 2001, p. 438-439.

The same article notes that for such complex and distinct living groups to be explained according to the theory of evolution, very rich fossil beds showing a gradual developmental process should have been found, but this has not yet proved possible. How the earth came to overflow with such a great number of animal species all of a sudden, and how these distinct types of species with no common ancestors could have emerged, is a question that remains unanswered by evolutionists. Zoologist Richard Dawkins, one of the foremost advocates of evolutionary thought in the world today, comments on this reality that undermines the very foundation of all the arguments he has been defending:

"For example the Cambrian strata of rocks... are the oldest ones in which we find most of the major invertebrate groups. And we find many of them already in an advanced state of evolution, the very first time they appear. It is as though they were just planted there, without any evolutionary history." Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, London: W. W. Norton 1986, p. 229.

Moving on, it is generally thought that the sea invertebrates that appear in the Cambrian stratum eventually evolved into fish over tens of million years. However, just as Cambrian invertebrates have no ancestors, there are no transitional links indicating that an evolution occurred between these invertebrates and fish. It should also be noted that invertebrates and fish have enormous structural differences. Invertebrates have their hard tissues outside their bodies, whereas fish are vertebrates that have their skeletical structure on the inside. Such an enormous evolutionary leap would have taken billions of steps to be completed with the corresponding number of (billions) of transitional forms displaying each gradual step.

Evolutionary paleontologist, Gerald T. Todd, admits a similar fact in an article titled "Evolution of the Lung and the Origin of Bony Fishes":

"All three subdivisions of bony fishes first appear in the fossil record at approximately the same time. They are already widely divergent morphologically, and are heavily armored. How did they originate? What allowed them to diverge so widely? How did they all come to have heavy armour? And why is there no trace of earlier, intermediate forms?" Gerald T. Todd, "Evolution of the Lung and the Origin of Bony Fishes: A Casual Relationship", American Zoologist, Vol 26, No. 4, 1980, p. 757.

The evolutionary scenario goes one step further and argues that fish evolved from invertebrates then transformed into amphibians. But this scenario also lacks evidence. There is not even a single fossil verifying that a half-fish/half-amphibian creature ever existed. Robert L. Carroll, an evolutionary palaeontologist and authority on vertebrate palaeontology, is obliged to accept this. He has written in his classic work, Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution, that:

"The early reptiles were very different from amphibians and their ancestors have not been found yet." In his newer book, Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution, puslished in 1997, he admits that "The origin of the modern amphibian orders, (and) the transition between early tetrapods" are "still poorly known" along with the origins of many other major groups. R. L. Carroll, Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution, New York: W. H. Freeman and Co. 1988, p. 4. (Also see Robert L. Carroll, Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution, Cambridge University Press, 1997, p. 296-97).

Two evolutionist paleontologists, Colbert and Morales, comment on the three basic classes of amphibians-frogs, salamanders, and caecilians:

"There is no evidence of any Paleozoic amphibians combining the characteristics that would be expected in a single common ancestor. The oldest known frogs, salamanders, and caecilians are very similar to their living descendants." Edwin H. Colbert, M. Morales, Evolution of the Vertebrates, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1991, p. 99.

There are a number of obvious facts that render the transition from sea or water dwelling creatures into land-dwelling creatures an impossiblilty. (1) Weight-bearing: Sea-dwelling creatures have no problem in bearing their own weight in the sea.However, most land-dwelling creatures consume 40% of their energy just in carrying their bodies around. Creatures making the transition from water to land would at the same time have had to develop new muscular and skeletal systems to meet this energy need, and this could not have come about by chance mutations. (2) Heat Retention: On land, the temperature can change quickly, and fluctuates over a wide range. Land-dwelling creatures possess a physical mechanism that can withstand such great temperature changes. However, in the sea, the temperature changes slowly and within a narrower range. A living organism with a body system regulated according to the constant temperature of the sea would need to acquire a protective system to ensure minimum harm from the temperature changes on land. It is preposterous to claim that fish acquired such a system by random mutations as soon as they stepped onto land. (3) Water: Essential to metabolism, water needs to be used economically due to its relative scarcity on land. For instance,, the skin has to be able to permit a certain amount of water loss, while also preventing excessive evaporation. That is why land-dwelling creatures experience thirst, something the land-dwelling creatures do not do. For this reason, the skin of sea-dwelling animals is not suitable for a nonaquatic habitat.(4) Kidneys: Sea-dwelling organisms discharge waste materials, especially ammonia, by means of their aquatic environment. On land, water has to be used economically. This is why these living beings have a kidney system. Thanks to the kidneys, ammonia is stored by being converted into urea and the minimum amount of water is used during its excretion. In addition, new systems are needed to provide the kidney's functioning. In short, in order for the passage from water to land to have occurred, living things without a kidney would have had to develop a complex kidney system. (5) Respiratory system: Fish "breathe" by taking in oxygen dissolved in water that they pass through their gills. They canot live more than a few minutes out of water. In order to survive on land, they would have to acquire a suitable lung system.It is most certainly impossible that all these dramatic physiological changes could have happened in the same organism at the same time, and all by chance, or even gradually over hundreds of millions of years without leaving a trace in the fossil record.

What of the alleged amphibians-to-reptile evolution? This is again implausible, due to the enormous structural differences between these two classes of animals. For instance, the amphibian egg is designed for developing in water whereas the amniotic egg is designed for developing on land. A "step by step" evolution of an amphibian is out of the question, because without a perfect and fully-designed egg, it is not possible for a species to survive. Moreover, as usual, there is no evidence of transitional forms that were supposed to link amphibians with reptiles. Evolutionist paleontologist and an authority on vertebrate paleontology, Robert L. Carroll has to accept that:

"the early reptiles were very different from amphibians and that their ancestors could not be found yet." Robert L. Carroll, Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution, New York: W. H. Freeman and Co., 1988, p. 198.

Not only is the transition from sea or water to land a biological impossibility, but the reptile-to-bird theory also has its own significant difficulties. None of the distinct mechanisms of birds, which have a completely different structure from land-dwelling animals, can be explained by gradual evolution. First of all, the wings, which are the exceptional traits of birds, are a great impasse for the evolutionists. wings, like eyes, can only function if they are fully developed. In other words, a halfway-developed eye cannot see; a bird with half-formed wings cannot fly. How these organs came into being has remained one of the mysteries of nature that needs to be enlightened. The question of how the perfect structure of wings came into being as a result of consecutive mutations remains completely unanswered. There is no way to explain how the forelimbs of a reptile could have changed into perfectly functioning wings as a result of a distortion of point mutations. Moreover, just having wings is not sufficient for a land organism to fly. Land-dwelling organisms are devoid of many other structural mechanisms that birds use for flying. For example, the bones of birds are hollow compared to those of land-dwelling organisms. Their lungs function in a very different way. They have a different muscular and skeletal system and a very specialised heart-circulatory system, especially for migrating birds that fly at high altitudes. These features are pre-requisites of flying needed at least as much as wings. All these mechanisms had to exist at the same time and altogether; they could not have formed gradually by being "accumulated". This is why the theory asserting that land organisms evolved into aerial organisms is completely fallacious. All of these bring another question to the mind:

How did hollow boned birds evolve from soild boned reptiles? How did feathers evolve from scales? How did the specialized avian lung and heart evolve? How did the reptile-into-bird go from cold-blooded to warm blooded? How did the bird's ability to navigate over vast expanses of our planet using the magnetic field, evolve? These questions remain unanswered, for the untold millons upon millions of transitional forms that must have existed if this evolutionary scenario is true - are completely absent.

However, Archæopteryx, is one of the most widely-known so-called transitional forms among the very few that evolutionists still defend. Archæopteryx, the so-called ancestor of modern birds according to evolutionists, lived approximately 150 million years ago. The theory holds that some small theropods evolved by acquiring wings and then starting on the path to flight. Thus, Archæopteryx is assumed to be a transitional form that branched off from its dinosaur ancestors and started to fly for the first time. However, the latest studies of Archæopteryx fossils indicate that this creature is absolutely not a transitional form, but an extinct species of bird, having some insignificant differences from modern birds. The thesis that Archæopteryx was a "half-bird" that could not fly perfectly was popular among evolutionist circles until not long ago. The absence of a sternum (breastbone) in this creature was held up as the most important evidence that this bird could not fly properly. (The sternum is a bone found under the thorax to which the muscles required for flight are attached. In our day, this breastbone is observed in all flying and non-flying birds, and even in bats, a flying mammal which belongs to a very different family. However, the seventh Archæopteryx fossil, which was found in 1992, caused quite a stir among evolutionists. The reason was that in this recently discovered fossil, the breastbone that was long assumed by evolutionists to be missing was discovered to have existed after all. The recently discovered seventh specimen of the Archaeopteryx preserves a partial, rectangular sternum, long suspected but never previously documented. This attests to its strong flight muscles. This discovery invalidated the mainstay of the claims that Archæopteryx was a half-bird that could not fly properly.Moreover, the structure of the bird's feathers became one of the most important pieces of evidence confirming that Archæopteryx was a flying bird in the real sense. The asymmetric feather structure of Archæopteryx is indistinguishable from that of modern birds, and indicates that it could fly perfectly well. As the eminent paleontologist Carl O. Dunbar states:

"because of its feathers [Archæopteryx is] distinctly to be classed as a bird." Carl O. Dunbar, Historical Geology, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1961, p. 310

Another fact that was revealed by the structure of Archæopteryx's feathers was its warm-blooded metabolism. As was discussed above, reptiles and dinosaurs are cold-blooded animals whose body heat fluctuates with the temperature of their environment, rather than being homeostatically regulated. A very important function of the feathers on birds is the maintenance of a constant body temperature. The fact that Archæopteryx had feathers showed that it was a real, warm-blooded bird that needed to regulate its body heat, in contrast to dinosaurs. Speculations of Evolutionists: The Teeth and Claws of Archæopteryx Two important points evolutionist biologists rely on when claiming Archæopteryx was a transitional form, are the claws on its wings and its teeth. It is true that Archæopteryx had claws on its wings and teeth in its mouth, but these traits do not imply that the creature bore any kind of relationship to reptiles. Besides, two bird species living today, Taouraco and Hoatzin, have claws which allow them to hold onto branches. The swan a vertebrate tail, and a new species of humming bird discovered in Equador in 1992 has 42 needle-like teeth in its beak! These creatures are fully birds, without a trace of a reptilian ancestor. That is why it is completely groundless to assert that Archæopteryx is a transitional form just because of the claws on its wings. Regarding the tooth structure of Archæopteryx and other birds with teeth, all toothed birds known from the fossil record have straight peg-like teeth with a totally different kind of tooth implantation and replacement than their alleged theropod ancestors.

An even earlier bird than Archæopteryx is Protoavis, and specimens have been located in the Upper Triassic Dockum group sediments of West Texas. Found in 1992 by paleontologist, Jay Chatterjee, Protoavis predates Archæopteryx by 75 million years, pushing birds back to the late Triassic and is now considered the earliest known bird. Protoavis came as something of a shock to evolutionists, many who contend this fossil, and not surprisingly. Protoavis does not only considerably predate Archæopteryx, but Protoavis appeared in the fossil record at the same time as the earliest dinosaurs, scotching theropod dinosaurs as the evolutionary ancestors of modern birds.

Protoavis is a significant find It is a small gracile bird about the size of a pheasant with a strong narrow skull supported on a elongated S-shaped neck. Several characteristics suggest that Protoavis was a predatory bird. It had carnivorous teeth at the tip of the jaw with
the posterior part of the jaw probably covered in a horny sheath. The eyes are frontally placed and very large as in present day owls,
therefore hunting may have occurred at dusk or in the dark. Unlike modern raptors however, Protoavis lacks sharp talons and a compact hooked beak. Due to this, it is likely that it fed on small or juvenille theropods or perhaps invertebrates.

Claw morphology suggests that Protoavis could climb trees. The development of a supracoracoideus pulley indicates it may also have been able to fly up to trees. Protoavis is the pigeon that was put among the cats, or rather the theropods, and I predict more surprising fossils like this will be discovered, forcing evolutionists to re-think bird evolution in a major way (if they haven't given up by then!)

But what of mammal evolution? An astonishing new fossil unearthed in China has overturned the accepted view about the relationship between dinosaurs and early mammals. The specimen belongs to a primitive mammal allegedly 130 million years old, that that ate young dinosaurs called psittacosaurs.

A US led team found the early Cretaceous specimens in the famous fossil beds of Liaoning Province in north-eastern China.

The mammal with the dinosaur in its stomach belongs to a carnivorous mammal called Repenomamus robustus, which was about the size of a Scottish Terrier.

"At first, we thought it was a placental mammal carrying an embryo. But then we looked more closely and saw it was a dinosaur," said co-author Dr Meng Jin, curator of palaeontology at the American Museum of Natural History. "The position was also interesting; it was located in the lower left side of the fossil - exactly the position where the stomach is located in extant mammals."

The new species of mammal, also found by the researchers in Liaoning, was probably about 50% larger - weighing about 13kg (30lbs). It has been named Repenomamus gigantus. But fragmentary evidence from Liaoning suggests even bigger mammals may have prowled the region during the Cretaceous.

"This find has helped to break a stereotype about early mammals," said Dr Zhe-Xi Luo, a palaeontologist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, US, who also studies early mammals. Most mammal fossils from the time of the dinosaurs are about the size of mice and rats. As such, they were at a distinct size disadvantage compared with predatory dinosaurs.

The combined discovery of a dinosaur in the stomach of R. robustus and the dog-sized R. gigantus suggests mammals were not the timid insect-eaters they have been portrayed as in the past.

"Mammals at this time were thought to have lived in the shadow of the dinosaurs. But the picture is quite different now," stated Dr Jin.

Again, this discovery does not follow your alleged "evolutionary predictions" at all, but contradicts them rather sharply. As Dr. Jin has stated, there is some fragmentary evidence that much bigger mammals lived among the dinosaurs, or were at least contemporarious with them.

In closing, I would like to focus briefly on whale evolution.

Fossilized bones found in Pakistan are claimed to be those of a 'walking whale', supposedly an ancestor of today's whales. The main claim is that this was a walking whale. That is, had hind limbs which functioned as legs on land and paddles/flippers in water.

The skeleton is incomplete, with critical parts missing. It is also highly fragmented. To establish hind leg function it is necessary to have the pelvic girdle to demonstrate that the leg bones (femur and small proximal piece of tibia) belong to the rest of the skeleton and to determine muscle attachments. However, the pelvic girdle is completely missing.

With the forelimbs, the humerus and scapula are missing which are again crucial to interpreting function, as well as establishing connectedness to the skeleton.

Evolutionists have suggested five features to unite whales:

All incisors parallel with the tooth row--not preserved in Ambulocetus

Medial lambdoidal crest semicircular--not preserved in Ambulocetus

Nasals retracted--rostrum (snout) not preserved in Ambulocetus

Protocones small (features of teeth)

Accessory cusps large (features of teeth)

Evolutionists assume common ancestry between land mammals and whales, and so justify including supposed land ancestors with the whales, choosing characters which were common as their criteria.

A major characteristic of whales is the horizontal tail flukes. Involvement of the tail in swimming requires strong caudal vertebrae with large processes for muscle attachment. Thewissen et al. show one 'caudal' vertebra which has almost no processes for muscle attachment. Furthermore, this one caudal vertebra was not even found with the rest of the skeleton, being 'referred material', found 5 metres above. In other words, the whole of the lumbar, pelvic and caudal parts of Ambulocetus were 'constructed' from just one lumbar vertebra, one femur, a small piece of tibia (no fibula, no pelvis), a small piece of the ball of the ankle joint and a few foot and toe bones. And yet a detailed description is given of how the animal moved in water and on land! The robust femur and presence of a hoof suggest that Ambulocetus was a land-dwelling creature and not in the process of becoming a marine creature. So desperate is the desire of neo-Darwinian evolutionists to find some fossil evidence of an 'intermediate' form between a land mammal and a whale.

Interestinglyt, the Ambulocetus fossil was found in 'lower to middle Eocene' beds. Fossils of whales of the suborder Archeoceti have been found in lower Eocene strata,so Ambulocetus is unlikely to be an ancestor of modern whales, as claimed by evolutionists like J.G.M. Thewissen.

There are too many crucial parts missing to be sure what Ambulocetus is. Whatever it is, it is unlikely to be a walking ancestor of the whales.

Pakicetus inachus is yet another candidate as an intermediate between whales and land mammals in the eyes of some evolutionists. According to evolutionary dating methods it is 52 million years old. Since some educational publications have also claimed Pakicetus is transitional, it is worth discussing. Is Pakicetus a good example of an intermediate or transitional fossil? The problem is, Pakicetus is known only from some cheek teeth and fragments of the skull and lower jaw, so we have no way of knowing whether its locomotion was transitional. Diagrams in textbooks and glossy science magazines shows the imaginative reconstruction, compared to the actual fossil found. Only the stippled parts of the skull represent actual fossil evidence, while the rest is 'reconstructed.' But we do know that its hearing mechanism was that of a land mammal and that it was found in fluvial sediments with other land animals. So the evidence shows that it was probably a land mammal, not a transitional form. Yet in spite of the fragmentary evidence, we are subjected to imaginative artists reconstructions of an entire creature, when only a piece of the skull, a bit of jawbone, and three teeth are all that was found!

Just-so stories about whale evolution are not unique. Many of the alleged transitional forms are based on fragmentary remains, which are therefore open to several interpretations, based on one's axioms. Evolutionary bias means that such remains are often likely to be interpreted as transitional, as is also prevalent in "ape-man" claims. But when more bones are discovered, then the fossils nearly always fit one type or another, and are no longer plausible as transitional. It's also notable that alleged intermediate forms are often trumpeted in the media, while retractions are usually muted or unpublicized.

When Thewissen, and colleagues unearthed some more bones of Pakicetus, and published their work in the journal Nature. The commentary on this paper states:

"All the postcranial bones indicate that pakicetids were land mammals, and ... indicate that the animals were runners, with only their feet touching the ground." Thewissen, J.G.M., Williams, E.M, Roe, L.J. and Hussain, S.T., Skeletons of terrestrial cetaceans and the relationship of whales to artiodactyls, Nature 413:277-281, 20 September 2001.

But the evolutionary bias is still clear, describing Pakicetus as a 'terrestrial cetacean' and saying, 'The first whales were fully terrestrial, and were even efficient runners.' But the term 'whale' becomes meaningless if it can describe land mammals, and it provides no insight into how true marine whales supposedly evolved.

"Until now paleontologists thought whales had evolved from mesonychians, an extinct group of land-dwelling carnivores, while molecular scientists studying DNA were convinced they descended from artiodactyls [even-toed ungulate]. The paleontologists, and I am one of them, were wrong." P.D. Gingerich, N.A. Wells, D.E. Russell, and S.M.I. Shah, Science 220(4595):403-6, 22 April 1983.

Such candor is commendable, and it shows the fallacy of trusting alleged 'proofs' of evolution. Pity that Gingerich is still committed to materialistic evolutionism.

G.A. Mchedlidze, a Russian expert on whales, has expressed serious doubts as to whether creatures like Pakicetus and Ambulocetus, and others--even if accepted as aquatic mammals--can properly be considered ancestors of modern whales. He sees them instead as a completely isolated group.

See: G. A. Mchedlidze, General Features of the Paleobiological Evolution of Cetacea, translated from Russian (Rotterdam: A.A. Balkema, 1986), p. 91.

And what of the alleged vestigial legs? Many evolutionists support whale evolution by alleging that there are vestigial hind legs buried in their flesh. However, these so-called 'remnants' are not useless at all, but help strengthen the reproductive organs--the bones are different in males and females. So they are best explained by deliberate design, not blind evolution. As with the allegedly functionless limbs of Basilosaurus, we should not assume that ignorance of a function means there is no function.

One myth promulgated by some evolutionists says that some whales have been found with hind legs, complete with thigh and knee muscles. However, this story probably grew by legendary accretion from a true account of a real sperm whale with a 5.5 inch (14 cm) bump with a 5-inch (12 cm) piece of bone inside. Sperm whales are typically about 62 feet (19 m) long, so this abnormal piece of bone is minute in comparison with the whale--this hardly qualifies as a 'leg!'

So where are the evolutionary "predictions?" They do not exist. Every creature we know of in the fossil record is complex, complete, fully functional and without any alleged transitional ancestors. Other branches of science, including biology, genetics and taxonomy do not support evolution. I will be happy to discuss these in depth with you.

William J. Gibbons

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Dear Mr. brayton,
It would seem that it is quite unacceptable for a creationist to use and quote from creationist and non-creationist sources when answering critics.

It is perfectly plausible, however, for an evolutionist to quote, use, and parrot from evolutionist sources.

It is perhaps comforting to know that you are so gushingly familiar with material written by qualified scientists on the board of Answers in Genesis. However, you have attempted to steer away your readers attention from the real issue:

Did evolution REALLY do it all? Empirical science say no, and you have absolutely no proof that the molecules-to-man scenario is anything but a secular fairy tale.

I have, however, emailed an attachment to you, which in fact is another document I wrote on this issue, and without any input from any creationist ministry.

I suggest you post it.

Yourse Sincerely,

William J. Gibbons