Living Fossils | Calling Evolution Into Question?

(8 Minute Read)
Ancient Problems:
While some evolutionist push aside the problem of living fossils, we believe they are strong evidence for creation when combined with other evidence. Living fossils are creatures that are found in the fossil record, but have somehow survived and have not changed much until this day. While small changes are expected, we hold the view (based off of other evidence previously stated in our other articles) that darwinian evolution (the introduction of new functional body plans) can not be explained solely based off of random genetic mutations guided by natural selection. This article will not be as detailed as our others have been in the past, but will cover a decent amount of living fossils to show that evolution has indeed not taken place as expected under the traditional view. The changes we can observe are usually either evolution working in reverse (the loss of a function) or very small changes overall to the organisms body plans. The introduction of most body plans occurred as a spontaneous event taking place some 500+ million years ago during the Cambrian Explosion. 
The Crocodile (At Least 112 Million Years Old)
 
Sarcosuchus, is a ancestor of the modern day crocodile. This kind lived at least 112 million years ago. Over the course of 112 million years, what kind of differences do we observe? Well for starters almost everything was bigger back then. Sarcosuchus was about 33% larger than modern crocodiles with a longer snout. This added length and width definitely increased its weight as well. When viewing it's commonly suggested evolutionary lineage it gets a little fuzzy. Some argue before Sarcosuchus there was Carnufex - supposedly a bipedal crocodile looking creature that lived about 250 million years ago. Is this possible? Well possibly if there was a loss of function in Carnufex it could have resulted in Sarcosuchus. However, the bone fragments found are minimal and do not show the full picture of Carnufex unlike some artist try to depict. The fragments found include a partial holotype of the skull and skeleton (NCSM 21558) and a referred humerus (NCSM 21623) as depicted as white in the photo below. Again, was this change possible? Perhaps! Longer snouts are not assumed to be a major change, and shorter back legs are definitely possible via a genetic mutation. The truth is that we can't honestly tell exactly what Carnufex looked like based off the limited amount of fossils found, and if it was even an ancestor to the modern crocodile. Either way, we can make a great case for at least 112 million years of little to no change. That's a big deal, considering the cambrian explosion only happen over 500 million years ago.
The Coelacanth (400 Million Years Ago)
The Coelacanth, an ancient prehistoric fish dating back 400+ million years ago from a fossilized jaw bone as noted in this paper, is still alive today with very little change. The photo on the left was taken at the Houston Museum of Natural Science by a member of Almighty in 2019. We also have a photo from a different source showing a complete 150 million year old fossil in our article on the cambrian explosion. From that photo, you can barely see a difference when looking at the living specimen today - which was previously thought to be extinct until recently found. Using the base date of 400+ million years from the jaw bone discovery it is very impressive that random mutations guided by natural selection did not produce any new or significant body plans. There has been a recent find of complete coelacanth fossils found in Africa which date to 360 million years ago. We can rest confident in this living fossil. 
The Jellyfish (500 Million Years Old)
The Jellyfish has taken over our oceans, and beaches. It appears as if nothing has changed in over 500 million years! The recent find is detailed in this LiveScience article which pushed back the date for jellyfish from 300 to 505 million years ago. Jellyfish have adapted somewhat as they do come in slightly different shapes and designs, but the overall body plans of the creature have been very similar for 505 million years. 
Spider & Wasp (100-300 Million Years Old)
 
This beautifully preserved amber fossil was made popular in 2012 when this paper was released. In the paper it is stated that "The extraordinarily rare fossils are in a piece of amber that preserved this event in remarkable detail, an action that took place in the Hukawng Valley of Myanmar in the Early Cretaceous between 97-110 million years ago, almost certainly with dinosaurs wandering nearby." Fossils like this are so rare because it actually depicts the capture of a wasp. From this fossil we can again conclude that even when given over 100 million years to evolve we can still find spiders alive today. 
This much older fossil is detailed in this paper. It is often described as "the largest fossil spider" as it's size is very similar to modern spiders. Very close "spider-like" creatures have also been found dating past 300+ million years ago. However, because the specimens found lack spinnerets that spiders use to turn silk into webs, they cannot technically define them as a spider. This is detailed here in a CBS news article.
Sharks (370-425 Million Years Old)
Sharks also span back to at least 300-425 million years ago. Cladoselache is currently the earliest type of fossilized shark found dating to about 370 million years ago which is detailed here. As you can tell above, these sharks were both similar and different to modern sharks. As you know there are different types of sharks that can have varying looks. 
Horseshoe Crabs (445 Million Years Old)
Horseshoe crabs have survived basically unchanged for almost a half billion years. A recent fossil discovery in 2008 which is detailed here cemented them as one of nature's greatest survivors. An article on Phys.org describes how they survived all three of Earth's major extinction events.  
 Ants (100+ Million Years Old)
Ants can be very hard to preserve because of their small size and soft bodies. However, a recent amber fossil find in 2016 showed that they remain nearly unchanged in about 100 million years. The paper can be found here.
Lobsters (180 Million Years Old)
Another recent fossil find found Lobsters in a flattened shell of an extinct squid-like animal that dates back 180 million years ago. The Phys.org article detailing this find can be found here, and the actual published article can be found here.
Turtles (120+ Million Years Old)
In 2015 ScienceDaily published an article describing a new fossil find that pushed the date back for turtles 25 million years. They seem to indicate there is good evidence that there may even be more fossil finds in the future that will push back the date even further. 
Tuataras (200-225 Million Years Old)
Tuataras are ancient reptiles that are still alive today. They were featured in this BBC news article in 2016 due to a successful delivery of a new baby tuatara in a zoo. This species existed around 200+ million years ago.
Shrimp (360 Million Years Old)
10 years ago biologist would have told you the oldest shrimp fossil dated back to 245 million years ago. Recent fossil finds in Oklahoma have pushed this date back over 100 million years to 360 million years ago! Read more about the find here.
Sea Pens (560 Million Years Old)
The fossil above is from the Australian Museum, and the photo was taken by Dr Carl Werner. This photo depicts a sea pen - which are plant-like animals that have existed from the dawn of creation. They first appear in the cambrian, and exist until this very day.
Salamanders (157+ Million Years Old)
Salamanders have also been around longer than previously expected! A recent find has pushed the date back by about 40 million years. Read more here.
Stingrays (100+ Million Years Old)
 BBC news actually reported on a 100 million year old stingray fossil that went up for auction here. Sadly, it appears to not have sold. Either way, stingrays have been around for awhile. 
Lampreys (360 Million Years Old)
Lampreys are jawless fish - that just so happen to have been around for 360 million years as detailed here. Pretty good for a fish without a jaw right?
Trilobites (Existed for 270+ Million Years)
Okay, yes trilobites are extinct. However, at one time they were the most successful creatures on Earth. They were some of the first creatures to appear and they took over the world quickly not going extinct for 270 million years. At the end of their quarter-billion year reign they were still trilobites. Sure, some looked a bit different than others but small variations are expected. 
Frogs (200+ Million Years Old)
In 2018 a 99 million year old frog was found trapped in amber. Frogs do date back to over 200+ million years ago, but this unique fossil really shows how much they didn't change. The Washington Post reported on this find here. David Blackburn (the associate curator of herpetology at the Florida Museum of Natural History) stated "It is a remarkable experience holding up these small gems and seeing the parts of frogs that look like they might have been left there last month.” 
Scorpions (430-460 Million Years Old)
Recently in 2015 a new fossil was found. It has been dubbed a human sized sea scorpion. These scorpions are very modern like except for the fact that they were bigger and lived in the ocean. Read more here.
Conclusion:
We have submitted some of the best examples of little to no change documented greatly by millions of years of stasis. While these are some of the best examples, there are many more living fossils that exist until this day. Living fossils exist in the forms of bacteria (3.5 billion years ago), plants, and animals. The shocking conclusion is that there was a decent amount of modern looking creatures living with dinosaurs. While this does not disprove the theory of darwinian evolution, it definitely calls it into question. A darwinist would say that these species have not changed due to the design not needing to change. In other words, why change what works? However there is good evidence that over hundreds of millions of years extinction events and the introduction of new threats have occured and still we see little to no change. Here at Almighty, we believe in progressive creationism. Basically the creation "days" in genesis were more of creation "eons" where God exercised his creative power. We believe the fossil record suits this view better than darwinian evolution does, but you be the judge.
Thanks for reading our 8th edition in our Evidence For God blog series! Check back soon for new evidence.
 

1 comment

Daniel T Wynne

It is good that you have been modest in your claim that this does not disprove Darwinian evolution. There is nothing in the Darwinian model that necessitates the extinction of earlier forms.I wouldn’t say darwinists "push aside the problem of living fossils) because “living fossils” really aren’t a problem for darwinism. They also are not evidence for creation over against darwinism. Both views are looking at the evidence (fossils and existing creatures) and are seeking to apply a model to explain them. Both have such a model. Nothing in this article shows one to be superior to the other (though I think yours is.) Darwiniism simply claims that some populations accumulated changes that gave them a survival/reproductive advantage in the area where they lived. In order to say that living fossils are a problem, you have to show how the darwinian model requires the extinction of predecessors.

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