The Cœlacanth: An Example of a False Intermediate Form
Living fossil is the nickname given to organisms whose traces appear in the fossil layers from early geological periods, of which living specimens are still found today. These living things exhibit no differences from their counterparts from millions of years ago, and represent living examples of those long-dead fossil forms.
Without doubt, the most important of these is the forementioned Cœlacanth. For many years, evolutionists portrayed it as the most significant supposed intermediate form, on which they wasted a great deal of speculation until the first surprise appeared in 1938.
Off the coast of southern Africa, in the winter of 1938, a fishing boat called The Nerine dragged from the Indian Ocean near the Chalumna River a fish thought to be extinct for 70 million years. The fish was a cœlacanth, an animal that thrived concurrently with dinosaurs… 1
These words, by the evolutionist Keith S. Thompson, chairman of the Oxford University Academy of Natural Sciences, are a clear expression of how quickly an evolutionary myth faded into nothing. The catching of a live specimen of Cœlacanth did away with one of the greatest fake foundations of the theory of evolution.
The Cœlacanth, which according to the fossil record, dates back some 410 million years to the Devonian period, was regarded by evolutionists as a powerful intermediate form between fish and reptile. It had been mysteriously erased from the fossil record 70 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period, and was believed to have become extinct at that time.2 Based on these fossils, evolutionist biologists suggested that this creature had a non-functioning, "primitive" as evolutionists put it, lung. Speculation regarding the Cœlacanth became so widespread that the fish was cited in many scientific publications as the most significant evidence for evolution. Paintings and drawings of it leaving the water for the land quickly began appearing in books and magazines. Of course, all these assumptions, images and claims, were based on the idea that the creature was extinct.
The truth was very different, however. Since 1938, more than 200 present-day Cœlacanths have been caught, after that first one off South Africa. The second came from the Comoro Islands off north-west Madagascar in 1952, and a third in Indonesian Sulawesi in 1998. The evolutionist paleontologist J. L. B. Smith was unable to conceal his amazement at the capture of the first Cœlacanth, saying, "If I'd met a dinosaur in the street I wouldn't have been more astonished." 3
Later, photographs of a pair of Cœlacanths cavorting was even published in National Geographic magazine! The capture of living Cœlacanths revealed that the claims regarding it were nothing more than deceptions. The structure that evolutionist researchers suggested was a primitive lung turned out to be nothing but a fat-filled swimbladder. In addition, evolutionists had always depicted the fish as living in shallow waters, as a potential reptile preparing to crawl onto the land where it would continue to "evolve." Yet the Cœlacanth was now found to be living in the deepest ocean waters—a bottom-dwelling fish almost never rising above 180 meters below the surface.4
In 1987, the German naturalist Hans Fricke confirmed these research findings when he observed and photographed Cœlacanths off the Grand Comoro Island. He observed that the fish swam backwards, forwards and even tilted head down, but never once "walked, crawled, or otherwise moved on the bottom with their lobed fins." 5
Cœlacanth being a living fossil eliminated the so-called evidence that evolutionists had exhibited so proudly to support their imaginary scenario of the fish's transition from water to land. When this creature was encountered in 1938, it immediately revealed the fraudulent nature of the transition from water to land. Evolutionists cast no aspersions on the fact of this living fossil and did not seek to convince anyone that this discovery was in error. They came up with no new conjectures regarding the Cœlacanth and the story of how it emerged from the sea onto dry land. The stasis in the fossil record had demolished the story of this fish's evolution by tearing down one of its basic premises.
Professor of political science Robert G. Wesson set this fact out in these terms:
The bony-finned Cœlacanth, thought to be long extinct but rediscovered in 1938, has been approximately static some 450 million years (Avers 1989, 317). ... The nearly timeless species are not exempt from the changes of proteins that go on in all living beings, and they could surely vary in many ways without loss of adaptiveness, but their patterns have become somehow frozen. ... From the point of view of conventional evolutionary theory long-term stasis is hard to explain. Rapid evolution ... is incongruous that species remain unchanged through changing conditions over many million years.6
The Horseshoe Crab
The first fossil records of the horseshoe crab go back 425 million years, yet this living fossil still lives along present-day shores. Its tail, which allows it to walk with ease across the sand and which is used for steering, its two eyes with their exceedingly complex structures, and all its other unique features have remained unchanged over the last 425 million years.
The cockroach, the oldest winged insect in the world, first appears in fossils some 350 million years old, from the Carboniferous period. 7 This insect—with its various feelers and hairs that are extremely sensitive to the slightest movement, even to air currents, its perfect wings, and its resistant structure capable of withstanding even radiation—is identical now to how it was 350 million years ago.8
Another living fossil that invalidates one of the greatest faulty proofs of the theory of evolution—and which even revealed a fraud perpetrated in the name of evolution—is the okapi, shown in the illustration below.
The fossils belonging to this animal dated back to the Miocene epoch. The okapi had always been believed to be extinct—that is, right up until the first living specimen was captured in 1901. At that time, it was taken up as an example by evolutionists and presented as an intermediate form in the equine evolution scenario, which itself is totally false. However, with the capture of a living okapi, that scenario of equine evolution was also done away with.
The "evolution of the horse" was for a long while the evolutionists' Exhibit A in regard to the imaginary origin of mammals. Various living and extinct species were set out, one after the other according to size, totally ignoring the gross anatomical differences between them, and were presented as different stages in the evolution of the horse. This series, exhibited in natural history museums for many years, was described in textbooks as if it were a solid proof of evolution. Today, however, a great many evolutionists admit the invalidity of the equine evolution scenario and confess that it is an example of wishful thinking totally based on sleight-of-hand.
In November, 1980, the evolutionist Boyce Rensberger addressed a four-day symposium attended by 150 evolutionists at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, which considered problems facing the theory of evolution. He described how the equine evolution scenario had no basis in the fossil record and how the horse never underwent a process of gradual evolution:
The popularly told example of horse evolution, suggesting a gradual sequence of changes from four-toed fox-sized creatures living nearly 50 million years ago to today's much larger one-toed horse, has long been known to be wrong. Instead of gradual change, fossils of each intermediate species appear fully distinct, persist unchanged, and then become extinct. Transitional forms are unknown. 9
Rensberger was quite right; no evidence exists that any such process as equine evolution ever took place. The equine "series" is totally speculative and is not based on the facts. Moreover, there are considerable anatomical and physical differences among these animals. What Rensberger ignores, however, is that not all the species in the series are extinct. The okapi, encountered in 1901, showed that a creature that evolutionists depicted as an intermediate form was in fact still alive today. This animal, which has no relation to the horse and which bears a far closer resemblance to the zebra, was living in the Miocene epoch (23-5.3 million years ago), displaying the same complex features it possesses today.
The living fossil of the okapi again demolished one of the main claims of the theory of evolution. The equine series scenario, full of inconsistencies in all possible regards to begin with, was finally eradicated, and another evolutionary disgrace was quietly placed on the shelf.
Dr. Niles Eldredge of the American Museum of Natural History said the following about this equine family-tree, which was still lingering in the museum basement:
There have been an awful lot of stories, some more imaginative than others, about what the nature of that history [of life] really is. The most famous example, still on exhibit downstairs, is the exhibit on horse evolution prepared perhaps fifty years ago. That has been presented as the literal truth in textbook after textbook. Now I think that is lamentable, particularly when the people who propose those kinds of stories may themselves be aware of the speculative nature of some of that stuff.10
Other Living Fossils
Newspapers frequently attract attention with such headlines as "20-Milion-Year-Old Spider Fossil Discovered" or "35-Million-Year-Old Lizard Fossil Unearthed." Each of these reports is actually further proof that nothing like the evolutionary process ever happened. There are many examples of living fossils and in addition, these examples go back hundreds of millions of years.
The crocodile is a reptile that was living 200 million years ago, as is confirmed by the fossil record. 11 Yet it is of course alive today. Ginkgo trees were living 125 million years ago, but living specimens were found in China in our own time. Neopilina molluscs were living 500 million years ago, the tuatara lizard 200 million years ago, and archaeobacteria as long ago as 3.5 billion years ago. 12 These are still alive today, with all their complex systems and perfect structures. The nautilus, another mollusc, was living in the seas 300 million years ago, 13 and these creatures are living, feeding and reproducing in exactly the same form in today's seas.
The Australian and African lungfish is another example of a living fossil that was alive 400 million years ago and still thrives in the present. Charles Darwin was astonished by the survival of these fish down to the present day, and in his Origin of Species, he therefore referred to them as "anomalous forms" that "may almost be called living fossils." 14
This is by no means the end of the list of creatures that still survive today unchanged, in exactly the same form as they displayed millions of years ago. The sturgeon, mackerel, freshwater bass, herring, needlefish, lobster, crawfish and the Devonian-period shark are all examples of living fossils. Other examples include the jellyfish, sponges, frogs, bees, ants, butterflies and termites. The 230-million-year-old dragonfly, soldier ants dating back 100 million years, and the 150-million-year-old salamander are all still living today. The same applies to arachnids such as the spider and myriapods such as the millipede.15, 16
Finally, a spider fossilized in amber, and estimated as being 20 million years old, was one of the most important discoveries of the 2000s. A statement from Manchester University announced that this spider, 4 centimeters long and 2 centimeters wide, was identical to present-day specimens. It is hoped that a blood specimen from the spider can extract the arachnid's DNA. 17 However, this fossil spider is certainly not the only specimen found. Other fossil spiders unearthed in excavations have been estimated to be hundreds of millions of years old, and are now on exhibit in museums in various countries of the world. The oldest known and most perfect sea spider fossil dates back 425 million years—important evidence that these creatures have remained unchanged for millions of years.18
The Earth contains countless other fossil specimens from millions of years ago of organisms still living today, such as this spider, and of other creatures now extinct. The fossils illustrated in this book are just a few of the millions of specimens kept in various museums.
1. Keith S. Thomson, Living Fossil: The Story of the Coelacanth, 1991, book cover
2. "Evolution:Living Fossils," http://www.straight-talk.net/evolution/living.htm
3. Jean-Jacques Hublin, The Hamlyn Encyclopædia of Prehistoric Animals, New York: The Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd., 1984, p. 120
4. Don Knapp, "New sighting of 'living fossil' intrigues scientists," CNN.com, 23 September 1998, http://edition.cnn.com/TECH/science/9809/23/living.fossil/index.html
5. "Evolution:Living Fossils," http://www.straight-talk.net/evolution/living.htm
6. Wesson, Beyond Natural Selection, 1991, MIT Press: Cambridge MA, 1994, reprint, pp. 207-208
7. "Living Fossils", Discovery Education, http://school.discovery.com/lessonplans/programs/livingfossils/
8. "American cockroach," http://www.insectia.com/beta/e/iv_c202015.html
9. Boyce Rensberger, Houston Chronicle, 5 October1980, Section 4, p. 15
10. Niles Eldredge, quoted in Darwin's Enigma by Luther D. Sunderland, Santee, CA, Master Books, 1988, p. 78.
11. "Living Fossils", Discovery Education, http://school.discovery.com/lessonplans/programs/livingfossils/
12. David Catchpoole, "'Living Fossils' Enigma," http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v22/i2/living_fossil.asp
13. Lynn Dicks, "The Creatures Time Forgot," New Scientist, 23 October 1999
14. Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, Penguin Books, England, 1985, p. 151
15. "Evolution:Living Fossils," http://www.straight-talk.net/evolution/living.htm
16. "Living Fossils," http://www.nwcreation.net/fossilsliving.html
17. "Spider 'is 20 million years old'", BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/4296398.stm
18. "A Silurian Sea Spider," Nature 431, 978-980, 21 October 2004