Evolution Encyclopedia Vol. 2 

Chapter 17 FOSSILS AND STRATA Part 1

"The creation account in Genesis and the theory of evolution could not be reconciled. One must be right and the other wrong. The story of the fossils agreed with the account of Genesis. In the oldest rocks we did not find a series of fossils covering the gradual changes from the most primitive creatures to developed forms, but rather in the oldest rocks, developed species suddenly appeared. Between every species there was a complete absence of intermediate fossils." *D.B. Gower, "Scientist Rejects Evolution, " Kentish Times, England, December 11, 1975, p. 4. [Biochemist.]

"From the almost total absence of fossil evidence relative to the origin of the phyla, it follows that any explanation of the mechanism in the creative evolution of the fundamental structural plans is heavily burdened with hypothesis. This should appear as an epigraph to every book on evolution. The lack of direct evidence leads to the formulation of pure conjecture as to the genesis of the phyla; we do not even have a basis to determine the extent to which these opinions are correct." *Pierre-Paul Grasse, Evolution of Living Organisms (1977), p. 31.

"We still do not know the mechanics of evolution in spite of the over-confident claims in spore quarters, nor are we likely to make further progress in this by the classical methods of paleontology or biology; and we shall certainly not advance matters by jumping up and down shrilling, `Darwin is god and I, So-and-so, am his prophet.' " *Errol White, Proceedings of the Linnean Society, London, 177:8 (1966).

This is one of the most important chapters in this set of books, for fossil remains provide evolutionists with their only real evidence that evolution might have occurred in the past. If the fossils do not witness to evolution in the past, then if could not be occurring now either.

The only substantial evidence that evolution has taken place in past ages, if there is such evidence, is to be found in the fossils. The only definite evidence from the present that there is a mechanism by which evolution could occurpast or presentif there is such evidence, is to be found In mutations and natural selection. There is a chapter dealing with each of these three topics in this set of books (chapters 17, 14, and 13).

Because of the importance of this subject, and because so many feel confused when confronted with evolutionary claims about fossils and sedimentary strata (although the issues and problems are not complicated), we will begin this present chapter with an introduction and overview of some of the fossil problems. Then we shall give enough attention to each of those problemsand more besidesto provide you with a clear understanding of principles and conclusions.

And when you obtain it, you will be astounded at the amount of overwhelming evidence supporting the fact that there is absolutely no indication from the fossil record that evolution ever occurred on our planet.


This chapter on fossils is one of the largest and most important in this set of books, yet most people know very little about any aspect of geology. In brief, here are some of the major areas of geologic study. Of the geologic terms defined below, you will want to give special attention to those in bold italic:

Here are several of the major branches of Physical Geology: (1) Geochemistry is the study of the substances in the earth and the chemical changes they undergo. (2) Petrology is the study of rocks in general. (3) Mineralogy is the study of minerals, such as iron ore and uranium. (4) Geophysics is the study of the structure, composition, and development of the earth. (5) Structural geology is the study of positions and shapes of rocks very deep within the earth.

Both physical and historical geology include three areas: (1) Geochronology Is the study of geologic time. (2) Earth Processes is the study of the forces that produce changes in the earth. (3) Sedimentology is the study of sediment and the ways it is deposited.

Historical geology has at least four main fields: (1) Paleontology is the study of fossils, and paleontologists are those who study them. (2) Stratigraphy Is the study of the rock strata In which the fossils are found. (3) Paleogeography is the study of the past geography of the earth. (4) Paleoecology is the study of the relationships between prehistoric plants and animals, and their surroundings.


In order to properly understand this chart, you should read it from the bottom sections upward, not from the top sections down.

From Cambrian to top, new species appear abruptly in large numbers with no transitional forms leading up to them. Some species become extinct; others are identical to those living today. None of the species produce transitional forms leading from them to other species. There are lots of species, but only gaps between them.



 RECENT EPOCH (claimed to be 10-25 thousand years in length; beginning 10-25 thousand years ago). Glaciers melt; civilizations spread.

 PLEISTOCENE EPOCH (claimed to be 3.5 million years in length; beginning 3.5 million years ago). Mammoths, woolly rhinos die out. Ice Age, extensive glacial coverage. Volcanic eruptions continue.

 2 - TERTIARY PERIOD  Pliocene, Miocene, and Oligocene are all quite similar in plants, animals, mountain building. Everything in Tertiary probably happened very quickly.

 PLIOCENE EPOCH (claimed to be 10.5 million years in length; beginning 14 million years ago). Abundance of birds, camels, cats, elephants, horses, and other mammals. Full variety of sea life. Extensive mountain building. Climate cooling from volcanic activity, setting the stage for Pleistocene glacial activity.

 MIOCENE EPOCH (claimed to be 12 million years in length; beginning 26 million years ago). Abundance of bats, monkeys, whales, bears, dogs, elephants, grazing animals, flowering plants and all trees. First apes in Asia and Africa. Heavy volcanic activity.

 OLIGOCENE EPOCH (claimed to be 14 million years in length; beginning 40 million years ago). Abundance of camels, cats, dogs, elephants, horses, rhinos, rodents. First monkeys, apes. Tropical forests found floated in throughout world.

 EOCENE EPOCH (claimed to be 15 million years in length; beginning 55 million years ago). Abundance of fruit trees, grains, grasses, birds, amphibians, fish. First bats, camels, cats, horses, monkeys, rhinoceroses, whales. 

 Above this point, faster creatures were inundated; below it only the slower ones.

 PALEOCENE EPOCH (Claimed to be 10 million years in length; beginning 65 million years ago). Abundance of flowering plants. Lots of invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals.


 Below this point, only largelumbering and slowBaited small creatures caught by Flood waters.

 3 - CRETACEOUS PERIOD (claimed to be 65 million years in length; beginning 130 million years ago). Abundance of invertebrates, fish, amphibians, flowering plants, insects, foraminifers. Many dinosaurs. End of dinosaurs, ammonites.

 4 - JURASSIC PERIOD (claimed to be 50 million years in length; beginning 180 million years ago). Abundance of cone-bearing trees. Still only the slowest-moving mammals. The largest-sized dinosaurs are found here. First squids, flowering plants (angiosperms). Traces of birds. Much volcanic activity.

 5 - TRIASSIC PERIOD (claimed to be 45 million years in length; beginning 225 million years ago) (claimed to be 45 million years in length; beginning 225 million years ago). Abundance of cone-bearing trees, fish, insects. First ammonites, turtles, crocodiles, dinosaurs. First mammals. Much volcanic activity.


 Below this point, only much slower-moving creatures caught by the waters of the Flood; roiling water kills many fish.

 6 - PERMIAN PERIOD (claimed to be 50 million years in length; beginning 275 million years ago). Abundance of algae, fish, amphibians, reptiles. First of seed plants (the cone-bearing trees; cycads and conifers) and lots of them. Last of the trilobites and euypterids.

 7 - PENNSYLVANIAN PERIOD (Carboniferious Period-A) (claimed to be 35 million years in length; beginning 310 million years ago). Abundance of algae, seeding fern trees, fish, amphibians, insects. First reptiles.

 8 - MISSISSIPPIAN PERIOD (Carboniferous Period B) (claimed to be 3.5 million years in length; beginning 345 million years ago). Abundance of algae, shelled animals, fish, amphibians, insects, coral reef formations. First mosses. Fewer trilobites, last of crinoids.

 9 - DEVONIAN PERIOD (claimed to be 60 million years in length; beginning 405 million years ago). Abundance of many kinds of fish, including sharks, armored fish, lungfish. First forests (swamp forests of tree ferns), amphibians, insects, spiders, seed plants, and lots of them.

 10 - SILURIAN PERIOD (claimed to be 30 million years long; beginning 435 million years ago). Abundant algae, trilobites, fish, mollusks. First coral reefs formed, spore-bearing land plants (club mosses), and lots of both. Earliest land animals.

 11 - ORDOVICIAN PERIOD (claimed to big 45 million years long; beginning 480 million years ago). Abundance of algae, trilobites, corals, and shelled animals (shellfish), sponges, cephalopods, brachiopods. First vertebrate fish and lots of them, tiny animals called graptolites which group together and form branching colonies.

 12 - CAMBRIAN PERIOD (claimed to be 120 million years long; beginning 600 million years ago). The "Cambrian explosion" begins instantly: massive quantities of small, complex, multicelled creatures; some of them shelled. Nearly all are water creatures. Fossil teeth give evidence of fish already existing. All invertebrate phyla found. Brachiopods and trilobites common.


 Below the Cambrian we find the PROTEROZOIC ERA (with Keweenawan Period, above Huronian Period), which is then followed by ARCHEOZOIC ERA (with Timiskaming Period, above Keewatin Period.) But as far as fossils are concerned, the strata below the Cambrian are called the Precambrian.

 13 - PRECAMBRIAN PERIOD (claimed to be 4 billion years long; beginning 4.5 billion years ago). No information on living forms, with the exception of an occasional blue-green algae. Other than this, no plants, no water creatures, no animals, and no birds are to be found.

 EARTH BEGINS (claimed to occur 5 billion years ago). Earth and its orbiting moon supposedly formed out of wandering gas, a stellar explosion, or some such event.



Fossils are the remains of living creatures, both plants and animals, or their tracks. These are found in sedimentary rock. Sedimentary rock is composed of strata, which are layers of stone piled up like a layer cake. (Strata is the plural of stratum.) Sedimentary rock is fossilbearing or fossilferous rock.

Fossil-hunters use the word taxa (taxon, singular) to describe the basic, different types of plants and animals found in the fossil record. By this they generally mean species, but sometimes genera or more composite classifications, such as families or even phyla. Taxa is thus something of a loose term; it will be found in some of the quotations in this chapter. Higher taxa would mean the larger creatures, such as vertebrates (animals with backbones). 

"The part of geology that deals with the tracing of the geologic record of the past is called historic geology. Historic geology relies chiefly on paleontology, the study of fossil evolution, as preserved in the fossil record, to identify and correlate the lithic records of ancient time." *0. D. von Engein and *K. E. Caster, Geology (1952), p. 423.

These fossil remains may be shells, teeth, bones, or entire skeletons. A fossil may also be a footprint, bird track, or tail marks of a passing lizard. It can even include rain drops. Many fossils no longer contain their original material, but are composed of mineral deposits that have infiltrated them and taken on their shapes.

 Fossils are extremely important to evolutionary theory, for they provide our only record of plants and animals in ancient times. The fossil record is of the highest importance as a proof for evolution. In these fossils scientists should be able to find all the evidence needed, to prove that one species has evolved out of another.

 For additional information see the appendix topics, a "1 - Introduction" and " 2 - The Fossil Hunters." 


The following chart will provide you with an overview of the development of most of the long-antiquated fossil/strata theory. The foundations of it were developed over a hundred years ago when comparatively little was known about geology, paleontology, biology, or most any other modern science.

You will note that most of the theory was completed by 1880. Relatively few innovations came after that time.



"Although the comparative study of living animals and plants may give very convincing circumstantial evidence, fossils provide the only historical documentary evidence that life has evolved from simpler to more complex forms." *Carl 0. Dunbar, Historical Geology (1949), p. 52.

"Fortunately there is a science which is able to observe the progress of evolution through the history of our earth. Geology traces the rocky strata of our earth, deposited one upon another in the past geological epochs through hundreds of millions of years, and finds out their order and timing and reveals organisms which lived in all these periods. Paleontology, which studies the fossil remains, is thus enabled to present organic evolution as a visible fact." *Richard B. Goldschmidt, "An Introduction to a Popularized Symposium on Evolution, " in Scientific Monthly, Vol. 77, October 1953, p. 184.

The study of fossils and mutations ranks as the two key evidences of evolution: The fossil evidence proves or disproves whether evolution has occurred in the past; mutational facts prove or disprove whether it can occur at all.

This is probably why, of all scientists, paleontologists and geneticists are the most likely to publicly repudiate evolutionary theory in disgust. they have spent their lives fruitlessly working hands-on with one of the two main factors in the very center of evolution: the evidence (fossils) or the mechanism by which it occurs (mutations), and that part of the body within which it must occur (DNA).

For additional information see quotation supplement, " 3 - The Experts Speak, " in the appendix.

NO EVOLUTION TODAY Evolution, which is one type of animal changing into another, never occurs today. 

"No biologist has actually seen the origin by evolution of a major group of organisms." *G. Ledyard Stebbins, Process of Organic Evolution, p. 1. [ Stebbins was a geneticist]

 EVERYTHING HINGES ON FOSSILS Clearly, then, all that the evolutionists have to prove their theory is fossil evidence of life forms living in the past. If evolution is the cause of life on earth, then there ought to be thousands of various partly-evolved fossil life forms. For evolution to occur, this had to occur in great abundance. The fossils should reveal large numbers of transmuted species creatures which are half fish-half animal, etc.

Throughout these studies, we shall refer to the basic types or kinds of plants and animals as "species. " Unfortunately, biologists have at times classified certain plants and animals as "species," when they are not species, but subspecies.) True species cannot cross breed with other species, although some sub-species do not interbreed (some dogs will not interbreed but they are still dogs). True species cannot cross breed, not for mechanical reasons, but because they have different basic DNA code. Monkeys cannot breed with owls and produce young, etc.

 UNIFORMITARIANISM A basic postulate of evolution is the concept of uniformitarianism. According to this theory, the way everything is occurring today is the way it has always occurred on our planet. This point has strong bearing on the rock strata. Since no more than an inch or so of sediment is presently being laid down each year in most non-alluvial areas, therefore no more than this amount could have been deposited yearly in those places in the past. Since there are thick sections of rock containing fossils, therefore those rocks and their contents must have required millions of years to be laid down. That is how the theory goes.

The opposite viewpoint is known as catastrophism, and teaches that there has been a great catastrophe in the pastthe Floodwhich within a few months laid down all the sedimentary rock strata, entombing the fossils contained within them.

 For additional information see quotation supplement, "4 - Uniformitarianism vs. Catastrophism," in the appendix.

 THE THEORY THAT STARTED IT Naturalists working in Paris a few years before *Charles Lyell was born, discovered fossil-bearing rock strata. Lyell used this information in his important book, Principles of Geology, and divided the strata into three divisions. He dated one as youngest, another as older, and the third as very ancient.

Lyell and others worked out those dates in the early 19th century, before very much was known about the rock strata and their fossils! For this purpose, some strata in England, Scotland, and France were the primary ones studied. Lyell based his age-theory on the number of still-living species, represented by fossils, in each stratum. If a given stratum had few fossils represented by species alive today, then Lyell dated it more anciently.

It has since been established that this theory does not agree with reality; the percentage of still-living species is very, very high throughout all the strata, and varies from place to place for each stratum in different localities. Nevertheless, after quarreling over details, Lyell's followers extended his scheme and, though they changed his initial major strata names, they held on to his mistake and elaborated on it. Scientists in the 20th century have been stuck with this relic of early 19th century error. This is what scientists are taught in college, and if they do not give verbal assent to it they may be dropped from school.

These students are also taught that the fossil-bearing rock strata fall into three major divisions called "eras."

At the top are the Cenozoic Era rocks. Below that come the Mesozoic Era levels. Next comes the Paleozoic Era strata. At the bottom we find the Cambrian, which contains the lowest fossil-bearing rocks. Beneath that is the Precambrian. (Cenozoic means "recent life," mesozoic means "middle life," and paleozoic means "ancient life.")

 DATES WHEN GEOLOGICAL TIME SCALES ORIGINATED This fossil/strata theory is genuinely archaic. The basis of the theory were devised when very little was known about strata or fossils. But geology and paleontology has been saddled with it ever since. Here are the dates when the various geological time scales were first developed:


Quaternary - 1829

Tertiary - 1759

Cretaceous - 1822

Jurassic - 1795

Triassic - 1834

Permian - 1841

Carboniferous - 1822

Devonian - 1837

Silurian - 1835

Ordovician - 1879

Cambrian - 1835


Cenozoic - 1841

Mesozoic - 1841

Paleozoic - 1838

 EVIDENCE OF EVOLUTION If evolution was a fact we should find in present events and past records abundant evidence of one species changing into another species. But, throughout all past history and in present observations, no one has ever seen this happen. Prior to written history we only have fossil evidence. Scientists all over the world have been collecting and stun dying fossils for over a hundred years.

In all their research, this is what they discovered: (1) There is no evidence of one species having changed into another one. (2) Our modern species are what we find there, plus some extinct ones. (3) There are no transitional or half-way forms between species.

Yes, there are extinct creatures among the fossils. These are plants and animals which no longer live on the earth. But even scientists agree that extinct species would not be an evidence of evolution.

Yet evolutionists parade dinosaur bones as a grand proof of evolutionwhen they are no proof at all! Extinction is not evolution!

 Before proceeding farther in this study, we should mention two points that will help clarify the problem: 

WHY SO VERY COMPLEX AT THE BOTTOM? As we already mentioned, the lowest strata level is called the Cambrian. Below this lowest of the fossil-bearing strata lies the Precambrian. the Cambrian has invertebrate (non-backbone) animals, such as trilobites and brachiopods. These are both very complex little animals. In addition, many of our modern animals and plants are in that lowest level, just above the Precambrian. How could such complex, multi-celled creatures be there in the bottom of the Cambrian strata? But there they are. Suddenly, in the very lowest fossil stratum, we find complex plants and animals and lots of them, with nothing to indicate that they evolved from anything lower.

"It remains true, as every paleontologist knows, that most new species, genera and families, and that nearly all categories above the level of families, appear in the [fossil] record suddenly and are not led up to by known, gradual, completely continuous transitional sequences." George G. Simpson, The Major Features of Evolution, p. 360.

The paleontologists (the fossil-hunters) call this immense problem "the Cambrian Explosion," because vast numbers of complex creatures suddenly appear in the fossil strata, with no evidence that they evolved from any less complicated creatures)

*C. McGowan, in his 1984 book, A Scientist Shows Why Creationists are Wrong, says that evolution would be significantly falsified if it could be shown that "the earliest fossils were not the simplest ones." In reply, Mehlert says: 

"In respect of point one, McGowan is putting his neck on the line as there are a number of cases of the 'earliest' fossils being more complex than later ones. Some examples are graptolites and trilobites. Eldredge [*Niles Eldredge, head curator of paleontology at the Museum of Natural History, New York City] tells us that:

" 'Instead, I found most of the various kinds, including some unique and advanced trilobites present in the earliest known fossil beds.'" A. W. Mehlert, book review, in Creation Research Society Quarterly, June 1987, p. 24.

We will discuss the Precambrian/Cambrian problem later in this chapter.

 What caused this sudden, massive appearance of life-forms? What caused the strata? Why are all those fossils in the strata? What is the solution to all this?

 THE GENESIS FLOOD The answer is that a great Flood, the one described in the Bible in Genesis 6-9 suddenly covered the earth with water. When it did, sediments of pebbles, gravel, clay, and sand were laid down in successive strata, covering animal and plant life. Under great pressure, these sediments turned into what we today call "sedimentary rock." (Clay became shale; sand turned into sandstone; mixtures of gravel, clay and sand formed conglomerate rock.) All that mass of water-laid material successively covered millions of living creatures. The result is fossils, which today are only found in the sedimentary rock strata.

When the Flood overwhelmed the world, the first to be covered were small-moving animals, the next to be covered were somewhat larger, somewhat faster-moving animals, and so it went. Today we can dig into these rock strata and find that the lowest stratum tend to have the slowest-moving creatures; above them are faster ones. Evolutionary scientists declare these lowest strata are many millions of years old (570 million for the oldest, the Cambrian), and the topmost to be the most recent (the Pliocene at 10 million, and the Pleistocene at 2 million years).

But, in actuality, we will discover that the evidence indicates that all the sedimentary strata with their hoards of fossils were all laid down within a very short time.

 IS ENOUGH EVIDENCE AVAILABLE? First, is there enough evidence available to decide the fossil problem? Can we at the present time really know for sure whether or not, according to the fossil record, evolution has or has not occurred?

 Yes, we CAN know! Men have worked earnestly since the beginning of the 19th century to find evidences of evolution in the fossil strata. 

"The adequacy of the fossil record for conclusive evidence is supported by the observation that 79.1 percent of the living families of terrestrial vertebrates have been found as fossils (87.7 percent if birds are excluded)." R.H. Brown, "The Great Twentieth-Century Myth, " in Origins, January 1986, p. 40.

"Geology and paleontology held great expectations for Charles Darwin, although in 1859 [when he published his book, Origin of the Species] he admitted that they [already] presented the strongest single evidence against his theory. Fossils were a perplexing puzzlement to him because they did not reveal any evidence of a gradual and continuous evolution of life from a common ancestor, proof which he needed to support his theory. Although fossils were an enigma to Darwin, he ignored the problem and found comfort in the faith that future explorations would reverse the situation and ultimately prove his theory correct.

"He stated in his book, The Origin of the Species, 'The geological record is extremely imperfect and this fact will to a large extent explain why we do not find intermediate varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps. He who rejects these views on the nature of the geological record, will rightly reject my whole theory.' [Quoting from the sixth (1901) edition of Darwin's book, pages 341-342.1

"Now, after over 120 years of the most extensive and painstaking geological exploration of every continent and ocean bottom, the picture is infinitely more vivid and complete than it was in 1859. Formations have been discovered containing hundreds of billions of fossils and our museums now are filled with over 100 million fossils of 250,000 different species. The availability of this profusion of hard scientific data should permit objective investigators to determine if Darwin was on the right track." Luther D. Sunderland, Darwin's Enigma (1988), p. 9 [italics ours].

"We are now about 120 years after Darwin and the knowledge of the fossil record has been greatly expanded. We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but the situation hasn't changed much. The record of evolution is still surprisingly jerky and ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin's time. By this I mean that some of the classic cases of Darwinian change in the fossil record, such as the evolution of the horse in North America have had to be discarded or modified as a result of more detailed information." *David Raup, Conflicts between Darwin and Paleontology, Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin, Vol. 50, No. 1, 1979, pp. 22-29.

"There are a hundred million fossils, all catalogued and identified, in museums around the world." *Porter Kier, quoted in New Scientist, January 15, 1981, p. 129.

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