Dinosaurs    Flood    Geological column    Living fossils 


Introduction   What is a transitional fossil   Soft body parts   Some quotes about intermediates    Lack of intermediates    Suggested reading, videos and talks

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Introduction. If all of life on planet Earth evolved from a simple single celled organisms, then there should be millions of examples of intermediary forms in the fossil records. However, Darwin himself said in his book The Origin of Species:-

"Why then is not every geological formation full of such intermediate links. Geology assuredly does not reveal any finely graduated organic change, and this is the most obvious and serious objection that can be urged against the theory". 

The prominent British evolutionist Richard Dawkins speaking of the Cambrian fauna, has made the following comment: "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. Needless to say, this appearance of sudden planting has delighted creationists". Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: W.W. Norton Co., 1987).

However, in general, evolutionists do argue that there is at least some fossil evidence for evolution and that many fossils have been discovered in the last 20 years supporting say evolution of reptiles to birds or land mammals to whales and dolphins. Evolutionists can claim that creationists only use the quotes that suit them and ignore others. 

On the other side, there are books such as Darwin's Enigma, by Luther Sunderland or Evolution, a theory in crisis, by Dr Michael Denton or Evolution, the fossils still say no, Dr Duane Gish that would argue that there is not clear fossil evidence in favour or transitional fossils.

For a more in depth view of specific topics relating intermediates, please follow some of the links listed at the bottom of this page or get one of the suggested books. To top

What is a transitional fossil? “A transitional fossil is one that looks like it’s from an organism intermediate between two lineages, meaning it has some characteristics of lineage A, some characteristics of lineage B, and probably some characteristics part way between the two.  Transitional fossils can occur between groups of any taxonomic level, such as between species, between orders, etc.  Ideally, the transitional fossil should be found stratigraphically between the first occurrence of the ancestral lineage and the first occurrence of the descendent lineage...”

Solid Ground or Shifting Sands? It’s important that the reader understand up front that—in spite of such a clearly defined definition—there is much disagreement among the leaders in paleontology concerning which specimens qualify as “transitional” and which supposed “transitional forms” fit into which lineages, and where.

What one authority defines as a “transitional form” between lineage A and lineage B can be (and often is) just as authoritatively declared not so when it is said to better fit between lineage X and lineage Y, or when a specimen is found in a position stratigraphically “older” than the first occurrence of lineage A or “younger” than B—and all of these are common occurrences.

Other experts in morphology further complicate matters when they point out differences in physical characteristics so significant that evolutionists are forced to scrap one or another theory in phylogeny (developmental history) in spite of any existing similarities. To top       

Soft body parts. Another aspect to consider when trying to evaluate if a fossil is intermediate between two major animal types, is that in general, fossils are of bones only. 

Dr Michael Delsol in his book Evolution, a theory in crisis makes the comment that "... it is bound to be the case, that certain fossil organism which appear to be very close on skeletal grounds, were in fact, in terms of their overall biology only distantly related, like the placental and marsupial dogs".

Some quotes about intermediates:

Steven Stanley, an affirmed evolutionist, was objective enough to point out:-

“The known fossil record fails to document a single example of phyletic evolution accomplishing a major morphologic transition and hence offers no evidence that a gradualistic model can be valid.” [Steven M. Stanley, Macroevolution: Pattern and Process. San Francisco: W. M. Freeman & Co., 1979, p. 39.]

George Gaylord Simpson, another leading evolutionist, sees this characteristic in practically the whole range of taxonomic categories:-

"...Every palaeontologist knows that most new species, genera, and families, and that nearly all categories above the level of family appear in the record suddenly and are not led up to by known, gradual, completely continuous transitional sequences.” [George Gaylord Simpson (evolutionist), The Major Features of Evolution, New York, Columbia University Press, 1953 p. 360.]. 

The late Dr Colin Patterson, senior palaeontologist of the British Museum of Natural History, wrote a book, Evolution. In reply to a questioner who asked why he had not included any pictures of transitional forms, he wrote:

"I fully agree with your comments about the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them … . I will lay it on the line—there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument." (Sunderland, 1998). Click here for more details. To top

Lack of intermediates. The list below illustrates the absence of transitional stages. Some of below will be disputed by those who believe in evolution. To those who want to investigate the subject in more depth, it is recommended to follow the links below, or the three books Darwin's Enigma, by Luther Sunderland or Evolution, a theory in crisis,, by Dr Michael Denton or Evolution, the fossils still say no, by Dr Duane Gish are all recommended and each of these support below.

Chemicals to cells - There is no Scientific explanation of non-living matter forming itself into so called simple cells.

Evolution: A Theory in CrisisSimple cells - There is no evidence for so called simple single celled organisms ever changing into other organisms. Even if billions of bacteria are studied for thousands of generations, they do not produce anything but bacteria. Subjecting bacteria to radiation (which causes the DNA to mutate) leads to mutilated bacteria with damaged DNA, but not to new organisms.

The Cambrian explosion - At the bottom of the geological column the so called Cambrian rocks are found highly complex creatures: trilobites, worms, sponges, jellyfish, etc., all without ancestors. It's as though you "turned the light on" in the fossil record. These are highly complex life forms appearing on the scene without forerunners. Trilobites for example, have compound lenses in their eyes that make use of Fermat's principle and Abbe's Sine Law. This is like entering the highway of life without an entrance ramp. 

The prominent British evolutionist Richard Dawkins speaking of the Cambrian fauna, has made the following comment: "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. Needless to say, this appearance of sudden planting has delighted creationists". Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: W.W. Norton Co., 1987).

Insects - When found in the fossil record, they are already developed without ancestors. Dragonflies are dragonflies, cockroaches are cockroaches. Instead of an evolutionary tree, we have only the leaves without the trunk or branches. To compound this problem the question of flight arises... when did they develop the ability to fly? 

Pictures of fossilised insects

Amber ant Dragon fly Bee Spider Millipede

There are no fossil intermediates in the record. "Unfortunately evidence of the crucial steps leading to the origin of insects have not yet been found in the fossil record. Wings have contributed more to the success of insects than any other anatomical structures, yet the historical origin of wings remains largely a mystery. The earliest insect fossils that have been discovered, from the Pennsylvanian Period, were already winged...Thus the body structures that developed into wings, the steps in the evolution, and the ecological circumstances that favoured wings are debatable." (Daly, H.V., J.T. Doyen, and P.R. Ehrlich. 1978. Introduction to Insect Biology and Diversity. McGraw Hill, NY. 564pp.; p. 274, 308). 

Invertebrates to vertebrates - There is supposedly 100 million years between the development of invertebrates and vertebrates. There is some dispute as to whether there are transitional forms or not. 

The quote below is taken from the web site Darwinism refuted and an article entitled 'Origin of the invertebrates'.

Until 1999, the question of whether any vertebrates were present in the Cambrian was limited to the discussion about Pikaia. But that year a stunning discovery deepened the evolutionary impasse regarding the Cambrian explosion: Chinese paleontologists at Chengjiang fauna discovered the fossils of two fish species that were about 530 million years old, a period known as the Lower Cambrian. Thus, it became crystal clear that along with all other phyla, the subphylum Vertebrata (Vertebrates) was also present in the Cambrian, without any evolutionary ancestors.

Evolutionists would claim there are links between invertebrates and vertebrates, such as a Talks Origins article shown here. Please see the article 'Origin of the invertebrates' for more information..

Fish to amphibians - There is supposedly 30 million years between the development of fishes and amphibians, but no intermediary forms exist. The coelacanth was thought to be an intermediate between fishes and amphibians. Fossilized remains of this fish are dated at 400 million years old (similar dating to those of dinosaurs). 

The coelacanth used to be described like - "Ancestors of this coelacanth are thought to have given rise to the amphibians. The paired fins show the basic plan of a jointed series of bones that could evolve into the limbs of a terrestrial vertebrate" (Villee, et al., 1985, p. 550). 

Prior to 1938, the coelacanth was known only from fossils, which afforded scientists a great deal of speculation when they tried to extrapolate a physiology from the record of the rocks. Certain structures, such as fins, were determined to be the forerunners of legs for all amphibians. 

However, this fish was found alive and well in 1938 and since then many specimens have been found alive.

Among other differences, fish have small pelvic bones that are embedded in muscle and not connected to the backbone unlike tetrapod amphibians which have large pelvises that are firmly connected to the vertebral column. Without this anatomy, the amphibian could not walk. The morphological differences in this gap are obvious and profound.

Dinosaurs - There is the absence of transitional series leading to these giants. 

Amphibians to reptiles - There are no transitional forms between amphibians and reptiles. However, the skeletons of amphibians and reptiles are closely related which makes this an ambiguous case. 

Seymouria is a commonly touted intermediate between amphibians and reptiles. But this creature is dated (by evolutionary dating methods) at 280 million years ago, about 30 million years younger than the ‘earliest’ true reptiles Hylonomus and Paleothyris. That is, reptiles are allegedly millions of years older than their alleged ancestors! Also, there is no good reason for thinking it was not completely amphibian in its reproduction. The jump from amphibian to reptile eggs requires the development of a number of new structures and a change in biochemistry—see the section below on soft part changes. From 'Vertebrates: animals with backbones'.

Reptiles to mammals - There are no transitional forms between reptiles and mammals. Mammals just appear in the fossil record, again without transitional forms. On the living fossils page there are example of mammals that have not changed since their fossil ancestors.

The ‘mammal-like reptiles’ are commonly asserted to be transitional. But according to a specialist on these creatures:

Each species of mammal-like reptile that has been found appears suddenly in the fossil record and is not preceded by the species that is directly ancestral to it. It disappears some time later, equally abruptly, without leaving a directly descended species (Kemp, 1982). From 'Vertebrates: animals with backbones'.

Marine Mammals such as whales, dolphins, and sea cows also appear abruptly. It has been suggested that the ancestors of the dolphins are cattle, pigs, or buffaloes. The lack of transitional forms in the fossil record was realized by evolutionary whale experts like the late E. J. Slijper: ‘We do not possess a single fossil of the transitional forms between the aforementioned land animals [i.e., carnivores and ungulates] and the whales." (Slijper, 1962). 

From Answers in Genesis. Fossilized bones found in Pakistan are claimed to be those of a ‘walking whale’, supposedly an ancestor of today’s whales. The main claim of Thewissen et al. (1994) 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. The pelvic girdle is missing! 

Reptiles to birds - There are no transitional forms between birds and reptiles. Archaeopteryx was once thought to be such a link, but it has since been found to be a true bird (Morris, 1980). However, evolutionists who would argue there have recently been many transitional forms discovered. You can see arguments for and against such viewpoints by following the links at:- for reptiles to birds and against reptiles to birds.

The atheistic evolutionist Richard Dawkins, in a book highly recommended by Teaching about Evolution, glibly states: ‘Feathers are modified reptilian scales,' (Dawkins, 1996) a widely held view among evolutionists. But scales are folds in skin; feathers are complex structures with a barb, barbules, and hooks. They also originate in a totally different way, from follicles inside the skin in a manner akin to hair. Taken from against reptiles to birds.

Flight - Also consider the enigma of flight - supposedly, insects, birds, mammals (bats), and reptiles, each evolved the ability to fly separately. In each of the four cases there are no series of transitional forms to support this assertion. (see above for links to articles with more details, e.g. against reptiles to birds).

See also 'Flying reptiles'.

Apes to man - For the supposed development of man from apes, see Early man. The primates - lemurs, monkeys, apes and man appear fully formed in the fossil record. The proverbial "missing link" between man and ape remains elusive and periodically changes with the thinking of the day.

Summary - Instead of getting a phylogenetic "tree" in the fossil record, you get vertical patterns indicative of creation, conflicting with the notions of gradual evolution and supporting the creationist position. Obviously, this viewpoint would be hotly contested by believes in evolution. To top

Suggested reading, videos and talks


Creation Facts Of Life, by Dr Gary Parker.

Darwinism And The Rise Of Degenerate Science, by Dr Paul Back - A chapter is devoted to the age of the Earth.

Darwin's Black Box, by Professor Michael Behe..

Darwin's Enigma, by Luther Sunderland

Evolution, A Theory In Crisis, by Dr Michael Denton.

Evolution, The Fossils Still Say No, Dr Duane Gish.

The Naked Emperor: Darwinism Exposed, by Antony Latham

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Claws on wings

Did Dinosaurs Turn Into Birds?

Fish Scales in the Cambrian

Fossils—do they get more complex?

Fossil pollen in Grand Canyon Overturns Plant Evolution

Hundreds of jellyfish fossils!

The fossil record of ‘early’ tetrapods: evidence of a major evolutionary transition?

The non-evolution of the horse

The Overselling of Whale Evolution

Those fossils are a problem

Vertebrates: animals with backbones

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Suggested videos

John Mackay on revelation TV creationism discussion fossils living fossils.

Richard Dawkins interviews creationist John Mackay (Part 1 of 2)

The three videos below are in the Christian Answers web site, with permission for linkage requested.

ch10-thumb.gifThe Fossil Record: Intermediate Links
2:54 mins.

ch11-thumb.gifArchaeopteryx: A Feathered Reptile?
1:06 mins.

ch12-thumb.gifThe Ape-Man: Missing Link
2:26 mins.

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