The fossil record has preserved organisms and records their burial in successive layers. Some scientists claim this order provides a timeline of evolution, but I’d argue that’s not the case. All it really shows is an order of burial, and we must deduce anything else based upon indirect evidence and our worldview.
Living fossils are unique in that these organisms are supposed to be extinct, yet are alive today. These creatures’ ancestors were buried and fossilized millions of years ago, but now living ones have been discovered, even though the fossil record makes it look like they should be extinct. Living fossils are extant animals that are essentially unchanged from their fossilized ancestors.
In this case, researchers captured a living, 5-foot-long frilled shark off the Algarve coast. This is interesting because the shark had supposedly gone extinct 80 million years ago, according to the fossil record, and wasn’t rediscovered until 1879, and later described by zoologist Samuel Garman in 1883.
The little known frilled shark has a long, slim, snake-like body, and its movements are said to have inspired stories of sea serpents, even though it’s primarily a creature of the deep.
The oldest fossilized frilled shark is about 95 million years old, and we don’t see significant changes over that time. Keep in mind that humans supposedly diverged from chimps between 5-7 million years ago and evolved from an ape-like Australopithecus about 4 million years ago. It’s remarkable that one organism exemplifies stasis (no change), while the other represents extraordinary change. Even more remarkable is whale evolution, where Indohyus, a mammal the size of a house cat, supposedly lived 49 million years ago, and evolved into a whale.
I point this out because stasis is a strong argument against the belief in evolution. On one hand we’re told that organisms (whale and human evolution) evolve extremely rapidly, comparatively speaking, but on the other hand we’re told that another organism was so well adapted to its environment that it has changed very little over many millions of years.
Of course, evolutionists would defend against the idea of living fossils being an argument against evolution. They’d explain that there was no changing environment to force much evolutionary change, or they’d argue that evolution is not inevitable, and there’s no scientific law suggesting that any organism has to evolve at all. And those would have to be considered plausible explanations. But I’d argue that such explanations are a form of rescuing agent… an attempt to save evolution from being refuted. I’d also argue that such an explanation demonstrates how flexible evolution is, so that it can never be falsified. Evolution can contradict itself without being proven wrong to those who believe in it.
Here’s another way to look at living fossils. Evolutionists would have us believe that humans and dinosaurs never lived at the same time because we don’t find human fossils buried in the same geologic layers as dinosaurs. But consider this, we also don’t find human fossils buried in the same geologic layers as frilled sharks, or other living fossils, yet we know that they do and have lived contemporaneously.
So, rather than accept evolution, there are other explanations that better fit the data. Perhaps these fossilized organisms didn’t die off many millions of years ago. I’d suggest it’s more likely that they lived recently, and that’s why we see so little change in many of these creatures. The fossil record doesn’t tell us when these creatures lived, but shows what order they were buried, and if we understand this, then it’s reasonable to conclude that humans lived at the same time as all other animals. There’s nothing that demands a belief in millions of years, except for a misunderstanding of dating methods.
Other examples of living fossils include one of my favorites, the coelacanth, which lived as far back as 360 million years ago, and was thought to have gone extinct about 65 million years ago. The living Polistes wasp looks the same as a fossilized one found in Tertiary deposits. Other insects that appear the same today as they do in the fossil record includes dragonflies, crickets, cockroaches, bees, butterflies and termites. Fish, like the sturgeon, herring, needlefish, mackerel, paddlefish and freshwater bass look unchanged over supposed millions of years. Horseshoe crabs, crayfish, starfish, mantis shrimp, sponges, hagfish, jellyfish and the nautilus all appear the same as in the fossil record. Crocodiles and snapping turtles are living fossils, as are birds like the hoatzin.
The list goes on and on. Thus, the fossil record indicates stasis as the rule, while any evolutionary lineage must be imagined, just as it is in the case of whale evolution.