Evolution in the News - January 2000
by Do-While Jones

Overlapping Problems

Have you ever noticed how many articles there are about the recent discovery of the “earliest” fossil of some kind or another? These fossil discoveries always force the re-evaluation of evolutionary theory. For example, there was the recent discovery of Montanalestes discovered just recently in Montana (reported in Nature), and a similar mammal in Madagascar, reported in Scientific American. In these articles you read statements like these:

If Montanalestes is related to Eutheria, as the balance of evidence indicates, then the continent of origin for the group is called into question: evidently, Eutheria enjoyed a far broader Early Cretaceous distribution (echoing that of the triconodont mammal Gobiconodon) and an earlier evolutionary radiation than previously envisaged. An early presence of Eutheria in North America indicates that some of the continent's distinctive Late Cretaceous taxa may have evolved in situ, rather than having a proximal Asiatic origin--a theory to be tested by recovery of further faunas from the medial Cretaceous, where the record so far has been notoriously poor. 1 [emphasis supplied]

Not only is this mammal [found in Madagascar] quite a bit older than any of the previous tribosphenic mammals known--25 million years older--it was in the wrong place. 2

This is the same problem that Tattersall has in this month’s feature article--they keep finding fossils that are the wrong age. That’s the main reason why Tattersall has changed his ancestral tree, and why he believes that other hominids lived along side Homo sapiens. Next month we will explain the specific hominid age problem in detail.

In this column we want to deal with the general problem. It has historical roots. In their words,

Beginning in 1833 with Charles Lyell's formal subdivision of geological strata into relative periods, based on the percentage of fossil shells representing living specimens found in the respective formations, marine fossils in sedimentary sequences have been the fundamental tool used to help impose chronological order on the stratigraphic record. 3

A hundred years ago, we had only the vaguest ideas about the age of rocks and of the Earth. Obviously most rocks are very old indeed--there is evidence in the geologic record of a long history of events like erosion, burial, fossilization, uplift. Judging from the imperceptible rate at which they happen today, each of those events must take many thousands of years. It is that insight, more than any other, that made James Hutton the father of geology. 4

For geologists, fossils are still the most important way of telling a rock's age, a fundamental field tool. 5

Evolutionary geologists build on the suppositions that the rocks were laid down slowly over long periods of time. We now know, from natural evidence such as the Mount St. Helens eruption, and laboratory experiments at Colorado State University (and other places), that thick stratified rock layers, which might have the appearance of having taken millions of years to form, can be laid down in hours.

Since evolutionists believe that the rocks took millions of years to form, and since they believe life evolved over millions of years, they believe the ages of the rocks can be determined by the fossils in them. They have a pre-conceived notion of which fossils are oldest, and assign general ages to the rocks based on these notions.

When they find a fossil in the wrong layer, they have a problem. They either have to admit they were wrong about when that one fossil evolved, or were wrong about all the other fossils in the layer, or were wrong about their entire dating method. Naturally, they choose the less embarrassing admission.

But the problem is catching up with them. As the ranges of fossil ages keep growing, they are all starting to overlap too much. It is beginning to look as if all the fossils lived at the same time. As if they all came into being at once in different parts of the world. What a surprise! just kidding Science is against evolution.

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1 Cifelli, Nature Vol 401, 23 September 1999, “Tribosphenic mammal from the North American Early Cretaceous”, p 363-366 (Ev)
2 Wyss, quoted in Scientific American, January 2000, “Mammal Melee: New fossils impugn leading model of early mammal origins” p. 25 (Ev)
3 Nature Vol 400, 12 August 1999, From Desert to Deluge in the Mediterranean” p 613 (Ev)
4 Andrew Alden, About.com Guide to: Geology, 7 November 1999, “The Century in Review: A Yardstick for Time” (Ev)
5 Andrew Alden, About.com Guide to: Geology, 30 November 1997, “Unwrapping Fossils” (Ev)