If common descent has taken place, it should most directly be demonstrated in the fossil record, as one paleontology textbook asserts:
- Fossils are the only direct record of the history of life.
However, the fossil record refuses to conform to evolutionary orthodoxy. Darwin even admitted his uneasiness about this evidence. However, he expected that future finds would eventually fill in the gaps by unearthing transitional forms, but these hopes have never been realized. Instead, the gaps have been further highlighted, as the finds have consistently lined up on only one side of the gap. One evolutionist acknowledged:
- Most of the animal phyla that are represented in the fossil record first appear “fully formed”…The fossil record is therefore of no help with respect to understanding the origin and early diversification of the animal phyla. (Barnes, et al., The Invertebrates: A New Synthesis, 3rd Edition, 9-10)
Darwin had thought that the absence of predecessors – ancestral forms – was due to their not being fossilized because, being softer, they couldn’t be fossilized as easily. However, since Darwin, many tiny soft-bodied fossils have been unearthed below the “fully formed” phyla. Stephen C. Meyer explains the devastating implications of these finds for the theory of evolution:
- If paleontologists can find tiny fossilized cells in these far older and rarer formations, shouldn’t they also be able to find some ancestral forms of the Cambrian animals in younger and more abundant sedimentary rocks. (Darwin’s Doubts)
The late Stephen Jay Gould refers to this absence as “the embarrassment of a record that seems to show so little of evolution.” Casey Luskin points out that this same absence of predecessors is also found among flowering plants…:
- As one paper states, “Angiosperms appear rather suddenly in the fossil record…with no obvious ancestors”…Many mammals orders appear in a similarly explosive way. Paleontologist Niles Eldredge explains that “there are all sorts of gaps: absence of gradationally intermediate ‘transitional’ forms between species, but also between larger groups – between, say, families of carnivores, or the orders of mammals.” A prominent ornithology textbook observes the “explosive evolution” of major living bird groups.
Luskin summarizes the findings:
- A straightforward reading of the fossil record consistently shows a pattern of abrupt explosions of new types of organisms. (Salvo, Fall 2013, 51)