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Problems With The Fossil Record

Problems With the Fossil Record - What are the Scientists Saying?

Author Luther Sunderland saw the problems with the fossil record, so he determined to get the definitive answer from the top museums themselves. Sunderland interviewed five respected museum officials, recognized authorities in their individual fields of study, including representatives from the American Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and the British Museum of Natural History. None of the five officials were able to offer a single example of a transitional series of fossilized organisms that document the transformation of one Kind of plant or animal into another. 1

The British Museum of Natural History boasts the largest collection of fossils in the world. Among the five respected museum officials, Sunderland interviewed Dr. Colin Patterson, Senior Paleontologist at the British Museum and editor of a prestigious scientific journal. Patterson is a well known expert having an intimate knowledge of the fossil record. He was unable to give a single example of Macro-Evolutionary transition. In fact, Patterson wrote a book for the British Museum of Natural History entitled, "Evolution". When asked why he had not included a single photograph of a transitional fossil in his book, Patterson responded:

    ...I fully agree with your comments on 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. You suggest that an artist should be used to visualize such transformations, but where would he get the information from? I could not, honestly, provide it, and if I were to leave it to artistic license, would that not mislead the reader? I wrote the text of my book four years ago. If I were to write it now, I think the book would be rather different. Gradualism is a concept I believe in, not just because of Darwin's authority, but because my understanding of genetics seems to demand it. Yet Gould and the American Museum people are hard to contradict when they say there are no transitional fossils. As a paleontologist myself, I am much occupied with the philosophical problems of identifying ancestral forms in the fossil record. You say that I should at least "show a photo of the fossil from which each type of organism was derived." I will lay it on the line - there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument. 2
OK, I just wanted to complete that loop. In my research, I haven't found even one transitional fossil. Therefore, based on Darwin's own words, his original theory of macro-evolutionary progression didn't happen. Paleontology was a brand new scientific discipline in the mid-1800's, and now, roughly 150 years later, we know that the fossil record doesn't provide the support Darwin himself required.

David B. Kitts. PhD (Zoology) is Head Curator of the Department of Geology at the Stoval Museum. In an evolutionary trade journal, he wrote:

    Despite the bright promise that paleontology provides a means of "seeing" evolution, it has presented some nasty difficulties for evolutionists, the most notorious of which is the presence of "gaps" in the fossil record. Evolution requires intermediate forms between species and paleontology does not provide them… 3
N. Heribert Nilsson, a famous botanist, evolutionist and professor at Lund University in Sweden, continues:

    My attempts to demonstrate evolution by an experiment carried on for more than 40 years have completely failed… The fossil material is now so complete that it has been possible to construct new classes, and the lack of transitional series cannot be explained as being due to scarcity of material. The deficiencies are real, they will never be filled. 4
Even the popular press is catching on. This is from an article in Newsweek magazine:

The missing link between man and apes, whose absence has comforted religious fundamentalists since the days of Darwin, is merely the most glamorous of a whole hierarchy of phantom creatures … The more scientists have searched for the transitional forms that lie between species, the more they have been frustrated. 5

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1 Colin Patterson, personal communication. Luther Sunderland, Darwin's Enigma: Fossils and Other Problems, 4th edition, 1988, 88-90.
2 Ibid.
3 Evolution, vol. 28, 467.
4 Nilsson quoted in The Earth Before Man, p. 51.
5 "Is Man a Subtle Accident," Newsweek, November 3, 1980.

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