Wednesday, January 23, 2019

How old are fossils?

Fossil time ranges continue to expand up and down

Figure 1. A rare, New World brown spider monkey, Ateles hybridus, from Venezuela, northwest South America.

For the last few decades, several creationists have been reporting on the vertical expansion of fossil ranges, interpreted as either ‘older’ or ‘younger’ in the geological column timescale. These finds are probably the tip of the iceberg, since we cannot go through all the relevant journals that would report range expansions. In fact, many of these issues likely go unreported because many ‘anomalous’ or ‘uninteresting’ fossils end up in the back shelves of museum collections, as Dr Carl Werner has discovered.1 As such, it is hard to know just how large the scale of this phenomenon is, though it is almost certainly more severe than reported in any literature, secular or creationist.
Some range expansions are quite large, such as moving the time boundaries by 50 to 100 Ma or more. Some examples are: the pushing back of eukaryote evolution one billion years;2 the discovery of grass in dinosaur dung from the Mesozoic;3 ‘sophisticated’, diverse mammals now found in the Mesozoic;4 and the origin of flowering plants may have been pushed back 100 Ma.5,6 Moreover, organisms that were thought to be extinct for many millions of years are found to be living, such as the Wollemi pine found alive in New South Wales, Australia.7 Archeological discoveries also contribute to the range expansions by indicating man was always smart, making it less likely he evolved.8
Many of these range expansions are not considered too significant, being only a matter of millions of years or from a fossil that is not used as an index fossil. Nonetheless, it still indicates that the fossil record is not precisely timed as evolutionists often make it out to be. Moreover, it accentuates the problem of stasis, revealing the ad hoc nature of much evolutionary storytelling about the fossils. Essentially, it shows that evolution and deep time act more as assumptions constraining their interpretation of the fossil record than as conclusions they draw from the fossil record.