Fossil Record
Fossils preserved in layers of rock that scientists use to study the history of life.
The idea that the earth has experienced a sudden, global natural disaster. This idea aligns with the Biblical account of the Flood.
Containing many grains of glauconite, a greenish mineral often used as a fertilizer.
Single-celled organisms that have a nucleus, such as algae.
Marine sessile
Sea life that is permanently attached and not free-moving, such as corals and mussels.
Also called “backward evolution,” the notion that species change over time into more primitive forms by losing the functions not necessary in their environment.
Order in the Fossil Record
Author: Professor Walter J. Veith, PhD
Publish date:
Summary: The belief that animals progressed from simple to complex is a monumental misconception. There is no simple generalized animal anywhere in the fossil record. If anything, the fossil record is evidence of devolution rather than evolution.

Since ancient times, people have noticed that fossils existed of animals that did not resemble living species. Also, seashells could be found in the strangest places, even on the tops of the highest mountain ranges. Even the ancient Greeks were aware of these fossilized remains of creatures. Heredotus (484-425 BC) suggested that they came about as a consequence of changes in the positions of the sea and land. 

Many theories regarding fossils have been propagated. Fossils were recognized as extinct species whose place has been filled by the creatures living today. The catastrophic model was also accepted by Bible-believing scholars, who attributed the fossils to the destruction of animals during the Flood described in Genesis.

 But as more and more people accepted the idea of long ages of time as an explanation for what we see in the world, numerous questions also grew concerning the validity of the Biblical account.

How did all the animals get into the ark? Why is there a particular order in the fossil record? How did the animals get to the various continents from the ark? Why do the animals found in the fossil record look so different from ones we see today? 

These questions led to a search for naturalistic explanations for the fossil record and the origin of life. Before Darwin, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) proposed that the geological discontinuities in the record represented gradual changes in the environment and climate to which the species were exposed, and through their effects on organisms, these changes led to the transformation of species. Geologists Hutton and Lyell expanded this concept, and Charles Darwin added the biological arm. The fossil record is today considered to be the severest blow to all anti-evolutionary ideas. But is it?

Ironically, the scientific views on the question of origins have a tendency to go full circle. Although catastrophism was rejected by evolutionists, many scientists are today returning to catastrophism and even to the Biblical account of the Flood to explain many of the features of the geological column and the fossil record.

Public Domain:

The universality of the Flood is the one feature that is still often discarded by the modern scientific mind. The idea is often scoffed at that God would have destroyed the whole world, and that the life forms existing today are the descendants of the sea creatures that survived the catastrophe and land creatures that entered the ark. However, the Bible is not the only source that speaks about the worldwide Flood. Virtually every society on every continent has the story of a global deluge in its folklore.i

There is indeed evidence in the geological column that there was a universal flood covering of the earth—compelling evidence that cannot readily be ignored: 

Massive fossil graveyards show evidence of plants and animals being washed into position.

Huge sedimentary deposits speak of large-scale coverage by water. Nearly 75% of the earth's exposed surface is covered with sedimentary rock deposits.

Vast coal and oil fields of the world are further evidence of a global catastrophe. No process occurring today can even remotely approach the magnitude of the flood necessary to account for such a vast scale of universal burial of plants and other organic material.

Chalk deposits of the world are universal. Chalk is formed from the skeletons of marine protozoa and algae, and can only settle out of relatively shallow water. In deep oceans, the calcium carbonate shells dissolve on the way down to the ocean floor. The chalk deposits are thus an indication of worldwide coverage of a relatively shallow sea. Chalk deposits of the same age are found in North America, Australia, Europe, Asia, and Africa, and all of these deposits are resting on the same type of glauconitic sandstone.ii For these factors to be so universal, the same conditions must have existed universally.


i. Herbert S. Robinson and Knox Wilson, Myths and Legends of All Nations (New York: Bantam Books, 1950).

ii. Derek V. Ager, The Nature of the Stratigraphic Record 2nd edition (London: MacMillan Press Ltd., 1983).

The Eras

The layers of the fossil record are divided into three main eras: Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic. These eras are characterized by different kinds of fossils.

The Paleozoic era is known for marine life, amphibians, and reptiles. In this layer of the fossil record we find extensive coal beds made up mostly of extinct plants such as giant horsetails, ferns, seedless plants, and club mosses.

The Mesozoic era is known for its dinosaurs and many other reptiles. This era is associated with massive extinctions. In a catastrophic flood model, this era is the end of the flood period, before the continents reemerged out of the waters that covered the earth.

The Cenozoic era is known for mammals and birds. Cenozoic plants are similar to the species that exist today.

Simple to Complex?

The type of fossil found in the various layers changes as one goes up the geological column, from invertebrates, fish, amphibians, and reptiles, to the mammals and birds in the upper layers. This order in the fossil record is one of the prime evidences used by scientists to establish evolution as a fact. However, the sequence is not from simple organisms to complex organisms as evolutionists suggest, but rather from marine sessile to free swimming to land dwelling.

There is no simple generalized animal in the fossil record that proves that organisms develop from simple to complex. George Gaylord Simpson, the famous evolutionist, stated in his book The Meaning of Evolution, "It has been suggested that all animals are now specialized and that the generalized forms on which major evolutionary developments depend are absent. In fact, all animals have always been more or less specialized and a really generalized living form is merely a myth or an abstraction."i

The earliest organisms in the fossil record were complex. There is no evidence for the progression from simple to complex required by the theory of evolution. Many organisms, such as trilobites and ammonites, existed in the past and do not exist today. This does not make them primitive. They were just as complex as anything living today.

The fossil record shows a staggering wealth of organisms. Surprisingly, most of the organisms of the past were much larger and more impressive than present day animals. In fact, the fossil record is evidence for devolution rather than evolution.

Layers of Fossils Explained

There are many reasons beyond progressive development that could be given for the order of fossils. The sequence from sessile to free-swimming to terrestrial indicates habitats being destroyed progressively.

Imagine a bulldozer rapidly covering a duck pond with soil. The organisms in the pond would be buried in sequence. The bottom dwelling worms and snails would be at the bottom. The fish would be somewhat higher, and the ducks would be on top. The sequence would represent where the animals lived—not the order they evolved in. The same holds true for the fossil record.

We do find groups of fossils in the same sequence in the fossil record as they occur in present-day habitats. The ability to float or not would also change where an animal would be buried. Mammals and birds float due to bloating or trapped air in feathers and hair and are thus found in higher layers.

No model provides all the answers, but the flood model does provide a very satisfactory explanation for the series found in the fossil record.

Ahead to Fossils Prove a Flood. Updated March 2010.



i. George Gaylord Simpson, The Meaning of Evolution (Yale University Press, 1949).

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