When Charles Darwin advanced his theory of evolution, he knew the fossil record didn’t offer much support for his idea. Two of its features troubled him: the absence of transitional forms and the abrupt first-time appearances of biological groups in that record. Today these evolutionary “sore spots” provide excellent support for the biblical creation model.
Perhaps the most stunning example of “sudden appearances” is the Cambrian explosion, the event responsible for the dramatic emergence of complex ocean animal life about 540 million years ago. Instead of relatively simple organisms originating at the base of the Cambrian and then evolving toward increased intricacy, complex animals appeared early and suddenly. Two recent discoveries reaffirmed the Cambrian’s dramatic nature and support a creation view of the fossil record.
In February 2011, researchers reported on a new fossil specimen from China’s Chengjiang region.1 This specimen is a lobopodian. These creatures looked like segmented worms with legs culminating in hooked claws on each segment. The newly discovered organism, called Diania cactiformis, had armored appendages on its legs that resembled arthropod limbs.
Evolutionary biologists had viewed the lobopodians as giving rise to arthropods (invertebrates that include insects, arachnids, and crustaceans). They argued that D. cactiformis represents a transitional form connecting lobopodians to arthropods. But the recovery of arthropods and other lobopods from the same Chengjiang sites shows that members of putative ancestral (lobopods) and descendent (arthropod) groups appear simultaneously in the lower Cambrian, instead of originating in a sequential fashion. This information fits better within a creation model.
In June 2011, scientists discovered a trilobite with exceptionally well-preserved eyes. It was found in the Emu Bay Shale of Australia.2 To the researchers’ amazement, the eyes of this ancient arthropod seem identical to the compound eyes of modern-day arthropods. In other words, arthropods appeared suddenly in the Cambrian explosion with fully modern eyes.
Sudden, intensified appearances like the Cambrian explosion are exactly what is expected if a Creator is responsible for orchestrating life’s history.
- Jianni Liu et al., “An Armoured Cambrian Lobopodian from China with Arthropod-Like Appendages,” Nature 470 (February 24, 2011): 526–30.
- Michael S. Y. Lee et al., “Modern Optics in Exceptionally Preserved Eyes of Early Cambrian Arthropods from Australia,” Nature 474 (June 2011): 631–34.