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Fossil record quotes

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Completeness of the fossil record:

"There are a hundred million fossils, all catalogued and identified, in museums around the world."—*Porter Kier, quoted in New Scientist, January 15, 1981, p. 129. [1]


"Now, after over 120 years of the most extensive and painstaking geological exploration of every continent and ocean bottom, the picture is infinitely more vivid and complete than it was in 1859. Formations have been discovered containing hundreds of billions of fossils and our museums now are filled with over 100 million fossils of 250,000 different species. The availability of this profusion of hard scientific data should permit objective investigators to determine if Darwin was on the right track.

What is the picture which the fossils have given us? ... The gaps between major groups of organisms have been growing even wider and more undeniable. They can no longer be ignored or rationalized away with appeals to imperfection of the fossil record."

Luther Sunderland, Darwin's Enigma (1988), Fossils and Other Problems, 4th edition, Master Books, p. 9 [2][3]

Candid admissions from staunch evolutionists regarding the fossil record:

"In any case, no real evolutionist, whether gradualist or punctuationist, uses the fossil record as evidence in favour of the theory of evolution as opposed to special creation" - Mark Ridley, 'Who doubts evolution?', New Scientist, vol. 90, 25 June 1981, p. 831


Quote from author, paleontologist, evolutionist, and curator of invertebrate paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History, Niles Eldredge and co-author Ian Tattersall who is Curator, Department of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History and who is also a evolutionist).

"Darwin himself, ... prophesied that future generations of paleontologists would fill in these gaps by diligent search ...

One hundred and twenty years of paleontological research later, it has become abundantly clear that the fossil record will not confirm this part of Darwin's predictions. Nor is the problem a miserably poor record. The fossil record simply shows that this prediction is wrong.

The observation that species are amazingly conservative and static entities throughout long periods of time has all the qualities of the emperor's new clothes: everyone knew it but preferred to ignore it. Paleontologists, faced with a recalcitrant record obstinately refusing to yield Darwin's predicted pattern, simply looked the other way."

Niles Eldredge & Ian Tattersall, 'The Myths of Human Evolution', 1982, p. 45-46 [4]


"No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It seems never to happen. Assiduous collecting up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of change over millions of years, at a rate too slow to really account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history. When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no firm evidence that the organisms did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution cannot forever be going on someplace else. Yet that's how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution." - Niles Eldredge , "Reinventing Darwin: The Great Evolutionary Debate," 1996, p.95. [5][6]

More quotes regarding the fossil record

"...I still think that to the unprejudiced, the fossil record of plants is in favour of special creation." - E.J.H. Corner (Prof of Botany, Cambridge University, England), “Evolution” in Anna M. MacLeod and L. S. Cobley (eds.), Contemporary Botanical Thought (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1961), p. 97 [7][8]


"If the genealogies of animals are uncertain, more so are those of plants. We cannot learn a great deal from petrified plant anatomy which shows different spades at different times, but no real phylogeny [transitional plant species changes] at all. There are simply fascinating varieties of the plants we have today—some new species of course—plus many extinctions: but algae, mosses, pines, ferns and flowering plants are all clearly recognizable from their first appearance in the fossil record." —Michael Pitman, Adam and Evolution (1984), p. 181. [9]


"We do not know the phylogenetic history of any group of plants and animals." — Earl L. Core, et al., General Biology, 4th ed., John Wiley and Sons, 1961, p. 299 from Davidheiser, p. 309[10]


"Fossil remains, however, give no information on the origin of the vertebrates." — Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 7, p. 587 (1976 edition, Macropaedia). [11]


"No fossil of any such birdlike reptile has yet been found." —World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 291 (1982 edition). (regarding reptiles becoming birds)[12][[13]


“For use in understanding the evolution of vertebrate flight, the early record of pterosaurs and bats is disappointing: Their most primitive representatives are fully transformed as capable fliers.” Sereno, Paul C., The evolution of dinosaurs, Science 284(5423):2137–2147 (quote on p. 2143), June 25, 1999.[14]


"The fossil record does not give any information on the origin of insects." —*Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 7, p. 585 (1978 edition; Macropaedia).[15]


"Insect origins beyond that point [the Carboniferous] are shrouded in mystery. It might almost seem that the insects had suddenly appeared on the scene, but this is not in agreement with accepted [evolutionary] ideas of animal origins." —*A.E. Hutchins, Insects (1988), pp. 3,4. [16]


"Where information regarding transitional forms is most eagerly sought, it is least likely to be available. We have no intermediate fossils between rhipidistian fish and early amphibians..." - (Carroll, Robert L. [Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, Redpath Museum, McGill University, Montreal, Canada], "Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution," W.H. Freeman & Co: New York NY, 1988, p.4). [17]


"Although this transition [from fish to amphibian] doubtless occurred over a period of millions of years, there is no known fossil record of these stages." - Kraig Adler, Encyclopedia of Reptiles & Amphibians, Equinox, Oxford, 1986, pg. 4) [18]


"But we still know very little about the early origins of fishes...." - Bone, Q., N.B. Marshall and J.H.S. Blaxter. 1995. Biology of Fishes. Blackie Academic & Professional, Glasgow, UK.; p. 6) [19]


"No intermediate fossils between jawed and jawless forms have been found - early fossils of jawed fishes had jaws, teeth, scales and spines. The origins of jaws and other structures that characterized the early gnathostomes are lost in the fossil record, belonging to some group about which we known nothing. " (Helfman, G.S., B.B. Collette and D.E. Facey. 1997. The Diversity of Fishes. Blackwell Science, MA. 528pp.; p. 157) [20]


“But whatever ideas authorities may have on the subject, the lung-fishes, like every other major group of fishes that I know, have their origins firmly based in nothing, a matter of hot dispute among the experts, each of whom is firmly convinced that everyone else is wrong ... I have often thought of how little I should like to have to prove organic evolution in a court of law.” [emphasis in original] Errol White, “A Little on Lung-Fishes,” Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London, Vol. 177, Presidential Address, January 1966, p. 8.[21]


"The common ancestor of the bony-fish groups is unknown" - (Alfred Sherwood Romer, _Vertebrate Paleontology_, 3rd ed.[Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966], 53). [22]


"...squirrels have evolved in patterns that seem to differ in no important ways from their living relative Sciurus. Since Sciurus is so similar to what is apparently the primitive squirrel morphotype, it seems to fit the concept of 'living fossil.’" –*R. Emry and *A. Thorington, "The Tree Squirrel Sciurus as a Living Fossil," in Living Fossils (1984), p. 30. [23]


"Modern apes, for instance, seem to have sprung out of nowhere. They have no yesterday, no fossil record. And the true origin of modern humans--of upright, naked, toolmaking, big-brained beings--is, if we are to be honest with ourselves, an equally mysterious matter." (Lyall Watson (anthropologist), 'The Water People,' Science Digest, Vol 90, May 1982, pg. 44) [24]


"No fossil or other physical evidence directly connects man to ape." — Gliedman, John. "Miracle Mutations." SCIENCE DIGEST 90 (February 1982): 90-96. [25][26]


"We then move right off the register of objective truth into those fields of presumed biological science, like extrasensory perception or the interpretation of man's fossil history, where to the faithful anything is possible - and where the ardent believer is sometimes able to believe several contradictory things at the same time." - Lord Solly Zuckerman (professor of anatomy at Birmingham University in England and chief scientific adviser to the British government from the time period of 1964 - 1971), Beyond The Ivory Tower, Toplinger Publications, New York, 1970, page 19 [27][28][29]


"Even this relatively recent history [of evolution from apes to man] is shot through with uncertainties; authorities are often at odds, both about fundamentals and about details." Theodosius Dobzhansky, Mankind Evolving, Yale Univ. Press, 1962, p. 168. [30]


"Fossil evidence of human evolutionary history is fragmentary and open to various interpretations. Fossil evidence of chimpanzee evolution is absent altogether". Henry Gee, “Return to the Planet of the Apes,” Nature, Vol. 412, 12 July 2001, p. 131. [31]


“But fossil species remain unchanged throughout most of their history and the record fails to contain a single example of a significant transition.” David S. Woodruff, “Evolution: The Paleobiological View,” Science, Vol. 208, 16 May 1980, p. 716. [32]


"In virtually all cases a new taxon appears for the first time in the fossil record with most definitive features already present, and practically no known stem-group forms." - Dr. T.S. Kemp (Curator of Zoological Collections at Oxford University) , Fossils and Evolution, Oxford University, Oxford University Press, p246, 1999 [33][34]


“Since Darwin's time, the number of known fossil forms has grown enormously. Researchers have discovered many hundreds of transitional fossils that document various intermediate stages in the evolution of modern species from organisms that are now extinct. Gaps remain, of course, in the fossil records of many species, although a lot of them shrink each year as new fossils are discovered. These gaps do not indicate weakness in the theory of evolution itself. Rather, they point out uncertainties in our understanding of exactly how some species evolved.” Prentice Hall Biology. 2008. p383. Kenneth Miller & Joseph Levine.


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