Where are the Fossils!

The Missing Fossil Record And How It Contradicts Evolution

According to Darwin’s theory, all living creatures had a common ancestor, and natural selection over time produced the variety of life forms we see today. The problem is the fossil record show the exact opposite occured.


Darwin’s theory contains three important points?

  1. Common Descent. Darwin wrote in The Origin of Species, “all the organic being which have ever lived on this earth may be descended from some one primordial form.”1
  2. Natural Selection. Darwin defined natural selection as the “principal by which each slight variation [of a trait], if useful, is preserved.”2 Organisms are exposed to different environments, and those that adapt best to their environment will survive and reproduce. Over time, progressive, slight variations accumulate producing different species, genera, families, orders, classes, and phyla.
  3. Incremental, Small Steps. Darwin wrote, “As natural selection acts solely by accumulating slight, successive, favorable variations, it can product no great or sudden modifications; it can act only by short and slow steps.”3

Darwin believed that variations within original species would amplify over the course of many generations to produce different species with unique body architecture called phyla. For example, two identical organisms at the beginning would gradually change over time until each had a very different body type and were classified into very different phyla: one with a skeleton outside its body, such as phyla Arthopoda (crabs) and one with a skeleton inside its body, such as phylum Chordata (fish). Darwin believed the different body types (phyla) would gradually develop over time. However, the fossil record show the reverse occurred, that almost all of the different phyla occurred at once, not gradually over time.

Cambrian Explosion (Biology’s Big Bang)

When Darwin wrote The Origin of Species, the oldest known fossils were from a geological period known as the Cambrian, named after rocks in Cambria, Wales. But the Cambrian fossil pattern didn’t fit Darwin’s theory, as he was well aware.

“The number of intermediate varieties, [must] by truly enormous. Why then, is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graded organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.”4

The Cambrian Explosion is the period in which most major groups of animals first appear in the fossil record. The highest levels of the biological hierarchy (phyla) appear right at the start, not gradually as Darwin predicted. Dr. Jonathan Wells, Senior Fellow-Discovery Institute, writes, “Instead of starting with one or a few species that diverged gradually over millions of years into families, then order, then classes, then phyla, the Cambrian start with the abrupt appearance of many fully-formed phyla and classes of animals. In other words, the highest levels of the biological hierarchy appeared right at the start.”5

Dr. Wells in the video, Unlocking the Mystery of Life, places the Cambrian Explosion in perspective by visualizing the history of life on earth as a 24-hour clock:

“The current standard estimates for the origin of life put it about 3.8 billion years ago; let’s say 4 billion. So if we start our twenty four hour clock, then 6 hours, nothing but these simple, single-celled organisms appear, the same sort that we saw in the beginning. 12 hours, the same thing. 18 hours, the same thing. Three-quarters of the day has passed and all we have are these simple single-celled organisms. Then at about the 21st hour in the space of about 2 minutes, boom, most of the major animal forms appear in the form that they currently have in the present, and many of them persist to the present, and we have them with us today. Less than two minutes out of a twenty-four hour period. That’s how sudden the Cambrian Explosion was.”6

Figure 1 Lack of Transitional Fossils (adapted from Icons of Evolution7)

According to Dr. Wells, for the first 21 hours (out of 24), you only find bacteria and worm fossils. Then, most of the animal forms appear in a geologically short period of time.

Darwin felt that paleontology was in its infancy and would find the transitional fossils over time with new excavations. However, new excavations, especially in Chengjiang, China have only deepened the problem: the specimens are better; many specimens are similar to those found elsewhere in the world (indicating most fossils have been found); and many specimens are soft-bodied (indicating that soft-bodied Cambrian specimens could be found if they existed.). Therefore, Dr. Mark Hartwig, Fellow-Discovery Institute, concludes, “It seems that most fossil species appear all at once, fully formed, and change very little through their existence,”8 and thus disproving Darwinism.

For Further Reading

Stroble, L. The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004.

Wells, J. Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution Is Wrong. Washington D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2000.


  1. Quoted in J. Wells, Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution Is Wrong, 29.
  2. Quoted in J. Wells, Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution Is Wrong, 34.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Quoted in M. Hartwig, Challenging Darwin’s Myths, in Darwinism Under the Microscope: How Recent Scientific Evidence Points To Divine Design, J.P. Gills and T. Woodward, Editors (Lake Mary, Fl.: Charisma House, 2002), 24-25.
  5. Quoted in J. Wells, Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution Is Wrong, 41.
  6. L. Allen, Unlocking the Mystery of Life (Produced by Illustra Media: 2010), Available at www.unlockingthemysteryoflife.com.
  7. J. Wells, Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution Is Wrong, 34.
  8. M. Hartwig, Challenging Darwin’s Myths, in Darwinism Under the Microscope: How Recent Scientific Evidence Points to Divine Design, 25.


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