Still swimming, after all these years!
Perhaps the most amazing fish in the sea is the coelacanth. This magical fish disappeared from the fossil record for a period of between 70 million and 140 million years! During this time, it was so totally absent that not a single skeleton or fossil had been found in the strata. It was known as an "index" fossil, which means that you can determine the approximate age of the rock formation you are studying if you find a coelacanth. It is no longer a good index fossil, since they have been found alive since 1938. They are now under the close watch of preservation societies. To check it out, go to DinoFish.Com - Fish Out of Time
The Importance of the Find
This obviously has terrible implications for Evolutionists, and the "depth = time" interpretation of Historical Geology. But secular review of the emergence of the coelacanth after 70 million years is more on the lines of "wow! isn't this neat!" "This is so great!" (gee, I hope they don't think it through...) . The question we must now ask is phrased well at the Scientists Against Evolution homepage:
"If species can certainly exist for tens of millions of years without leaving a trace, then they can probably exist for hundreds of millions of years without leaving a trace, too. If this is true, then you can't tell when species go extinct from the geologic column. Furthermore, it might have existed for hundreds of millions of years before leaving the first fossil, so you can't tell with any certainty when the species first evolved.
If the fossil record is so poor that you can't tell with any certainty when any species originated and when it went extinct, then how can you use it to construct an evolutionary progression?"
Good question indeed.
Oh no! It's not the missing Fish to Amphibian link!
There's nothing quite like being able to study the real thing to put finality on arguments on origins. The Coelacanth find has allowed taxonomists to study up close the physical and behavioral characteristics of this "ancient" fish. It turns out, it just isn't what they hoped for. The Coelacanth was supposed to be a "missing link" between fish and amphibians. This quote from a recent ABC News story says it all:
For scientists, coelacanths are still fascinating creatures.
“The animals are the only living representative of a lineage that was around for a long time,” says Paul Loiselle, curator of freshwater fishes for the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn. “They can tell us some things we can’t find any other way.”
But coelacanths, although closely related, turned out not to be the hoped-for missing link between fishes and four-legged terrestrial vertebrates. Sort of like discovering a first cousin instead of a long-lost parent. Scientists had envisioned the coelacanth dragging itself along the ocean floor with its lobed limblike fins.
The Max Planck Institute’s submarine observations also revealed that the coelacanths swim, not crawl, although it moves unlike most fishes.
Notice the lanquage here? Turned out not to be the "hoped-for" missing link? Now why would an objective marine biologist be hoping for anything? Isn't it the duty of biologists to simply chart and document the living world they see, not to try to assemble a puzzle by locating the missing pieces? The endless search to find the much needed proof for evolution is what is at stake here. Make no mistake about it. It has been almost a century and a half since Darwin's novel idea, and there is still not enough evidence to firmly establish it.
And this should give anyone who is now certain that "Archaeopteryx" is the missing link between Reptiles and Birds, reason for pause... If a real and observed Coelacanth was in fact a fish, might Archaeopteryx have in fact been just a bird? Maybe one will turn up one day. Who would have thought we would have a chance to study the coelacanth in the wild? And now, they have been found in another location! Recently, an entirely new population was discovered in the waters off Sulawesi, Indonesia—6,000 miles away! UPDATE!: October 2001 Another Coelocanth has been discovered in Kenya! More than 5 ft. in length, it is yet another proof that allthough this fish is "missing" from the fossil record, it is still around and appearently, all over the place!
How The Coelacanth Has Been Depicted
In textbooks, the Coelacanth was considered a "tranisitional" form that showed the emergence of fish from the water onto the land, leading to the first amphibians. Unfortunately, they quite enjoy their watery depths. None of the some 500 or more living Coelacanths have been observed coming up to the surface (except in nets), let alone walking ashore. This is true of most fish, which of course a Coelacanth is entirely. Here is a quote from a Biology Textbook still in use today:
Amphibians Evolved from Lobefin Fishes and Developed Lungs
"About 400 million years ago, a group of fishes called lobefins appeared, probably in fresh water. Lobefins had two important pre-adaptations to land-life: stout, fleshy fins with which they crawled about on the bottoms of shallow, quiet waters and a outpoaching of the digestive tract that could be filled with air, like a primitive lung. The coelacanth seen in Figure 24-33d is a lobefin that was believed to be long extinct before its discovery in 1939."
A couple of facts for the writers of the textbook: 1.) They do not use their fins to crawl, and they are not a lungfish. 2.)They were discovered in 1938, off the coast of Madagascar, and more recently newer populations have been found. Also, they are a deep dwelling, saltwater fish, as we can now observe.
It Gets Worse (for the evolutionist!)
It turns out the Coelacanth is not alone. Other species, both plants and animals have been found to be alive after having gone missing for several millions of years. Perhaps the worst offender in this category is the possibility that Trilobites are still alive. These are said to be among the oldest of all living organisms, and supposedly extinct (according to the rocks, of course) long before the dinosaurs ever got here!
Other Living Fossils:
Undersea mountains yield living 'fossils'
LIVING FOSSILS DISCOVERED IN BAHAMAS
From 50 Million Years Ago "The Wollemi Pine"
300 million-year-old cockroach discovered
What about this story from November 2001, of a cockroach which is supposedly 300 million years old, but looks exactly like the ones we know of today! And there is one more thing, usually "extremely old" items cannot be preserved without shell or bone, as this article points out, but strangely, this insect's frailest parts have been utterly preserved. Even veins in the wings can be seen. Now you have to wonder about this one, folks. We have buildings that don't last hundreds of years without serious breakdown. We are supposed to accept that this frail dead insect carcass has been around not hundreds, not thousands, or even just one million years, but 300 million years?! You have got to be kidding.
Living Botanical Fossils
Because its basic body design has remained almost unchanged for millions of years, the horseshoe crab is often called a "living fossil". They are not a living fossil in the sense that they "disappeared for millions of years", but they are yet another fine example of something said to be among the oldest of life on earth, and completely in an observable state of STASIS. 300 million years, and no change?!?! Of course, this is predicted by the Creationist. God made a horseshoe crab. And, unless it dies out and goes extinct, it will always be just that. A horseshoe crab.