A Fish "Out Of Its Time"?
Daniel H. King Sr.
Holy Scripture proclaims that God created the heavens and the earth. Everything which we see about us is the product of the divine hand:
By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made, And all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as a heap: He layeth up the deeps in store-houses. Let all the earth fear Jehovah: Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast (Ps. 33:6-9).
In our time there are many, however, who dispute this and allege that through a naturalistic process of evolution the world and all its inhabit-ants developed to the state in which we currently find them. In order to maintain this theory, from time to time the proponents of this system speak of those specimens found in the fossil record which they describe as "transitional forms." These are forms of animals, plants, fish or birds, which are often said to be presently extinct, but which once were "transitional" or "developmental" forms between lower and higher types of living things.
For example, it is theorized that in the myths of ancient time, fish developed highly versatile propulsion methods which first permitted them to walk on the sea bed, then to crawl ashore to feed on land for short periods, and finally such fish remained ashore and their fins be-came legs and feet and they became the predecessors of many creatures which skillfully transport themselves about on land in our own day.
One such form, Latimeria chalumnae, or coelacanth, is said to be represented in fossils from 400 million to 60 million years old. For many years it was claimed that this fossil fish demonstrated how the fin of the fish eventually became the foot of the amphibian. The coelacanth, a crossopterygian fish, was supposed to have certain limb-like characters on its fins indicating initial advances toward amphibianhood. It was believed that it eventually developed into a primitive amphibian known as labyrinthodont. Since no fossils of the coelacanth were found in levels of rock said to be less than 60 million years old, it was speculated that it finished this transition in the Mesozoic era, and the coelacanth itself then became extinct.
However, two most embarrassing things have happened over the years. First, no fossil remains of this "fishibian," with fins partly converted into feet has ever been found. Second, and most humiliating of all, in 1938 one of these "extinct" fish was caught by a fisherman off the coast of Africa (Madagascar). A second was captured in 1952 off Great Comoro in the Indian Ocean. Since that time over one hundred specimens of the "living fossil" Coelacanth have been taken. It has been widely studied by scientists since that first discovery.
In 1987 a group from National Geographic traveled to the Indian Ocean off the Comoro Islands, made numerous dives and found several specimens at a depth of about 550 feet. The fish was observed in its natural habitat, and found to be highly coordinated and specifically capable of function at great ocean depths. "Old Fourlegs" as Professor J.L.B. Smith, a noted ichthyologist at Rhodes University in South Africa, had called him, was not able to "walk upon the sea floor like a seal on its flippers." Evolutionary theorists were forced to revise their fanciful theory when confronted with the facts!
This brings up some very intriguing questions for our friends who believe the theory of evolution. Here are just a few of them:
1. Why did the Coelacanth stop evolving? According to their own reading of the rocks and the fossils they find in them, Coelacanth is first observed in rock strata of the Devonian Era, some 410 million years ago. The mod-em Coelacanth is exactly the same fish that is found in the fossils. It has not changed in any perceptible way! Why did this fish stop evolving? In 410 million years it should certainly look very different, and be much more highly "advanced" than it did so long ago, assuming for argument's sake that the evolutionary process did take place. Jacques Millot admits that this is a great mystery: "Throughout the hundreds of millions of years the coelacanths have kept the same form and structure. Here is one of the great mysteries of evolution" (Scientific American, Vol. 193, Dec., 1955, 37). Actually, it is only a mystery if we assume the theory of evolution to be true!
2. How did the Coelacanth disappear from the fossil record? For a period of 60 million years, according to evolutionary geology, the Coelacanth vanished from the fossil record. Yet, we now know that Coelacanth has been around all the time, since it is here now. Would this not say something to us about their way of reading the fossil record? Perhaps their reading of the fossil record is flawed from the beginning, and this is why Coelacanth seems to vanish for 60 million years!
3. Where is the evidence for "transitional forms"? Each time a "missing link" has been suggested in the chain of proof to establish the accuracy of the theory of evolution, it has somehow lost credibility with further study. Such has certainly been the case with coelacanth! What does this tell us about the theory itself?
Even Charles Darwin himself said that the lack of inter-mediate and finely graduated fossils to form an organic chain from the simple to the complex, was one of the most obvious and serious objections against his theory of evolution. It is still the thorn in the side of modem theorists.
4. How could such highly educated and brilliant men be wrong about Coelacanth's form and function? Scientists with Ph.D. degrees had theorized that Coelacanth could walk on the ocean floor, and may even have walked some on land, with the strangely configured fins which the fish possessed. When confronted with living specimens, however, it was discovered that the fish lived in the ocean depths and used its appendages as all other fish do as fins for swimming! How could they have been so wrong for so long?
That question is rather easy to answer. These men and women, though both intelligent and educated, are busy about looking for evidence to prove their cherished theory of origins, and sometimes they may tend to force the proof to fit the theory, rather than to configure the hypothesis to fit the facts. Where they are primarily wrong is at the starting point. The whole theory is composed of humanistic speculations, whose inspiration is a godless philosophy of naturalism. Fear not its intimidations, and beware of its atheistic influences!
Guardian of Truth XLI: 18 p. 3-4