Example Biology Essay: Problems with Fossil Records

Example Biology Essay: Problems with Fossil Records
Of course at that point, the absence of a proper theory ofevolution prevented Smith or other researchers from providing an explanation ofthe actual cause of faunal succession. The cause of faunal succession as isknown today is mainly due to evolution of organisms and species that change,transform or become completely extinct, leaving behind their traces on earth asfossils. Age of rocks and the changes in species features are both determinedby fossil record and faunal succession used as tools in biostratigraphy.However fossil data show extremely few records of transitional species,organisms that can conclusively suggest how and when evolution of new anddifferent species occurred (Donovan and Paul, 1998). Darwin himself suggestedthat the geological record itself is imperfect and incomplete and this isfurther strengthened by the fact that transitional species were short lived andhad very narrow geographical range.
Radiometric and Carbon dating have made it possible to identifyfossils more than 3.5 billion years old and have indicated that animal speciesmay have appeared abruptly, a phenomenon which Darwin himself found difficultto accept. Even though one or two forms of organisms which may be considered astransient have been identified, there are no records of transitional plants andthus an evolutionary plant history could not be drawn as of yet. Along withthese issues it has also been seen that most of the fossils found are ofspecies which have existing forms and are either similar to existing species orare completely identical. The intermediate temporary stages as serve to act, aslinks between two related species seems to have been completely downplayed bythe fossil data obtained. Animals seem to have remained more or less unchangedthrough all these years. Despite the collection of a huge number of fossils,nearly all of them being fossils of presently existing animals have createdproblems for the theory of evolution. It is a general belief that based onfossil discoveries already made, there will be little or no evidence thatevolution had actually occurred and continues to occur (Donovan and Paul,1998). If animals die a natural death, they are usually decomposed even beforebeing fossilized. However during sudden catastrophes can bury the animals andembed them deep in the earth. Some rocks and organisms that transformed to showfossils for years and decades were actually deposited within a short period oftime.

Although Darwin based his arguments heavily on fossilrecord, most scientists now believe that fossil record is actually incompatiblewith evolutionary theory as no transitional links or intermediate forms havebeen discovered among this huge collection of fossils in all these years. Thissuggests that there is no real evidential data that the theory of evolution isin fact true. There is no evidence of partially evolved species or intermediateforms either in the past or in the present fossil record and the fossil recordavailable is quite representative of all fossil data that will ever becollected. Evolution seems to point out towards more undefined and partiallyevolved species, fact completely undermined by available fossil record thatshows well-defined organisms rather than gradual gradations. The incompletefossil record is the primary bone of contention in the evolutionary debate andseems to give an edge to non-evolutionists.


Considering all the aspects of the debate and gaps infossil records and weighing this against evolution theories highlighting eithergenerational transformation of lineages or drastic changes and speciation atspecific periods, we can conclude that available gaps in fossil record may bemore indicative and supportive towards speciation and abrupt changes ratherthan gradual evolution through phyletic transformation.

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