The appendix of The Fossil Record is worth the price of the book, which is currently on sale at [...] for $19.95. It is also available at Amazon, although it looks like they’d rather not carry it.
What does the book’s appendix have that makes it so valuable? The authors make these remarks:
“Over a decade ago, University of Washington biologist Kathleen Hunt put together a long, highly questionable Internet list of what she felt were transitional vertebrate forms. Many evolutionists have taken advantage of Ms. Hunt's extensive catalog and have copied her material (including the numerous errors) in various blogs, forums, classes, and anti-creation letters.
“Because Ms. Hunt's list is so extensive, and because it has been cited so widely, it offers a useful platform from which to consider the subject. Using quotations from major evolutionary textbooks and technical articles, as well as other sources, this appendix will examine some of those supposed "links" as a means of presenting the true na¬ture of evolution's "transitional forms."”
For an example of how Morris and Sherwin respond to Hunt’s claims, let’s look at the alleged transition from primitive bony fish to amphibians:
Osteolepis (a Devonian sarcopterygian)
Hunt's Claim: Osteolepis (mid-Devonian)—One of the earliest crossopterygian lobe-finned fishes, still sharing some characters with the lungfish (the other lobe-finned fishes). Had paired fins with a leg-like arrangement of major limb bones, capable of flexing at the "elbow", and had an early-amphibian-like skull and teeth.
1. What the fossil evidence actually shows: Osteolepis possessed an intracranial joint and heterocercal tail (ver¬tebral column extends into the tail) with a larger lower lobe and two posteriorly placed rounded dorsal fins. Complete fossils of this creature have been found at a famous Scottish site showing good quality rhombic scales.
2. The evolutionary interpretation: Evolutionists suggest Osteolepiform fish are the ancestors of the Tetrapoda (four-limbed animals) because of their paired lobed fins.
3. The non-Darwinian interpretation: This is not a transition. Colbert subjectively states that the osteolepiforms had "a skull pattern remarkably prophetic of the skull pattern seen in the early amphibians." But Benton does not refer to this osteolepiform as a transition, stating that "the relationships of the sarcopterygian groups to each other have been controversial." Benton went on to state that there are no fewer than "four competing theories for the relationships of the sarcopterygian fishes and tetrapods."
“Clack calls Osteolepis a "so-called" osteolepiform and says that it is "one of the most primitive forms from the Middle Devonian," but does not state it was a transition. Stahl documents the complicated and dif¬ficult debate between evolutionists (e.g., Romer, K.S. Thomson, and Jarvik) regarding where to place Osteolepis and why.” p. 144 The Fossil Record
There are other nice features of the book that make it very worthwhile. It is beautifully illustrated. Chapters are prefaced with full page (8 ½ x 11), full color photos showing one or more fossils. While the photos are interesting, a drawing illustrating the hypothetical evolution of a fish becoming an amphibian was captivating. It shows something like the coelacanth becoming a primitive amphibian through a six-step series of drawings. There is no such series in the fossil record. The drawings are probably an ideal transition series that evolutionists would like to see in the fossil record.
Chapter 2 begins to reveal two important themes throughout the book. 1) evolutionists’ use of “just-so” stories and, 2) comparing the “predictions” of evolution to those of creation. They quote an often used remark from Stephen Jay Gould:
“Our technical literature contains many facile verbal arguments—little more than plausible ‘just-so stories.’” p. 144, Bully for Brontosaurus
In the paragraphs following this quote, Gould described how proto-wings evolved into fully evolved ones, and then he said:
“There I go again—doing what I just criticized. I have presented a plausible story about thermoregulation as the original function of organs that later evolved into wings But science is tested evidence, not tall tales.”
Gould obviously wanted to give an example of a “just-so story” since evolutionists don’t like to think they are guilty of such concoctions. I think it was a superb example, making it easy to recognize the myriads of “just-so stories” in evolutionary literature.
The authors quote Darwinian scholar Richard Milner’s remark that Gould “took issue with those who used natural selection carelessly as a mantra, as in the evidence-free ‘just-so stories’ concocted out of thin air by mentally lazy adaptationists.”
What is the guiding principle of this book? The authors say, “This book presents evidence that actually exists. Our contention is that the fossil record’s ‘big picture’ does not support an evolutionary view of the past at all. Rather, it is fully compatible with the biblical teaching that in the beginning God created the various kinds of plants and animals, and allowed them to vary within limits over time. The fossil record speaks eloquently of creation, not evolution.” p. 19 The Fossil Record
Morris and Sherwin bring up an important prediction relating to the fossil record. They say:
“If evolution were true (or even a hypothesis deserving serious study), the major transitions from one type of life to another must have been represented by actual organisms and must have taken many generations to accomplish. Since perhaps the majority of all individual organisms were intermediates, they must have at least occasionally been candidates for preservation as fossils. Of course, not all organisms were fossilized. But many were, for fossils exist today by the trillions.” p. 23 The Fossil Record
That reminds me of Darwin’s concern over the paucity of transitional forms which he believed should exist in great abundance. Each step along the way of evolving from a fish to an amphibian would need many mutations. Dr. Menton’s video, Does Biology Make Sense Without Darwin?, and Dr. Sanford’s book and DVD, Genetic Entropy, discuss mutations in greater detail. The more disruptive they are, the more likely they will be weeded out of the population by natural selection, but natural selection would not select nearly neutral mutations, i.e., ones slightly beneficial or deleterious, which on Kimura’s distribution curve would be in the “No Selection Zone.” (p. 31, J.C. Sanford’s Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome)
Concerning mutations, Morris and Sherwin wrote:
“The evolutionist’s story speculates about highly improbable events, such as random but beneficial mutations that produced new genes with increased information content.”
On the other hand:
“Creationists presuppose a God powerful enough and intelligent enough to accomplish creation with all its intricacies.” The Fossil Record, p. 35
In bullet lists, they summarize the predictions of evolution and creation. Which set of predictions conform to the facts best? You have to get the book. I’d spoil it if I told you now.
They describe some of the features of the fossil record. The majority of fossils have a marine origin. Dinosaur fossils almost always overlie marine fossils. Isn’t that just a bit peculiar?
“Fossils of any habitat are found in geologic units that are widespread over vast areas, quite unlike sediments of today. The rock strata often bear evidence that regionally extensive catastrophic processes were involved in their deposition, with rates, scales, and intensities unlike those operating today.” p. 38 Fossil
The Morrison Formation, which contains the dinosaur fossils, covers over 700,000 square miles from New Mexico to Canada, and was probably greater in area before some of it eroded completely away, such as in Grand Canyon. There is no geological process today that could cause this kind of deposit. This formation contains mudflows from a volcanic event, including many marine fossils along with the dinosaurs and other land organisms, including mammals.
Morris and Sherwin show two maps, one of the Morrison, the other of the Tapeats Sandstone. While the extent of the Morrison is enormous, the far-reaching Tapeats is astounding. The Tapeats blankets about two-thirds of the United States, at least one-fourth of Mexico, one-half of Canada, and part of Greenland.
To me, widespread deposits such as the Morrison, contradict the uniformitarian geological story of transgressive seas. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History website describes it with this just-so story:
“The Morrison Formation is a widespread and thick series of geological strata. It crops out all across the West, representing a varied series of environments with small rivers and floodplains, but in places was seasonally dry or even arid.”
The Smithsonian scientists were studying the Morrison rocks, hoping to find transitional fossils of dinosaurs, but they found none because there are none to be found since the evolution of bacteria to bacteriologist never occurred.
Below the Morrison Formation, Smithsonian scientists examined the Sundance Formation, which was “deposited by a great inland ocean.” We creationists recognize that ocean as the Flood waters that transgressed the continent. We believe in marine transgression and recession, but on the much grander scale of the Flood. As Dr. Snelling questioned in his DVD The Flood and his book Earth’s Catastrophic Past, what mechanism would cause the oceans to transgress the continents so many times?
“Creationist thinking predicts that fossils resulting from a dramatic marine destruction of the continents would be predominantly from sea-dwelling plants and animals that were trapped in oceanic currents that flooded the land. The upper sediments would increasingly reflect terrestrial habitats and inhabitants. This prediction has been borne out, although pre-Flood environments were not necessarily the same as those today.” p. 41, Fossil
“Pre-flood ecology is envisioned as containing vast floating forests adjacent to coastal shorelines. These perhaps extended far out into the sea, with abundant shallow marine organisms living beneath the forest growth.”
The Fossil Record has a revealing sidebar on “Why Don’t We Find More Human Fossils?” It also contains discussions on the origin of the invertebrates, the transition from invertebrates to vertebrates, and the first land animals.
None of the 13 chapters are technical. A curious middle school student could weather the storm of information, although the appendix is loaded with technical details as you saw in the above sample, and would not make good reading for most students. However, if they have been visiting websites, they may run across Kathleen Hunt’s list of alleged transitions, even on YouTube and want to know how to refute her claims.