Gulfs—Can Evolution Bridge Them?
FOSSILS give tangible evidence of the varieties of life that existed long before man’s arrival. But they have not produced the expected backing for the evolutionary view of how life began or how new kinds got started thereafter. Commenting on the lack of transitional fossils to bridge the biological gaps, Francis Hitching observes: "The curious thing is that there is a consistency about the fossil gaps: the fossils go missing in all the important places."1
2 The important places he refers to are the gaps between the major divisions of animal life. An example of this is that fish are thought to have evolved from the invertebrates, creatures without a backbone. "Fish jump into the fossil record," Hitching says, "seemingly from nowhere: mysteriously, suddenly, full formed."2 Zoologist N. J. Berrill comments on his own evolutionary explanation of how the fish arrived, by saying: "In a sense this account is science fiction."3
3 Evolutionary theory presumes that fish became amphibians, some amphibians became reptiles, from the reptiles came both mammals and birds, and eventually some mammals became men. The previous chapter has shown that the fossil record does not support these claims. This chapter will concentrate on the magnitude of the assumed transitional steps. As you read on, consider the likelihood of such changes happening spontaneously by undirected chance.
The Gulf Between Fish and Amphibian
4 It was the backbone that distinguished the fish from the invertebrates. This backbone would have had to undergo major modifications for the fish to become amphibian, that is, a creature that could live both in the water and on land. A pelvis had to be added, but no fossil fish are known that show how the pelvis of amphibians developed. In some amphibians, such as frogs and toads, the entire backbone would have had to change beyond recognition. Also, skull bones are different. In addition, in the forming of amphibians, evolution requires fish fins to become jointed limbs with wrists and toes, accompanied by major alterations in muscles and nerves. Gills must change to lungs. In fish, blood is pumped by a two-chambered heart, but in amphibians by a three-chambered heart.
5 To bridge the gap between fish and amphibian, the sense of hearing would have had to undergo a radical change. In general, fish receive sound through their bodies, but most toads and frogs have eardrums. Tongues would also have to change. No fish has an extendable tongue, but amphibians such as toads do. Amphibian eyes have the added ability to blink, since they have a membrane they pass over their eyeballs, keeping them clean.
6 Strenuous efforts have been made to link the amphibians to some fish ancestor, but without success. The lungfish had been a favorite candidate, since, in addition to gills, it has a swim bladder, which can be used for breathing when it is temporarily out of the water. Says the book The Fishes: "It is tempting to think they might have some direct connection with the amphibians which led to the land-living vertebrates. But they do not; they are a separate group entirely."4 David Attenborough disqualifies both the lungfish and the coelacanth "because the bones of their skulls are so different from those of the first fossil amphibians that the one cannot be derived from the other."5
Gulf Between Amphibian and Reptile
7 Trying to bridge the gap between amphibian and reptile poses other serious problems. A most difficult one is the origin of the shelled egg. Creatures prior to reptiles laid their soft, jellylike eggs in water, where the eggs were fertilized externally. Reptiles are land based and lay their eggs on land, but the developing embryos inside them must still be in a watery environment. The shelled egg was the answer. But it also required a major change in the process of fertilization: It called for internal fertilization, before the egg is surrounded by a shell. To accomplish this involved new sexual organs, new mating procedures and new instincts—all of which constitute a vast gulf between amphibian and reptile.
8 Enclosing the egg in a shell made necessary further remarkable changes in order to make possible the development of a reptile and, finally, its release from the shell. For example, within the shell there is the need for various membranes and sacs, such as the amnion. This holds in the fluid in which the embryo grows. The Reptiles describes another membrane called the allantois: "The allantois receives and stores embryonic waste, serving as a sort of bladder. It also has blood vessels that pick up oxygen that passes through the shell and conduct it to the embryo."6
9 Evolution has not accounted for other complex differences involved. Embryos in fish and amphibian eggs release their wastes in the surrounding water as soluble urea. But urea within the shelled eggs of reptiles would kill the embryos. So, in the shelled egg a major chemical change is made: The wastes, insoluble uric acid, are stored within the allantois membrane. Consider this also: The egg yolk is food for the growing reptile embryo, enabling it to develop fully before emerging from the shell—unlike amphibians, which do not hatch in the adult form. And to get out of the shell, the embryo is distinctive in having an egg tooth, to help it break out of its prison.
10 Much more is needed to bridge the gap between amphibian and reptile, but these examples show that undirected chance just cannot account for all the many complex changes required to bridge that wide gulf. No wonder evolutionist Archie Carr lamented: "One of the frustrating features of the fossil record of vertebrate history is that it shows so little about the evolution of reptiles during their earliest days, when the shelled egg was developing."
Gulf Between Reptile and Bird
11 Reptiles are cold-blooded animals, meaning that their internal temperature will either increase or decrease depending upon the outside temperature. Birds, on the other hand, are warm-blooded; their bodies maintain a relatively constant internal temperature regardless of the temperature outside. To solve the puzzle of how warm-blooded birds came from cold-blooded reptiles, some evolutionists now say that some of the dinosaurs (which were reptiles) were warm-blooded. But the general view is still as Robert Jastrow observes: "Dinosaurs, like all reptiles, were cold-blooded animals."8
12 Lecomte du Noüy, the French evolutionist, said concerning the belief that warm-blooded birds came from cold-blooded reptiles: "This stands out today as one of the greatest puzzles of evolution." He also made the admission that birds have "all the unsatisfactory characteristics of absolute creation"9—unsatisfactory, that is, to the theory of evolution.
13 While it is true that both reptiles and birds lay eggs, only birds must incubate theirs. They are designed for it. Many birds have a brood spot on their breast, an area that does not have any feathers and that contains a network of blood vessels, to give warmth for the eggs. Some birds have no brood patch but they pull out the feathers from their breast. Also, for birds to incubate the eggs would require evolution to provide them with new instincts—for building the nest, for hatching the eggs and for feeding the young—very selfless, altruistic, considerate behaviors involving skill, hard work and deliberate exposure to danger. All of this represents a wide gap between reptiles and birds. But there is much more.
14 Feathers are unique to birds. Supposedly, reptilian scales just happened to become these amazing structures. Out from the shaft of a feather are rows of barbs. Each barb has many barbules, and each barbule has hundreds of barbicels and hooklets. After a microscopic examination of one pigeon feather, it was revealed that it had "several hundred thousand barbules and millions of barbicels and hooklets." These hooks hold all the parts of a feather together to make flat surfaces or vanes. Nothing excels the feather as an airfoil, and few substances equal it as an insulator. A bird the size of a swan has some 25,000 feathers.
15 If the barbs of these feathers become separated, they are combed with the beak. The beak applies pressure as the barbs pass through it, and the hooks on the barbules link together like the teeth of a zipper. Most birds have an oil gland at the base of the tail from which they take oil to condition each feather. Some birds have no oil gland but instead have special feathers that fray at their tips to produce a fine talclike dust for conditioning their feathers. And feathers usually are renewed by molting once a year.
16 Knowing all of this about the feather, consider this rather astonishing effort to explain its development: "How did this structural marvel evolve? It takes no great stretch of imagination to envisage a feather as a modified scale, basically like that of a reptile—a longish scale loosely attached, whose outer edges frayed and spread out until it evolved into the highly complex structure that it is today."11 But do you think such an explanation is truly scientific? Or does it read more like science fiction?
17 Consider further the design of the bird for flight. The bird’s bones are thin and hollow, unlike the reptile’s solid ones. Yet strength is required for flight, so inside the bird’s bones there are struts, like the braces inside of airplane wings. This design of the bones serves another purpose: It helps to explain another exclusive marvel of birds—their respiratory system.
18 Muscular wings beating for hours or even days in flight generate much heat, yet, without sweat glands for cooling, the bird copes with the problem—it has an air-cooled "engine." A system of air sacs reach into almost every important part of the body, even into the hollow bones, and body heat is relieved by this internal circulation of air. Also, because of these air sacs, birds extract oxygen from air much more efficiently than any other vertebrate. How is this done?
19 In reptiles and mammals, the lungs take in and give out air, like bellows that alternately fill and empty. But in birds there is a constant flow of fresh air going through the lungs, during both inhaling and exhaling. Simply put, the system works like this: When the bird inhales, the air goes to certain air sacs; these serve as bellows to push the air into the lungs. From the lungs the air goes into other air sacs, and these eventually expel it. This means that there is a stream of fresh air constantly going through the lungs in one direction, much like water flowing through a sponge. The blood in the capillaries of the lungs is flowing in the opposite direction. It is this countercurrent between air and blood that makes the bird’s respiratory system exceptional. Because of it, birds can breathe the thin air of high altitudes, flying at over 20,000 feet for days on end as they migrate thousands of miles.
20 Other features widen the gulf between bird and reptile. Eyesight is one. From eagles to warblers, there are eyes like telescopes and eyes like magnifying glasses. Birds have more sensory cells in their eyes than have any other living things. Also, the feet of birds are different. When they come down to roost, tendons automatically lock their toes around the branch. And they have only four toes instead of the reptile’s five. Additionally, they have no vocal cords, but they have a syrinx out of which come melodious songs like those of the nightingales and mockingbirds. Consider too, that reptiles have a three-chambered heart; a bird’s heart has four chambers. Beaks also set birds apart from reptiles: beaks that serve as nutcrackers, beaks that filter food from muddy water, beaks that hammer out holes in trees, crossbill beaks that open up pinecones—the variety seems endless. And yet the beak, with such specialized design, is said to have evolved by chance from the nose of a reptile! Does such an explanation seem credible to you?
21 At one time evolutionists believed that Archaeopteryx, meaning "ancient wing" or "ancient bird," was a link between reptile and bird. But now, many do not. Its fossilized remains reveal perfectly formed feathers on aerodynamically designed wings capable of flight. Its wing and leg bones were thin and hollow. Its supposed reptilian features are found in birds today. And it does not predate birds, because fossils of other birds have been found in rocks of the same period as Archaeopteryx.12
Gulf Between Reptile and Mammal
22 Major differences leave a wide gulf between reptiles and mammals. The very name "mammal" points up one big difference: the existence of mammary glands that give milk for the young, which are born alive. Theodosius Dobzhansky suggested that these milk glands "may be modified sweat glands."13 But reptiles do not even have sweat glands. Moreover, sweat glands give off waste products, not food. And unlike baby reptiles, the mammalian young have both the instincts and the muscles to suck the milk from their mother.
23 Mammals have other features, also, that are not found in reptiles. Mammalian mothers have highly complex placentas for the nourishment and development of their unborn young. Reptiles do not. There is no diaphragm in reptiles, but mammals have a diaphragm that separates the thorax from the abdomen. The organ of Corti in the ears of mammals is not found in reptilian ears. This tiny complex organ has 20,000 rods and 30,000 nerve endings. Mammals maintain a constant body temperature, whereas reptiles do not.
24 Mammals also have three bones in their ears, while reptiles have only one. Where did the two "extras" come from? Evolutionary theory attempts to explain it as follows: Reptiles have at least four bones in the lower jaw, whereas mammals have only one; so, when reptiles became mammals there was supposedly a reshuffling of bones; some from the reptile’s lower jaw moved to the mammal’s middle ear to make the three bones there and, in the process, left only one for the mammal’s lower jaw. However, the problem with this line of reasoning is that there is no fossil evidence whatsoever to support it. It is merely wishful conjecture.
25 Another problem involving bones: Reptilian legs are anchored at the side of the body so that the belly is on or very near the ground. But in mammals the legs are under the body and raise it off the ground. Regarding this difference, Dobzhansky commented: "This change, minor though it may seem, has necessitated widespread alterations of the skeleton and the musculature." He then acknowledged another major difference between reptiles and mammals: "Mammals have greatly elaborated their teeth. Instead of the simple peg-like teeth of the reptile, there is a great variety of mammalian teeth adapted for nipping, grasping, piercing, cutting, pounding, or grinding food."14
26 One last item: When the amphibian supposedly evolved into a reptile, the wastes eliminated were noted to have changed from urea to uric acid. But when the reptile became a mammal there was a reversal. Mammals went back to the amphibian way, eliminating wastes as urea. In effect, evolution went backward—something that theoretically it is not supposed to do.
The Greatest Gulf of All
27 Physically, man fits the general definition of a mammal. However, one evolutionist stated: "No more tragic mistake could be made than to consider man ‘merely an animal.’ Man is unique; he differs from all other animals in many properties, such as speech, tradition, culture, and an enormously extended period of growth and parental care."15
28 What sets man apart from all other creatures on earth is his brain. The information stored in some 100 billion neurons of the human brain would fill about 20 million volumes! The power of abstract thought and of speech sets man far apart from any animal, and the ability to record accumulating knowledge is one of man’s most remarkable characteristics. Use of this knowledge has enabled him to surpass all other living kinds on earth—even to the point of going to the moon and back. Truly, as one scientist said, man’s brain "is different and immeasurably more complicated than anything else in the known universe."16
29 Another feature that makes the gulf between man and animal the greatest one of all is man’s moral and spiritual values, which stem from such qualities as love, justice, wisdom, power, mercy. This is alluded to in Genesis when it says that man is made ‘in the image and likeness of God.’ And it is the gulf between man and animal that is the greatest chasm of all.—Genesis 1:26.
30 Thus, vast differences exist between the major divisions of life. Many new structures, programmed instincts and qualities separate them. Is it reasonable to think they could have originated by means of undirected chance happenings? As we have seen, the fossil evidence does not support that view. No fossils can be found to bridge the gaps. As Hoyle and Wickramasinghe say: "Intermediate forms are missing from the fossil record. Now we see why, essentially because there were no intermediate forms."17 For those whose ears are open to hear, the fossil record is saying: "Special creation."