Researchers have recently found what has been dubbed the oldest known fossil shrimp. Found in Upper Devonian shale in Oklahoma, the specimen of Aciculopoda mapesi was exceptionally preserved: “the muscles…have been preserved completely enough that discrete muscle bands are discernible.”

The news reports commented that “The fossil is a very important step in unraveling the evolution of decapods.”

However, one looks in vain in either the popular reports or the original research to find justification for this statement.

Extension of fossil ranges

Does the claimed age of the fossil tell us something new about the evolution of decapods? The more we investigate the fossil record, the larger fossil ranges tend to get. Aciculopoda adds to this trend by extending the known fossil range of shrimps and prawns from the early Triassic (‘dated’ by uniformitarians to 245 Ma) to late Devonian (360 Ma), completely skipping the Carboniferous and Permian geologic ‘ages’. This is a 115-million-year extension in fossil range on the basis of one fossil! This is one more, particularly extreme, example of a progressive randomization of the fossil record.

The classification of strata in the geologic column depends on index fossils, which are supposed to only occur over short spans in the rocks, and thus enable researchers to globally correlate strata. However, if fossils as a rule continually have their stratigraphic ranges extended, how reliable can the geologic column concept be since it relies on index fossils?

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