Tiktaalik, the transitional star, faces an evolutionary dead-end

Tracks of footprints found in a quarry in Poland have turned the palaeontological world upside down.1 For years there has been a neat evolutionary story about how fish evolved four legs and came out of the ocean onto the land (figure 1). Probably the most famous fossil in this sea-to-land icon of evolution is Tiktaalik roseae, a fish with fins that was claimed to have had features intermediate between fish and tetrapods.

Creationists consistently rejected the evolutionary spin put on the fossil and showed that it had nothing to do with any alleged sea-to-land transition.2 All the same, evolutionists promoted Tiktaalik relentlessly. It has its own website, 3 features in evolutionary diagrams (e.g. figure 1), stars on the covers of books about evolution4and was even the theme of a song to promote evolution.5 Richard Dawkins, in his latest book The Greatest Show on Earth,6 claims “Tiktaalik is the perfect missing link—perfect, because it almost exactly splits the difference between fish and amphibian, and perfect because it is missing no longer.” (See Jonathan Sarfati’s refutation of this book, The Greatest Hoax on Earth?)

But now this footprint evidence from Poland consigns Tiktaalik and all its companion fossils onto the garbage heap. From being stars of the show they have suddenly become an evolutionary dead-end. So the creationists were right all along.

At first glance the evidence does not look very impressive. The tracks are preserved as shallow indentations on the surface of large limestone slabs from Zachelmie Quarry in the Holy Cross Mountains of Poland. The rough surfaces have an array of roundish indentations arranged in lines (figure 2). But, with the use of lines and diagrams (figure 3), the authors have argued a strong case that these indentations are indeed trackways of four legged animals that resembled large lizards….

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