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Living Fossils

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Fossils of any kind are fascinating and fun to collect.  They are the preserved remains of plants and animals that lived only a few hundred to a few thousand years ago.  Many fossils we find are of plants and animals that no longer exist.  They give us a glimpse of the past.  But did you know that many fossils are of plants and animals that are still living today?  These are called living fossils.

Living fossils have been found all over the world and in many different layers of rock.  There are even a number of fossils that have been found along with dinosaur fossils of plants and animals that are still alive today.  


When I was working on a living fossil display for another creation ministry, I was shown a fossil of a sycamore leaf and asked if I could match it with a sycamore still living today.  From all my years living in Arizona, I instantly knew of a living match to the fossil.  I contacted a good friend back home and asked if he could collect about a dozen Arizona sycamore leaves and send them to me.  They were a perfect match to the fossilized sycamore leaves as you can see here.


I now live in northern Kentucky and we have lots of marine fossils including crinoids in this area.  According to evolutionists, these fossils are supposed to be around 450 million years old.  If evolution was true and everything is constantly changing and evolving, then you would not expect to find any of these fossil animals alive today, but we do.  Crinoids can still be found in today’s oceans. 

Anadara Ark Clams

Another marine living fossil is the bivalve mollusk from the genus Anadara also known as ark clams.  As shown here, one photo is of living Anadara and the other photo is of a fossil Anadara.  Even though the fossil is supposed to be about 3 million years older than the living example they appear to be identical in every way.  Can you tell the difference?


Do you like to eat shrimp or prawns?  Some people like to grill them, others breaded and fried and some people like to quick boil and eat them plain.  However you like to eat shrimp and prawns, they are delicious, aren’t they?  Here is a photo of a living shrimp and a fossil shrimp that looks identical to each other.  The fossil shrimp is supposed to be about 150 millions old

Polistes Wasp

Nearly everyone fears being attacked and stung by wasps.  When I was 4 years old, something crawled into my left ear.  I couldn’t see what it was so I tried to pull it out.  It turned out to be a yellow jacket wasp and it stung me inside my ear.  I’ll never forget how much that hurt.  Wasps may not be very interesting to most people but here we have a photo of a fossil Polistes wasps and a living Polistes wasp.  The fossil wasp is supposed to be at least 2.5 million years old.

Gracilidris  Ant

Ants can be quite an annoyance.  They have ruined many a picnic by swarming to get all of the good food.  Ants can climb picnic tables, walls in houses, fences and trees.  Some ants that climbed trees have found themselves trapped in the sticky sap of the tree.  The tree sap quickly covered the ant and hardened into amber.  One particular ant that was trapped in amber (shown here) belonged to the genus Gracilidris was thought to be long extinct.  However, an ant researcher discovered living members of Gracilidris in South America that looked identical to the ones trapped in the amber supposedly 15-20 million years ago.


Wollemi Pine

Have you ever heard of the Dinosaur Tree?  In 1999, the Wollemi pine was discovered to be alive and well in a remote canyon of the Blue Mountains of Australia.  Before its discovery, the Wollemi pine was only known from fossils that supposedly date back to about 150 million years ago.  When compared to the fossil, it was found that the living Wollemi pine was identical and had not evolved at all. 


Cyanobacteria or Blue-green Algae

One of my favorite examples of living fossils is blue-green algae also known as cyanobacteria.  According to evolutionists cyanobacteria are one of the oldest living organisms on the earth.  If they are as old as evolutionists believe them to be (some as old as 3.5 billion years), you would expect that they would have evolved and changed so much that there wouldn’t be any living today that would anything like those living today.  Take a close look at the photos below of cyanobacteria fossils compared to the same ones living today. 

Pictures labeled A, C and E are from rocks in the former Soviet Union, showing micro fossils of bacteria. Picture A is approximately 950 million years old, picture C has been dated to approximately 850 million years ago and picture F is the oldest specimen dating to approximately 1550 million years ago (1.55 billion years ago). The pictures labeled B, D and F are from cyanobacteria colonies found today in Mexico (stromatolites).

At one time, the Museum of Paleontology at the University of California Berkeley has this statement posted on their website:

Blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria) “Oldest Living Fossils”

Scientists have found from microscopic examination of these fossils, dated to be 3.5 billion years old that they are essentially identical to the blue-green algae that are still living today.

One of world’s foremost authorities on microfossils is Dr. J. William Schopf.  In the book Major Events in the History of Life, Dr. Schopf wrote:

But, based on the data currently at hand—evidence that is vastly improved over that available only a scant two decades ago—what can be said about the Proterozoic evolution of primitive prokaryotes? How did prokaryotes evolve over the nearly two billion years of Proterozoic time?

The answers: A lot can be said; even at present, a great deal is known.  Surprisingly, however—in fact, absolutely remarkably—cyanobacteria in particular, and perhaps all prokaryotes in general, seem to have evolved hardly at all between early in the Proterozoic and the present day! That, indeed, is strange. The history of life, at least that of familiar Phanerozoic life, is one of change: Evolution, an unending progression of new forms of life . . . survival of only the fittest . . . the old supplanted by the new. But prokaryotic cyanobacteria seem to have played the evolutionary game by a different set of rules: What once succeeded, continued to succeed . . . survival of the already fit . . . if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!  [emphasis mine]

When you look at these pictures of fossils and their living twins it helps to show that many plants and animals haven’t changed one bit.  According to Dr. Joachim Scheven, a zoologist and paleontologist in Germany:

Fossils never show any significant ‘evolution’—rather, they show that fossil creatures have no remaining living counterparts (extinction), or that they have stayed essentially the same (stasis), or have degenerated (lost information).

Living fossils help show us that plants and animals don’t evolve into other plants and animals.  What they do show is that they were created to reproduce after their own kind as we are told in Genesis 1, the first chapter of God’s Word.

There are hundreds of examples of living fossils that we could look at but we don’t have room here to look at them all.  For more information on living fossils go to Fossils Questions and Answers and scroll down to Do fossilized plants and animals really look all that different from animals we see today?  There you will more information on some of the living fossils shown above along with others we didn’t look at.


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  • David Lagesse

    How did the species of animal that “evolved” into a bat ever survive the process?
    A bat is the ONLY mammal to ever have the capability of true flight. (other “flying mammals” only glide)
    Consider the proto bat (pre-bat-like) animal that is still not yet capable of flight. Prior to the capacity for flight, the proto bat would not be able to hop, run, walk, or even to successfully climb to a height high enough and quickly enough to allow the animal to glide successfully enough to escape predators or obtain food.
    Modern bats can climb, but it is a painfully slow and laborious. If an animal is trying to escape a predator taking to much time to escape will lead to their quick demise. Jungle cats and wolves can jump many times their own height and catch birds in flight!
    The proto bat would have become extinct long prior to flight capability and would never have “evolved” far enough to be capable of flight.
    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” – Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

    • Charles Yoder

      My favorite example of this is the bombardier beetle. It is absurd to believe that its unique defense system could have come about by “numerous, successive slight modifications”.

  • Doc Franklin

    I find it amazing that many believe that contemporary “modern” humans evolved from apelike creatures over a 3.5 million year or so time span involving lets guesstimate 300,000 generations or less. Yet simple bacteria and protozoans undergoing up to 3.5 x 10 to the 9th power generations haven’t change one iota, even though theoretically their mutation rates should be infinitely higher that complicated multicellular life forms. Let’s face it, evolution is an absolute false doctrine. Stasis, punctuated equilibrium, hopeful monsters, what a bunch of hogwash. The only evidence that I see that supports the pond scum to human evolutionary path (which is quite compelling) is sitting in the halls of government in Washington, DC.

    • samuel hunt

      lol! great word Doc!

  • Howard W. Hall

    Actually the shrimp fossil is supposed to be 375 million years old, not just 150 million years old. It was found near Ada, Oklahoma. It was found in November of last year (2010).

  • John R Bloxson Jr

    All age questions is based on a fraudulent Geological column that was originally made to back Lamarckism a form of Evolutionary thought. The facts don’t support the Geological column so Lyells a man with no science background in fact Lyells was quite willing to fudge the strata data to support the theory of Evolution this is another example of the Dasperation Evolutionist go to since their theory is so full of holes. Graduated Equalibriom for example holds that fossils of intermediate form don’t exist because after millions of years of almost stagnation there was a rapid change so the species left no intemedeate forms how do they keep comming up with theory after theory that can’t be proven to support a theory that is at best Qwazi Science and at its worst not even good science? We see people with itchy ears going after Myths and out right lies to deny God’s Existance.

  • Michel

    Mr Bloxon Jr’s comment that Lyell had no scientific background enticed me to check Lyell’s biography. A man of law for sure but certainly also a long practising naturalist, a profession where observations and speculations are natural and frequent. And he did occasionnally associate himself with the likes of Dawson. But why not give the man the credit of a maybe perfect insight into the origins of the gelogical strata he obeserved so often and in so many places around the globe? A more sensible approach of his work would therefore seem to apply the rigor of science to it just as is beeing done with catastrophic conclusions for the tenants of evolution. He called the still used classification of strata (Eo-, Meo- and Plio-cene)by names which call on the notion of a sequence in time, from older to more recent stata. And it is reported that he attributed these names to the different geological strata depending on the presence in them of shells which were either extinct (older strata) or on the contrary still living (more recent strata). But the above article brings forth that many so called “fossils” correspond in fact to species still living today…. Could someone from the Creation institiute go back to check the list of shell species Lyell used to assign a geological age to the strata which hosted them, and check two things: a)if some of the fossil species are indeed extinct how could he decide which disappeared first? and b)are the ones he decided were extinct really so? My guess, to be backed by a scientific review of Lyell’s work, is that his theory’s foundations will undergo the same shake up and scientific rejection as that of Darwin’s whose work he so complacently accepted as “the new Bible”…

  • Grandpa Tom

    The Sycamore tree is the tree which the Cross of Christ was fashioned. The mean and rugged cross that Jesus carried, and mounted was the wood of the Sycamore. It sheds its bark in large patches. It is the tree the short tax collector climed to see Jesus. Good article of living fossils.

  • An aetheist (sue me)

    Try ti find a fossil rabbit in the Precambrian. Then I will believe in God and Jesus. (And creation).

    • Grandpa Tom

      Mr. Aetheist: Are you actively digging for fossils of rabbits, or are you simply waiting for the proof to be delivered to you. Try to find a transitional fossil and I might believe in evolution. Find the missing link which would show we evolved from the apes. Show the geological column used in the school room in an actual mountain. Where is the proof. Darwin’s soul is probally in Hell with a human head and a body of a monkey. His earthly body is at supper, where the worms are doing the eating. In the case of Jesus Christ, the Tomb is empty. He has risen. “The fool says there is no God, and God in heaven laughs; Ps. 2:4.”

  • Mike

    thank you for the article it was very insightful. Regardless if people believe in God or not, the questions posed are intruiging.

  • Mike Keep

    “They are the preserved remains of plants and animals that lived only a few hundred to a few thousand years ago.” …Oh dear. Lets ignore all the evidence shall we.

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