An interesting article appeared in the April 2003 edition of Focus magazine. More than its actual content, the interesting thing about this article was its publication in Focus, a magazine known for its devotion to the theory of evolution, yet which still carried a report about the fish known as the coelacanth, "living proof" that totally undermines all the claims of the theory of evolution. Even more interesting was the manner the magazine dealt with the subject. Focus had no compunctions about setting out, one by one and in the most open manner, all the blows dealt to the theory of evolution by the coelacanth. The "astonishment" awoken in evolutionists by this fish, and the way that it and other "living fossils" represent a complete dead-end for evolution were objectively described. This article, which may be regarded as a "confession" from the point of view of emphasizing the invalidity of the theory of evolution, genuinely dealt with the subject in a most objective manner. We hope that this attitude will continue, and we repeat the blows dealt to evolution by the coelacanth below.
The coelacanth is a large fish, some 150 cm long, covered in thick scales reminiscent of armor. It belongs to the Osteichthyes class, and the earliest fossils from it are found in strata from the Devonian Period (408-350 million years). Up until 1938, a great many evolutionist zoologists assumed that the coelacanth walked on the sea bed using its two pairs of double fins, and that it represented a transitional form between land and sea creatures. As evidence for this they pointed to the bony structure of the fins in the coelacanth fossils to hand at the time. A development in 1938, however, totally overturned this intermediate species claim. A living coelacanth was caught in the waters off the Republic of South Africa! Furthermore, study of this animal, believed to have disappeared at least 70 million years ago, revealed that coelacanths had undergone absolutely no changes at all for 400 million years.
The astonishment caused by this discovery is expressed in Focus magazine in these terms: "Even the discovery of a living dinosaur would have been less surprising. Because fossils show that the coelacanth existed 150-200 million years before the appearance of the dinosaurs. The creature put forward by many scientists as the ancestor of land-dwelling vertebrates, believed to have disappeared at least 70 million years ago, had been found!"
In the years which followed, some 200 living Latimera chalumnae were caught. It was realized that these fish, which had undergone absolutely no changes, lived between 150 and 600 meters down and possessed a perfect bodily design. In 1987, Professor Hans Fricke of the Max Planck Institute descended some 200 meters off the Comores Islands, to the east of Africa, in the mini-sub Geo, and observed these creatures in their natural habitat. He saw that their bony fins had no functional connection to the protrusions which allow tetrapods (four-footed land-dwelling animals) to walk.
This is how Focus magazines reports the results of this research:
"The flexible fins had no similar functions to those in four-footed land vertebrates. These allowed the creature to swim head-down and in all directions, even backwards."
In order to better understand how a living thing which has experienced no changes for a 400 million-year period can make things so difficult for evolutionists it will be useful to have a look at some information from the fossil record. Just about all today"s known phyla (the largest category used in the classification of animals) emerged in the Cambrian Period. That refers to the period between 543 and 490 million years ago. The beginning of the Cambrian period shows that the history of complex living things on earth, if we exclude single-celled and elementary multi-celled creatures, goes back some 550 million years. The period during which the coelacanth has remained unchanged therefore represents considerably more than two-thirds of that period. If life on earth emerged by evolution, how is it that this creature was able to come down to the present day, over such a long period of time, without being affected by the mutations and natural selection which are claimed to lead to evolution? Evolutionists have no answer to this. When one also considers the continental shifts that took place during these 400 million years when coelacanths remained totally unchanged, then evolutionists can be seen to be in a completely helpless position. Focus magazine writes:
"According to the scientific facts, all the continents were joined together some 250 million years ago. This enormous area of land was surrounded by a single giant ocean. Around 125 million years ago, the Indian Ocean opened up as the result of continents changing places. The volcanic caves in the Indian Ocean, which form a large part of the coelacanth"s natural habitat, came about under the influence of this movement of continents. An important truth emerges in the light of all these facts. These animals, which have been in existence for some 400 million years, have remained unchanged despite the many changes in their natural environment!"
The fact that the coelacanth has undergone no evolution during this 400 million-year period openly contradicts the theory that life emerged with evolution and that living things are in a constant state of evolution.
What is more, the coelacanth also reveals the huge gulf between land and sea creatures, which the theory of evolution links together with an imaginary transition from the one to the other. Focus magazine quotes these lines from Professor Keith S. Thomson"s book The Story of the Coelacanth:
"Similarly, for instance, the oldest known Coelacanth (Diplocercides) possessed a rostral organ (the term used by zoologists to refer to the sac filled with a jelly like substance in the skull and the six tubes attached to it), a special skull articulation, a hollow spinal chord (notochord) and few teeth. In the same way that this shows that the group has remained almost unchanged since the Devonian Period (for 400 million years, it also reveals that there is a huge gap in the fossil record, since we lack the chain of ancestral fossils showing the emergence of all the common features observed in all coelacanths."
The Complex Structure in the Coelacanth Refutes Evolution
A four hundred and ten million-year-old Coelacanth fish fossil
We have seen what a major difficulty the sudden emergence of the coelacanth with no ancestor behind it and the way that it remained quite unchanged for such a lengthy period represents for evolutionists. Yet the coelacanth"s complex structure is also no less of a problem for them. Professor Michael Bruton, director of the famous JLB Smith Fish Sciences Institute, described the coelacanth in Focus magazine as an exceedingly complex animal.
Birth is one of the complex features of this creature. Coelacanths bring their young into the world by giving birth to them. The eggs, the size of an orange, hatch inside the fish. The discovery has also been made that the young are fed thanks to an organ in the mother"s body resembling a placenta. As well as providing the young with oxygen and food, the placenta is also a complex organ which removes wastes from respiration and digestion from the babies" bodies. Fossil embryos from the Carboniferous period (360-290 million years ago) show that this complex system existed long before mammals appeared.
The fact that the coelacanth is also sensitive to the electro-magnetic fields around it also reveals the existence of a complex sensory organ inside the animal. Looking at the arrangement of the nerves which link the fish"s rostal organ to the brain, scientists accept that this organ serves the function of sensing these electro-magnetic fields. When the fact that this perfect organ exists in even the oldest coelacanth fossil together with its other complex structures, are born in mind, evolutionists find themselves facing an unsolvable difficulty. Focus magazine describes the difficulty thus: "According to fossils, fish emerged some 470 million years ago. The coelacanth emerged 60 million years after that. It is astonishing that this creature, which would be expected to possess very primitive features, actually has a most complex structure."
All this is a deadly blow to the theory of evolution: The fact that an organ like the placenta and complex structures capable of detecting electro-magnetic waves existed in flawless form in such early periods clearly and definitively demonstrates that contrary to what the theory of evolution claims, no gradual evolution from the simple to the complex ever happened.
In 1966, one coelacanth was frozen immediately after being caught. Scientists studying its blood were amazed: The coelacanth had shark blood!
Apart from the coelacanth, all boned fish (Osteichthyes) meet their water needs by drinking sea water and expelling the excess salt from their bodies. The system in the coelacanth, on the other hand, resembles that in the shark, a member of the cartilaginous fish (Chondricthyes) class. Sharks turn the ammonia which forms as the result of the breaking down of proteins into urea, the levels of which in the shark"s blood would be fatal to humans. It regulates the level of these substances in its blood according to the level of salinity of the water around it, and as a result it suffers no water loss since its blood and the sea water are made isotonic (the water inside and outside have equal osmotic pressure, in other words the same density). It also emerged that the coelacanth liver possesses the necessary enzymes to produce urea. In other words, the coelacanth possesses blood characteristics found in no other member of its class and which only emerged in sharks tens of millions of years later.
Focus describes the finding of shark blood in the coelacanth as an "evolutionary difficulty," as professor Keith S. Thomson puts it. The magazine then makes the dilemma even clearer, saying that, based on molecular analysis, no evolutionary relationship can be established between sharks from the cartilaginous class and the coelacanth from the boned fish class. As we have seen, no pro-evolutionary explanation can be given for this similarity between the two creatures. The methods of molecular analysis which most evolutionists rely on in accounts of similarities serve no purpose here. The only explanation which can be offered is one of "common design," in other words creation
Living Fossils: Evolution"s Dead-End
The above heading appears in a box on the last page of the Focus magazine article. In that section the magazine openly reveals the blow to evolution dealt by living fossils. The magazine"s important confession reads: "The discovery of such a large creature as the coelacanth are so many years of living far removed from the world of science attracted considerable interest in it. Yet the number of organisms which bear the closest of similarities to fossil specimens from millions of years ago is actually quite large. For instance, the shellfish known as neopilina has not changed for 500 million years, the scorpion for 430 million years, the limulus, an armored sea creature with a sword-like tail, for 225 million years, and the tuatara, a reptile found only in New Zealand, for 230 million years. Many arthropods, crocodiles, turtles and many species of plant can also be added to the list."
In the continuation of this text in the box the blow dealt to the theory of evolution by these extant species, each of which has a comparatively short life span and is a "living fossil," is stated in these terms:
Looking at the line of evolution, the probability of organisms such as these being exposed to mutation is much higher than others. That is because every generation means a copying of DNA. When one considers how many times the replication process takes place over millions of years an interesting picture emerges. In theory, natural selection caused by various pressure elements such as environmental conditions, enemy species, and competition between species and the selection of species advantaged by mutation, should mean that these species underwent considerable changes over such a long period of time. BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT HAPPENED. Let us consider the cockroach for example. These reproduce very quickly and their lifespans are short, but they have been exactly the same for around 250 million years. Archaebacteria are an even more striking example. These emerges 3.5 billion years ago, when the world was still very hot, and are still living today in the hot-water springs in Yellowstone National Park."
The fact that living fossils such as the coelacanth have undergone no change since they first appeared on the earth is compatible not with evolution, which envisages constant change, but with the creation model, which maintains that living things were created independently and have come down unchanged to the present day. Living fossils are all proofs of creation. God miraculously created all the millions of living species. His creation comes about with a single word. God reveals in one verse that:
""The Originator of the heavens and Earth. When He decides on something, He just says to it, "Be!" and it is."" (Qur"an, 2: 117)
Focus magazine"s bringing the coelacanth, which has confounded all the claims about evolution, onto the agenda is a requirement of that principle of objective reporting which all scientific magazines should abide by. We hope that Focus will continue publishing along this line, and that it will again consider the dilemma facing evolution which it has expressed by means of the coelacanth, and will understand and tell others of the great dimension of the error of Darwinism.
Another Blow to the Theory of Evolution: Properties of Coelacanth Blood