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Tuatara: Volume 24, Issue 1, October 1979

Book Reviews — Guide des vertebres fossiles

Book Reviews
Guide des vertebres fossiles

The fossil record has always proved an embarrassment to advocates of the Darwinian theory of gradual-continuous evolution for the numerous transitional forms predicted by this ‘theory’ are absent from the rocks. Darwin was perhaps within his right to appeal to ‘the imperfection of the geological record’ but despite the immense increase in paleontological knowledge since 1859 the gaps remain. ‘Guides des Vertebres Fossiles’ is an admirable testament to the discontinuous nature of the vertebrate fossil record in the face of the continuum demanded by orthodox Darwinian ‘theory’. The rich diversity of fossil vertebrate forms is illustrated in over 400 line drawings, and numerous photographic plates. The author has also provided figures illustrating the times of appearance of the major groups of vertebrates in the geological record. These testify to the abrupt appearance of each major vertebrate class without apparent transitional forms. Such evidence appears to corroborate more the arguments of Louis Agassiz, a foremost opponent of Darwin, than those of Darwin himself. Over 100 years ago Agassiz (1860: 154 wrote:

‘Were the transmutation theory true, the geological record should exhibit an uninterrupted succession of types blending gradually into one another. The fact is that throughout all geological times each period is characterised by definite specific types, belonging to definite genera, and these to definite families, referable to definite orders, constituting definite classes and definite branches, built upon definite plans. Until the facts of Nature are shown to have been mistaken by those who have collected them, and that they have a different meaning from that now generally assigned to them, I shall therefore consider the transmutation theory as a scientific mistake, untrue in its facts, unscientific in its method, and mischievous in its tendency.’

And has not a twentieth century evolutionist (Corner, 1961: 97) stated that although ‘Much evidence can be advanced in favour of the theory of evolution … I still think that to the unprejudiced the fossil record of plants is in favour of special creation’. And the fossil record of vertebrates? To my mind even just a quick flick through ‘Guide des Vertébrés Fossiles’ should be enough to shake the faith of the most ardent Darwinist.

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Agassiz, Louis, 1860: On the origin of Species. American Journal of Science and Arts 30: 142-154.

Corner, E. J. H., 1961: In: Contemporary Botanical Thought. A. M. MacLeod and L. S. Cobbey Eds. Quadrangle Books, Chicago.

Robin C. Craw