Paging Sherlock Holmes

Missing links

“To take a line of fossils and claim that they represent a lineage is not scientific hypothesis that can be tested, but an assertion that carries the same validity as a bedtime story—amusing, perhaps even instructive, but not scientific.” 1

Despite the limitations of 19th century technology, Darwin recognized his imaginary theory teetered in jeopardy unless an “inconceivably great” quantity of transitional links surfaced in the fossil record.

© Real Deal Photo

If the dinosaur-to-bird theory were true, where is the fossil evidence of those imagined transitional links that would evolve a descendant wood duck from a dinosaur?

“If my theory be true, numberless intermediate varieties, linking closely together all the species of the same group, must assuredly have existed” 2 He imagined “The number of intermediate and transitional links between all living and extinct species must have been inconceivably great.” 3

Millions of fossil finds later, the cupboard of transitional links remains embarrassingly bare. Applying Darwin’s own rules, the game should be over —unless called by bias.

Devout diehards haven’t given up; the goal posts keep being moved.

With hardly a hint of persuasive evidence, Darwin spun a tale of a “finely graduated organic chain” 4 evolving slowly from that first spark of life, blossoming into a plethora of diversified complexity in a grandly conjectured “tree of life.” He set the bar high, putting all his cards on the table with one giant leap of faith: “If my theory be true, numberless intermediate varieties, linking closely together all the species of the same group, must assuredly have existed” 5

The paucity of fossil linkage corroborating his theory troubled the naturalist. He recognized fossils found during his lifetime revealed few viable connections, if any. Frustrated, he bemoaned the glaring gaps between theory and fact.

“Geological research…does not yield the infinitely many fine gradations between past and present species required on the theory…Why do we not find beneath this system great piles of strata stored with the remains of the progenitors of the Cambrian fossils?” 6

The shortfall nagged at Darwin’s mind, leading him to admit he recognized the missing chain of transitional links was “the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory.” 7

Since the publication of Origin, millions of fossils have been rescued from rocky hiding places. But the multi-millions of missing organic chains of transitional links the naturalist longed for, continue AWOL.

Beyond defining “the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory,” he acknowledged “if it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modification, my theory would absolutely break down.” 8

Intensive quests have turned up little but frustration’s heat. In some cases, the search for old bones found nothing vindicating Darwinian theory but only whetted professional appetites for a taste of national attention and the big bucks that could follow.


Paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh squandered personal reputations competing for fame and fortune in a “Bone Wars” vendetta, late in the nineteenth century.

Their efforts harvested tons of dinosaur remains, strewn in fossil cemeteries across the high prairies of Colorado and Wyoming.

A bitter rivalry raged between the two adversaries from 1877 to 1892. Multi-ton finds of gigantic dinosaur bones did confirm extinction of a once monstrous species, but the petty dispute between two adversaries tainted professional careers and depleted personal fortunes.

Several-mile stretches of massive fossil cemeteries indicated where lush forests once flourished in temperate climates. Marine fossils in the mix, at elevations as high as 7,881 feet in the general area of Morrison, Colorado, left evidence suggesting what must have been rapid burial in Dakota sandstone. Sudden hydraulic action, without precedent in the modern world, prevented normal decay.

The Cope and Marsh duo were not alone in straddling enormous dinosaur spines in dueling quests for coveted professional distinction and financial reward.

Paleontologist Hermann von Meyer led another pack of resourceful entrepreneurs, looking to cash in with the remains of Archaeopteryx, a pigeon-sized imprint of bones unearthed in Germany’s Solnhoffen Quarry. Earlier, French paleontologist Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire, floated the idea that birds possibly evolved from reptiles. The dinosaur-to-bird concept ignored radical dissimilarities between the two animal types (e.g., warm-blooded birds while most reptiles are typically cold-blooded).

Darwin loyalists, eager to bridge the fossil record’s yawning gaps, seized upon the Archaeopteryx remains, etched in limestone slabs, as evidence of reptile-to-bird transition. Skeptics, then and now, question the connection.

Andreas Wagner, discoverer of a dinosaur fossil he named Compsognathus, dismissed the claim, warning: “Darwin and his adherents will probably employ the new discovery as an exceedingly welcome occurrence for the justification of their strange views upon the transformation of the animals. But they will be wrong.” 9

Alan Feduccia scoffed at the dinosaur-to-bird scenario.

“The theory that birds are the equivalent of living dinosaurs and that dinosaurs were feathered is so full of holes that the creationists have jumped all over it, using the evolutionary nonsense of ‘dinosaurian sci­ence’ as evidence against the theory of evolution…To say dinosaurs were the ancestors of the modern birds we see flying around outside today because we would like them to be is a big mistake.” 10

So was Archaeopteryx just another extinct bird species?

Or even a pigeon-sized dinosaur?

Since a Pterosaur, with a 10-inch wingspan, was also discovered nearby in Sondheim, Bavarian limestone, could Archaeopteryx have been a relative?

What about numerous, since-discovered bird fossils that share the same, sedimentary rock layers with dinosaurs?

“Based on fossil evidence, parrots, flamingos, cormorants, sandpipers, owls, penguins, avocets and tube-nose albatross-like birds lived at the same time as dinosaurs. Based on molecular divergence data, most, or all, of the major modern bird groups were present during the time of the dinosaurs.” 11

The dinosaur-to-bird theory doesn’t fly!

Fossil evidence overwhelms, clipping the idea’s imaginary wings. The fossil record shows no prior transitional ancestors for either dinosaurs or birds. Carl Werner asks pointedly, “Did animals actually change over time or did just some animals go extinct?” 12

After visiting sixty natural history museums, Werner found it strange that only one museum included any hint of fossil birds, contemporary with dinosaurs, featured in the dinosaur displays.


No sooner had the twenty-first century dawned than the bird-to-dinosaur scenario took a hit from another counterfeit fossil. This time, the victim was more than a bit player in the drama.

Photos of fossil remnants trumpeted as “…a missing link between terrestrial dinosaurs and birds that could actually fly…a true missing link in the complex chain that connects dinosaurs to birds” adorned full‑color pages of the November, 1999 issue of the prestigious National Geographic. 13

Big bucks backed the journal’s investment in “authentic” antiquity. The endorsement came loaded with monumental consequences given the journal’s multi-million circulation and its proud tradition of editorial excellence. But despite the pretty pictures and the exuberant tone implying authenticity, by January of the new millennium the speculative dreams of the sponsor came crashing to the earth, as embarrassingly flightless as lifeless Archaeopteryx.

The costly find, imported from China’s Liaoning Province, proved to be nothing more than a carefully concocted swindle: Some enterprising huckster hitched the tail of a long-deceased dinosaur onto the fossil remains of an equally unsuspecting bird.

The only thing the dino/bird fossil combo achieved was the egg it smeared on the faces of evolution enthusiasts.

Lemmings march mindlessly off cliffs in a mysterious dance of death. Remarkably, the marvelously more sophisticated human mind can also be vulnerable to thoughtless, lock-step brands of cultural and academic sleight-of-hand.


Undeterred by the paucity of supporting evidence, the determined Darwin accessed his fertile imagination, conjuring up visions of never-seen, fictional critters intended to illustrate his radical idea. Pushing credibility to the limit, he introduced a single sex link to the mythical chain.

“Some extremely remote progenitor of the whole vertebrate kingdom appears to have been hermaphrodite or androgynous.” 14

Ultimately, his organic chain of quaint imaginings gradually drifted past the “vertebrate…hermaphrodite” phase leading quite accidentally to a grotesque depiction of human ancestors pinned with a “tail” and a head crowned with “pointed ears.” Without a hint of fossil evidence, the naturalist asserted “Man is descended from a hairy quadruped, furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal in its habits…” 15

Ears that could wiggle added to the cartoon caricature.

“Early progenitors of man were no doubt once covered with hair, both sexes having beards; their ears were pointed and capable of movement; and their bodies were provided with a tail…” 16

This is not make-believe movie madness. Darwin’s serious overreach was calculated to demonstrate his idea’s potential if given enough time. But contrary to evolution theory, the fossil record exposes multi-thousands of distinctly different plant and animal life forms that appear abruptly, without evidence of prior ancestry.

Genetic adjustments, within a living kind, can be real but the genetic changes work down rather than up the taxonomic ladder to radically different life forms.

At least 7,640 fully-formed, mostly marine animal species, appeared worldwide, in a simultaneous “sudden leap,” saturating the Cambrian. 17 The “almost abrupt appearance of the major animal groups,” representing as many as 50 phyla during the Cambrian Period, ranks as “one of the most difficult problems in evolutionary paleontology…” 18

Cambrian fossils cripple Darwin’s primary premise. Unrelated phyla appear abruptly, across-the-board, rather than evolving gradually, starting with a single cell. 19

Multi-celled animal embryos, no bigger than a grain of sand, have been discovered in China, preserved in calcium phosphate and dated at the edge of the Cambrian/Precambrian time frame—marking the prolific explosion of organic life during which “virtually all the major animal body plans seen on Earth today blossomed in a sudden riotous evolutionary springtime.” 20

The Cambrian explosion of multi-celled organisms covers the waterfront as to invertebrate animal phyla, both living and extinct. Arthropods, mollusks, and echinoderms—there they are, without a fossil clue as to prior “numerous, successive, slight modifications.”

“Most orders, classes, and phyla appear abruptly, and commonly have already acquired all the characters that distinguish them.” 21 “For all of the animal phyla to appear in one single, short burst of diversification is not an obviously predicable outcome of evolution.” 22

“Radically new kinds of organisms appear for the first time in the fossil record already fully evolved, with most of their characteristic features present.” 23

Henry Gee discounts evolution’s supposed organic chain of ancestry as “…a completely human invention created after the fact, shaped to accord with human prejudices…Each fossil represents an isolated point, with no knowable connection to any other given fossil, and all float around in an overwhelming sea of gaps.” 24

Discontinuity dominates!

Far from supporting descent from a chain of organic intermediates, the Cambrian and Pre-Cambrian fossil record offers a virtual “paleontological desert,” barren of readily identifiable fossil ancestors. Chunks of deep time can’t account for leaps over vast chasms of biological diversity that never happened.

Cambrian fossils confirm fully formed life existed from the start, without evidence of prior fossil ancestry, and that many descendant species carry remarkable resemblance to theoretically extinct ancient ancestors. Once the academic race took off in a quest for ancient-bone evidence corroborating evolution, a plethora of suspicious findings surfaced.

Authoritarian conformity infects classrooms. When respected professors portray evolution as “fact,” academic survival instincts kick in, motivating vulnerable students to shrug and bite the hook. The most astute human minds are susceptible to rote tradition and the intense, repetitious touting of a party line. Totalitarian political regimes exploit this vulnerability in human psyches.

Does this partially explain why loyalists continue to pledge allegiance to Darwin’s flawed dream despite the natural limits to biological change having been apparent for nearly two centuries?

“Nowhere was Darwin able to point to one bona fide case of natural selection having actually generated evolutionary change in nature.” 25

If Darwin’s reasoning is to be taken seriously and ancient-time evolution is real, with life discounted as nothing more than a transitory accident, every fossil bone chip should represent a link in a continuous chain of organic life.

This is not the case!

Fast forward to century twenty-one and millions of fossil discoveries after Darwin’s day, the “most obvious and serious objection…against the theory,” lingers in academic shadows, an unresolved nemesis.

With more than a couple billion bits and pieces of fossil bone fragments or imprints in the earth’s crust having already surfaced, and an estimated 200,000,000 fossils displayed in world museums, it should be a slam dunk to match Darwin’s dream with science reality—if the theory were more than unproven imaginings.

Late in the twentieth century, articulate evolutionist, Harvard’s Stephen Jay Gould, recognized the shortfall and spoke with academic insight.

“The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution.” 26

A year later, evolutionist Colin Patterson shocked the devout.

“Gould and the American Museum people are hard to contradict when they say there are no transitional forms…I will it lay it on the line—there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.” 27

Those missing billions of partially built, transiting plants and animals persist in hiding. Nor is there any organic system in the living world that demonstrates evolution-in-action.

Discontinuity reigns! Gaps dominate!

So where does that leave neo-Darwinism’s molecule-to-man nonsense? Confined to a whiff of time and a sliver of space, human nature reaches for evidence correlating our original genesis with today and an infinity of tomorrows.

Fossil formation is not confined to residue from the Great Flood event. Fossils likely began forming after earth lost its pristine perfection—and continue to form today. This fossil reality does nothing to support the chance hypothesis. Thousands of years of discontinuity, rather than linkage, dominate the fossil scene.

Molecular biology has surfaced as the 21st new battleground testing evolution’s mythology. So far, it’s no panacea for the chance hypothesis. The science of the genome is no more helpful in providing evidentiary support for Darwin’s ideas than those undiscovered bone fragments theoretically residing in unknown discovery lands.

In a game of paleontological hide-and-seek, undiscovered fossil fragments of lives that never existed have yet to be found. Not apparent in living systems either, evolution’s last best hope for the spectacle of an “organic chain” is wishful thinking.

Evolution isn’t happening now as a newsworthy current event; it hasn’t happened in the recent past; it never happened. The fictitious scenario features a counterfeit “science” that corrupts minds with a contagious, man-made, intellectual virus.

© Chuck Nelson

More than an academic charade, belief in life’s origin comes with consequences: Purpose, quality of life and destiny impacts humans. Life is God’s gift. To brush aside and ignore this miracle demonstrates the incomprehensible arrogance of ignorance.

“…Evolution is the central most disorganizing, anti‑intellectual anti‑science principle that biologists have ever been dictatorially forced to learn to understand the world…it stands as the greatest scandal in science of the last 140 years.” 28

Evolution devotees may ignore the missing evidence, insisting the obvious gaps are exceptions to the “rule.” Doubters are more likely to conclude the glaring exceptions tend to ”eat up the rule,” in legal parlance.

As to that elusive “organic chain” with billions of still missing links, the idea “carries the same validity as a bedtime story—amusing, perhaps even instructive, but not scientific.” 29

So what was the legacy of Darwin’s “imagination?”

His bold pipe dream called for the constant shifting of unstable life forms, moving in a series of blind transitions to unpredictable “biologic transit stops” while climbing a non-existent, taxonomic tree intended to serve both plants and animals as home base.

According to Darwinian doctrine, first life supposedly progressed gradually up the taxonomic ladder through a yet-to-be-proved evolutionary sequence: “Fish-like,” “Aquatic animal,” “Amphibian-like creature,” “Reptile-like,” “Higher mammals,”Old World division of the Simiadae;” with “Man” emerging supreme atop the heap.

Reality destroys this fallacious assumption!

So what was the legacy of Darwin’s “imagination?”

His bold pipe dream called for the constant shifting of unstable life forms, moving in a series of blind transitions to unpredictable “biologic transit stops” while climbing a non-existent, taxonomic tree intended to serve both plants and animals as home base. Reliable evidence of an organic chain of ancestral life forms, transiting one kind-to-a new and different kind, simply doesn’t exist.

“No scientist has ever created a living entity from mere chemicals. No naturalist has ever seen a species change into an entirely new species. No biologist has caused a fish to become an amphibian or given a lizard a set of wings. No geneticist can explain how a primate could have changed in so many ways to become human…

“An enormous, rapidly growing tidal wave of missing links is closing on Charles Darwin’s beach, yet some of the shoreline residents cannot hear the roar. Some may always be deaf.” 30

Where is the mythical Sherlock Holmes when he is needed to locate those still missing bits of ancient bones? Even the legendary Holmes couldn’t pull mythical fossils from sedimentary rock.

In the phrase Sherlock made famous, it’s “elementary, my dear Watson.”


  1. Henry Gee, In Search of Deep Time ((New York: The Free Press, 1999) 116, 117.
  2. Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, 219.
  3. Charles Darwin, by F. Darwin, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, (1881), Vol. 3, 309.
  4. Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life, (First Edition facsimile, 1859, Cambridge: Harvard University Press) 184.
  5. Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, 219. 
  6. __________, Origin of Species, 617, 618.
  7. __________, Origin of Species, 406.   
  8. __________, Origin of Species, 232.
  9. Ian T. Taylor, “The Ultimate Hoax: Archaeopteryx Lithographica,” Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Creationism, Vol II (Pittsburgh: Creation Science Fellowship, Inc.,1990) 279-291.
  10. Alan Feduccia, T. Lingham-Soliar and J.R. Hinchliffe, Journal of Morphology (2005) 266(2): 125-166 as reported by David Coppedge, “Have We Been Sold a Bill of Goods About Dinosaurs and BirdEvolution?”, Creation Matters (St. Joseph, Missouri: Creation Research Society, September/October, 2005) 6, 7.
  11. Carl Werner, Living Fossils (Green Forest, Arkansas: New Leaf Press, 2008) 168.
  12. __________, Living Fossils, 232.
  13. National Geographic, November, 1999.
  14. __________, Descent of Man, Vol. I, 207. 
  15. __________, Descent of Man, Vol. II, 389.
  16. __________, Descent of Man, Vol. 1, 206.
  17. James Gibson, letter to Warren L. Johns (August 28, 1997); citing David Raup, Zoologic Record published in Paleobiology 2 (1976) 279-288.   
  18. A. G. Fisher, Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, 1998, fossil section. 
  19. See Darwin’s Dilemma, an Illustra Media DVD production, 2009.    
  20. Kathy Sawyer, “New Light on a Mysterious Epoch,” The Washington Post (February 5, 1998); Copyright 1998, The Washington Post.
  21. Francisco J. Ayala and James W. Valentine, Evolving, The Theory and Processes of Organic Evolution, 1979, 266.
  22. Peter Ward & Donald Brownlee, Rare Earth, Feb 2000, 150.
  23. T.S. Kemp, Fossils and Evolution, (Oxford University, Oxford University Press, 1999) 253.
  24. Henry Gee, In Search of Deep Time ((New York: The Free Press, 1999) 32.
  25. Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crises (Bethesda, MD: Adler & Adler, 1986) 62, 358.
  26. Stephen Jay Gould, (1980), “Is a New and General Theory of Evolution Emerging?,” Paleobiology, 6[1]:119-130, Winter.  This quote from Gould along with the following Patterson quote were cited by Jeff Miller, “Cro-Magnon Man: Nothing but a ‘Modern Man,’ “ Apologetics Press.Oef, July 18, 2011.
  27. Patterson, Colin (1979), Letter on April 10, 1979 to Luther Sunderland: reprinted in Bible-Science Newsletter, 19[8]:8, August, 1981.
  28. Joseph Mastropaolo, “The Maximum-Power Stimulus Theory for Muscle,” Creation Research Society Quarterly (St. Joseph, Missouri: Creation Research  Society) Vol. 37, Number 4, March 2001, 213-219.
  29. Henry Gee, In Search of Deep Time, 116, 117.\
  30. Geoffrey Simmons, M.D., Billions of Missing Links, (Eugene, Oregon, Harvest House Publishers, 2007) 267, 271.

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