Do Fossils Prove Evolution?

Have you ever seen that line of five creatures demonstrating the near-perfect transition from apes to humans? It is perhaps the most recognizable icon of evolution. Diagrams like this are often produced in textbooks to convince the reader to discard any doubts he may have with evolution.

We often see progressions like this of apes evolving into humans. Image attribution: Zdeněk Lukeš

We often see progressions like this of apes evolving into humans.
Image attribution: Zdeněk Lukeš

After all, he can see the undeniable proof for evolution in the fossils. But unfortunately, such diagrams are usually based on artistic license and never what the real fossils show. This is evident in the many different reconstructions of the ape ‘Lucy’ (Australopithecus afarensis). One scientist said that “The available data at present are open to widely different interpretations”.[1]

The transitional stages in the diagrams, such as the whale ‘intermediate’Rodhocetus, are mostly made up from imagination.

“Evolutionary relationships can be superimposed on a time scale, allowing you to infer missing portions of past diversity. They are powerful tools that complement and refine the known record of extinct diversity. If you visualize evolutionary relationships in the form of branching diagrams and then plot them on a time scale, new patterns begin to emerge, with gaps in the fossil record suddenly filling rapidly.”[2] (emphasis added)

The need to find a transitional form has often lead evolutionists to misinterpret quite a number of the fossils, such as Archaeopteryx, Homo habilis, and Pakicetus (against all evidence, Pakicetus was originally thought to have been aquatic). Still others are completely made up such as Rodhocetus — a supposed transitional whale. The reconstructions of Rodhocetus were based on what Dr. Gingerich told the artist. But Gingerich’s ideas were founded completely on imagination! He speculated that the animal might have had a fluked-tail, similar to those on a whale, and flipper-like limbs — even though nothing was actually found.

The Answer is…

So, do fossils prove evolution? Even if we grant that every fossil looks the way it is reconstructed and that sequences demonstrating evolution really do exist, fossils cannot count as evidence for evolution. They can merely be consistent with evolutionary theory (which they aren’t!) — not evidence for the theory. Why is this so? No-one can know if any fossil is related. And because of this, we cannot know if one particular fossil evolved from another. If we cannot know that one particular fossil evolved from another, we cannot use them as proof that one fossil evolved from another (aka evolution)!

Now some may say that similarities between organisms determine relationships. In other words, similar organisms are probably related. But this reasoning falls flat. Many similarities exist between the marsupial mouse and the placental mouse. However, evolutionary scientists believe that the placental mouse and the horse are more closely related than the placental mouse and the marsupial mouse. In this instance, and in many others, similarities do not equate to relatedness. The argument from similarity as evidence for relatedness is a dead end.


David Kitts, who studied under George Gaylord Simpson, summed up the fossil argument:

“Few paleontologists have, I think, ever supposed that fossils, by themselves, provide grounds for the conclusion that evolution has occurred. The fossil record doesn’t even provide any evidence in support of Darwinian theory except in the weak sense that the fossil record is compatible with it, just as it is compatible with other evolutionary theories, and revolutionary theories, and special creationist theories, and even ahistorical theories.”[3]

This article can be concluded with this very fitting statement:

“No real evolutionist, whether gradualistic or punctuationist, uses the fossil record as evidence in favor of the theory of evolution over special creation.”[4]


  1. Abitbol, M.M., “Lateral view of Australopithecus afarensis: primitive aspects of bipedal positional behavior in the earliest hominids”, J. Human Evolution 28:228, 1995. Back to text
  2. Ruta, Cisneros et al, “Amniotes through major biological crises: faunal turnover among parareptiles and the end-Permian mass extinction,” Palaeontology, first published online: 27 April, 2011, DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4983.2011.01051.x. Back to text
  3. David B. Kitts, “Search for the Holy Transformation,” Paleobiology (Vol. 5; Summer 1979), p 353. Back to text
  4. Mark Riddley, “Who Doubts Evolution?” New Scientist (Vol. 90: June 25, 1981), p. 831.Back to text
The Theory of Evolution
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