Quote: Gaps in Fossil Record

Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail

From inaugural lecture by J.B. Waterhouse, Associate Professor of Geology, Queensland University, Brisbane, 1980

“But how good is the geological record? I have already mentioned that the ordinary viewpoint of evolution held by most palaeontologists favours gradual incremental change. The fossil record, they say, is too incomplete to take seriously. And, they say, you cannot prove a gap. But of course you can prove a gap, especially if clines occurred. If there is a break in the record it must be possible to detect the break. The main point about breaks is that, if they were really random, as proposed by Darwin, they must have been plugged by one hundred and fifty years of work. But the gaps have not been plugged. They still persist; yet authorities still plead the cause of failure of preservation. Such authorities forget that if there is a million to one chance of one specimen of a population being preserved, and then if that species lived 5-15million years, we therefore will get 5-15 times the population fossilized. The trouble may perhaps have lain more truthfully in our failure to find or describe the material. It is special pleading to rely on gaps, and it is special pleading to propose inadequate preservation. We would do better to look at what the record really says.’

Inaugural lecture by J.B. Waterhouse, Associate Professor of Geology, Queensland University, Brisbane, 1980.

q_and_a2
crc_youtube
outdoor_museum_panel
free_audio2