Is There an Order to the Fossil Record?

Fossil Exhibits

on December 12, 2016

In most museums, you’ll find an illustration of the fossil record, showing Precambrian fossil layers at the bottom and Cenozoic layers toward the top. According to evolutionary history, these layers represent snapshots of the evolutionary process over millions of years.

However, creationists have a different interpretation. Based on what the Bible says, some creationists expect the fossil record to be divided into two broad categories. One category, a mix of plants and animals, would include many strange creatures from a world that was destroyed by the Flood. Above it would be a familiar mix of plants and animals from the world after the Flood.

But what could explain the progression of layers laid down during the Flood (first category mentioned above)?

One possibility is that the order reflects the sequence that the Flood buried different environments, beginning at the ocean floor. Genesis indicates that the Flood began with a violent breakup of the ocean floor. If so, it makes sense that sea creatures were buried before land animals.

Within this model, as the floodwaters rose over the coast, they swept away organisms on the shore, then farther and farther inland, with each new surge destroying another ecosystem. In this way, organisms could be buried based on the geographic and ecological order in which the floodwaters overwhelmed them.

Within this model, the upper portion of the fossil record, which contains a more familiar mix of organisms, is from the world after the Flood. Harvard-trained paleontologist Dr. Kurt Wise states:

When the upper portion of the fossil record was first described, it was described by percent of fossils in a given layer that were modern species. At the bottom, few species modern, and then increasing in modern-ness as you go up.

This sequence is consistent with what the Bible says. After the Flood, each kind of organism quickly diversified and spread across the surface of the earth. Many of these creatures appear to have been buried during a series of smaller catastrophes in the unstable world following the Flood.

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