Gone Fishin’ for a Missing Link? (A Preliminary Response)

The secular press has been buzzing over a report in the journal Nature that a fossil had been found in the Arctic that supposedly proves that land animals evolved from fish.

Throughout the day today (Thursday) and late yesterday, the secular press worldwide has been buzzing (and in the case of the New York Times and its front-page story, gloating . . . as the paper is slamming creationists over this) about a report in the journal Nature that a fossil had been found in the Arctic that supposedly proves that land animals evolved from fish.1

The discovery of the fossil “Tiktaalik” has been one of the most-widely picked up pro-evolution media stories since the (in)famous 1996 claim—eventually shown to be false—that life had been found in a meteorite from Mars.2 Some paleontologists are even claiming that Tiktaalik has the potential to become another Archaeopteryx for any evolutionist wanting to cite an ironclad example of a transitional form.3

The reports say that the skeletons (supposedly 375 million years old and up to nine feet long) have fish characteristics such as fins and a gill, but also characteristics that, according to the Times, “anticipate the emergence of land animals—and is thus a predecessor of amphibians, reptiles and dinosaurs . . . .”4 The word “anticipate” is one of the cautionary words being used about this creature, and when you read other tentative wording (e.g., the use of the word “may” in the headline “Fossil May Link Fish, Land Animal,”5) then the find is not as firm as evolutionists would lead you to believe.

Here are the anti-creation excerpts from the New York Times page one article (as it appeared on their website on the evening of April 5—since then there have been a few modifications to the article, one of which is mentioned below) about this new fossil. The paper has clearly gone out of its way to allege that creationists might now be running scared because of this discovery:

  1. “. . . the fossils are widely seen by scientists as a powerful rebuttal to religious creationists, who hold a literal biblical view on the origins and development of life.”
  2. “While Dr. Shubin’s team played down the fossil’s significance in the raging debate over Darwinian theory, which is opposed mainly by some conservative Christians in the United States, other scientists were not so reticent. They said this should undercut the creationists’ argument that there is no evidence in the fossil record of one kind of creature becoming another kind.”
  3. “One creationist site on the Web [a site other than AiG’s] declares that ‘there are no transitional forms,’ adding: ‘For example, not a single fossil with part fins part feet has been found. And this is true between every major plant and animal kind.’”
  4. [Quoting an evolutionist] “What more do we need from the fossil record to show that the creationists are flatly wrong?”

By the way, for America’s so-called “newspaper of record” to argue against a particular viewpoint like creation/intelligent design without publishing a comment from a leading creationist or ID organization makes this Times article completely unbalanced. [Editors’ note: as of the evening of April 5 there was not a creationist quote, but it has been brought to our attention that a quote from Dr. Duane Gish of ICR has been added to the web article (along with a few other modifications); the quote by Dr. Gish is also in the April 6 print version.]

No creationist to our knowledge has yet done a careful analysis on this fossil. Until one of our scientists or an adjunct AiG researcher has conducted a careful study, we will not issue a conclusive statement.

Preliminary Thoughts

For the moment, here are some of our thoughts.

The coelacanth fins were used for better maneuvering through the water, and not for walking.

There is the coelacanth fish, found in the same geological system (Devonian it is called) as this Tiktaalik discovery, that also has lobe fins. These lobe fins were once thought to enable the coelacanth to walk on the ocean floor (in fact it was, like “Tiklaalik,” once considered by evolutionists to be a type of transitional form). Later, it was determined that the coelacanth fins were used for better maneuvering through the water, and not for walking. The new creature uncovered in the Arctic might be something similar.

Also, there are other creatures (e.g., the Panderichthys) that are thought to be fish and yet appear to be similar in lobe and fin structure to Tiktaalik. In addition, the bones for Panderichthys, Tiktaalik and the coelacanth are imbedded in the muscle, and are not attached to the axial skeleton, which you would find in a reptile or amphibian (and which would be necessary for weight-bearing appendages).

As we often state on this website, keep in mind that evolutionists and creationists have the same facts (e.g., fossils), but interpret the facts uncovered today differently in regard to the past. Because evolutionists want to discover transitional forms, when they find a very old fish with leg-bone-like bones in its fins, they want to interpret this as evidence that it is some sort of transitional creature. However, other fish seem to have the same sort of structure as stated above, and these bones are not constructed as one would expect for weight-bearing legs. It may be just another example of the wonderful design of our Creator God.

All they have actually found is a fish that is another example of a lobe-finned fish (one of which still lives today—the coelacanth) that has bones similar in position to those seen in the arm and wrist of land-walking creatures—except these structures support fins with rays in them, not digits like fingers and toes (and as has been stated, they are NOT connected to the axial skeleton).

We will, however, continue to use words like “might” and “appear” until AiG can gain better access to the researchers’ findings and also study fossil fish that are similar to Tiktaalik. It is vital that we gather as much data as we can. At some time, we might discover (as was the case when closer examination revealed there really was no evidence of life on that Mars meteorite) that this fossil discovery has an alternative/better interpretation of the evidence.

For the moment, we can confidently state that evolutionists have no examples of mutations or evolutionary processes that can lead to an increase in genetic information in a creature that would, for example, develop the appendage of a land animal from the fin of a fish (as would be required by molecules-to-man evolution). Evolution is stopped in its tracks at this point.

This website has consistently demonstrated that fossil creatures are essentially the same (stasis), or have degenerated (lost information, the opposite of what evolution requires). This is predicted in the creation model (animals reproducing “after their kind”; Genesis 1:24–25). Also, creationists have shown that the evidence found in the fossil record is highly consistent with catastrophism (i.e., a worldwide flood such as the Flood of Noah in the book of Genesis).

Further Reading


  1. Edward B. Daeschler, Neil H. Shubin, and Farish A. Jenkins Jr., “A Devonian Tetrapod-Like Fish and the Evolution of the Tetrapod Body Plan,” Nature 440 (April 6, 2006): doi:10.1038/nature04639.
  2. See our Life on Mars topic page for more information.
  3. Archaeopteryx is a fossil bird, but because it had some reptile-like features, it has often been showcased as Exhibit A when an evolutionist wants to rebut a creationist who says that transitional forms are non-existent in the fossil record; see Gary Parker, “Vertebrates: Animals with Backbones,” Creation: Facts of Life (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2006), https://answersingenesis.org/theory-of-evolution/evidence/animals-with-backbones-vertebrates/

    Feathers are extremely complex structures and so are reptilian scales, and both are very different from each other. No creature has been found in the fossil record that shows something intermediate between a scale and a feather, which molecules-to-man evolution would require.

    By the way, not all evolutionists consider Archaeopteryx to be transitional.

  4. John Noble Wilford, “Fossil Called Missing Link From Sea to Land Animals,” The New York Times, April 6, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/06/science/06fossil.html.
  5. In AiG–USA’s hometown newspaper, The Cincinnati Enquirer (April 6, 2006), A4.


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