In last week’s edition of Biology Letters, lead investigator Walter Joyce from the Department of Geosciences at the University of Tübingen in Germany gave an updated on nine fossilized pairs of turtles mating discovered 30 years ago.
The update received widespread media attention during the week. ABC News, BBC News, National Geographic, New York Daily News, MSNBC, FOX News featured the story along with the standard evolution barons, the journals of Nature and Science.
The mating fossils had been discovered in the popular Messel Fossil Pit−a site declared a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) World Heritage site in 1995 that is located south of Frankfurt in western Germany.
Since 1995, “scientists have collected tens of thousands of fossils at this site in recent decades,” explained co-author Dr. Stephan Schaal of the Senckenberg Naturmuseum in Frankfurt in an interview posted on ScienceDaily, “but only these turtles are known to occur in pairs, a total of nine so far.”
“The chances of both partners dying at the same time,” Joyce explained to Discovery News, are “highly unlikely and the chances of both partners being preserved afterwards even less likely.” The fossilization of the nine mating pairs did not likely happen on just any ordinary day in the past.
Analysis of the fossil material has revealed that each pair consists of a female and male individual with the tail of some male individuals wrapped under the shell of the female.
Joyce, in a ScienceDaily interview, highlights the significance of the finding: “No other vertebrates are known to have died during this important biological process and then been fossilized.” The turtles described in Biology Letters are of the extinct species Allaeochelys crassesculpta.
“Just finding these couples is completely unique worldwide,” Joyce said in an interview with National Geographic News. “There are no other vertebrate fossils to be found like this.”
The Messel Pit is now recognized as one of the most important fossil sites in the world. Mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and aquatic and terrestrial insects, with plants including palms leaves have all been discovered at the site. The quality of preservation found at the 0.27 square mile site, about 200 feet below the level of the surrounding land, is unsurpassed.
According to the official website, “Complete, fully articulated skeletons of vertebrates, mothers with fetuses, gut contents and soft tissue preservation including hairs and feathers make Messel fossils unique amongst all fossil collections. They provide a unique insight into the flora and fauna of a tropical-subtropical landscape.” The evidence indicates that Germany, at one time during the history of the Earth, had a tropical climate.
What’s most interesting about these nine mating pairs, however, centers on addressing the evolutionary significance of these fossilized mating pairs. Do the pairs shed any new light on evolution? Is there any evidence that the pairs could be transitional links in the fossil record?
Charles Darwin in The Origin of Species hoped that the fossil record would one day finally demonstrate the well-known and ever elusive innumerable “slight, successive” missing transitional links between species.
Why then is not every geological formation [fossil record] and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against my theory.
In the reports last week, amazingly, not one even eluded to how the evidence resolved any of “the most obvious and serious objections” against Darwin’s theory.
While the nine mating turtles are interesting, the evidence still does not resolve one of evolution’s greatest problems−the lack of missing [transitional] links in the fossil record. Evidence for “slight, successive” transitional forms are still missing. In the words of Niles Eldredge, paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History,
While ‘paleontologists have been insisting that their record is consistent with slow, steady, gradual evolution where I think that privately, they’ve known for over a hundred years that such is not the case.’
“Fossils have,” according to Australian molecular biologist Michael Denton, “failed to yield the host of transitional form demanded by evolutionary theory” and the “absence of transitional forms is dramatically obvious.”
The lack of any meaningful information on any transitional status, even from these fossilized mating turtles, emphasizes why evolution, once a theory in crisis, is now in crisis without a theory. The evidence from fossilized mating turtle, while shedding no light on evolution, aligns with the worldwide Genesis Flood model−buried alive within seconds.
Biological evolution remains as only a philosophy, not a fact based on scientific evidence.