What is a living fossil?

We’ve all heard of them, seen them and maybe even have some… I’m referring to fossils. I just turned 50 this year, so now my kids think that I am an “old fossil”!

What exactly is a fossil? There are various definitions, but according to Merriam-Webster, it is:

“a remnant, impression or trace of an organism of past geological ages that has been preserved in the earth’s crust.”

I don’t want to stray too far off topic, but there is a hidden assumption in this definition. You might want to re-read it and see if you can find it before I point it out. It has to do with the phrase “past geological ages.” The assumption is that the layers in the earth represent past geological ages (i.e. hundreds of millions of years), as opposed to representing a world-wide, catastrophic event. I am not going to go down this road right now, but the actual evidence clearly indicates rapid deposition and not slow gradual accumulation.


Getting back to the topic at hand, some things that are often found existing as fossils are nautiloids, plants and fish. Another very common fossil is that of a trilobite. According to typical evolutionary thought, it is claimed to have first appeared on the scene about 520 million years ago and become extinct about 250 million years ago. As far as we know, there aren’t any living trilobites around today.

Occasionally, however, we find fossils that are virtually identical to creatures that are living today. Scientists call them “living fossils”. One very clear example is that of the horseshoe crab. Again, according to evolutionary thought, this creature first appeared about 450 million years ago.

So in 450 million years… this guy didn’t change significantly at all! When evolutionists think they see change (for example, from a fish to an amphibian) they say, “See all the incredible changes that evolution produced in that time!” However, when they don’t see change they say, “It’s amazing how evolution faithfully preserved this creature!” Change or no change… they’re both evidence for evolution!

Another interesting take on this is that in the alleged 450 million years that the horseshoe crab has supposedly existed (without changing at all) other similar types of creatures living when the horseshoe crab originally popped into the picture, changed all the way into fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals, including apes and modern man! What a contrast!

Certainly evolutionists have an answer for this, don’t they? One response to this apparent conundrum is that these creatures had evolved to be optimally suited to their environments and didn’t need to evolve any further. Many unsuspecting (and unquestioning) students will accept this answer as being a very reasonable, sound explanation. Why would they evolve any further… they have everything they need! However, as I mentioned in last month’s article (Does evolution TRY to do anything?), evolutionists do not believe that creatures evolve out of necessity or desire and there is no intended purpose in the process. Creatures change over time, because when they reproduce, random copying errors occur in their DNA which are subsequently passed on to their offspring. So even if something were fortunate enough to evolve by accident to an ideal condition, and even if its environment didn’t change at all (unlikely for their assumed millions of years timeframe), it would continue to experience mutations (random DNA changes) year after year, moving it out of an ideal situation.

Numerous other examples could be given of “living fossils”. Dragonflies supposedly appeared about 250 million years ago, but again, you can see they are identical to living dragonflies. The same thing is true about crocodiles and many other creatures.




The Coelacanth (fish) is particularly interesting because evolutionists claimed that it became extinct about 65 million years ago (along with the dinosaurs). However, in 1938 one was caught off the coast of Africa, dispelling the notion that they went the way of the dinosaur. Not only are they still living… they haven’t changed in 65 million years! Since then, many others have been caught as well.

Summarizing the whole concept of “living fossils”, the two main reasons we don’t see much change between the fossils and their living counter-parts are as follows:

  1. Creatures certainly can change slightly, but always remain the basic same kind of animal, as described in Genesis 1, where God tell us that He created things to reproduce “after their kind”.
  2.  The layers in the Earth do not represent vast geologic ages (i.e. hundreds of millions of years), but are much better explained by a world-wide, catastrophic flood occurring about 4,500 years ago (as described in Genesis 6-8).

Just a little humor before I close...














Living fossils are just one more testimony to the veracity and authenticity of Scriptures. It is what we would expect to see if the Bible were true, but not what we would expect if molecules-to-man evolution were true.

If you have any questions at about this article or any other issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us any time. We'd love to hear from you! You can even arrange a FREE ENGAGEMENT or seminar at your church, school, conference or camp.

Author: Jay Seegert (Co-Founder & Principal Lecturer, Creation Education Center)

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