Tiktaalik: Ancestral or vestige of the past?

Tiktaalik: Ancestral or vestige of the past?

Evolutionists frequently trot out fossils to attempt to provide evidence for their theory. One of the more common ones in attempting to prove that fish came onto land and is Tiktaalik, which evolutionists frequently cite as evidence for their dogma. However, this walking fish has crippling issues, which has led even some evolutionists to reject it from transitional status.  However, some evolutionists still regularly cite it as somehow being evidence for their dogma, nevermind the controversy over the fossils themselves.  This article will present the information available about Tiktaalik and attempt to make sense of it in light of a Biblical worldview.

Tiktaalik was discovered in Nunavut, Canada in 2004 and immediately, with much fanfare, crowned with the title “missing link”.  It immediately translated into popular culture as well, helping to inspire the popular “Darwin fish”.  But just what was it that was found? The Tiktaalik fossils were incomplete, but were instantly recognizable as fish, often being referred to as being similar to gar or other such elongated fish. However, they had some special traits that caused some evolutionists to launch into wild speculation.

When Tiktaalik was discovered, scientists immediately noticed that it had specialized fin structure. The structure was such that it looked as though Tiktaalik may have been able to walk on its fins.  It’s head also was unique, flattened like a crocodilian instead of extended like a normal fish. Further, unlike most fishes, it lacked the usual operculum covering where its gills would have been. The bone structure of the legs was partially similar to that of a modern tetrapod, with one type of bone being substituted for another.  Based on the fossil layer it was discovered in, researchers classified Tiktaalik as being around 370 million years old.

This is where the problems start for the evolutionists.  The bones in the lobes that evolutionists consider to be walking legs do not attach to the main skeleton. This is a huge problem because it means they have no support structure and thus would not have been able to bear the animal’s weight outside the water.  Under the water, however, is another story.  Because of the buoyancy provided by water, these lobes could have supported the fish walking along the bottom. However, even in existing lobed fin fishes like the Coelacanth, this was postulated before the living form was discovered. While the Coelacanth can easily swim and maneuver with its fins, it shows no inclination to walk along the bottom.

The second issue comes from the massive assumptions evolutionists use to prop up the Tiktaalik fossil.  They assume that the operculum covering the gills has been lost in evolutionary transition.  Of course, there is no evidence of this at all. In fact, it is far more reasonable to believe that Tiktaalik never had an operculum, to begin with, and thus never lost it.

A further problem comes from fossil trackways found in Poland a few years after Tiktaalik was discovered. The fossil trackway contained footprints of true tetrapods walking on land.  This fossil trackway was dated to be 393 million years old. eighteen million years older than Tiktaalik.  So the supposed ancestor Tiktaalik is younger than its descendants. This is both logically and physically impossible. Of course, evolutionists will argue and have argued that a grandparent being alive at the same time as its descendant is no issue, but this overlooks the underlying problem.  Even assuming the evolutionists’ timescale is correct, it requires a further assumption that Tiktaalik existed millions of years before it shows up in the record.  This is an assumption with no evidence to back it up.

The bone structure of the lobes is further problematic for evolutionists. For one thing, the lobes have five digits. The closest things Tiktaalik has to ancestors according to the evolutionary paradigm, Ichthyostega and Acanthostega, have seven and eight respectively on their lobes. Further, the bone structure of the lobes much more closely resembles that of a fish than a tetrapod, with the pelvis especially being very fish like.

Based on these facts, Tiktaalik cannot be assigned the status of a missing link. In fact, creationists have a far better explanation. Decades ago, geologist Steve Austin proposed that the coal seams we find on earth are the result of massive floating log mats buried during the Flood. Paleontologist Kurt Wise then extended this to postulate a massive, pre-flood floating forest biome that was wiped out by the flood and created the log mats. Such a biome would have resulted in large areas of calm water, ideally suited for “walking fish” such as Tiktaalik. Thus, from a creationist perspective, Tiktaalik likely went extinct during, or shortly after the flood due to the habitat loss caused by the flood.  It is not transitional to anything.

 

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