Index fossils appear from time to time as an argument for evolution. These special fossils are used because to date rocks without using the expensive radiometric dating. However, there is a lot more to the index fossil idea than simply dating rocks. In fact, I’ve seen some evolutionists use it as absolute proof of the evolutionary dogma. So what are index fossils and why do they matter? This article will discuss index fossils and why they matter in the origins debate.
An index fossil is any fossil that is characteristic of a given rock layer and is thus used to place the rock in a location on the geologic column. Numerous different fossils serve as index fossils, such as trilobites. In order to be considered an index fossil, the fossil needs to be widespread throughout the globe, as well as very abundant and limited to a specific era of geological time. Such fossils are almost exclusively marine organisms as they preserve the easiest and comprise the vast majority of the fossil record. However, some plants and vertebrate organisms, particularly teeth, serve as index fossils for particular sections of the column as well. A few index fossils are microscopic and require careful paleontology to discover.
While the fossils themselves are incredibly cool and interesting, (I own two trilobite fossils) index fossils themselves provide no evidence for evolution. Index fossils have a ton of problems with them, hence why most evolutionists do not use them. Index fossils are perhaps one of the most egregious examples of circular reasoning used by evolutionists today. Index fossils were used well before the advent of radiometric dating. The line of reasoning for the index fossils goes something like this. A dinosaur fossil found with its characteristic index fossil, (for the Jurassic Trophites subbullatus a specialized ammonite.) must have lived in the Jurassic era and therefore must be somewhere between 200 and 145 million years old or so, based on the Geologic Society of America’s geologic time scale. They know the rock is that old because they find the index fossil in the rock. But they also know that the fossil is that old because it is found in rock that is 200-145 million years old. And they know the rock is 200-145 million years old based on the index fossil. They also know that the fossil is that old because they know the age of the rock. Has anyone noticed the circle yet? The fossils date the rocks and the rocks date the fossils.
Index fossils do not make logical sense in an evolutionary worldview. However, as evolutionists will undoubtedly ask, why are these fossils found in specific layers if there was a global flood? Glad you asked, because creation science has answers for this question. First of all, were it not for the global flood, we should not have many fossils, and certainly not fossils laid down worldwide of a similar nature. Further, the sequence of the record can be explained in multiple ways. First and foremost is the hydrologic sorting that occurs when things die and are covered in sediments. The slow and the stupid are buried first at the bottom of the ocean, hence why much of the fossil record is marine creatures. However, as the water spread inland, two things would have happened. First, some sea creatures would have been washed inland by the currents, resulting in sea creatures buried with land organisms. Second, land creatures would have been buried. Slower and coastal organisms would have been buried first, while faster, smarter, and more inland organisms would have lasted longer. Humans, with their cognitive abilities, would have lasted perhaps the longest.
Thus, in light of the flood, the sorting of the fossils would be expected. The sorting is both by habitat and by the characteristics of the organisms. It is not surprising that coastal swamp dwellers like dinosaurs would be fossilized first, while many mammals would be fossilized later as they tended to live a bit further inland. Thus both biogeography and animal behavior would contribute to the sorting we observe in the geology of the flood.
Index fossils do not provide evidence for evolution. In fact, all they provide evidence for is bad logic. The evolutionists attempt to use them simply illustrates a complete lack of logic as well as ignorance of the creationist position. They would be wise to give up this argument as it does not make logical sense.