The evidence for evolution isn’t extraordinary, it’s mundane


I like fossils. I like irony. I can understand why so many people send me links to this article, or others like it: Alberta creationist Edgar Nernberg digs up what scientists are calling the most important fossil finds in decades, which calls these particular fossils “priceless”.

Yeah? Tell that to your local rock shop, which would happily slap a price sticker on them, and it wouldn’t be that high. These are 60 million year old fossils, and there are lots of fossil fish dug up like them. Osteoglossiformes, like these, are found in the Green River formation — they’re unusual around Calgary, but to call them “the most important fossil finds in decades” is absurd hype.

It’s also not so unusual that a creationist would find fossils. It’s kind of a standing joke that creationists spawn above the most interesting fossil sites: AiG’s Creation “Museum” is built atop the Cincinnatian layer, which is rich in Ordovician fauna. The Niobrara chalk in Kansas is full of Cretaceous marine organisms.

I agree that it’s amusing that a creationist’s basement contains 60 million year old fossils, but exaggerating its importance by calling it “the most important fossil finds in decades” is wrong and is just feeding the creationist’s ego.


  1. Sastra says

    If an astrologer scanning the sky with a telescope was the first person to notice a supernova, would that be counted under “discoveries of astrology?”

    Answer: Yes … if you’re desperate to gain credibility and don’t care (or understand) how you get it.

  2. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    “No, it hasn’t changed my mind. We all have the same evidence, and it’s just a matter of how you interpret it,” says Nernberg.

    ah so! Ain’t that da trute, up dare in de great white north, doncha say.
    [tongue out of cheek]
    I was shocked (not really) by him trotting out the usual “get out of ~~~ FREE” card: “…just how you interpret it…”
    One interp is that God put those fish bones in that rock simultaneously when he created that land you call Canada. No need to understand how this could have happened _naturally_, after all God IS nature, so case closed.

  3. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    …but to call them “the most important fossil finds in decades” is absurd hype.

    Hey now, those are some of my relatives you’re dissing!

  4. latsot says

    I had a really important fossil find in… decades … once.

    When I was about seven I found a perfect ammonite in some mud near a river. This didn’t seem like the right place for such a thing to be so I asked adults about it. They told me that at one time the place I found it might have been under the sea but it still didn’t seem right that this perfect fossil was just half sticking out of some mud.

    So I ended up asking a lot more questions. *That* was an important fossil find, at least to me.

  5. fakeemailaddress says

    The Sun is known for sensationalist and slanted crap like that. It’s a Fox News wannabe. More reliable sources (CBC, Calgary Herald, CTV, Globe and Mail, BBC, pretty much anything else) aren’t making that claim.

    If you read down in the article, they admit that the actual quote was

    “It’s really uncommon, and these are complete fossil fish — and it’s not very often we come across complete fossils in the Calgary area. I only know of a couple of occurrences in the past few decades, actually.”

    . Which is pretty much what I guessed that an actual expert might say without even reading the article.

  6. moarscienceplz says


    They had bones in their tongues? Remind me never to french-kiss one of them.

  7. says

    I bought a Green River fish fossil at the UW Geology Museum last year for my nephew. Price: $20. I attribute the low price on slave student labor.

  8. David Marjanović says

    The Niobrara chalk in Kansas is full of Cretaceous marine organisms.

    Oceans of Kansas

    They had bones in their tongues?

    They still do. And that bone bears teeth that bite against the ones on the floor of the braincase.

    It’s actually normal for the whole oral cavity, gill bars included, to be covered with teeth.

  9. ashley says

    Georgia Purdom of ‘Answers in Genesis’ on Facebook: “Creationist finds rare fish fossils while excavating a basement! Great example of looking at the same evidence but having different conclusions because of different starting points.” Hers being ‘never mind the evidence what about the word of God’.

  10. dancaban says

    AiG’s Creation “Museum” is built atop the Cincinnatian layer, which is rich in Ordovician fauna. The Niobrara chalk in Kansas is full of Cretaceous marine organisms.

    Sorry I just had to do it.

  11. militantagnostic says


    The best description of the Calgary Sun I have heard was “It is a light read until you get to the comics.” My favorite Sun headline was “Woman Swerves to Avoid Meteor” The driver who had the close call with the meteor was on the #2 Highway near Red Deer. The meteor hit the ground north of Grande Prairie, missing her by hundreds of kilometers. The owner of the Sun chain is an old school fascist.

  12. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @microraptor, #12:

    We have transitional series in a good state of preservation showing that they share common ancestors.

    Though I’m sure we’re missing issues along the way. It turns out not every issue gets preserved.

    Oh, also?

    The Postmedia Network Canada Corporation (TSX: PNC.A, PNC.B) is a Canadian media company headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, consisting of the publishing properties of the former Canwest, with primary operations in newspaper publishing, news gathering and Internet operations.

    The ownership group was assembled by National Post CEO Paul Godfrey in 2010 to bid for the chain of newspapers being sold by the financially troubled Canwest (the company’s broadcasting assets were sold separately to Shaw Communications).

    List of newspapers owned are all Canadian. I don’t see any direct financial relationship to Rupert Murdoch.

  13. sugarfrosted says

    @12 @13 The Sun is a very common newspaper name. It’s one of the classic newspaper “last names”.

  14. ebotebo says

    Clams! Yummy delicious clams! ‘Specially those small dk. red/brown clams I used to eat on the left coast.

  15. says

    It makes a certain amount of sense — even though he’s a creationist and thus a self-deluded nimrod, he’s still a fossil hunter, so he knew what he was looking at. Most people, myself included, wouldn’t have known what we were about to drive a cat through.