Creation Factsheet No. 19: The Cambrian 'Explosion'

Factsheet No. 19


ONE of the greatest problems for the evolutionist is the sudden appearance of complex creatures in the fossil record and the complete absence of transitional forms. The most remarkable instance of this is to be found in the Cambrian and rocks, situated at the bas of the 'geological column', and dated by the fossil dating method as being between '500 million and 570 million years old'.

Picture Showing the Fossils Found in Cambrian Rock

Typical assemblage of complex creatures found as fossils in the Cambrian rocks


If the idea that life has evolved from simple to complex were really true, we would expect to find in these 'lowest' rocks the fossils of very simple creatures, such as single-celled animals, with evidence of these early forms slowly becoming more and more complex. What we do find, however, is something entirely different. The Cambrian rocks contain an abundance of fossils of very complex creatures which appear suddenly with no sign of having evolved from anything simpler. The Pre-Cambrian rocks contain hardly any fossils — mainly worm burrows and blue-green algae — yet in the Cambrian we are suddenly confronted with evidence of prolific sea life. The evolutionists themselves have labelled this 'The Cambrian Explosion', since there are millions of fossils of advanced creatures with no evidence that they had ancestors that were less complex than themselves. Some experts openly admit that these Cambrian fossils present a real problem, as demonstrated by this quote from paleontologist Daniel Axelrod: 'One of the major unsolved problems of geology and evolution is the occurrence of diversified, multicellular marine invertebrates in Lower Cambrian rocks on all the continents and their absence in rocks of greater age... When we turn to examine the Precambrian rocks for the forerunners of these early Cambrian fossils, they are nowhere to be found.'1 Even Dr. Richard Dawkins has said of the Cambrian fossils, 'It is as though they were just planted there, without any evolutionary history.'2

Some examples of the animals which lived in the 'Cambrian Seas' are shown in the picture. These include starfish — which have a nervous system more complex than a telephone exchange — jellyfish, equipped with stinging cells, and trilobites — some of which had eyes so complex that the mathematics to understand the lens structure was not worked out by humans until the mid-19th century.

Picture of a Starfish

Starfish have a nervous system that is more complex than a telephone exchange

The fossils of true fish have also been discovered in the Cambrian rocks, including very recently about 500 fossils of agnathan fish in the early Cambrian.3 This means that all the major animal groups are represented as fossils in what are, according to evolutionists, the 'earliest rocks'. Some evolutionists have tried to explain the situation by claiming that the ancestors of these Cambrian animals had no hard parts and therefore were not preserved as fossils. Yet the fossils of jellyfish are found — and what could be softer than a jellyfish? There is also the problem of how soft-bodied animals could rapidly evolve hard outer skeletons, e.g. the shells of snails and molluscs, and how fish with back-bones could evolve from animals which had no backbones — and leave no trace of such a major evolutionary advance in the fossil record. To transform an invertebrate into a vertebrate would involve turning it inside out, because invertebrates have their hard parts on the outside, whilst vertebrates have them on the inside.


Another explanation put forward by evolutionists to account for the sudden explosion of life in the Cambrian rocks is that the ancestors of these creatures lived in small isolated areas where conditions were not suitable for fossilization. However, since according to evolutionary geology four-fifths of the earth's history took place before the Cambrian rocks were formed, it seems rather far-fetched to believe that nowhere would there be found any evidence that the many complex creatures found in the Cambrian rocks have evolved from 'simpler' forms. To quote Dr. Evan Shute: 'This lifelessness of the earliest rock, of which there is great predominance, strikes a shattering blow at the theory of evolution, because there should be all sorts of early forms of life in at least the top fractions of this great column of rock. In short, Cambrian forms surely should have ancestors to suit evolutionary theories.... This is not the evidence the evolutionist wants, and is quite fatal to his clients. This is creation.'4


The 'Cambrian explosion' is not consistent with the theory of evolution, but is perfectly compatible with the Biblical record of creation. 'Then God said 'Let the waters team with living creatures.' (Genesis 1:20). The millions of fossils found in the Cambrian rocks represent creatures which were created by God in the beginning. As most of them were either stationary or slow-moving, they would have been among the first to be overwhelmed by mud and silt when the waters of the great flood swept over the earth. There they were entombed, later to be discovered as fossils — evidence of both creation and catastrophe!


  1. 'Early Cambrian-Marine Fauna', Science, Vol. 128, 1958, p.7
  2. The Blind Watchmaker, W W Norton, New York, 1987, p. 229.
  3. 'Head and backbone of the Early Cambrian vertebrate Haikouichthys', Nature Jan 30th 2003
  4. Flaws in the Theory of Evolution Craig Press 1961, p. 75.

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