Creation Factsheet No. 22: Fish Out of Water

Factsheet No. 22


ACCORDING to evolutionists, one of the most important events in the history of life was when fish evolved into amphibians. David Attenborough describes it like this: 'Fish began to haul themselves out of the water and became the first back-boned creatures to colonize the land.'1 In order to become amphibians, several difficult problems would have had to be overcome. Fish are designed to live in the water, they have fins for swimming, and gills for extracting oxygen from the water. A fish taken out of the water is helpless and very soon dies. Amphibians, on the other hand, are designed for breathing air. They have lungs and are equipped with legs — except for the caecilians, which have no limbs at all.


What could possibly have caused any fish to venture on to the land? Until recently, the popular theory was that, during times of drought, the pools in which some fish lived dried up, forcing the fish to venture on to the land to find alternative sources of water. Now, as gills could not suddenly become lungs as a convenience for fish whose pool had dried up, evolutionists have to assume that lungs developed before the fish left the water. To quote Dr. Craig Adler: 'The fish ancestors of the amphibians must have had lungs, as all of their living descendants do.'2 (emphasis added).

Picture Showing the Supposed Transition From Fish To Reptile

There are no fossils linking bony-finned fishes to 'early' amphibians

As for the evolution of fins into legs, evolutionists have examined various fossil fishes, and have put forward one of the Crossopterygian such as Eusthenopteron as the ancestor of the amphibians. Why? Because they had bony fins, which, it is supposed, could have turned into legs. The extinct amphibian, Ichthyostega, has been put forward as the ancestor of modern amphibians. The main problem evolutionists face over this alleged transition is the total lack of fossil evidence. To quote Adler again: 'Although this transition doubtless occurred over a period of millions of years, there is no known fossil record of these stages.'3 The difference between Crossopterygian fishes and Ichthyostega is vast. The limb and limb girdle of Ichthyostega were already of the standard amphibian type. What evidence is there that four of the Crossopterygians' fins turned into legs complete with joints whilst the other fins presumably dropped off? What could have caused a neck to develop and the skull to become separate from the pectoral bones? Such tremendous changes should have left innumerable transitional forms in the fossil record, yet there is not a single one!

Evolutionists have nothing but faith on which to base their conviction that amphibians evolved from fish. Moreover, since evidence has emerged that 'early' amphibians such as Icthyostega and Acanthostega were aquatic, and probably quite at home in the water, the theory has been modified. The original hypothesis that limbs evolved to enable them to walk on the land has had to be discarded.4

However, it is not only the origin of the first amphibians which presents a major problem to the evolution theory. The origin of modern amphibians similarly defies an evolutionary explanation. There are three classes of amphibians in existence today: frogs and toads, newts and salamanders, and caecilians. The earliest fossils from each of these groups are specialized and little different from forms living today. Although evolutionists claim that the three modern orders have evolved from extinct amphibian like Ichthyostega or Acanthostega, there is no fossil evidence to support this view.

Well-known paleontologist Prof. Alfred Romer had to admit: 'Between them [the modern forms] and the Paleozoic group is a broad evolutionary gap, not bridged by fossil materials.'5 Clearly, the evolutionary view of the origin, both of the extinct amphibians (arbitrarily called the 'first' amphibians), and the three amphibian orders living today, has no scientific evidence to support it.

Picture Showing the Theory of Amphibian Evolution

Theory of amphibian evolution. (Dotted lines indicate missing fossil evidence.)


The case of the caecilians is of special interest. Unlike the other two classes of modern amphibians, not only are they completely limbless, they do not even possess any vestige of limbs or remnant of limb girdles in their skeleton. They have worm-like bodies and have been mistaken for snakes. Some species grow to almost 5 feet in length. Evolutionists claim that the caecilians have 'lost' their legs during the course of evolution, but there is not the slightest evidence that they ever had any. Some species live in the water, and it is interesting, if a little amusing, to follow the supposed evolutionary history of aquatic Caecilians. Over many millions of years the fins of a particular type of fish changed into legs, giving rise to the first amphibians. Then, whilst some of the first amphibians' offspring went on to evolve into the frogs and toads, and newts and salamanders, another group gradually began to lose the legs their ancestors had spent millions of years evolving, until every trace of the limbs had vanished.

Picture of a FrogThey then went back to the water where it all began! To quote Dr. Duane Gish: 'The extremely broad gap between fish and amphibia... the sudden appearance, in fact, of all Paleozoic orders... and the three living orders, makes it absolutely incredible to believe that these forms arose by an evolutionary process. The facts are, however, completely in accord with predictions based on the creation model.'6

All the facts relating to amphibians, ancient and modern, point to them never having evolved at all. Some have become extinct, others still exist, and although there has undoubtedly been much diversification and variation, amphibians have always been amphibians since they were created, and they always will be.


  1. Life on Earth (Collins, 1979) p. 13.
  2. Encyclopaedia of Reptiles and Amphibians (George, Allen and Unwin 1986) p. 4.
  3. As reference 2
  4. Vertebrate Paleontology (University of Chicago Press, 1966) p. 98.
  5. See 'The Fossil Record of 'early' Tetrapods: evidence of a major evolutionary transition?' by Paul Garner, B. Sc. (Hons), TJ Creation Journal (Answers in Genesis Ministries), Vol. 17:2, 2003, pp. 111-117.
  6. Evolution: The Fossils Still say No! (Institute for Creation Research, 1995), p. 96.

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