Lazarus Taxa: The Coelacanth and Creation Science
In Creation Science, the coelacanth plays a different role than that of a curious hold-over in the long march of Darwinian evolution. Creationists see its long time unchanging form as evidence of the immutability of species and a single Creation event for all life. If evolution were true, they argue, would we not expect natural selection to have vastly altered this fish over time?
But there are two problems with this contention. First, the living coelacanth is not morphologically identical to its fossil relatives. The living marine form is much larger and has many noticeable physical differences. It is the general anatomy that has remained the same. Second, natural selection is not going to act on random mutations if they are not of adaptive value. In a stable environment, where an organism is successful, no changes may be needed for its continued existence, so long as those conditions persist. Natural selection doesn't just happen in a vacuum. The result is the organism would not change much over evolutionary time. The coelacanth is not the only example of this. Horse shoe crabs, lungfishes, sharks, and millipedes come to mind. Horses, dogs, birds, whales, elephants, and people do not. -JH