|The Wollemi pine is considered a living fossil|
Wollamia Nobilis image credit: Fritz Geller-Grimm / Wikimedia Commons
Mark Carnall at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History recently wrote an article for the UK newspaper The Guardian. He argues that we should stop using the term "living fossil." What does his argument reveal about evolutionary thinking?To read the rest of this short article, click on "Should We Drop the Term 'Living Fossil'?"
Charles Darwin first used the phrase in the Origin of Species to describe life forms that look essentially the same today as their fossil versions, even though their fossils are absent from intervening rock layers.
Carnall called the coelacanth fish the "living fossil poster child." When early evolutionists first saw its fossils in Devonian rocks, they thought the creature represented a long-extinct missing link—the fish that might have crawled onto land on its way to evolving into the first amphibian. That all changed when a researcher happened to discover a freshly caught coelacanth in a fish market in 1938. Marine biologists have since identified two populations of the deep-water dwelling fish. So what's the problem with the term "living fossil"?