Flower Fossils 100,000,000 Years Out of Place? | The Institute for Creation Research

Flower Fossils 100,000,000 Years Out of Place?

European scientists have now discovered flowering plant fossils in rock layers supposedly 100,000,000 years older than expected.1 This new finding challenges conventional evolutionary assumptions as scientists struggle to account for what they interpret as an enormous time gap.

Publishing in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science, Peter Hochuli and Susanne Feist-Burkhardt described fossil-pollen grains recovered from a drill core in the north of Switzerland.1

They wrote, "In this paper we focus on fossil evidence, presenting the so far oldest angiosperm-like pollen from the Middle Triassic (ca. 243Ma), a record that predates the generally accepted first occurrence of angiosperm pollen by more than 100Ma [million years]."1

The researchers' distinct color photographs show pollen-grain features diagnostic of flowering plants, not gymnosperms like palms or cycads. "The described pollen grains show all the essential features of angiosperm pollen," according to the Frontiers report.2

And instead of the few primitive-looking pollens that evolutionary scientists were expecting to find in lower rock layers, the researchers discovered many fully-formed pollens of different but well-developed types. The study authors wrote of the "sudden appearance" of angiosperm fossils "on most continents as well as the rapid radiation of numerous clades [which] implies a considerable diversification within approximately 3.5Ma or else it represents a wave of immigration from other areas."1 In other words, they had difficulty explaining how such a wide variety of flowering plants suddenly occur in this Triassic layer.

They encountered an equal challenge in trying to decipher why, after this sudden burst of supposed evolutionary creativity, angiosperms disappeared for 100 million years. The study authors wrote, "If we accepted the monosulcate [e.g., angiosperm] pollen from the Middle and Late Triassic as evidence for a pre-Cretaceous origin of crown group [ancestral] angiosperms the lack of fossil records throughout the Jurassic would remain difficult to explain."1

To account for this difficulty, they invoked speculative "stem relatives," writing, "Considering the hundred million year gap in the record as well as morphological differences to the earliest Cretaceous we suggest that these pollen grains most likely represent stem relatives of the angiosperms."1

Yet, are these conclusions based on scientific observation? It's one thing to assert that these fossils must represent evolutionary ancestors of modern plants because they are millions of years older than the accepted age, but it's entirely circular to then assert that the angiosperm fossils must have formed millions of years before the accepted age simply because conventional evolution tells us plants evolved over long ages.

The Bible's record of all the major phases of world history shows no trace of a Triassic deep-time epoch and offers a better explanation for these fossils.

First, the Bible doesn't rely on circular reasoning or speculations but on "eyewitnesses" who wrote "words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and…the apostles of the Lord and Savior."3,4

Second, Scripture asserts that angiosperms existed alongside all other plants (including gymnosperms) and animals from the very start of creation—reporting instant creation of each plant kind. This exactly fits these fossils' sudden appearance. Third, it describes in detail a worldwide Flood capable of preserving life's traces in fossil forms. And in that context, Triassic flora and fauna do not represent a separate time but distinct ecosystems buried by sediment-laden Flood waters.

Finally, the Bible's timeline shows a creation that is thousands, not billions, of years old, erasing any need to explain why pollen grains buried deep in fossil layers look so similar to living herbs and flowers today.


  1. Hochuli, P. A. and S. Feist-Burkhardt. 2013. Angiosperm-like pollen and Afropollis from the Middle Triassic (Anisian) of the Germanic Basin (Northern Switzerland). Frontiers in Plant Science. 4 (344): 1-14.
  2. See Hochuli and Feist-Burkhardt, Frontiers in Plant Science 4 (344): 1-14. The team compared gymnosperm pollen grains found at the same site to show "a distinct contrast to the exine structure of the columellate, angiosperm-like grains."
  3. 2 Peter 1:16.
  4. 2 Peter 3:2.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on October 11, 2013.

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