Earliest Fossil Shows Wood Could Not Evolve | The Institute for Creation Research
Earliest Fossil Shows Wood Could Not Evolve

Wood has long provided mankind with construction material, fuel, enjoyable scenery, and shade. One of the most abundant biological products in the world, wood consists of the thickened cell wall deposits that provide support for branches and stems in trees and woody plants. Scientists recently described the oldest known example as "a simple type of wood,"1 but just how "simple" is this material?

The study published in Science looked at fossilized wood found in rocks that are supposedly 10 million years older than the prior record-holder. The discovery of this substance in "Early Devonian plants was unexpected," the researchers wrote, presumably because wood is such a complicated biomolecule that it should have evolved later, not earlier.

According to one evolutionary hypothesis, wood supposedly evolved in order to propel plants skyward, giving them a survival advantage over their fleshy, low-lying cousins. However, the authors of the Science report suggested that wood instead evolved in response to an "early" plant's need for carbon dioxide during a time when that gas was supposedly scarce. Plants require the carbon source to build sugar and wood, and with only small amounts of carbon dioxide available, the thought is that they might have developed wood to provide faster-flowing pipelines to gather the precious gas.

But which came first, the extra carbon dioxide that would be required to build the woody pipelines, or the woody pipelines that would be required to gather the extra carbon dioxide?

The study authors wrote that because of the small size of these woody plants, "the evolution of wood was initially driven by hydraulic constraints [inadequate fluid flow] rather than by the necessity of mechanical support for increasing height."1 But neither inadequate water flow nor the necessity of mechanical support are sufficient causes for wood development. In the real world, problems never produce their own solutions. Rather, solutions are always purposefully engineered by intelligent problem-solvers.

Wood is such a highly engineered material that humans cannot, and may never be able to, manufacture it. For example, one critical component is cellulose. This functions like a molecular cable in which a suite of over 30 enzymes—arranged in hexagonal rings that in turn form a larger hexagonal pattern anchored onto a plant cell membrane—work together to manufacture bundles of cellulose fibrils called microfibrils.

Each cellulose manufacturing site, called a Rosette Terminal Cellulose-Synthesizing Complex, has enzymes at the back that supply the raw materials, enzymes in the middle that join those materials together according to a specific and critical chemical arrangement, and enzymes in the front that arrange and crystallize the elongating string-like cellulose fibrils. Further, each Rosette Complex travels along the plant cell membrane in a specific pattern as it extrudes its cellulose from the cell.

In addition, the cellulose strands are embedded in a matrix consisting of organic polymers called lignin, cross-linking glycans, pectin, other proteins, and lipids. The cellulose/matrix material is laid down in a different orientation in three or more layers, like crisscrossing sheets of fiberglass wrapped around a pipe. Many such microstructures combine to form a woody stem that is extremely strong and yet can bend without breaking.

In short, there is no such thing as "simple" wood.

And there is no evidence that even one wood-making enzyme of the needed 30+ evolved. In fact, the existence of one or a few of those enzymes would be useless without all the rest, and the need to have all the enzymes present at once is strong evidence against wood having evolved. Despite the Science report's claim that its findings represent confirmation of "wood early evolution," there is still no known transition between fleshy and woody plants.

Wood is the same in its lowermost fossil occurrence as it is today because it was created on Day Three of the creation week to reproduce after its kind.2

Reference

  1. Gerrienne, P. et al. 2011. A Simple Type of Wood in Two Early Devonian Plants. Science. 333 (6044): 837.
  2. Genesis 1:11-12.

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

Article posted on August 18, 2011.

The Latest
ACTS & FACTS
Abound in This Grace
One of the strongest exhortations for Christian giving is found in Paul’s encouragement to the believers in Corinth. In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul...

APOLOGETICS
Food Web Ecology Corroborates Scripture
Real-world ecology supports the Bible’s trustworthiness. Accordingly, how creatures get and use food matches how Scripture describes our world.1-3 Food...

ACTS & FACTS
Leviathan: Legend, Croc, or Something Else?
In Job 41, God points Job’s attention to a terrifying animal called leviathan. It’s clear this was a real creature, but what was it? Bible...

ACTS & FACTS
Why Mosquitoes Attack: Mystery Solved
It’s late evening. You’re relaxing on the backyard deck when suddenly they find you. Mosquitoes! One way they locate you is by tracking...

DISCOVERY CENTER
ICR Discovery Center's First Anniversary Celebration!
The ICR Discovery Center for Science & Earth History recently celebrated the first anniversary of its grand opening. To commemorate this milestone,...

ACTS & FACTS
New Testament Upholds Created Kind Stasis
The opening chapter of Genesis makes a significant and scientifically accurate statement concerning the fixity of created kinds. During the creation...

ACTS & FACTS
An Old Friend Came Home
Years ago, an attendee at an ICR Back to Genesis seminar approached me with a fossil he and his daughter had found while on a hike in Washington State....

ACTS & FACTS
Lava Flows Disqualify Lake Spillover Canyon Theory
There has been considerable debate among scientists over the origin of Grand Canyon. We all agree it was formed by the removal of some 1,000 cubic miles...

RESEARCH
ICR Paleoclimate Research Continues
Because the Genesis Flood caused the Ice Age,1 studies of Earth's past climate, or paleoclimatology, have long been a focus of the Institute...

ACTS & FACTS
Casting the Vision
Each workday morning, the Institute for Creation Research staff meets for a time of devotion and prayer. Dr. Brian Thomas recently led our group and...