The New Evolution: Zoogenesis

By Austin H. Clark | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
THE PAST AND THE PRESENT

ONE of the most striking and important facts which has been established through a study of the fossil animals is that from the very earliest times, from the very first beginnings of the fossil record, the broader aspects of the animal life upon the earth have remained unchanged.

When we examine a series of fossils of any age we may pick out one and say with confidence "This is a crustacean" -- or a starfish, or a brachiopod, or an annelid, or any other type of creature as the case may be.

In the details of their structure these fossils are not necessarily like the crustaceans, starfishes (fig. 42, p. 71), brachiopods (fig. 60, p. 111), annelids (fig. 85, p. 161) or other creatures living in the present seas. Nevertheless, if they are sufficiently well preserved we have no difficulty in recognizing at once the group to which each and every fossil animal belongs.

How do we recognize these fossils as members of the various groups? We are able to recognize them because they fall within the definition of a particular group. But the definitions of the phyla or major groups of animals are all drawn up on the basis of a study of their living representatives alone.

Since all the fossils are determinable as members of their respective groups by the application of defini-

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