Author's Biography

Kathryn McGuire has her BS in Geology from Cedarville University, and has begun work on her Master’s of Geographic Information Science program at Kent State University. Since her time at Cedarville she has worked in GIS and data management for Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and Washington College, where she has learned several programming languages as well as statistical and GIS tools.

Sophie Southerden is a senior at The Master’s University studying Geoscience. Since being a student at Master’s she has written for the online journal e-Origins and has reviewed articles for The New Creation Blog. Her interest areas are orogeny and plate tectonics.

Katherine Beebe is a junior at The Master’s University, where she is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Biology with an emphasis in Paleontology. She has been conducting paleontological research as an undergraduate student.

Neal Doran is Professor of Biology and Director of the Center of Creation Research at Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee. He has a BS in Geology (University of Florida) and a PhD in Geology (Florida State University).

Matthew McLain is Associate Professor of Biology and Geology at The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, CA, where he teaches courses on paleontology, biology, and geology. He has a BS in Geology (Cedarville University) and a PhD in Earth Sciences (Loma Linda University). He is president of the Creation Biology Society and has published paleontology papers in both the conventional and creationist literature.

Todd Charles Wood is a researcher, teacher, and lecturer with twenty years' experience working in young-age creationism. He is especially known for his studies of created kinds and fossil hominins. He is currently president of Core Academy of Science and resides in Dayton, Tennessee, home of the Scopes Trial.

Paul A. Garner is a Researcher and Lecturer for Biblical Creation Trust in the UK. He has an MSc in Geoscience from University College London, where he specialised in palaeobiology. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of London and a member of several other scientific societies. Between 2007 and 2011 he was part of a team studying the Coconino Sandstone of northern and central Arizona. He is the author of two books, The New Creationism: Building Scientific Theories on a Biblical Foundation (Evangelical Press, 2009) and Fossils and the Flood: Exploring Lost Worlds with Science and Scripture (New Creation, 2021).

Presentation Type

Full Paper Presentation


As a key evidence for macroevolutionary change, the fossil record has been the focus of much study as creation scientists have attempted to interpret its patterns in light of the Flood. Despite this importance, only rarely has the order of the fossil record been scrutinized in any detail, by creationists or evolutionists. We therefore conducted the first large-scale study of the congruence of the fossil record with evolutionary predictions in thirty years.

Our method begins with published phylogenies for organisms found in the fossil record. The order of appearance for each taxon on the phylogeny is assigned a rank, then the first appearance of each taxon in the fossil record is also ranked. Spearman Rank Correlation (SRC) is used to measure the fit between age rank (determined from the fossil record) and clade rank (determined from the phylogeny). If clade rank and age rank are congruent, a straight line with a slope of 1 is produced, assuming the axes are similarly scaled.

In a previous unpublished study using this strategy, Wise (n.d.) found only five out of the 144 phylogenies showed a significant correlation at the 95% confidence level to the order of first appearance in the fossil record. The five phylogenies that showed significant correlation were four sets of plant phyla and one set of arthropod classes. In all five cases, the organisms increase in terrestriality and independence of standing water up through the fossil record. Wise suggested this may represent an ecological, rather than an evolutionary, gradient, and that the advance of the Flood waters from sea to land may be all that is needed to explain the small handful of examples where the stratigraphic order agrees with evolutionary phylogeny.

Although the results reported by Wise (n.d.) are of potentially great significance to the creation model, there are several limitations to his study, namely: (1) it was never published in a peer-reviewed journal, (2) it focused only on higher taxonomic categories (kingdoms, phyla, classes), and (3) it focused narrowly on the question of whether evolutionary phylogeny matched stratigraphy. A broader study (1) encompassing more taxonomic levels, and (2) making comparisons between supra- and intra-baraminic groups and (3) between different intervals in the stratigraphic record (Palaeozoic vs. Mesozoic vs. Cenozoic) would be valuable in addressing many outstanding questions within creationism.

We have therefore focused on examining published phylogenies compiled by Graeme T. Lloyd (http://www.graemetlloyd.com/matr.html). We have collected and ranked nearly 3,000 phylogenies. Preliminary results indicate that nearly half of the phylogenies show significant correlation to the first appearance data as derived from The Paleobiology Database (https://paleobiodb.org/). While this is considerably more than Wise found, simulations indicate that this frequency of significant correlation can be obtained when only 28% of the clade and age ranks are actually correlated.

This study will allow us to begin to answer several important questions. Which groups show statistically significant correlations? Are stronger correlations found for holobaramins? Are stronger correlations found for groups in post-Flood vs. Flood strata? The answers should help us to (1) better understand pre-Flood biomes and ecological gradients, (2) distinguish holobaramins from suprabaraminic groups, and (3) locate the Flood/post-Flood boundary, as well as (4) showing that fossil order is not well explained by evolutionary theory.

Wise, K.P. n.d. First appearances of higher taxa: a preliminary study of order in the fossil record. Unpublished study.

Wise, K.P. n.d. Ecological zonation and the first appearances of higher taxa. Unpublished study.




stratigraphy, phylogenetic trees, ecological zonation, paleontology, cladistics, congruence, fossil record




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Geology Commons



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