Feature Article - July 2007
by Do-While Jones

Lazarus, Elvis, and Zombies

Evolutionists will go to any length to explain evolutionary mysteries.

The fossil record isn’t what evolutionists would like it to be. Species pop up in the most inconvenient places, so evolutionists come up with the most amusing explanations.

Lazarus and Elvis

Paleontologists have long recognized that there are gaps in the fossil record. They need some way to explain away the gaps. They used to use the term, “Lazarus taxon.”

David Jablonski and Karl Flessa gave the name "Lazarus taxon" to creatures that reappeared in the fossil record after a long absence. Unlike the biblical story, in which Lazarus was raised from the dead, no one thought miracles were involved, just gaps in the fossil record. Normally it is assumed that a taxon is gone for good if no trace is found for millions of years, but it may merely have become rare, or moved somewhere where it left no fossils. This is what happened with the coelacanth, a fish closely related to amphibians, which palaeontologists thought had died out with the dinosaurs until a South African trawler caught a living one in 1938. 1

Modern evolutionists are very uncomfortable with the Bible, and no longer like to use any terms that even obliquely give credibility to the Bible. So, poor old Lazarus has been replaced by Elvis.

Animals that have apparently vanished from the fossil record can seem to reappear after a long hiatus. Often the vanished creature or a close relative has indeed returned. Sometimes, though, the new discovery is a different species entirely, but closely resembles one that went before. Palaeontologists describe such a case as an Elvis taxon. 2

So where does Elvis come in? Evolution sometimes converges, shaping different taxa so they look very much alike. For example, a number of distinct lines of predators have evolved the long, curved and deadly teeth best known from the sabre-toothed tiger of the Ice Age. Some invertebrates evolve shells that look like earlier forms. These can all be mistaken for Lazarus taxa until closely examined. To emphasise the distinction, Doug Erwin and Mary Droser coined an alternative term for imitators in 1993: "Rather than continue the biblical tradition favored by Jablonski, we prefer a more topical approach and suggest that such taxa should be known as Elvis taxa, in recognition of the many Elvis impersonators who have appeared since the death of The King." 3

“Convergent evolution” is their explanation for how so many unrelated species can be so similar in some respects. Their claim is that environmental necessity caused natural selection to make unrelated species evolve the same solution to a common problem.


Furthermore, evolutionists have to deal with zombies in the fossil record.

… the "Zombie effect", which applies when hard fossils such as dinosaur teeth are washed out of sediments and deposited in rocks millions of years younger - so in a sense they become walking dead. 4

We sometimes get email from people who argue, “If fossils of dinosaurs and modern men were found in the same layer of rock, it would disprove evolution. But such fossils have never been found, so evolution must be true.” What these people don’t realize is that “old” fossils are found in “young” rocks so often that evolutionists have invented the term “Zombie effect” to explain them away. If fossils of the “wrong” age were never found, there would be no need to create a term to explain them away.

A More Reasonable Explanation

The more reasonable explanation is that sedimentary rocks don’t represent a history of millions of years. Different layers of rocks tend to contain different creatures because different kinds of creatures live in different environments. A rockslide in the Rocky Mountains may have happened the very same day hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. If so, the animals buried in that mountain landslide would have been very different from the animals that died in the Katrina flood. Someone might conclude that hurricane Katrina happened millions of years before our fictional Rocky Mountain rockslide because the fish and frogs buried in Louisiana were less highly evolved than the snakes, mountain goats, and horses buried in Colorado. That conclusion would be wrong.

Fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds all exist today in different parts of the world. Any disaster that causes rapid burial today could conceivably produce fossils of the animals living in that location, but not fossils of every species on Earth. That has always been the situation. There never was an Age of Fish, or Age of Reptiles, during which only those kinds of creatures existed.

Evolutionists are laboring under the false impression that rock layers represent vastly different ages of time. When fossils of one species appear in widely-separated layers, but not the intervening ones, they have to concoct some explanation as to why that species existed in disconnected time frames. The three main explanations are the Lazarus taxon (the species did exist all along, but was so rare that no fossils have been found), the Elvis taxon (the species went extinct, but then a very similar imposter evolved later), and zombies (the fossils walked into another layer after they were dead). The real explanation is that they are just plain wrong about the different layers of rock representing vastly different periods of time.

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1 New Scientist, 6 January 2007, “The word: Elvis taxon”, page 48
2 ibid.
3 ibid.
4 ibid.