The fossil evidence clearly gives a picture of mature, fully functional creatures suddenly appearing and staying very much the same. There is no real indication that one form of life transforms into a completely different form. While these two features seem to invalidate classical evolution, they are somewhat problematic to creationists also.
Some creationists say that the fossil record reflects the debris of the great Flood either because some animals were better able to escape the waters or by hydrodynamic sorting as the remains settled. These scientists are concerned with preserving a young earth on the grounds that they believe in a literal six-day, twenty-four hour period Creation with no large gaps in the early genealogies of Genesis. Others, known as old earth creationists, hold that the earth need not be only thousands of years old. This group understands the fossil record to show that Creation was accomplished in a series of stages, each new appearance in the geological strata pointing to a new moment of direct creation. Invertebrates appeared first, followed by a long period of nature balancing itself before the next burst of creation. Fish appeared next and then amphibia and so on until man was created. The latter view does agree with the fossil record, but there is no consensus between creationists about the age of the earth. This is a hotly debated issue, bur no matter which way it is resolved, they both agree that the existing fossil evidence supports Creation better than evolution.
Some evolutionists have attempted to deal with the fossil evidence by introducing the idea of punctuated equilibrium. These scientists say that the jumps in the fossil record reflect evolutionary jumps which brought on major changes in shorter times. Hence, evolution is not gradual, but punctuated by sudden leaps from one stage to the next. The theory has been criticized because they cannot produce any evidence for a mechanism of secondary causes which makes these sudden advances possible. Their theory then appears to be based solely on the absence of transitional fossils. Darwin, after all, understood suddenness to be evidence of Creation. If this is true, then it supports what Creationists said all along—the sudden appearance of fully formed animals is evidence of Creation.