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The long awaited Illustra Media DVD on the Cambrian fossil record has finally been released. It was worth waiting for! The results are sensational. As far as visual effects go, this one exceeds the quality of Unlocking the Mystery of Life, and The Privileged Planet which Illustra Media also produced, and which set a new high standard for videos about nature.

There are certain things which a potential viewer must understand, however, before viewing this DVD. The discussion is entirely in terms of long ages. There is a reason however why this is to be commended. The people involved do not necessarily support long ages, some do and some don’t. The point nevertheless is that even when the discussion is couched in terms which the evolutionists prefer (the long ages), still the evidence fails to support evolution. Given even the most favourable background to the issue, the arguments for evolution still fail! And they fail spectacularly in terms of a number of issues including sudden appearance in Cambrian rocks with no hint of ancestors or transitional forms in the rocks beneath, evidence of design in body plans and in genetic control of how these body plans develop, and sudden appearance of most major body plans at the same time.

This video includes amazing animated scenes illustrating what the creatures of the Burgess Shale in British Columbia might have looked like when they were alive. Beautiful scenes of the areas where these fossils are found, shot on four continents, also greatly contribute to the visual interest. Then there are the pictures of the fossils themselves, presented up close where most of us will never be in a position to view them.

The DVD also includes commentary by a number of scientists including Simon Conway Morris from Cambridge University. He is famous for his studies of these fossils from sites around the world. His remarks are confined entirely to issues of fossil occurrence and do not constitute support for the objectives of the film. The same holds for  James Valentine of University of California. The other people interviewed all support, more or less, the objectives of the film.

The discussion focuses on the fact that the evidence does not support an evolutionary interpretation. The film does not offer an explanation for why there would be a sudden appearance of complicated animals at a certain level in the rocks. Supporters of the creation model, on the other hand, interpret the Cambrian explosion as the first creatures overtaken by sediments washed off the land in the Flood of Noah. There were plenty of animals and people living before that point of course, but there was no catastrophe which caused them to overtaken by rushing water laden with sediments which resulted in some being preserved as fossils.

Lisa Derksen, a friend who viewed the DVD with me, declared as the video ended: “I want my own copy!” She said that she particularly liked the section on blue prints which, without saying so, conveyed the idea of a designer. She liked the blue print images of Burgess Shale creatures and of extant creatures like shrimp. There was also an amusing sequence illustrating different car models, all based on the same body plan (design). Lisa also really appreciated the global aspect of the location shots where the fossils are found.

The DVD is 72 minutes long and there are, in addition, over 60 minutes of bonus features. This DVD is certain to provide viewers with most enjoyable insights into the significance of the Cambrian explosion.

Darwin’s Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record. Illustra Media. 72 minutes.


Margaret Helder
February 2010

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