In my research of the fossil record, it brings up more questions than it answers. As to the reason I believe Dawkins has decided to give it up as evidence for evolution.
- Living fossils: There are over 30 known living fossils of plants and animals, yet each one has the same problem. They are found in one layer of the supposed record, and alive. For some fossils that is a gap as big as 10 layers. These gaps exist for “every living fossil”. So 30 times there are 30 gaps of the record not recording the fossils surviving until present time.
- The layering of the Geologic Column: There is no observable or explainable mechanism to show how the layers the fossil are found in got laid over millions of years. Yet water will sort the layered sediments like this and is observable and repeatable (empirical evidence).
- Polystrate Fossils: Trees that run through several layers that are supposed to take millions of years to form. How does a tree not rot away while waiting to be buried in the millions of years it took to do this? It could be explained away if only a few were found but these Polystrate Fossils are found all over the world.
- Cross contamination of dating markers: Fossils can be cross contaminated by the layers they are buried in. Example: If you bury a bone that dates 1000 years bury it in a layer that dates 300 million years. Over a period of time the markers from the layer will cross contaminate the fossil and make it date the same as the layer even though it never was the same age. This raises several questions and answers why all fossils will “always” date the same age as the layer. There is no other option after so many years.
- The Geologic Column or the fossil record does not exist in one piece anywhere in the world. It is estimated that if it did it would be just under 15 miles deep. So the record is only connected together by the age each layer dates and the fossils found in that layer. So an assumption has to be made here.