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Dating a Young Earth: Part 3

Updated on January 31, 2011

Fossils

Fossils are the preserved remains of living things.  Some definitions would include the mineralized remains of animals, others of animals that have been dead for over 10,000 years.  A broad definition includes the remains of preserved but not mineralized remains of mammoths in the permafrost of Siberia, and of those living things preserved in amber.

In his book Earth’s Catastrophic Past Andrew Snelling lists seven types of fossils:
    1. Unaltered
    2. Permineralized
    3. Recrystallized
    4. Replaced
    5. Carbonized
    6. Molds and Casts
    7. Ichnofossils.

Unaltered fossils are not considered fossils by many if not most palaeontologists.   The forests discovered in the Canadian Arctic on Alex Heiberg and Ellesmere Islands are referred to as mummified, as are the mammoths in Siberia.  What they have in common is they have been dead a long time, long enough that in ordinary circumstances they should have rotted away.  And this is the primary feature of a fossil, it did not rot, it was not scavenged, it did not simply decay but was somehow preserved beyond ordinary expectations.

Most commonly fossils are preserved in rock.  The process of how rock forms is poorly understood.  Within the generally accepted theory rock requires a lot of time to form, but there are numerous examples of rock forming rapidly.  This is highlighted by what is captured in the fossil record.

Fossils are not simply dead things that were buried.  They are in many cases living things that were buried alive.  Fossil fish have been found with their last supper still in their mouths.  An ichthyosaur was buried while giving birth.  The contents of stomachs and intestines have been fossilized.  These are not the Unaltered fossils captured in permafrost and amber, but Permineralized and Replaced fossils found in hard rock.

From what is found in the fossil record it would appear that animals from diverse habitats were buried alive together.  Once buried, the surrounding sediments were rapidly turned to rock (lithified) preserving not simply the organs of the creatures but also the fine detail sometimes down to cell level.  It would appear that the Flood of Noah is a more likely explanation for these fossils than the generally accepted theory.  Both the rate at which sediment needed to accumulate and the rate at which it needed to lithify support rapid processes, processes which indicate a young rather than an old earth.

Also important is the assemblage of creatures found as fossils. While fossils are reported as being rare, they are commonly found in graveyards. These graveyards do not contain a single type of animal but many different animals from different ecosystems. In the carboniferous shale of France, both marine and terrestrial arthropods (shrimp, spiders, scorpions) have been found. There are also fish, amphibians and reptiles. Trace fossils have also been found in this shale. These include footprints, claw marks and tail trails. In addition to these there are raindrop impressions and ripple marks.

In American shale a similar assemblage has been found but with the addition that the partially digested contents of one animal’s gut was found.

The limestone of Brazil has left us a record spanning plants, insects, arthropods, fish, reptiles and dinosaurs. This diverse assemblage represents different habitats. The detail in the fossils includes the stomach contents, internal organs including eggs within the ovaries, and fish gills. Based on what we know of how fish die and decay, these gills were petrified within five hours of the fish’s death. Included in this formation are pterosaurs whose wings have the fine details of soft tissue preserved.

In Europe, North America, Central and South America the same situation is found. Fossil graveyards containing fresh and salt water animals, land animals and flying reptiles, all within the same graveyard. In some cases the rock is shale, in other cases the rock is limestone. In both cases animals with food still in their gut are found, in both cases the fine soft tissue structure is preserved. Based on burial of dead animals with normal rates of decay we would expect to see far more decay in these fossils than is apparent. What appears in these graveyards is that these animals were alive when buried. Considering the diversity of the habitats they occupied it also appears that they were overtaken by a widespread cataclysm.

Coal is almost by itself a fossil. Coal is the metamorphosed remains of plant material. It has been noted by some that coal has a great biodensity with small biodiversity. This means that there’s a lot of the same stuff found in coal. Unlike the limestone and shale graveyards coal has many fossils of only a few things, mostly plants. Among the most interesting of fossils found in coal are polystrate fossils. These are fossil trees that penetrate through several strata. If strata takes millions of years to accumulate and lithify we would expect the tree to decay before all the strata formed.

To date all these fossils there are three methods used. The preferred method is by index fossils, these are fossils that are believed to occur only within a specific geological time period. As there have been index fossils found alive today the validity of index fossils must be taken with caution. The time period is usually defined by dating igneous rocks above and below the sedimentary formations in which the fossils are found, this provides an approximate date. Finally, there are some radioisotope methods which are used by averaging the dates calculated for the ratios found.

When examining radioisotopes, young earth scientists discovered that no-one had tried using Carbon-14 to date fossils, so they sent samples for testing. It was found that coal and diamonds both contained measurable amounts of C-14. Based on standard assumptions of C-14 this should not have been so.

Just recently it has been discovered that dinosaur fossils contain organic material, after 65 million years this was a totally unexpected finding. After the original find museums tested their examples of dinosaur remains and more organic samples were found. From what is currently known about the decay of organic substances all of these samples should have decayed long ago.


From what is found in the fossil record it would appear that animals from diverse habitats were buried alive together.  Once buried, the surrounding sediments were rapidly turned to rock (lithified) preserving not simply the organs of the creatures but also the fine detail sometimes down to cell level.  It would appear that the Flood of Noah is a more likely explanation for these fossils than the generally accepted theory.  Both the rate at which sediment needed to accumulate and the rate at which it needed to lithify support rapid processes, processes which indicate a young rather than an old earth.



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