Selections from Can a Laboratory Make an Authentic Fossil? by Mark H. Armitage
Marko’s summary: Creationists are skeptical of the explanations given by some scientists to explain the formation of fossilized organisms under everyday conditions. Unusual and specialized conditions are required! Certain minerals must be present, heat may be required, and that burial must be rapid and complete. In other words, you need to simulate the conditions of Noah's Flood to try to create an authentic fossil...
(These selections by Marko Malyj are of the article published in Creation Research Society Quarterly Journal, Volume 47, Number 1, Summer, 2010, to appear at http://www.creationresearch.org/crsq/abstracts/Abstracts47-1.htm).
|Fish with fossilized fleshy parts|
Scientists have found excellent levels of preservation of fish eye pigments in the Santana Foundation (Martill et al., 2008). That report concluded that preservation occurred within days or weeks (unlike most dated theories concluding that long periods of time were involved in fossilization).
Taphonomy is the scientific discipline of studying fossil remains in the rock record and comparing them to decaying organisms over time in order to understand how fossilization occurs. Many taphonomy experiments have been conducted in the laboratory with fish (e.g. Bass et al., 1995; Monge-Najera and Hou, 2002; Whitmore, 2003; Channing and Edwards, 2004; Soja, Sunderlin, and Close, 2004; Gupta et al. 2006; Raff et al., 2006), but none have resulted in perfectly preserved fossils such as those we find buried in the earth's crust.
Many researchers have found that fish decay quickly in water within weeks or days (Krumholz, 1950; Zangerl and Richardson, 1963; Schafer, 1972; Elder, 1985; Britton, 1988; Elder and Smith, 1988; Weigelt, 1989; Minshall et al., 1991; Parmenter and Lamarra, 1991; Schneider, 1998; Hankin and McCanne, 2000; Whitmore, 2003). Therefore, burial in sediment must have been rapid.
Fish often surface when submerged in water, leaving them available to surface predation and mechanical actions that can alter or destroy tissues. Futhermore, fish rupture due to internal gas buildup (Rupp and DeRoche, 1965; Henley, 1967; Parker, 1967; Axon et al., 1980; Whitmore 200). Yet billions of perfectly preserved, well-articulated fish exist in the fossil record.
Many different fossilized organisms display significant soft-tissue preservation (see Briggs et al., 1997, for dinosaurs; see Bartels et al., 1998, for other marine organisms; and see Morlo et al., 2004, for other organisms). However, the results of ongoing taphonomy experiments do not completely explain the extraordinary preservation of birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, and other organisms in the rock record.
Creationists are skeptical of the explanations given by some scientists to explain the formation of fossilized organisms under everyday conditions (i.e., slow sediment deposition, typical water action, etc.). Creationists argue that unusual and specialized conditions are required, that certain minerals must be present, that heat may be required, and that burial under these unique sedimentary conditions must be rapid and complete. Theories of fossil formation in the recent literature include the notion that preservation must be rapid if it is going to happen at all, especially at the ultrastructural level; therefore, there is good reason to believe that creationist theories of fossil formation might be the norm.
Axon, J.R., L. Hart, and V. Nash. 1980. Recovery of tagged fish during the Crooked Creek Bay rotenone study at Barkley Lake, Kentucky. Proceedings of the Annual Conference, Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 33:680-687.
Babcock, L.E., S.A. Leslie, D.H. Elliot, A.L. Stigall, L.A. Ford, and D.E. Briggs. 2006. The "preservation paradox": microbes as a key to exceptional fossil preservation in the Kirkpatrick basalt (Jurassic), Antarctica. The Sedimentary Record 4(4):4-8
Bartels, C., D.E.G. Briggs, and G. Brassel. 1998. Fossils of the Hunruck Slate - Marine Life in the Devonian. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Bass, M., D.E.G. Briggs, J.D.H. van Heemst, A.J. Kear, and J.W. de Leeuw. 1995. Selective preservation of chitin during the decay of shrimp, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 59(5):945-951.
Briggs, D.E.G., P.R. Wilby, B.P. Perez Moreno, J.L. Sanz, M.Fregenal-Martinez. 1997. The mineralization of dinosaur soft tissue in the Lower Cretaceous of Las Hoyas, Spain. Journal of the Geological Society, London 154:587.588.
Britton, D.R. 1988. The occurrence of fish remains in modern lake systems: a test of the stratified-lake model. Master's thesis, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA.
Channing, A., and D. Edwards. 2004. Experimental taphonomy: silicification of plants in Yellowstone hot spring environments. Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Earth Sciences 94:503-521.
Elder, R.L. 1985. Principles of aquatic taphonomy with examples from the fossil record. Doctoral diss., Univerity of MIchigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
Elder, R.L., and G.R. Smith. 1988. Fish taphonomy and environmental inference in Paleolimnology. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaoecology 62:577-592.
Gupta, N.S., R. Michels, D.E.G. Briggs, R.P. Evershed, and R.D. Pancost. 2006. The organic preservation of fossil arthropods: an experimental study. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 273:2777-2783.
Hankin, D.G., and D. McCanne. 2000. Estimating the number of fish and crayfish killed and the proportions of wild and hatchery rainbow trout in the Cantara spill. California Fish and Game 86:4-20.
Krumholz, L.A. 1950. Some practical considerations in the use of rotenone in fisheries research. Journal of Wildlife Management 14:413-424.
Martill, D.M., P.M. Brito, and J. Washington-Evans. 2008. Mass mortality of fishes in the Santana Formation (Lower Cretaceous, ?Albian) of northeast Brazil. Cretacious Research 29(4):649-658.
Minshall, G.W., E. Hitchkock, and J.R. Barnes. 1991. Decomposition of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) carcasses in a forest stream ecosystem inhabited only by nonanadromous fish populations. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 48:191–195.
Monge-Najera, J., and X. Hou. 2002. Experimental taphonomy of velvet woms (Onychophora) and implications for the Cambrian "explosion, disparity and decimation" model. Revista de Biologia Tropical 50(304):1133-1138.
Morlo, M., S. Schaal, G. Mayr, and C. Sieffert. 2004. An annotated taxonomic list of the Middle Eocene (MP 11) vertebrata of Messel. Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg 252:95-108.
Parker, R.O. 1967. Rotenone and fish population estimations. Masters thesis, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.
Parmenter, R.R., and V.A. Lamarr. 1991. Nutrient cycling in a freshwater marsh: The decomposition of fish and waterfowl carrion. Limnology and Oceanography 36:976-987.
Raff, E.C., J.T. Villinski, F.R. Turner, P.C.J. Donoghue, and R.A. Raff. 2006. Experimental taphonomy shows the feasibility of fossil embryos. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 130(15):5846-5851.
Rupp, R.S., and S.S. DeRoche. 1965. Standing crops of fishes in three small lakes compared with C14 estimates of net primary productivity. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 94:9-25.
Schafer, W. 1972. Ecology and Palaeoecology of Marine Environments. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.
Schneider, J.C. 1998. Fate of dead fish in a small lake. The American Midland Naturalist 140:192-196.
Soja, C.M., D. Sunderlin, and S.J. Close. 2004. Using burial experiments to unscramble dinosaur egg taphonomy. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 36(5):382 (Palentology VIII Processes of fossilization).
Weigelt, J. 1989. Recent Vertebrate Carcasses and Their Paleobiological Implications. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.
Whitmore, J.H. 2003. Experimental fish taphonomy with a comparison to fossil fishes. Ph.D. diss., Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA.
Zangerl, R., and E.S. Richardson Jr. 1963. The Paleoecological History of Two Pennsylvania Black Shales. Chicago Natural History Museum, Chicago, IL.
Zhang, X.G., and B.R. Pratt. 1994. Middle Cambrian Arthropod embryos with blastomeres. Science 266(5185):637-639