email - July 2003

Fossils Found Together

In May we answered Ronís second question (about thermodynamics), and promised to answer his first question (about fossils) later. It is time to keep our promise.

Question 1:

Considering what we know about the earth's strata, and the (real) scientific data we have, what is the creationist's (principally I am, although not fully educated) of when dinosaurs fit into the picture. From what I have read on other creationist sites, they existed after the "fall". If this is so, why does it seem all the fossils they find are dinosaurs or pre-historic looking? In other words, it doesnít seem they find a lot of tiger, elephant and other modern animal fossils sitting in the same strata as a T-Rex. This also goes along with the evolutionists view of as you dig down, you go through different distinct periods (Crustatious [he means, ďCretaceousĒ], Jurassic, etc, etc). I am also curious about the fossilization process. It is my understanding there are a lot of variables which need to be in play in order for something to fossilize. There are lots of animals alive today (i.e. Bears), and it is rare enough to find a skeleton let alone a fossil. Most animals are either eaten, or weatherized before fossilizing.

Since we are a secular corporation, we are not going to comment on where dinosaurs fit into the Biblical picture. But, we can comment on the rest of Ronís question.

Why donít they find a lot of modern fossils in the same layer as dinosaurs? Sometimes they do find modern fossils in the same layer. At Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, where you can actually see dinosaur fossils still in the ground, there are fossil clams in among the dinosaur bones. Clams are modern creatures. But, since they are found with dinosaur bones, which are assumed to be prehistoric, it is assumed that the clams have existed for millions of years without changing. At the La Brea Tar Pits, in Los Angeles, they show lots of skulls of prehistoric saber-toothed cats. They have also found lots of bones from rabbits, and birds, and other modern creatures. They donít display them prominently because nobody cares about rabbit bones. Tourists just want to see the ferocious cats. But this partial display tends to create the false impression that only prehistoric bones are found in the asphalt pits.

But, having said that, we agree that certain kinds of fossils do tend to be found together. The evolutionary interpretation is that they all lived at the same time. The young-earth creationist interpretation is that they all died in the same place.

As Ron correctly points out, it is rare to find skeletons of modern creatures today because scavengers eat their remains soon after they die. Bones have to be buried quickly to protect them, giving them a chance to fossilize. That means the creatures have to be caught in a tar pit, landslide, avalanche, sandstorm, flood, or some other mechanism that covers the plant or animal with a protective layer of something or other.

The kind of critters you would find buried by an avalanche are not generally the kind of creatures that would be buried in a sandstorm. If you want to find modern bear skeletons, you should look under avalanche/landslide debris up in the mountains. If you want to find mummified (or fossilized) lizards, look under a sand dune in a desert. You might find rattlesnake skeletons either place.

The fact that remains of modern mountain-dwelling plants and animals are found together in one place, and remains of modern desert denizens in another, doesnít mean that one ecological zone existed before or after the other one. It merely means that all the creatures that were together in one place during a disaster died together.

Heavier animals might sink to lower levels in a tar pit than lighter animals. A flood might sort bodies or bones by size, shape, or density. The fact that one tends to find certain bones together is not compelling evidence that there were different epochs during which different animals evolved.

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