Evolutionary paleontologists have a mystery on their hands: how did turtles in the act of mating become fossilized?
Most of the news media are amusing themselves with prurient attention on turtle sex, using double entendres and French or Latin expressions to remind themselves that “turtles do it,” too: “Palaeontologists catch turtles in flagrante,” PhysOrg headlined, while Live Science put up in bold type, “Coitus Interruptus: Ancient Turtle Sex Fossilized” (we’ll spare our readers further titillating examples of sexting as news).
A more obvious question reporters seem to be skipping over is, how quickly would an animal have to be buried to be preserved in the sex act? The BBC News article showed a photograph of the exquisite preservation of one of the pairs of fossils claimed to be 47 million years old. About nine pairs have been found at the Messel Pit in Germany, most of them apparently in mating positions.
Evolutionary paleontologists were not without a turtle tale to tell. The BBC News article told it this way:
Researchers think the turtles had initiated sex in the surface waters of the lake that once existed on the site, and were then overcome as they sank through deeper layers made toxic by the release of volcanic gases.
The animals, still in embrace, were then buried in the lakebed sediments and locked away in geological time.
Notwithstanding the romantic visions in this tale, wouldn’t turtles drifting downward in a toxic lake have become separated? Wouldn’t their bodies have decayed on the bottom before enough sediments could bury them? Only Nature News mentioned reasons why this explanation makes little sense:
Edwin Cadena, a doctoral student in palaeontology at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, agrees that the study shows “strong evidence to consider this the first case of coupling captured in the fossil record of vertebrates”. More controversial, he says, is the interpretation of what the Messel lake was like. The notion of a stratified lake works as an explanation for the turtles’ fate, Cadena says, “but not so well for other fossils found at Messel, for example bats or birds or even other small mammals”. If the upper layers of the lake were inhabitable, Cadena asks, then what caused the death of airborne and terrestrial animals? The turtles are just part of an ongoing fossil mystery.
That was the last sentence: they left it as a mystery.
These specimens add to a long list of fossils showing nearly instantaneous burial: ichthyosaurs trapped while giving birth, fish caught while swallowing other fish, fish with undigested small fish in their stomachs. How many seconds does turtle sex take? Are we to believe they remained in mating posture long enough to sink to the bottom of a lake and wait to be buried, even if poisons in the water killed them on the way down? Wouldn’t Tom Turtle shout, “Gasp! I can’t breathe!” and disengage from Myrtle Turtle? We can’t assume turtles would have the same priorities as humans.
Rapid burial with exquisite preservation as found in this and so many other fossils speaks of catastrophic conditions. Since the evolutionists can only offer made-up stories and mysteries, let their explanations be ruled out in favor of explanations that can account for the observations. Remember that “geological time” is a moyboy* phrase that locks away evolutionary mysteries out of sight, out of mind.
*A moyboy is someone who thinks that “millions of years, billions of years” solves every problem in evolutionary theory.