A science writer wrote a semi-amusing account on how to become a fossil. In so doing, he pointed out that fossilization is a very rare fate for most organisms.
Writing for National Geographic, freelance science writer and evolutionist Brian Switek quipped, “Pick your burial spot carefully if you want future paleontologists to find you.” For those needing “Tips on How to Become a Fossil,” this article is for you. (First tip is not to use a coffin.)
Switek pondered this question when finding a footprint in a national park and wondering, “When I die, will I leave any traces behind in the fossil record?” The chances of being preserved are slim, considering the combination of accidents that have to occur and hazards to be avoided. (Note: the study of fossilization processes is called taphonomy.) Here are your choices, summarized from the article:
- Sedimentary rock: get buried quickly. “The sooner I can be buried by sediment and kept safe from the various organisms that decay a body after death, the better.” Even that, though, won’t prevent the “ecological recyclers” (bacteria, fungi, burrowing insects, plant roots) from erasing all memory of your existence. And if you survive them, your traces could be scattered by floods or other geological forces.
- The deep blue sea: prepare to be fish food. “After sharks and crabs had their fill, my bones might become home for bone-eating snot-flower worms that rely on the skeletons of whales and other benthic bonanzas to carry out their peculiar life cycles.” Don’t count on recognizable remains.
- Desert decay: prepare to be insect food. “My drying corpse might become home to beetles and other insects that burrow in bones, their circuitous pathways permanently recorded in my skeleton.” Unless buried quickly though, bones decay in the desert heat.
- Volcanic ash: good luck. Fine-grained volcanic ash has preserved some of the best fossils, like those in China. Switek jokes that his favorite T-shirt would not be fossilized, though. It says, “Future Transitional Fossil.”
- Muck: good luck. The exquisite detail in Archaeopteryx came from its burial in oxygen-depleted muck from an ancient lagoon, Switek says.
His last paragraph underscores the rarity of fossilization of any animal:
But even a perfect burial doesn’t guarantee discovery. In the millions of years of Earth history that lie ahead, oceans and mountains will rise and fall, and the continents will shift. Should my remains actually become a part of the fossil record, they may rest in a place wholly inaccessible to any future explorers. Even if I come to my final rest at an accessible spot on the surface, erosion might expose and destroy what’s left of me. Or there may not be any future explorers to find me. This is why the discovery of any fossil is a joyous occasion. In the face of so much destructive potential, a fragment of the past has survived and at long last been found.
It’s interesting to ponder whether the late Harry Truman (not the President, but the lodge owner at Spirit Lake, Mt. St. Helens) became fossilized after being buried instantly in volcanic ash on May 18, 1980. Even if he did, the chances of ever finding his remains are slim to none.
It was nice of Brian to point out how rare fossilization is. Very special conditions are required. Those conditions were ideal during the Genesis Flood – an explanation that Switek (as evolutionary moyboy) is guaranteed to mock. He doesn’t have to wait to become a “future transitional form” (where is his company?). According to God’s word, because he refuses to acknowledge the clear evidence for creation all around him, he is already a transitional form between Homo sapiens and Homo reprobatus, most likely (because of evident exercise of his brain), at stage 2, “Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22).