Sea Monsters Were for Real, and Other Wonders Under the Sea
National Geographic News published a story about a real sea monster. A fossil pliosaur nearly 50 feet in length, the largest marine reptile ever found, was discovered in permafrost just 800 miles from the North Pole, on the Arctic island of Spitsbergen in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. Scientists estimate it had such strong teeth and muscles it could have bitten a small car in half.
The article about the huge creature, with a skull nearly 7 feet long and flippers 10 feet long, includes a photo gallery. Plesiosaurs often had long necks, but pliosaurs had massive heads and short necks. Page 2 of the article claims that the large concentration of marine reptiles in the area, “one of the richest accumulations of marine reptiles in the world” with 40 known specimens so far, resulted when the large animals “swam in temperate seas and sank to the ocean floor after they died, where their bodies were preserved in soft mud.”
The Burgess Shale, now high in the Canadian Rockies, once hosted a rich marine biota. For a century it has been known for the exceptional preservation of its Cambrian fossils. A new theory reported in Live Science says that an undersea landslide was responsible for burying the animals quickly and suddenly so that even the impressions of soft parts of worms were preserved. The Cambrian Explosion was mentioned in the article:
Today, the Burgess Shale represents a frozen sliver of life from a time when Earth and its life were completely different.
“It dates from very early in the history of complex multi-cellular life,” [Jan] Zalasiewicz [U of Leicester] told LiveScience. “For quite a while, it was the main window we had on the diversity of life at this time. It’s very significant because one of the great enigmas about Cambrian life is that it seems to have started very suddenly.”
Life existed for 3 billion years before the Cambrian Period, but almost all of it was simple life composed of single cells.
“Then very suddenly at the beginning of the Cambrian, a whole host of life, all the major groups of animals, appeared,” Zalasiewicz said. “That is called the Cambrian explosion. It’s still a mystery as to how and why this great flowering of multi-cellular life took place.”
A different surprise has appeared among the living. Shrimp-like crustaceans called krill had been thought to inhabit the upper ocean. What are they doing 3000 meters down under the Antarctic Peninsula? Sure enough, Science Daily reported, Antarctic krill were found by a deep-diving remotely operated vehicle in the dark depths, actively feeding and spawning as if this is a perfectly normal place to call home. “The discovery completely changes scientists’ understanding of the major food source for fish, squid, penguins, seals and whales.”
Zalasiewicz said that there were no trees or higher animals when the Burgess Shale was buried by an undersea landslide. How would he know that? One would not expect there to be such creatures in that environment. Separate the interpretation based on worldview from the actual observations. The observations show that Darwinism could not be true. The 3-billion-year dates are part of the evolutionary tale. Just look at the fossils: all the major animal phyla appear suddenly at the beginning of the Cambrian. “Appear” is the operative word: they were not evolving. There were not primitive forms of these creatures in the rocks below. Boom! There they are, complete with eyes, complex appendages and a functioning ecology. That is not evolution. It’s also true of the pliosaurs, plesiosaurs, and ichthyosaurs found at Spitsbergen. They appear in the record suddenly and fully operational. Extinct animals were usually larger and more diverse than their counterparts today. If this is evolution, it is going in reverse.
Kids, consider marine biology or paleontology as a career. There are still remarkable discoveries to be made under the sea. You don’t have to follow the Darwin script or swallow the evolutionary tales to discover amazing things and have an adventurous life. Imagine making a living finding fossils of sea monsters. Imagine finding new kinds of life in the depths of the sea. Wouldn’t that be totally cool?