June 9, 2014 | David F. Coppedge

Soft Tissue Found in Chile Ichthyosaur Bonanza

They were buried in the deep sea, but are becoming exposed under a glacier in southern Chile.

Forty-six exceptionally-preserved ichthyosaurs (extinct air-breathing marine reptiles) have been found in strata becoming exposed under a melting glacier in southern Chile, Live Science reported.  The completely articulated (unseparated) fossils range from juveniles to adults.  Soft tissue and embryos were found, the abstract says from the GSA Bulletin:

After three field campaigns to the area, a total of 46 articulated and virtually complete ichthyosaur specimens, both adults and juveniles, were tentatively assigned to four different species of Ophthalmosauridae. Preservation is excellent and occasionally includes soft tissue and embryos. The skeletons are associated with ammonites, belemnites, inoceramid bivalves, and fishes as well as numerous plant remains. The enormous concentration of ichthyosaurs is unique for Chile and South America and places the Tyndall locality among the prime fossil Lagerstätten for Early Cretaceous marine reptiles worldwide.

Prior to this discovery, ichthyosaur fossils were rare in South America.  Now, this site under the Tyndall Glacier in the Torres del Paine National Park of southern Chile is one of the best in the world.  It was very difficult to reach; one of the team members told Live Science, “the team had to drive for five hours, hike for 10 to 12 hours to camp and then hike another two hours, sometimes in heavy rain, hail or snow.”

Based on the GSA Bulletin paper, PhysOrg presented an account of how the marine reptiles might have become fossilized:

The Tyndall ichthyosaurs were gregarious and likely hunted in packs in a submarine canyon near the east coast of this sea. Their potential prey, belemnites and small fishes, were abundant due to plankton blooms caused by cold water upwelling. Occasionally, high energy turbiditic mudflows sucked down everything in their reach, including ichthyosaurs. Inside the suspension flows, the air-breathing reptiles lost orientation and finally drowned. They were instantly buried in the abyss at the bottom of the canyon.

How the fossils got mixed with plants and uplifted to hundreds of feet above sea level (265′ according to Google Earth) without being disturbed was not explained.  According to the evolutionary timeline, the burials occurred between 150 million and 100 million years old.  This would require successive mudflows in the same submarine canyon hypothesized for the burial site over 50 million years.  If that were true, it would seem there would be stratification separating the “episodic mass-mortality events”, rather than the uniform deposit described in the paper as “a monotonous bathyal to abyssal sequence of the Late Jurassic to late Early Cretaceous.”

It’s interesting to compare this spectacular burial site with that of the whales in another part of Chile (2/26/14).  There, the evolutionists wove a tale about multiple burials over 16,000 years.  Here, they fictionalize multiple burials over 50 million years.  Both deposits yielded spectacularly-preserved specimens concentrated in a small area.

It’s also interesting to see them gloss over the “soft tissue” aspect.  How could soft tissue be preserved for up to 150 million years?  In most freshly-buried deposits, a paleontologist would expect bioturbation by worms and other creatures to have disturbed the sediments and their fossil contents.  The articles mention soft tissue and embryos, but provide no plausible mechanism in which it could be preserved for so long.  We would like to know more details about said soft tissue, if anyone can find out: is it original tissue, or is it lithified?

When a scenario includes too many ad hoc elements, it loses plausibility: (1) the animals were concentrated by upwelling currents, (2) the animals lost their orientation gasping for air in the mudflow; (3) they were buried instantly in subsequent mudflows over 50 million years in the same canyon; (4) they were buried in the abyss, but later uplifted to above sea level without becoming disturbed; (5) they are just now becoming exposed in our lifetime under a melting glacier; (6) soft tissues were preserved because everybody knows marine reptiles (along with their terrestrial contemporaries, the dinosaurs and pterosaurs) went extinct in the Cretaceous.

Does this make sense?  A single global Flood that buried the ichthyosaurs and the whales is a sufficient cause to account for the findings; no millions of years needed.  Ockham’s Razor would favor a single cause over the convoluted string of improbable events proposed by the evolutionists.

Item: no ancestors are known for the sleek, well-designed ichthyosaurs, which resemble porpoises (mammals) in many respects (that’s supposed to be a remarkable case of “convergent evolution”).  Item 2: other cases of instant burial of ichthyosaurs are known, including one found in China of a female in the process of giving birth (2/14/14) and another spectacular example (from Europe?) published in Creation Magazine.



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  • tjguy says:

    I doubt that Mary Schweitzer’s explanation of iron being the preservative would work in this situation as these fossils were probably not soaked in blood.

    Or would they claim that the blood in the buried animals could have acted as a preservative here as well?

  • John S says:

    Ok, I found it someone has compiled a list of soft tissue finds that is current. Although it doesn’t have these Icthyosaurs yet.


    Pass it along. To me these soft tissues are the strongest evidence of young earth, for one reason it’s easy for people to understand the basics. But I think creationists should be beating this drum loudly.

    ‘blood soaking’ is not sufficient to explain these ever growing samples from diverse locations under various conditions and circumstances. In fact ‘blood soaking’ seems like a grasping-at-straws, desperate attempt at saving face more than a scientific possibility.

  • Pastor Mark says:

    The ongoing discovery of soft-tissue should be, at minimum, should be raising a lot of hard questions by honest scientists. The fear over careers to even raise these obvious questions puts this evolutionary claim in the electric chair “science is self-correcting”.

    The inability of modern science to self-correct in light of such damning evidence proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the scientific community resolutely refuses to follow the evidence to wherever it leads. That is a sadly bygone day.

    In light of soft-tissue preservation. Christians who still claim and pretend that science follows the evidence and is self-correcting should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this self-delusion to gain a foothold for so long. Repentance is still a Christian concept and its application among some is long overdue, but not too late.

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