February 24, 2015 | David F. Coppedge

Stunning Fossils Featured

A magazine has displayed some of the most amazing fossils of animals that were suddenly captured in unusual situations.

New Scientist has posted a series of “Stunning Fossils”. Here are the magazine’s captions for the seven most stunning fossils, with links to the photos:

  • Oviraptor from Mongolia: “She was sitting on her nest keeping her eggs warm, just like modern birds do, when disaster struck.”
  • Fish catches fish-catching pterosaur, Germany: “The swooping pterosaur snatched a fish from the water, only to be caught by a much bigger fish leaping into the air.”
  • Ichthyosaur giving birth, China: “Something went terribly wrong as this ancient ichthyosaur was giving birth, and she died along with her offspring.”
  • Sauropod flees for its life, Texas: “The trail of footprints left by a huge sauropod and a T. rex.-like dinosaur may record a predatory chase.”
  • Turtles caught in the act, Germany: In the Messel pit, this was found: “You don’t need to be a fossil expert to work out what these two turtles were up to just before they died.”
  • Dinosaur death match, Gobi desert: “The Velociraptor and Protoceratops were engaged in a desperate struggle when they were abruptly buried by a landslide.”
  • Snake eating baby dinosaur, India: “Snake fossils are extremely rare, and this one was petrified just as it was about to eat a dinosaur hatchling.” (Photo shows a sculpture of an artist’s reconstruction of the circumstances.)

A subscription is required to read the full articles about these fossils.

Notice two things about these fossils: (1) Each had to be buried suddenly—in the act of eating, mating, fighting, giving birth, or whatever they were doing. (2) The fossils are found like this all over the earth. In fact, these seven are just sample “snapshots” of life that suddenly were inundated by a catastrophe before they could respond; many other examples are known. Put those two factors together, and what can you conclude?

The Texas footprints are at the famous Glen Rose site, where battles have been fought between creationists over the interpretation of the prints. The lesson is that we must be cautious, and include all the available evidence. Still, it’s not clear the whole story has been told. One thing is clear; something buried those tracks very quickly over a significant area.

 

 

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