June 9, 2017 | David F. Coppedge

A Bird, a Mushroom, and a Fly Fossilized Fast

Exceptional preservation of soft tissues required rapid fossilization. Did they really die a hundred million years ago?

The Bird

Detail of feathers. Photo credits: Ming Bai

A baby bird has been found fossilized in Burmese amber. Its foot, feathers and eyelid are all visible in a gallery shown by National Geographic, which funded the study. The discoverers, publishing in the journal Gondwana Research (open access), call attention to “unusual plumage” several times, but more astonishing is the claim that the exquisite detail seen in the feathers has been entombed for 98 million years.

Based on various features of the anatomy, they assign it to a group of extinct tooth birds called the Enantiornithines which evolutionists say emerged 145 million years ago and died in the end-Cretaceous extinction along with the dinosaurs. The precocious bird already had a full set of flight feathers, Live Science says. The artist reconstruction of the bird in National Geographic shows it completely bird-like, with beak wings and feather markings. It’s doubtful anyone looking at it would have noticed anything unusual about it. The surprising thing is the preservation. The article calls attention to Xing’s three-time repetition of the word surprise:

“[I thought we had] just a pair of feet and some feathers before it underwent CT imaging. It was a big, big, big surprise after that,” says Xing.

“The surprise continued when we started examining the distribution of feathers and and realized that there were translucent sheets of skin that connected many of the body regions appearing in the CT scan data,” adds team co-leader Ryan McKellar of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum.

The Mushroom

How do you fossilize a mushroom? The delicate tissues of fungi decay rapidly, as anyone knows trying to keep them fresh. Live Science says that the world’s oldest mushroom, 115 million Darwin Years old, must have floated down a river before becoming entombed in limestone. Laura Geggel tells this story with the aplomb of an eyewitness, but then shares what the scientist thought about it:

About 115 million years ago, when car-size pterosaurs flew overhead and long-necked sauropods tromped about on Earth, a tiny mushroom no taller than a chess piece fell into a river and later fossilized — a feat that makes it the oldest-known fossilized mushroom on record, a new study finds….

“Most mushrooms grow and are gone within a few days,” study lead researcher Sam Heads, a paleontologist at Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), said in a statement. “The fact that this mushroom was preserved at all is just astonishing.”

The contrast between Geggel’s aplomb and Heads’s astonishment continues in the next section:

After the mushroom fell into the river, it floated into a salty lagoon and sank to the bottom, where fine sediments began to cover it. Over time, the mushroom mineralized, and its tissues were replaced with pyrite, a mineral also known as fool’s gold. Later, the pyrite transformed into the mineral goethite, the researchers said.

When you think about it, the chances of this thing being here — the hurdles it had to overcome to get from where it was growing into the lagoon, be mineralized and preserved for 115 million years — have to be minuscule,” said Heads, who found the mushroom while digitizing a collection of fossils from the Crato Formation.

This fossil from Brazil is older than the previous record holder, a mushroom caught in the same Burmese amber as the bird reported above. This mushroom had gills like modern mushrooms. Because of its ‘magnificent’ preservation, the researchers call it Gondwanagaricites magnificus (magnificent mushroom from Gondwana).

It was a big, big, big surprise

The Damselfly

Imagine damselflies being fossilized so quickly their courtship behavior can be inferred. That’s what Phys.org says about some odonates (carnivorous insects including damselflies and dragonflies) found, once again, in Burmese amber. Look at the photo of the amber in the article, then the artist reconstruction. The detail is remarkable, yet evolutionists think this piece of hardened tree sap is 100 million years old.

Update 6/09/17: Another fossil must have been buried rapidly: an African dinosaur said to be 66 million years old. Phys.org says this large abelisaur (like a small T. rex with a blunt snout), found in a phosphate mine in Morocco, was found in marine sediments! Most animals dying at sea are quickly destroyed by worms and other burrowing organisms if they land on the bottom, or are preyed upon by fish and birds if they float. Nick Longrich expresses the astonishment: “This find was unusual because it’s a dinosaur from marine rocks—it’s a bit like hunting for fossil whales, and finding a fossil lion.”

A lot can happen in a hundred million years. A lot can happen in a thousand years, or a hundred. Huge canyons can be carved in days or weeks. Volcanoes can obliterate a landscape. Tsunamis and large landslides can dramatically change an area: in fact, geologists estimate that Heart Mountain detached and slid 55 miles in just 30 minutes (creation.com). Humans have witnessed major events in just a few centuries or millennia: new islands rising out of the sea, end of an ice age, the burial of Pompeii, the sinking of Santorini. Geologists were astonished at the amount of erosion along the Colorado front range in just one winter’s storms in 2013.

it’s a bit like hunting for fossil whales, and finding a fossil lion.

Even with their charts of Darwin Years, evolutionists themselves believe there were major geological changes in far more recent times: uplifts of mountains, sinking of valleys below the sea, subduction of continents, meteor impacts, carving of major river valleys, enormous lava flows, and rearrangement of continents. Entire continents could have eroded down to sea level in just a few million years, given rates of erosion known in some parts of the world today. Phys.org says that the eastern Amazon experienced two major flooding events in just a few million years, leaving marine fossils far inland. The whole Grand Canyon could have been carved in just 5 million years, according to some models. And in less than ten million Darwin Years, the evolutionists proclaim that wolves became whales and chimps became humans.

Yet they want us to believe that a delicate little chick, a mushroom, and a damselfly just sat waiting in their little fossil tombs for a hundred million years – many times longer than these geological events and major evolutionary transformations. We agree with Heads that the chances of such things being are minuscule. On top of that, the creatures haven’t evolved in all that time: they look essentially the same as they do today! Geggel should learn from Dr. Heads that astonishment, maybe even embarrassment, is more appropriate than aplomb.

Tom Bethell, Darwin's House of Cards (2017)“The attribution of ancestry does not come from the fossil; it can only come from us. Fossils are mute; their silence gives us unlimited license to tell their stories for them, which usually take the form of ancestry and descent…. Everything we think we know about the causal relations of events in Deep Time has been invented by us, after the fact.” —Henry Gee, Nature 1999, quoted by Tom Bethell, Darwin’s House of Cards (2017), p. 29

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