Fossil Forest Found in Antarctica
Claimed to be 280 million years old, stumps of fossil trees retain original material in the world’s coldest climate.
The roots are still attached to a stump emerging from the ground in Antarctica. In the photo on Live Science, paleobiologists led by Erik Gulbranson claim that forests grew here from 400 million to 14 million Darwin Years ago, “which is basically the entirety of plant evolution.”
The article focuses on how the forests changed over millions of years, and speculates about the Permian-Triassic extinction and what it meant for evolution. The most astonishing part of the story, however, is near the end:
The plants are so well-preserved in rock that some of the amino acid building blocks that made up the trees’ proteins can still be extracted, said Gulbranson, who specializes in geochemistry techniques. Studying these chemical building blocks may help clarify how the trees handled the southern latitudes’ weird sunlight conditions, as well as the factors that allowed those plants to thrive but drove Glossopteris to its death, he said.
This statement comes after two claims that the fossils had turned to stone. Amino acids are clearly not made of stone. They typically racemize over time (i.e., become mixtures of left- and right-handed forms). Over millions of years, they should disappear, being replaced by rock.
The extinct tree Glossopteris, similar to conifers, was no evolutionary simpleton:
These were behemoths that grew from 65 to 131 feet (20 to 40 meters) tall, with broad, flat leaves longer than a person’s forearm, Gulbranson said. Before the Permian extinction, Glossopteris dominated the landscape below the 35th parallel south to the South Pole.
These plants also had to have the ability to survive winters without sunlight, and extreme conditions.
It’s hard to look at Antarctica’s frigid landscape today and imagine lush forests. To find their fossil specimens, Gulbranson and his colleagues have to disembark from planes landed on snowfields, then traverse glaciers and brave bone-chilling winds. But from about 400 million to 14 million years ago, the southern continent was a very different, and much greener place. The climate was warmer, though the plants that survived at the low southern latitudes had to cope with winters of 24-hour-per-day darkness and summers during which the sun never set, just as today.
The press release from UWM mentions nothing about amino acids. It focuses entirely on how these trees survived the polar seasons, and on the Permian extinction. Gulbranson even draws “climate change” into the discussion to sound politically correct and trendy. An embedded video from the National Science Foundation (NSF), showing the team working at the site shows slides of what look like cellular structures, pollen and fungi found in the specimens. Carla Hooper seems to say that the trees look “pretty rotten now”. National Geographic gives a few more clues about primordial material:
The fossils preserved the biology and chemistry of the ancient trees, which will help the researchers investigate more on these high-latitude ecosystems to figure out how some plants survived the extinction event, and why others didn’t. What’s more, fossil microorganisms and fungi have been preserved inside the wood.
Gulbranson adds, “They’re actually some of the best-preserved fossil plants in the world.” Tree rings are clearly seen. Some of the specimens in the video appear dark; are they carbonized instead of lithified?
The team from University of Wisconsin will be returning over Thanksgiving weekend during the brief Antarctic summer. Perhaps they can extract more primordial material and describe it in more detail.
Could the climate really have remained warmer for most of the history of complex life on earth? 386 million Darwin Years is a long time to have forests in Antarctica! Does that make sense? The Biblical timeline is more credible: the Darwin Years are a myth, and global conditions were very different before the Flood. One global catastrophe, not six, caused the extinction of many species on the Earth. The permanent ice caps are a post-Flood phenomenon.
Isn’t it instructive that the evolutionists, rather than being astonished that any biological material would last for 280 million imaginary years, look at the amino acids through evolutionary glasses and ask completely different questions?
Anyway, chalk up another case of ancient biological tissue surprising old earthers. Pile it on. The old-guard moyboy evolutionists may have to go extinct before a new generation can see the implications: namely, that the earth is not that old. The old guard seems absolutely incapable of even considering the possibility that their beloved evolutionary timeline is fundamentally in error. Let the evidence speak.