January 3, 2023 | David F. Coppedge

Fossil Graveyard Explanation Ridiculous Without a Flood

Giant ichthyosaurs, as big as a bus, do not become
buried in rock slowly over millions of years

 

— Sometimes those outside academia need to think for themselves —

Scientists deserve respect for their years of hard study, learning about techniques, equipment, and math. Getting that PhD does not always mean becoming an expert in common sense, however. See if the following tale about a mass graveyard of giant ichthyosaurs in Nevada passes the absurdity test.

Mystery Nevada fossil site could be ancient maternity ward (Phys.org, 24 Dec 2022).

A fossil site has “baffled paleontologists for decades.” Why?

First, let’s get to know the marine reptiles whose bones were found in the Nevada desert:

The site is famous for its fossils from giant ichthyosaurs—reptiles that dominated the ancient seas and could grow up to the size of a school bus. The creatures—the name means fish lizard—were underwater predators with large paddle-shaped flippers and long jaws full of teeth.

Ichthyosaur skeletal diagram (Neil Kelley, 2022)

Reporter Maddie Burakoff also notes that the ichthyosaurs “boast vertebrae the size of dinner plates and bones from their flippers as thick as boulders.”

Now picture these creatures lying on the ocean bottom after dying. What would have happened? We can tell from observations of great whales who die and sink to the bottom: they are quickly devoured by worms and scavengers. Nothing is left behind.

Large creatures such as these are not going to become buried in slowly-accumulating sediment. Some event would have to bury them quickly before scavengers could get at them.

How to explain these fossils? Before now, investigators suspected “a massive die-off” of some kind. A big enough flood might do it.

With that possibility off the table, is their newer theory credible, even if it passed peer review?

Since the ichthyosaur bones in Nevada were excavated in the 1950s, many paleontologists have investigated how all these creatures could have died together. Now, researchers have proposed a different theory in a study published Monday in the journal Current Biology.

Several lines of evidence all kind of point towards one argument here: That this was a place where giant ichthyosaurs came to give birth,” said co-author Nicholas Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

In support of this new story, Pyenson and colleagues looked at the strata and tried to fit the fossils into their conception of deep time:

They identified fossils from at least 37 ichthyosaurs scattered around the area, dating back about 230 million years. The bones were preserved in different rock layers, suggesting the creatures could have died hundreds of thousands of years apart rather than all at once, Pyenson said.

A few bones of baby ichthyosaurs were found in the bone yard. That’s what give Pyenson and colleagues a hint that the site was an ancient maternity ward.

A major break came when the researchers spotted some tiny bones among the massive adult fossils, and realized they belonged to embryos and newborns, Pyenson said. The researchers concluded that the creatures traveled to the site in groups for protection as they gave birth, like today’s marine giants. The fossils are believed to be from the mothers and offspring that died there over the years.

They couldn’t take seriously a mass beaching event, because they believe the bones “were preserved on the ocean floor pretty far from the shore,” Burakoff says. They also dismissed a rapid burial, because chemical tests in the rock “didn’t turn up any signs of volcanic eruptions or huge shifts to the local environment.”

And yet their story that the giant mothers came to the place to give birth still runs against the same fossilization problem: large animals don’t get slowly covered up with sediments on the ocean floor. The tale also raises the question of why young and old specimens all died in a maternity ward and yet kept coming back for nearly a million years.

Paleontologist Dean Lomax told New Scientist on 29 December that a fossil ichthyosaur his team found last January may have been larger than a blue whale, often considered the largest animal that ever lived. Ichthyosaurs went from a land animal to a fully aquatic super-predator in a “shockingly fast pulse of evolution” the article says.

These paleontologists, completely absorbed in the consensus scheme of deep time and millions of years of evolution, are unable to think outside that box. But more time can be a hindrance to scientists rather than a help. It makes them unable to see absurdity. Mother fish-lizards* kept coming to the same spot for millions of years to give birth, even though they and their young kept dying? Why didn’t they win a Darwin award and get eliminated from the gene pool?

*Notice how the translation from Latin de-solemnifies the taxonomy for these animals, which were neither fish nor lizards.

The biggest absurdity is the notion that giant reptiles like this fell to the ocean floor and got slowly buried over long periods of time. As air breathers, ichthyosaurs would have needed to avoid deep water. They most likely gave birth near the surface, not down where the pressure was highest. Unless they became completely buried rapidly, their remains would have been devoured by marine worms and other scavengers.

The presence of a few juvenile or embryonic fossils does not necessarily indicate that only females came to the spot. It well could have been a herd of both sexes. If they were all buried together by a sudden surge of sediment, such as an underwater debris flow, then the evidence from “different rock layers” would falsify the notion that the creatures “died hundreds of thousands of years apart rather than all at once.” But maybe they died all at once because the rock layers were deposited all at once, perhaps in rapid succession, entombing the animals in short order. The Genesis Flood explains this site as well as many mass graveyards around the world. Flume experiments and historically-witnessed rapid flood deposits show that “different rock layers” can be deposited in a single event.

Another absurdity concerns the story of evolution of ichthyosaurs: it requires an extreme belief in the power of “convergent evolution” (see Darwin Flubber). Ichthyosaurs were reptiles, but resemble modern dolphins, which are mammals, in many respects (streamlined shape, air breathers, similar flippers, and more). Not being related directly, how could they “evolve” such similarities millions of years apart? Does that make sense? In the evolutionary time scheme, ichthyosaurs went extinct many millions of years before mammals like dolphins and whales took to the water from supposed four-legged ancestors. Deep time and Darwinian evolution pile on absurdities when faced with evidences like these.

Pyenson and colleagues were required to stretch out the burials over time because of their evolutionary worldview. Though baffled for over 7 decades trying to incorporate the fossils into their slow-and-gradual Darwinian story, this new story about a “maternity ward” makes little sense. A wrong time scale cannot make sense. Many problems with fossil sites might be solved if paleontologists gave up deep time, or at least considered the possibility that deep time is merely a useless spandrel in scientific explanations.

Many theological problems would also be solved by tossing out the requirement to compromise with what the “science” says about deep time. See CMI article about a new book on this topic.

“Thinking about Deep Time” – this Smithsonian display shows all of recorded human history as a tiny sliver at the right end of the timeline. But how can they know everything left of that sliver without making assumptions about deep time?

 

 

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