April 17, 2023 | David F. Coppedge

Soft Tissue Not Explained by Dead Fish Experiments

Smelly dead fish fail to explain why minerals replace bones,
let alone why original tissue would remain.

— Why are evolutionists ignoring the most stunning discovery in paleontology? —

Researchers Watch Fish Rot, for Science (The Scientist, 1 March 2023). This article updates information we shared 8 Aug 2022 about Thomas Clements’ lab in the UK, where his team studies taphonomy—the science of fossilization.

Clements specializes in taphonomy, a subfield within paleontology that deals with the process of fossilization. He’s especially interested in why some soft tissues, such as muscles and certain internal organs, are more likely to show up in the fossil record than others. It’s important that paleontologists get to the bottom of this mystery, he says, as only by understanding the processes of decay and preservation will they be able to correctly interpret that record. “If you’re looking at a fossil from 500 million years ago, it can be hard to know what tissues are absent because of decay and what tissues are absent because they were not evolutionarily present,” says Clements, currently a research fellow at the University of Birmingham in the UK.

By “evolutionarily present,” Clements means that certain tissues had not yet evolved in older fossils. But if he believes that, would he even spend time looking for them?

The discussion of “soft tissue” in this article refers only to the detailed impressions of organs that have been replaced by minerals, particularly phosphates like apatite. It contains no new information about the remarkable of actual primordial molecules from organisms, such as blood cells or collagen in dinosaur bones. Clements and his colleagues have been holding their noses for months to test the conditions that lead certain organs to phosphatize while others do not.

Mary Bates’ article here at The Scientist doesn’t add much that we shared last August, but the quotes and facts do underscore how rare it is for fossils to form at all.

Only a very small percentage of anything that was ever alive becomes fossilized. While it’s typically the hard parts—bones, teeth, and shells—that get replaced by minerals and preserved, soft tissues also stand a chance in certain circumstances, says Orla Bath Enright, a paleontologist at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. “These soft and squishy parts are much rarer in the fossil record because their preservation requires a particular set of environmental conditions,” she says, including low oxygen levels, availability of minerals, and rapid burial.

The primary finding in the Clements lab refutes the notion that some organs phosphatize quicker because they create microenvironments that change the acidity (pH) in ways that favor mineralization. Not true; the pH of the whole fish appears uniform.

Somewhat surprisingly, the results revealed that organs do not generate unique pH microenvironments during decay (Palaeontology, 65:e12617, 2022). Clements says the inside of the fish became soup-like rather quickly, with most internal organs becoming “unrecognizable” within just five days. This soup of decaying organs had a pervasive pH environment—below the phosphatization threshold—that persisted until the skin finally ruptured. “There was this long-standing idea that pH of the microenvironment is important in soft tissue preservation,” says Philip Wilby, who is paleontology lead at the British Geological Survey and was not involved in this study. “This experiment clearly puts that idea to bed and shows that pH microenvironment is not the important process here.”

It’s noteworthy that Clements’ assistants are suspending dead sea bass in tanks of seawater, but are not testing rapid burial and other requirements that delicate tissues be mineralized. The scientists know that soft organ impressions in some fossils are detailed down to the cells themselves.

Around the world, there are a small number of sites, known in the research literature as Konservat-Lagerstätten, where the conditions were just right. The mineral that yields the most exceptional fossils, and is most frequently observed at these sites, is calcium phosphate (also known as apatite). When soft tissues are replaced by this mineral—a process known as phosphatization—organic structures can be preserved with subcellular fidelity. Under a microscope, even individual muscle fibers and cell organelles may be visible.

So while this article, and the open-access paper in Paleontology (8 Aug 2022) add to knowledge about the rapidity of decay, none of the scientists involved appear at all worried about actual biological material preserved in many fossils. While enduring smelly sea bass in a tank, they are ignoring the T. rex in the room.

Why is that? The discovery of intact biological molecules in many fossils is one of the most stunning discoveries in the history of paleontology! Why won’t they address it? Why aren’t they excited about it? The reason: evolutionists need their precioussssssss millions of years. It is the ring of power for Darwinism. If collagen, blood vessels, osteocytes and other original unfossilized material remains in dead organisms underground, they could not be millions of years old. And with the logical conclusion that they have only been dead a few thousand years at most, deep time dies, and with it, Humpty Darwin who sits on that wall.

Did you watch Dr Brian Thomas’s presentation April 12 about soft tissue preservation in fossils? It’s on YouTube now. Watch and be amazed at the implications. Thomas deals with the proposed physical mechanisms to preserve biomolecules and shows that they do not work. He displays examples from four continents that preserve original biomolecules, and explains that they collapse the entire geologic column. This one show-stopper for Darwin and Deep Time is one of many show-stoppers. How many show-stoppers does it take to stop a show, class? Just one!

Humpty Darwin sits on a wall of foam bricks held together by decayed mortar. Cartoon by Brett Miller commissioned for CEH. All rights reserved.


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