October 3, 2023 | David F. Coppedge

Fossils Too Perfect for Deep Time

Evolutionists never question the vast ages
for fossils that are exquisitely preserved


Here are news items about fossils that are too perfect for evolutionary speculations. Would they really last for hundreds of millions of years on an earth prone to volcanic eruptions, asteroid impacts, floods, earthquakes and moving continents? Food for thought.

Ancient trilobite stuffed itself with food almost to bursting point (New Scientist, 27 Sept 2023). Reporter Corryn Wetzel tells about an amazing trilobite fossil where the stomach contents were clearly discernible. The find, reported by Nature on September 27th, included images from 3-D scans where scientists could make out the types of animals the trilobite had eaten.

“Most fossil trilobites are not dead whole animals, but rather shed carapaces from the moulting process, like modern crabs,” says Per Ahlberg at Uppsala University in Sweden. As a result, none of their internal organs are present in the fossil. But this trilobite, unearthed in the Czech Republic, was buried alive with a full gut in an undersea mudslide.

See the image reproductions published in Science, which irreverently called it the “last supper” of the arthropod. The scientists agree that this trilobite must have been buried quickly. That still does not explain how it survived 465 million Darwin Years of bioturbation or immediate scavenging by other animals or bacteria. Of interest to science watchers: the comments of the peer reviewers show that they had many problems with the authors’ speculations. One even recommended it be rejected.

Trilobite mass death display, Wyoming Dinosaur Center (DFC)

Royal Ontario Museum Researchers Identify Oldest Known Species of Swimming Jellyfish (Royal Ontario Museum, 1 Aug 2023). A few months ago, the Royal Ontario Museum reported a fossilized jellyfish that apparently swam like modern ones 505 million Darwin Years ago. So where is the evolution? And how did a delicate animal that is mostly water ever get preserved to last so long?

Jellyfish belong to medusozoans, or animals producing medusae, and include today’s box jellies, hydroids, stalked jellyfish and true jellyfish. Medusozoans are part of one of the oldest groups of animals to have existed, called Cnidaria, a group which also includes corals and sea anemones. Burgessomedusa unambiguously shows that large, swimming jellyfish with a typical saucer or bell-shaped body had already evolved more than 500 million years ago.

Burgessomedusa fossils are exceptionally well preserved at the Burgess Shale considering jellyfish are roughly 95% composed of water. ROM holds close to two hundred specimens from which remarkable details of internal anatomy and tentacles can be observed, with some specimens reaching more than 20 centimetres in length. These details enable classifying Burgessomedusa as a medusozoan. By comparison with modern jellyfish, Burgessomedusa would also have been capable of free-swimming and the presence of tentacles would have enabled capturing sizeable prey.

“Although jellyfish and their relatives are thought to be one of the earliest animal groups to have evolved, they have been remarkably hard to pin down in the Cambrian fossil record. This discovery leaves no doubt they were swimming about at that time,” said co-author Joe Moysiuk, a Ph.D. candidate in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto, who is based at ROM.

The questions about preservation for over 500 million years were not asked by the reporters and editors at New Scientist, either. Isn’t anybody curious about that? And if it looks modern so long ago, why does anybody believe they evolved? No ancestors were mentioned by the reporters or scientists.

Jellyfish are complex creatures that are anything but simple. Matthew Beach at The Conversation calls them “biological wonders.” The Illustra Media film below shows them to be exquisitely designed—especially the free-swimming medusa jellyfish like those found as fossils. Did they just pop into existence in the Cambrian without ancestors?

‘Like swallowing a dinner plate’: 180 million-year-old fish may have choked to death on its supersized supper (Live Science, 15 Aug 2023). A large fish that swallowed an ammonite was the subject of this article. But did it happen 180 million Darwin Years ago? And how was it preserved so well? Reporter Ethan Freedman speculates in a cartoon drawing that it fell to the ocean floor and was slowly buried. Bottom dwellers, however, would have made quick work of the fish before that happened, like they do with whale fall carcasses. Why didn’t anybody question the cartoon version of what happened?

Dinosaur feathers reveal traces of ancient proteins (University College Cork, 22 Sept 2023). A smiling female evolutionist accompanies the opening photo of a feather, discussing exquisitely-preserved feathers said to be 125 million Darwin Years old. She calls them “dinosaur feathers” naturally, from the creature dubbed Sinosauropteryx (‘Chinese lizard with wings’).

It’s really exciting to discover new similarities between dinosaurs and birds,” Dr Slater says. “To do this, we developed a new method to detect traces of ancient feather proteins. Using X-rays and infrared light we found that feathers from the dinosaur Sinornithosaurus contained lots of beta-proteins, just like feathers of birds today.”

To help interpret the chemical signals preserved in the fossil feathers, the team also ran experiments to help understand how feather proteins break down during the fossilization process.

“Modern bird feathers are rich in beta-proteins that help strengthen feathers for flight,” Dr Slater says.

“Previous tests on dinosaur feathers, though, found mostly alpha-proteins. Our experiments can now explain this weird chemistry as the result of protein degradation during the fossilization process. So although some fossil feathers do preserve traces of the original beta-proteins, other fossil feathers are damaged and tell us a false narrative about feather evolution.”

This research helps answer a long-standing debate about whether feather proteins, and proteins in general, can preserve in deep time.

For opinion about whether Sinosauropteryx had true feathers, see Luskin, Evolution News, 2 Aug 2014. The University of Cork press release does not state whether the feather depicted behind Dr Slater was from a bird or something else. See our 22 Nov 2016 article about Confuciusornis, a “strong flyer” with soft tissue preserved.

Will you just take their word for it that proteins can last 125 million years? Another evolutionist quoted in the press release said, “Traces of ancient biomolecules can clearly survive for millions of years, but you can’t read the fossil record literally because even seemingly well-preserved fossil tissues have been cooked and squashed during fossilization.” Get past their emotional excitement and think about what they are claiming. They found traces of original proteins they believe are 125 million years old! Is that even remotely credible?

The original paper was published in Nature Ecology & Evolution on Sept 21st. The title mentions protein: “Preservation of corneous β-proteins in Mesozoic feathers.” How can they claim this as evidence for evolution? (Abstract reproduced at bottom.)

Miocene period fossil forest of Wataria found in Japan (University of Hokkaido, 21 July 2023). Claimed to be from the Miocene period (23 to 5 million Darwin Years), fossil tree trunks along a river bank were so well preserved the scientists could tell the species from the tree rings and structure of the trunk. Many fossil leaves were also found. The press release begins with the obligatory Darwin commercial:

Complete plant fossils are seldom found as a single piece, as wood, leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, or pollen detach easily from plants. This results in leaves and trunks having separate scientific names. Putting together the different parts to reveal the complete plant is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Connecting these dots and reconstructing plants is important to establish their taxonomic identity—their place in the Tree of Life.

The paper, published open access in Nature Scientific Reports on 21 June 2023. The researchers studied 137 upright stumps out of 400 known in the area. Forest trees do not normally fossilize in upright positions! Could a flood do this?

The sediments cropped out in the PFP section (Figs. 2, 4a) consisted of three beds, one of which was exposed on the surface according to the extent of erosion. Bed A consisted of very fine-grained sandstone containing upright root traces (Fig. 4b,c). Bed B began with a laminated and carbonaceous mudstone layer containing a dense B. tiliifolium deposit. The grain size increased upward, and ripple laminae had developed in its upper part (Fig. 4b,c). Bed C was composed of very fine-grained sandstone with climbing ripples (Fig. 4b,c). Bed B represented mudstone deposited in a floodplain or back marsh, and beds A and C were crevasse splay flood deposits. The in situ stumps were anchored in bed A and the basal parts of the trunks were surrounded by bed B (Figs. 2, 4b,c).

The paper does not mention whether these three beds indicated the trees grow in place, or were transported from another location. Another fossil forest that was long believed to represent growth in place over long ages was reinterpreted later to represent transport in mudflows (see 28 Sept 2015). Yet these authors, committed to the evolutionary timeline, maintain that the layers were spread over six million Darwin Years (22 to 19 mya)—alongside a riverbank! What would happen to waterlogged wood normally? Would it last?

Is Sudden Burial the Norm?

Paleontologist Günter Bechly, former evolutionist turned intelligent design advocate, mentioned in Evolution News on Sept 29th that many fossils of ichthyosaurs in the act of giving birth have been found. His article begins with a photo of one, showing exquisite detail.

The Stuttgart museum holds more than 46 specimens of supposed ichthyosaur mothers with embryos, in different stages of the pregnancy and birthing process (Böttcher 1990). These include specimens with up to ten embryos in the belly, partial births, and specimens with newborn babies outside the body that were likely cases of postmortem fetal extrusion due to carcass implosion….

Bechly knows this because he was a curator at the Stuttgart Museum for years before turning against Darwinism. He cites another find: “In 2014 a specimen of the primitive ichthyosaur Chaohusaurus was described by Motani et al. (2014) from the Early Triassic of China (about 248 million years old). The specimen was preserved with three babies: one inside the body, one outside the body, and one in head-first partial birth.”

Although Bechly does not challenge Deep Time, his statements about the fossil evidence should raise eyebrows and cause readers to consider the very special conditions required to bury a marine creature in the act of giving birth, and then ask how this could have happened in dozens of cases.

Deep time is like a hallucinogenic drug. It makes otherwise intelligent people dream of vast periods of time where exquisitely-preserved fossils will just sit there, sometimes with soft tissue and proteins intact, without changing. We need to get these people into therapy.

Abstract from the feather paper:

Fossil proteins are valuable tools in evolutionary biology. Recent technological advances and better integration of experimental methods have confirmed the feasibility of biomolecular preservation in deep time, yielding new insights into the timing of key evolutionary transitions. Keratins (formerly α-keratins) and corneous β-proteins (CBPs, formerly β-keratins) are of particular interest as they define tissue structures that underpin fundamental physiological and ecological strategies and have the potential to inform on the molecular evolution of the vertebrate integument. Reports of CBPs in Mesozoic fossils, however, appear to conflict with experimental evidence for CBP degradation during fossilization. Further, the recent model for molecular modification of feather chemistry during the dinosaur–bird transition does not consider the relative preservation potential of different feather proteins. Here we use controlled taphonomic experiments coupled with infrared and sulfur X-ray spectroscopy to show that the dominant β-sheet structure of CBPs is progressively altered to α-helices with increasing temperature, suggesting that (α-)keratins and α-helices in fossil feathers are most likely artefacts of fossilization. Our analyses of fossil feathers shows that this process is independent of geological age, as even Cenozoic feathers can comprise primarily α-helices and disordered structures. Critically, our experiments show that feather CBPs can survive moderate thermal maturation. As predicted by our experiments, analyses of Mesozoic feathers confirm that evidence of feather CBPs can persist through deep time.

Take their word for it? They did not (obviously) watch these proteins for 150 million years!





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