Just What is a Fossil? Part 2

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Continued from yesterday’s post:

300px Eocene fossil flower%2C Clare Family Florissant Fossil Quarry%2C Florissant%2C Colorado%2C USA   20100807 Just What is a Fossil? Part 2

Fossil flower, collected August 2010, from the commercial Clare Family Florissant Fossil Quary, Florissant, Colorado, USA. This fossil dates back to the late Eocene epoch, 35 million years ago. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I ran into such a good page on fossils yesterday that I decided to give it a post on its own.

Although the Petrified Wood Museum specializes in tree fossils, they have a wonderful page on fossils in general. It will be our text for the day!

The word fossil is derived from the Latin fossilis, which means “dug up”. Initially, the term fossil applied to any strange or interesting material found within rock whether or not it was of organic origin

That would explain why the word fossil is used in so many ways, wouldn’t it?

The word ancient is arbitrary. To some ancient applies only to extinct organisms while to others it implies time limits….A more common time limit defines fossils as being prehistoric thus; fossils preserve remains or activities of ancient organisms older than 10,000 years.

Like we saw yesterday, someone else is calling the age limit on how young fossils “arbitrary”.  Scientists just decide that anything fossilized MUST be really old.  They don’t actually have any proof, they just want it that way.

Organisms become trapped within sediment layers due to the action of water, wind or gravity.

Water action we are familiar with.  Let’s have a look at when things get trapped by wind or gravity.  Wind-borne dirt (called Loess) is something I’ve heard of with the Wooly Mammoths.  I covered this form of rock in my post on Devils Tower.  You can read more at Answers in Genesis: “Mr. Ice Age” Solves Woolly Mammoth Mystery.

6096297992 4b3530d347 m Just What is a Fossil? Part 2

At first I didn’t have a clue what gravity-caused sediment layers would look like.  Wikipedia  pointed out that landslides count in this category.  That makes sense; a living thing gets buried by dirt, mud, and rocks tumbling down on it.

Here’s the thing: unless you have a rare form of dirt that we know isn’t formed under water (like loess), you don’t know whether the landslide was dry or wet.  We know there are landslides under water, so there is no way to prove that water wasn’t involved.

Fossilization often occurs as a result of rapid burial, usually by water-borne sediment, followed by chemical alteration. Rapid burial and specific chemical environments help to reduce decomposition from bacteria and fungi.

When would a bunch of things get buried rapidly in “water-borne sediment”?  How about a giant flood, so big it covered the highest points on earth by 20ft [+6m]?

 Just What is a Fossil? Part 2

Deposits that contain vast numbers of fossils represent Concentration Lagerstätten. The preservation may not be exceptional, but the great numbers can be very informative.

Here they’re talking about special times we find helpful fossils .  Next time I discuss fossils I want to get to these collections of “vast numbers” of fossils buried together.

Conservation Lagerstätten contain fossils with soft body preservation, impressions of soft tissue or fossils of well-articulated skeletons without soft tissue preservation.

This is the kind of fossil I wrote about on Monday.  These creatures were so well preserved that it is obvious that they didn’t just get sick/old, die, and slowly sink to the bottom.  They had to be buried quickly or they wouldn’t be in the form they are found.

300px Index fossils Just What is a Fossil? Part 2

examples of index fossils

Finally, fossils are the most practical way of telling time in geology

Do you know what that is saying?  Scientists long ago decided that the deeper an animal was buried the more millions of years old it must be.  Then, when they find other rock layers with the same kinds of creatures, they say both layers are from the same era.  For more on this, see my post on the Geologic Column and check out the links.

The truth is, the fossils don’t come with time badges on them.  You can’t even date them with Radiometric dating, so “the most practical way” to say the earth is old is just a complicated set of guesses.

I say this because the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, “He catches those who think they are wise in their own clever traps.” The Scriptures also say, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise. He knows that their thoughts are worth nothing.”  I Corithians 3:19,20 Easy-to-read Version

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