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A mystery of fossil preservation: Caught in the act

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Creation-Evolution Headlines muses over what most news media laughed over: The fact that turtles sometimes get fossilized while mating:

A more obvious question reporters seem to be skipping over is, how quickly would an animal have to be buried to be preserved in the sex act? The BBC News article showed a photograph of the exquisite preservation of one of the pairs of fossils claimed to be 47 million years old. About nine pairs have been found at the Messel Pit in Germany, most of them apparently in mating positions. (Mating Turtles Fossilized Instantly, June 19, 2012)

Turtles are not known for their swiftness, to be sure, but one would think that the events of death would attract their attention. CEH goes on,

These specimens add to a long list of fossils showing nearly instantaneous burial: ichthyosaurs trapped while giving birth, fish caught while swallowing other fish, fish with undigested small fish in their stomachs.

It’s as if a guy were fossilized while extracting a card from up his sleeve during a poker game … we would learn so much more than the anatomy of the elbow.

Here the turtles are, by the way.

Demonstrably, fossilization can be so rapid that it doesn’t destroy all evidence of what the creature was doing at the time. We don’t know how that happens.

Note: The term “mystery” originated with Nature News, not Creation-Evolution Headlines.

5 Replies to “A mystery of fossil preservation: Caught in the act

  1. 1
    tjguy says:

    Here is another section from Crev.info article on this news:

    Researchers think the turtles had initiated sex in the surface waters of the lake that once existed on the site, and were then overcome as they sank through deeper layers made toxic by the release of volcanic gases.

    The animals, still in embrace, were then buried in the lakebed sediments and locked away in geological time.

    How feasible does this story sound?

    Not very?

    This fossil is one of many many fossils that show rapid burial in a marine environment. A flood, perhaps a global flood, would be a better explanation for the evidence, no?

    This is a good example of the limits of historical science. We can tell that these turtles were caught in the middle of the act. But there is no date on the fossil. There is no explanation as to how they became fossilized. There is no label telling us where they lived either. in this instance, because of their embrace, we can be pretty sure they died where they lived, but sometimes, it is difficult to even know if the animal lived where it was fossilized. So we make up stories that cannot be verified. This story doesn’t make too much sense.

    I doubt they would have peacefully remained connected as they fought for their lives and sank to the bottom of the lake. How long do you think they had to lay there on the bottom of the lakebed until they were finally buried sufficiently to fossilize? How were they able to fight off all the scavengers and bacteria that would have loved to feast on their dead bodies?

    A flood is a much better explanation for this bazaar fossil, don’t you think?!

  2. 2
    News says:

    Can a flood trigger a mudslide? A soft mud slide does make some sense in such a case. The fish swallowing another fish or two turtles engaged in mating might not sense the “a-mud-aclypse” about to descend on them. Then they are suddenly trapped in mud and preserved in their life position, which might not happen otherwise.

    Anyway, with luck, we will find more of these examples, because they could tell us a lot about how those life forms actually behaved.

  3. 3
    Jon Garvey says:

    Can’t wait till they find a dinosaur caught in the act of doing its tax return!

  4. 4
    Robert Byers says:

    This YEC sees these fossils as post flood. iNdeed they were caught instantly by such deep sediment and this turned into stone instantly that they had no time to turn around.
    its simple from observation to know what happened.
    It just shows the physics of these massive moving sediment/water are not understood as never witnessed or ever presumed.

  5. 5
    tjguy says:

    Yes, NEWS, a mudslide caused by a flood or the torrential rains that caused the flood sounds very feasible – much more feasible than the two ideas given in the article.

    The fossil record shows overwhelming support for catastrophe and rapid burial often in conjunction with water. I believe the vast majority of fossils are marine creatures and many of the land animals that have been fossilized are found in sedimentary rocks which are formed in water. Polystrate fossils show strong evidence that these layers of rocks were not laid down over millions of years and these are common in the fossil layers.

    Rapid burial is necessary to cover and preserve the animal for fossilization. This explains how even jellyfish and other soft-bodied invertebrates can be found in the fossil record.

    Then there are the numerous dinosaur fossils that are found fossilized in the famous “death pose” indicating drowning. Also, there are dinosaur graveyards with thousands of bones which obviously means they all were washed together to that location and were fossilized. Whatever the interpretation, it cannot be denied that water was often involved and burial was often rapid indicating some type of a watery catastrophe.

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