Fossil Record and Catastrophism

Every living thing that moved on the earth perished–birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.”  – Genesis 7: 21 – 24

1. The concept of “Catastrophism” is a geological doctrine that holds that major changes seen in the earth’s rock layers are better explained as a result of catastrophes (or a series of enormous geological disturbances) as opposed to the evolutionary process 1

2. The Fossil Record itself contains great evidence that the world was once subjected to a tremendous catastrophe

  • The best explanation for this is the Global Flood in the days of Noah


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3. In order for a fossil to be formed, just the right conditions need to exist:

  • An animal must be quickly buried by sediments (mud and/or sand as an example) shortly after it dies – otherwise, it will be consumed by scavengers or will decay as weather takes its toll
  • As more and more sediments accumulate around the remains, the softer tissues (muscles and organs) will rot away due to bacteria
  • If the circumstances are right, the harder tissue (bones and teeth) however can become encased within the sediments
  • As the hard tissue itself begins to decay, water infused with minerals from the surrounding environment begins to seep into the bones and/or teeth
  • Fossilization therefore is the dissolving and replacing of the original material in the object with minerals
  • As a result, a rock like canopy envelops the original hard tissue and eventually replaces it with minerals
  • The shape is the same as the original hard tissue, but it is chemically more like a rock than the original Carbon based material that made up the bones and/or teeth 2

4. The chief mechanism for fossil formation is water or some kind of flooding – in other words, a situation where water quickly buries the remains of living organisms (animals and plants) 3

5. The overwhelming majority of fossils are found within Sedimentary Rock 4

6. Sedimentary Rock is formed when minerals are compressed under intense pressure from water activity 5

  • Most of the world’s surface is covered by Sedimentary Rock
    • In fact, about 70% of the world’s rock is sedimentary
    • This includes among others sandstone, limestone, conglomerate, and shale 6

7. You combine these facts together and it becomes quite plausible that a Global Cataclysmic Flood is the basis for most of the fossilization we see in the world today:

  • Most of the world is covered by Sedimentary Rock
  • Sedimentary Rock is formed by the intense pressure of a lot of water
  • Most fossils are found in Sedimentary Rock 7

The pictures in the rest of this section are of fossils of animals that clearly dies under rapid burial by tremendous amounts of water and associated sediments


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In 1971 in Mongolia, a startling set of fossils was found (pictured above)

  • A perfectly articulated Protoceratops and a Velociraptor were found in a life and death struggle with one other
  • It was clear to researchers that they were buried suddenly by a huge catastrophe
  • The dinosaurs didn’t even have time to fall over 8

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This fossil above is almost beyond belief

  • This is of an ichthyosaur mother buried while giving birth 9
  • An ichthyosaur is similar to a dolphin 10


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Paleontologists have determined that the ichthyosaur mother actually had three other offspring in her womb, apart from the one she was giving birth to

  • A closer image provides some of the detail 11

This is yet more evidence that some enormous cataclysm killed and buried these creature


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This fossil pictured above is actually two in one – you see the bigger fish was in the midst of eating the smaller one when they were both instantly buried in sediment


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We discuss more concerning petrified trees in another section – but again, here you have a tree that was rapidly buried by layers of sediment

  • Such trees are found the world over


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So often, dinosaurs are found in the midst of death throes

  • This particular dinosaur fossil (pictured above) is in an extraordinary position
  • His tail is curved back and his head is strongly arched up and back 12
  • Paleontologists have observed such strange postures time and again in many fossils

It has been noted that often the dinosaurs appear to have suffered brain damage and/or asphyxiation 13


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The commentary about this photo (above) was taken from a website that espoused evolution and an old-earth philosophy –

  • Interestingly enough, the arguments made concerning how this creature and so many other died, fits quite well with a Global Flood Cataclysm

“Archaeopteryx fossil showing the distinctive head-back death pose of many articulated fossilized birds, dinosaurs and early mammals. Archaeopteryx is an ancient feathered dinosaur. This specimen is at the Humboldt Museum, Berlin. The skull is approximately two inches long.

“Virtually all articulated specimens of Archaeopteryx are in this posture, exhibiting a classic pose of head thrown back, jaws open, back and tail reflexed backward and limbs contracted,” said Kevin Padian, professor of integrative biology and curator in the Museum of Paleontology at the University of California, Berkeley. He and Cynthia Marshall Faux of the Museum of the Rockies published their findings in the March issue of the quarterly journal Paleobiology, which appeared this week.

“Dinosaurs and their relatives, ranging from the flying pterosaurs to Tyrannosaurus Rex, as well as many early mammals, have been found exhibiting this posture. The explanation usually given by paleontologists is that the dinosaurs died in water and the currents drifted the bones into that position, or that rigor mortis or drying muscles, tendons and ligaments contorted the limbs.

“I’m reading this in the literature and thinking, “This doesn’t make any sense to me as a veterinarian,’” said lead author Faux (pronounced fox), a veterinarian-turned-paleontologist who also is a curatorial affiliate with Yale University’s Peabody Museum. “Paleontologists aren’t around sick and dying animals the way a veterinarian is, where you see this posture all the time in disease processes, in strychnine cases, in animals hit by a car or in some sort of extremis.

”Faux and Padian argue in Paleobiology that the dinosaurs died in this posture as a result of damage to the central nervous system. In fact, the posture is well known to neurologists as Opisthotonus and is due to damage to the brain’s cerebellum. In humans and animals, cerebella damage can result from suffocation, meningitis, tetanus or poisoning, and typically accompanies a long, slow death.

“Some animals found in this posture may have suffocated in an ash fall during a volcanic eruption, consistent with the fact that many fossils are found in ash deposits, Faux and Padian said. But many other possibilities exist, including disease, brain trauma, severe bleeding, thiamine deficiency or poisoning.

“This puts a whole new light on the mode of death of these animals, and interpretation of the places they died in,” Padian said. “This explanation gives us clues to interpreting a great many fossil horizons we didn’t understand before and tells us something dinosaurs experienced while dying, not after dying.” 14


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This fossil (pictured above) is found in the British Museum of Natural History

This is a fossil of a set of “crinoids” or what are called “sea lillies”

  • They are actually animals and not plants
  • They use delicate arms to grab small particles of food from the water 15

This particular fossil is relatively large – we don’t find these creature to be this size anymore

  • What we do know is that when they die – they dissipate /break down rapidly
  • The fact that these were so well preserved is strong indication for rapid burial 16


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This picture (above) is from the Dinosaur National Monument park located in Utah 17

Fossil remains are often found thrown together and buried under tremendous sediments?

  • The world over, we find large collections of the remains of dinosaurs and large mammals that appear to be oriented in the same general direction for a given layer or locale 18

In other words, they are dying in the same water cataclysm and are being killed at the same moment in time

A little know fact is that dinosaur remains are often found with the skull missing

  • “There is a common saying among scientist that “finding the head of a dinosaur is like finding a needle in a haystack.”  This is to say that the greatest majority of dinosaur skeletons found have no head attached to their bodies.  There are actually only a dozen or so complete dinosaur skeletons in the entire world.  Many more dinosaur skeletons than this have been found of course, but they are not complete.  Often they are missing their heads.  Why would a dinosaur loose its head if it died a simple death and just fell over on the ground to be buried?  Even scientists admit openly that it appears like most dinosaurs were washed into their current locations by heavy currents.  A head is not as well attached to the rest of the body as other limbs.  A catastrophic flood could be the reason that there are so many headless dinosaurs around.” 19