Fossilization

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Administrator2, Jan 6, 2002.

  1. Administrator2

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    TOMR
    The assertion was made that the lack of fossilization today indicates that fossils must have been preserved in large part by catastrophe and that "fossil patterns" therefore don't show gradual change of life. I suspect the comment came from a perusal of a creationist website, but, at any rate, the underlying premise of the comment is false. The reason we have trouble witnessing fossilization firsthand is because the process is concealed by the very sediments that constitute the preservation medium. Fossils are only viewed after weathering and erosion has "freed" them. Anyone skeptical of modern fossilization occurring should do some digging in modern sediments.


    HELEN
    I know that we can get things to mummify today, but I am not aware of being able to get something to fossilize. I am aware of several attempts that have been made in labs -- experiments that have literally lasted for years, waiting to see if they could get actual fossilization to occur, and they have not been successful. If someone could reference me to some kind of success here, I would be grateful.

    In the meantime, it was the very lack of transitionals which Darwin predicted would falsify his theory and that same lack which caused Gould to formulate the excuse of punctuated equilibrium! What is interesting to me is that, with 95% or more of the fossils being marine, evolutionists concentrate on land animals. More room for imagination there, I think, with so relatively few fossils! And all the marine fossils end up showing is variation in rather tight groupings, not intermediate forms between groups, or on the way to groups found higher in the strata.

    I would also submit that when we see -- and we do -- fish fossilized while eating other fish, or while giving birth, or in wildly distorted positions, there is pretty good evidence that their burial and fossilization was catastrophic. Jellyfish rot rather quickly -- that would have been fast burial and fossilization, too. The evidence for catastrophic burial and fossilization is also evident in the 'fossil graveyards’, which show us a mish mash of all kinds of disarticulated bones, many of which are broken. These were not gentle deaths.


    JOE MEERT
    There was an article in Geology a year or two back discussing rapid fossilization via pyritization (I think). I am at home and all my journals are packed for the move, but I'll see if I can't dig it up through GEOREF and let you know.


    TGAMBLE
    I am aware of several attempts that have been made in labs -- experiments that have literally lasted for years, waiting to see if they could get actual fossilization to occur, and they have not been successful.

    And you insist that fossils did form in less than a year?!


    In the meantime, it was the very lack of transitionals which Darwin predicted would falsify his theory and that same lack which caused Gould to formulate the excuse of punctuated equilibrium!

    Darwin said it was a difficulty. I doubt he said it would falsify it. (how could a lack of evidence falsify something?). As for Gould, if he had a dime for every time some creationist said he developed PE to "Explain why there are no transitional fossils" he'd have more money than Bill Gates. The fact is that it simply isn't so, as Gould himself has repeatedly pointed out.

    We [Gould and Niles Eldredge] proposed the theory of punctuated equilibrium largely to provide a different explanation for pervasive trends in the fossil record. Trends, we argued, cannot be attributed to gradual transformation within lineages, but must arise from the differential success of certain kind of species. A trend, we argued, is more like climbing a flight of stairs (punctuations and stasis) than rolling up an inclined plane.

    Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists—whether though design or dishonesty, I do not know—as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups. Yet a pamphlet entitled “Harvard Scientists Agree Evolution is a Hoax” states: “The facts of punctuated equilibrium which Gould and Eldredge…are forcing Darwinists to swallow fit the picture that Bryan insisted on, and which God revealed to us in the Bible.”

    Continuing the distortion, several creationists have equated the theory of punctuated equilibrium with a caricature of the beliefs of Richard Goldschmidt, a great early geneticist. Goldschmidt argued, in a famous book published in 1949, that new groups can arise all at once through major mutations. He referred to these suddenly transformed creatures as “hopeful monsters.” (I am attracted to some aspects of the non-caricatured version, but Goldschmidt’s theory still has nothing to do with punctuated equilibrium… ;) Creationist Luther Sunderland talks of the “punctuated equilibrium hopeful monster theory” and tells his hopeful readers that “it amounts to tacit admission that anti-evolutionists are correct in asserting there is no fossil evidence supporting the theory that all life is connected to a common ancestor.” Duane Gish writes, “According to Goldschmidt, and now apparently according to Gould, a reptile laid an egg from which the first bird, feathers and all, was produced.” Any evolutionist who believed such nonsense would rightly be laughed off the intellectual stage; yet the only theory that could ever envision such a scenario for the origin of birds is creationism—with God acting in the egg.

    http://home.mmcable.com/harlequin/evol/lies/lie009.html


    What is interesting to me is that, with 95% or more of the fossils being marine, evolutionists concentrate on land animals.

    Meaning?


    And all the marine fossils end up showing is variation in rather tight groupings, not intermediate forms between groups, or on the way to groups found higher in the strata.

    Actually, the fish to amphibian transition is well documented. There are also transitions among marine life.
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional/part1a.html#fish

    [Also,] fish give birth?! Since when?


    Jellyfish rot rather quickly -- that would have been fast burial and fossilization, too. The evidence for catastrophic burial and fossilization is also evident in the 'fossil graveyards'

    But it's not evidence of one catastrophe 4000 years ago.

    It's odd that none of these graveyards have say, humans and dinosaurs buried together. Instead, the fossil record shows a clear order. Impossible to get due to a flood!
    Besides, if all fossils were buried at a single point, it would have been a bit crowded when they were alive...


    Helen
    1. Thanks Joe, I would like to see that article. So would the people who have been trying to get things to fossilize.

    2. I don't insist that fossils form in less than a year, tgamble. Can you show me where I ever mentioned anything like that? I don't know how long it took then. I only know that we don't seem to understand the process today.

    3. I can't find the Darwin quote, but I'm sure I am right about it. In the meantime, here are a few Gould quotes:

    "Mivart gathered, and illustrated "with admirable art and force" (Darwin's words), all objections to the theory of natural selection-"a formidable array" (Darwin's words again). Yet one particular theme, urged with special attention by Mivart, stood out as the centerpiece of his criticism. This argument continues to rank as the primary stumbling block among thoughtful and friendly scrutinizers of Darwinism today. No other criticism seems so troubling, so obviously and evidently "right" (against a Darwinian claim that seems intuitively paradoxical and improbable). Mivart awarded this argument a separate chapter in his book right after the introduction. He also gave it a name, remembered ever since. He called his objection "The Incompetency of Natural Selection to Account for the Incipient Stages of Useful Structures." If this phrase sounds like a mouthful, consider the easy translation: We can readily understand how complex and fully developed structures work and how their maintenance and preservation may rely upon natural selection-a wing, an eye, the resemblance of a bittern to a branch or of an insect to a stick or dead leaf. But how do you get from nothing to such an elaborate something if evolution must proceed through a long sequence of intermediate stages, each favored by natural selection? You can't fly with 2 percent of a wing or gain much protection from an iota's similarity with a potentially concealing piece of vegetation. How, in other words, can natural selection explain the incipient stages of structures that can only be used in much more elaborated form?"
    (Gould S.J., "Not Necessarily a Wing," in "Bully for Brontosaurus: Further Reflections in Natural History," [1991], Penguin: London, 1992, pp.140-141)


    "Increasing diversity and multiple transitions seem to reflect a determined and inexorable progression toward higher things. But the paleontological record supports no such interpretation. There has been no steady progress in the higher development of organic design. We have had, instead, vast stretches of little or no change and one evolutionary burst that created the whole system." [Steven Gould, "Paleontology and the Modern Synthesis," in Evolutionary Synthesis, 1980, p. 164].

    You see, Gould can holler all he wants, but he has written along these lines for years! There would have been no need for P.E. if there were available transitionals...


    4. The meaning of the fact that 95% of the fossils are marine is that there should be plenty of obvious transitionals there. We have millions of fossils! But, instead, the 'transitionals' are chosen where there is the least fossil evidence -- I presume so they can't be found to have disagreeing evidence in any great hurry.!


    5. The Talk Origins FAQ is a joke. I'm sorry, but it is. The transitionals are all presumed. Nothing is really known. It is all presuming evolution first and looking for evidence after which 'might' fit. And, if it doesn't, well, gee, think one up!


    6. Guppies give live birth. I believe some sharks do, too? At any rate, yes, some fish give live birth.


    7. I'm not arguing about a short earth history here. that is simply a red herring you are dragging across the path. I asked questions about known fossilization in our time, about the necessity for punk eek (P.E.), and about the evident catastrophic and rapid burial of a number of the fossils we see.


    JOE MEERT
    Here you go:
    Geology Boulder, February 2001, Vol. 29, Issue 2, pp. 123-126
    Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA) : Boulder, CO, United States
    Country of publication: United States
    Publication date: February 2001
    Language: English

    Major Categories: (05A) Igneous and metamorphic petrology; (09) Paleobotany
    Subject(s): biogenic processes; biomineralization; experimental studies; fossilization; geochemistry; laboratory studies; metasomatism; Plantae; pyrite; pyritization; rates; SEM data; simulation; sulfides; synthesis; TEM data

    Abstract: The process of fossilization is poorly understood. However, it is central to our understanding of the evolution of life. It is unclear how plant tissues become fossilized, whether fossilization is selective to specific biopolymers, or whether original organic constituents survive. We have replicated the fossilization process in the laboratory by using both microbial and chemical approaches to pyritize plant debris. These results demonstrate that initial pyritization can be an extremely rapid process (within 80 days) and is driven by anaerobic bacterial-mediated decay. Initially, pyrite precipitates on and within plant cell walls and in the spaces between them. Further decay and infilling at all scales preserves broad cellular anatomy. The results have implications for fossilization in general and the fidelity of the taxonomic and biomolecular information preserved in fossils.


    LOGIC BOT
    ..my point was that contorted bodies are common, and more importantly, this doesn't mean that the conclusion that must be drawn is that they died in a catastrophic event. Frankly that's not what the evidence is showing.


    TOMR
    I'm not sure of the significance of the lack of success in getting things to fossilize under artificial conditions is. We know certainly that fossilization takes place. All that is really needed is burial if we define a fossil simply as organic remains of an ancient organisms. There are several modes of preservation of fossils identified, all of which occur under uniformitarian conditions...replacement, recrystallization, and permineralization are all effected by hydrochemical processes with the involvement of groundwater or trapped interstitial seawater. We're talking about processes that hardly require a catastrophe and imply great lengths of time to transpire as indicated by the experiments referenced by Helen.

    Now I'll certainly agree that catastrophic events can result in the "fossil graveyards" referenced. But I'd definitely question the logic of assuming that a catastrophic event evidenced by a mass mortality was necessarily a specific event described in a religious article.


    EDGE
    Technically a footprint can be a fossil. How long do they take to form?


    In the meantime, it was the very lack of transitionals which Darwin predicted would falsify his theory and that same lack which caused Gould to formulate the excuse of punctuated equilibrium!

    This presupposes that Darwin was knowledgeable in paleontology. Why should he have been right about a lack of transitionals but wrong about evolution in general? Also, don't you think that PE makes sense? Mightn't paleontologists expect new developments and new environmental niches to result in apparent rapid radiation of species? I hardly classify PE as an "excuse."


    What is interesting to me is that, with 95% or more of the fossils being marine, evolutionists concentrate on land animals.

    I don't quite believe you are correct on this. Perhaps more recent species are of greater interest, especially those more like us, but there are plenty of people studying marine fossils. If you included carbonate sedimentologists the number is probably substantial. I know a professor who spent most of his life studying bryozoans. Not exactly the stuff to ignite the imagination.


    More room for imagination there, I think, with so relatively few fossils! And all the marine fossils end up showing is variation in rather tight groupings, not intermediate forms between groups, or on the way to groups found higher in the strata.

    The operative word here being "relative." Actually, there are "relatively" fewer terrestrial fossils be cause they died on land and were consumed, disaggregated, decayed, or otherwise unpreserved.


    Jellyfish rot rather quickly -- that would have been fast burial and fossilization, too.

    Check out my note on fossil footprints. The body of the jellyfish is not necessary to have a fossil. Just a imprint. I think that's what most of the jellyfish fossils are.


    HELEN
    A jellyfish fossil depends on the jellyfish not rotting long enough to leave a fossil. Even if it is just an imprint.
    Secondly, the jellyfish is almost weightless in water, whereas a footprint is the object of weight. This also makes a difference. The fossil of a jellyfish implies sudden burial while the jelly fish is alive or very shortly after death. It doesn't matter what kind of fossil results -- but yes, I believe they are imprints.

    I need to make it clear, I guess, that I certainly don't believe all fossils are results of general catastrophes. But I think some are. In fact, I have to admit I think a great number of them are. I have a very nice fossil here on the windowsill of a group of fish. Fish normally swim in schools with all the fish facing the same direction. The fossil I have shows several fish facing different directions and one with a twisted body. There are also some seaweed imprints. Seaweed doesn't normally leave prints, either. It looks like sudden and at least localized catastrophic burial to me. I have a couple nice large trilobite fossils here, too. One with eyes and one eyeless. There is no way of knowing whether they were catastrophic burials or not.

    Secondly, do I think PE makes sense? Only as an excuse. What we see in real life in small, isolated populations is a rise in genetic load, not fast evolution. We see that they are more threatened by changes in the environment, not less, than larger populations. This is why the big cats in captivity are bred so carefully now, so as not to breed too closely. Close breeding is known to encourage the expression of negative traits. So small populations in our experience do not respond the way Gould and all want them to have done through the supposed eons. The theory of PE disregards everything we have learned about small, isolated populations. That is why I call PE an excuse.

    It was mentioned that we have so few land animal fossils because of death and disintegration, etc. Are you telling me things disintegrate more slowly in water???

    Finally, to Joe -- that looks like a very interesting and valuable article. I appreciate knowing about it. I will pass on the information. I will also try to find a copy of it somewhere! It does indicate that the initial stages of fossilization have to be -- or seem to be, or can be -- rapid. It does indicate the necessity for anaerobic conditions, which makes rapid burial a presumption, at least, in most cases, I would think.

    Yes, I want to read that article.

    [ January 06, 2002: Message edited by: Administrator ]
     

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