Fossils and Dinosaurs
I guess that depends on how you define ‘important,’ doesn’t it? Fossils don’t tell us how to grow food or build houses or sew clothes. But they do let us know something about the past, and, for me, they are evidence that our Bible is absolutely correct in what it is telling us about the past.
Fossils show us where animals lived and what size they were. That lets us know something about the past conditions on earth. When we see fish fossils on top of a mountain, for instance, we know that mountain is one that rose up later in time and that it used to be under water.
First we need to know about the different kinds of fossils and how they form. First, most fossils are found in sedimentary rock. That means rock layered by water and hardened from time, pressure and, often drainage, so it dries out. A few fossils are found in old volcanic ash layers. If a volcano has overwhelmed a forest, quite a bit can be preserved that way.
Many fossils can show different ways they were fossilized at the same time. A leaf, for example, can leave a carbon trace, but its stem might leave a cast or mold. Some shelled animals can leave casts and molds but also be mineralized as well.
Now the question – can fossils form quickly? In the standard way geology looks at things, probably not, except in circumstances like the hat or teddy bear. That is because they believe things have always happened as slowly as they do now. The illustration below shows that. They depend on the gradual dissolving of minerals as rains and ground water seep down around the buried remains.
However, when we look at the catastrophes in the geologic column, we can see that there were times when things happened very quickly. When we compare the geologic column to what the Bible tells us, we can see there were times when a lot of mineral-rich muds and rocks were expelled from under the crust. These times happened mostly at the time of the Flood and during the continental division when Peleg and Job were alive. Plants, animals, shells – these were buried during mudslides when the muds were rich in the minerals from under the crust, and so yes, things could have fossilized very, very quickly. A lot of the fossilization would not have taken place during the catastrophes themselves, but as a result of slides and deposits made as the earth was settling down after the catastrophe.
No, we can find fossils in all four eras. The Archaeozoic (Precambrian), however, only contains fossils of bacteria.
When there are landslides, mudslides, sandslides, earthquakes, volcanoes – anything which moves the earth’s crust around, even a bit, things get buried. If the material that is burying them is rich in minerals, then there is a chance of fossilization.
The bones are the hard material that will last for a long time after the flesh and muscles have rotted away.
Not from age. But, with time, fossils can be destroyed by other earth movements. They can be broken up or mashed, and then they can ‘disappear’ into the dirt and rocks.
Imprints – casts and molds and carbon – require fast burial with a wet substance and then drainage so whatever is buried doesn’t rot. Permineralization requires very mineral-rich waters/muds to bury the object and then be drained later for fossilization to occur. Usually, when something is buried, it simply molds and rots if it is soft tissue and gets broken up if it is hard tissue, like shells and bones. It takes the special circumstances of rapid burial, drainage, and a high mineral content in the mud or water to fossilize anything.
Anywhere there is sedimentary rock – rock laid down by water – is a good place to start. We can also look in strata where we can see volcanic ash has been laid down. Where we would NOT expect to find fossils would be in the granite cores and extrusions of the continents.
This is a hard one. Evolutionary scientists often try to judge the age of a fossil by the layer of rock it is buried in. Because they assume the layers built up over vast periods of time, and because radio decay dating often shows ancient ages for the rocks, they assume that is how long ago that plant or animal lived.
Many creation scientists assume the Flood is responsible for almost all the fossils we have now, so they date everything according to the date they think the Flood occurred.
We disagree with both. The evidence we find for the Flood indicates it was much too violent to fossilize anything. What we do find is the evidence of fossilization at different times after the Flood which resulted from earth movements related to the catastrophes of the Flood (not during the Flood, but after, as the earth was settling), the time of Babel, and the time of Peleg. This would account for the layering we see in the rock strata and their associated fossils as well as for the evidence of soft tissues in some of the dinosaur remains.
Yes. Sometimes a fossil that puzzles the scientists turns out to be simply a younger or older version of one we already know about. Sometimes, though, we seem to find something entirely new.
The timing depends entirely on how much the mud/water covering them is full of minerals, how fast they are buried, and how fast it all drains. Some fossilization could take a very, very long time and some, under the right circumstances, could happen very quickly.
Fossils that are undisturbed in the earth could probably last for a very, very long time. They become part of the rock.
This is a subject of a great deal of argument! First of all, we need to define 'evolution.' When you are discussing something with someone, make sure you always define your terms first so you will both be talking about the same thing.
No one, to the best of our knowledge, argues that variation cannot take place. We can see a lot of variation with dogs -- lots of different types of dogs, but they are all dogs. Lots of different sorts of hummingbirds, but they are all hummingbirds. That kind of thing is not what anyone is arguing about. The argument is about whether one basic kind of plants or animal, like a fern or a frog, can -- given enough time -- turn into another basic kind of plant or animal, like a banana tree or a bird.
Those scientists who believe evolution is true will look at different fossils and say that one is an in-between fossil, or a link, between two other fossils on the way to evolutionary changes. Those scientists who believe creation is true, will look at different fossils and simply see interesting variations of different plants and animals.
A very interesting comment was made by Henry Gee, a respected science writer (and an evolutionist) in his book In Search of Deep Time, (The Free Press, 1999) about fossils. Before we give the quote, please understand that Mr. Gee is a firm evolutionist and, in this book, tries to replace the idea of fossil evidence for evolution with genetic evidence of evolution. Here he gives the reason he doesn’t think fossil evidence is good evidence:
Some things to note about fossils are that:
All the plants and animals are fully functional. None seem to have any missing, or half-formed parts.
The fossils of plants and animals which we still see in our world today look exactly like the plants and animals that we know.
From what we have been able to see, the jellyfish fossils are all imprints – casts or molds – so yes, these could have formed in just a few days. Jellyfish are mostly water and they have no hard parts, so they would have to be buried and drained quickly for their imprints to be left before they decomposed completely.
Yes, anything fossilized by mineralization is hard.
We hear stories from Africa and South America, but we don’t have any real evidence of any of them still being alive.
Earthquakes, flash flood and landslides can happen very quickly, with little or no warning, and everything will get buried doing exactly what it was doing when the catastrophe happened.
They are not still standing in the rocks when we find them. But when dinosaur bones, for instance, are dug up and examined, they will be put on display in a standing position with wires and other things holding them up.
At the time of the Flood, all species of everything except what was on the Ark or on floating vegetation mats went extinct. A lot of marine life probably also was lost at this time.
At the time of Babel – the Paleozoic extinction event – it is estimated that 90% of all marine organisms were lost to extinction. The extinction rate for land animals does not appear to have been quite as bad.
The time of Peleg – the K/T extinction event – appears to have eliminated about 75% of all the life forms that existed at that time.
The large dinosaurs probably stayed near the water and in it for large periods of time if they didn’t just live in it. We see their fossils where old river valleys used to be. In addition, the weight of these adults would have made it harder to move on land than in the water, where their weight was partially supported by the water. So the evidence associates the large dinosaurs with the water, be we can’t tell you for sure if they stayed in the water or just spent time in it or just lived near it.
Evolutionists look for gradual changes in body types to support the idea of evolution. So if something looks a little like a horse in England rocks, then they might associate that with something that looks a little bit like it in North American rocks. In this way, they try to build a story of evolution out of the fossils.
We find dinosaur remains in the Mesozoic, or middle, era. It is when there were giant river valleys on earth but the upper areas of the land were much more dry. So the upper areas were safer for people and mammals, but the river valleys were where there was enough food for the big guys, so that is where they stayed. As a result, when the continents began to divide after a series of large impacts, the tsunamis would wash inland up the river valleys, killing and burying the life that was there.
Yes, but they are only of bacteria. We see stromatolite fossils made of a type of bacteria that forms algae, but that is just about all. God said He was going to wipe out all life on earth except what was on the Ark, and He did. Any fish that were killed in the flood would have simply rotted away.
On the left are stromatolite fossils from some of our earliest sedimentary rocks. On the right are stromatolites today. They, too, have not changed through time.
Stromatolites are formed by algae in shallow, tidal waters, which first grow as a small mat with a sort of mucous layer. That layer causes sands and small rocks and shells to stick on it. Then the algae builds up the mat again, and the new layer of sticky stuff collects more rocks and sands and tiny shells, and this repeats over and over again as the stromatolite grows into a little tower.
A good part of the Bible is history – people talking about what they knew about at the time they lived. In the book of Job, God is reminding Job about some animals he, Job, knows about – the behemoth and the leviathan. There are other things in the Bible history we no longer have as well, such as Eden, or the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
We honestly don’t know. We don’t understand what they are thinking when they see this.
The dinosaurs became extinct at the time of Peleg (Genesis 10:25), or about 5000 years ago. The interior of the earth had been heating, due to radiodecay of heavy elements, and the heat first drove water out of the rocks in the mantle and then starting melting the rocks themselves. Rocks gain about 10% in volume when they melt, so there was a lot of pressure to expand building under the earth’s crust. The pressure built and built and it only took some meteorite hits to prick it like a balloon so it started cracking open. It cracked open and spread at that crack for about 200 years. We can see that crack at the Atlantic Rift today – and you can see from the shape of the continents where they used to be joined together.
As that cracking continued, the water was rushing in and then sloshing around in giant waves, called tsunamis. These tsunamis would race inland along the river valleys, causing enormous damage as dirt and rock cliffs came tumbling down and the waves themselves deposited tons of rocky materials all over the valleys. These valleys were the places that had enough food for the big dinosaurs, so that is where they lived. And that is where they died when the tsunamis came, time after time, for 200 years, destroying them and the places where they lived.
This time is called the Cretaceous/Tertiary extinction event in geology.
No. And there is a reason for that. Fossils were formed where there were lots of landslides and wave action that buried plants and animals. People and mammals would have lived in the higher areas where there was not that danger, so they were not buried and fossilized during those times.
Catastrophes of various kinds kill things. The larger the catastrophe, the more things will die.
We know they existed because we can see their remains in the fossils in the rocks. We assume they became extinct because we don’t see any sign of them in our world today.
Probably millions, especially of tiny little things like shells.
They probably laid their eggs in nests they build ahead of time.
First, there are two types of very large animals mentioned in the Bible. In the book of Job we see references to both the leviathan and the behemoth – probably one sea ‘monster’ and one large land/river dinosaur. As to why God created anything – that is a question only He can answer.
We know that a lot of the stories today make it seem like dinosaurs lived near people and were very, very dangerous. But from what we have been able to see in the fossils, dinosaurs lived in or near water and most were probably vegetarian – they ate plants and leaves and such. We know there were some meat-eating dinosaurs, and from what we see, they seem to have been large and fierce. But if you knew a large and fierce animal lived in a certain area, would you want to live there, too? People try to stay away from danger.
We know because we read in the Bible that God says all the animals with the breath of life (who have lungs) would eat plants.
Yes, we often find dinosaur skin impressions in the rocks.
We don’t know if any of the dinosaur eggs have actually been cracked open, but we do know that some were found broken open at the time of burial and we can see the embryos inside them:
Because, as shown above, some nests with the eggs cracked open have been found and the remains of embryo dinosaurs are in them.
Trilobites were little shelled animals that lived in the shallow waters near the shores. They are considered an ‘index fossil’ for the Cambrian strata because that is the only place where they are found. An index fossil means if you find it, you know what strata you are looking at. We have not found any trilobites anywhere else, alive or dead, apart from the Cambrian strata.
If we have, we probably didn’t recognize it as fruits or food!
“Evidence” means all the facts and figuring that shows something is true or false. Fossils are a kind of evidence. They show what kinds of animals and plants lived before, and a little about what the world was like before.
Oh yes. Fish and plant and bird fossils are all found in the same strata and general areas as the dinosaur fossils. Here is a page on Google images of different fossils during that time (the Mesozoic), many of which were found near dinosaur fossils.
No. God said He was going to completely destroy the earth and He meant it. All we see from the Flood is a thousand feet of tillite under about 2miles of black shale layers which contain what is left of all life at the time of the Flood: carbon and kerogen (the breakdown of flesh and muscle and bone tissue).
The large dinosaurs lived in areas which could support them and have enough food for them. These were the large river valleys close to the oceans. And these river valleys were the places where the giant tsunamis came crashing in, killing them all, during the time of Peleg, when the continents were dividing. So the dinosaurs were not extinct until after the Flood.
We occasionally hear reports of large monsters in South American jungles and African jungles, and there are those who are still searching for a "Loch Ness Monster," but we do not have any real evidence of any of the dinosaurs still being alive today.
At that time? Experts look at the fossils of the time and figure about 75% of all life forms on earth became extinct at the time of that catastrophe.
The Cambrian Explosion is the name given to the first layer of animal and plant fossils we see in the rocks. They come just after that two miles of black shale which marks the Flood layer. Evolutionists call it the ‘explosion’ because they think that all of a sudden evolution got very, very fast and all these different kinds of plants and animals showed up because of evolution in a very short amount of time.
What we think is, especially since these are all shallow water fossils, that this is the first layer buried AFTER the Flood. The earth was still settling and lots of rock and mudslides would have buried the animals that lived near the cliffs at the shorelines.
No, not many. There are a lot of arguments about which are human fossils and which are simian, or like-ape, fossils. Evolutionists believe man evolved from a primate that was something like an ape, so when they find fossils that they are not sure about, they will often claim “Here is the missing link between man and ape!” That claim does get them a lot of extra money for research, but the fact is that the skull fossils we have seen are generally only pieces and in order to get a whole skull to show people, scientists get special artists to make other pieces to fit the original pieces together so the skull will show evolution.
There are very many arguments among anthropologists about whether different fossils are human or not human or ‘partly human.’ The more we find, though, the more we are realizing that there is no in between. Fossils are either human or they are not. There are not ‘in betweens.’
Here is a rather extreme example of something that happens, unfortunately, all too often. A few pieces of bone are found and then an entire skull is imagined around them and passed off as the real thing:
The page from which this was taken is here.
This happens when volcanic ash quickly covers a sandy area where it has been raining.
Not in swamps today, no. Swamps cause things to rot and fall apart. We can find some fossils in areas that used to be swamps which were drained quickly when earth movements either raised them, draining out the water, or lowered an area around them, which would also drain out the water.
They think they do. But, really, it is not the evidence itself, such as fossils or DNA similarities, but how that evidence is interpreted. Here are some examples: