What I like about this thread is I have always been interested in what the practical limit is to forming the “average fossil” - - even if there is no such thing as an average fossil.
The mastodon fossil article I identified further above - - they say 20,000 years. That’s pretty dang close… but it’s still +300% older than the oldest thing in the Old Testament (other than God).
It would be easier to do some follow-up on that find if it was in the custody of a museum. And we really need some young fossils that were formed in climates other than the local freezer!
Once we have some examples of young fossils as reference points, it will be easier to ask YECs where are the equivalent young fossils for all those dinosaurs that Yahweh killed in the flood? - - not even 6000 years ago!
True George. If a 6000 year old earth is proposed, then you should be able to demonstrate that fossilization is not only possible but always occurs within that time frame, since all fossils would be less than 6000 years old. The requirement of a longer time frame to achieve fossilization would falsify your premise. Still, it would be interesting to see the lower limit for fossilization of the type described by the OP:
I googled one paper where they were able to do so rapidly in the lab with wood at high heat and pressure, but it sounded like the “petrified wood” produced was quite a bit different than naturally occurring fossil wood.
Of course, that is a little different than animal fossilization, also. Sort of related, I remember when my dad and one of his buddies unearthed some bison skulls that had been exposed after a flash flood in a creekbed in the Texas plains I grew up in. They had probably been buried in a similar flash flood 100 or 200 years ago, either having been caught there, or perhaps were what was left after a hunting party butchered them. Anyway, they were pretty neat, and my dad put then in a rock garden at the house, but within months they had fragmented and disappeared once exposed to air and the elements. Obviously, essentially no mineralization had occurred. However, if undisturbed and covered by more sediment, no doubt they would have been a fossil if uncovered many eons from now.
I think we should take that sentence and run with it some more … let’s not even attempt to reduce it to 5000 or 4000 years… (because the flood didn’t happen at the moment of Creation)… what would be the pace of mineral replacement for a pound of bone, or a linear centimeter of rib bones or toe bones… in 6000 days.
And then measure the pace of mineralization under optimum laboratory conditions …
The YEC scenario might require 600 “x/units” of mineral transfer for every One (1) cubic centimeters of long bone.
Then we get the weakest, floppiest reptile bone possible… and using the most favorable conditions expected in the average dinosaur bed… how many “x/units” of mineral transfer can actually occur?
Since we think fossilization can occur as quickly as 20,000 years, then we would expect to produce only 200 “x/units”" of mineralization per cubic centimeter of test reptile bone!
Hold up there, we’ve been listing all sorts of “airtight” environments. You can read more about them here:
And here: (a little more technical):
Here’s a real-life example of a human body being preserved due to being buried in water for two thousand years. It’s not fossilized (to my knowledge) but it is within the timeframe you’re curious about.
Again, thanks for your responses to my repeated question “Do we have real-life examples, for instance from forensic science, historical science or archeology, of fossilized organisms that can be proven to have died during the past 100 or 1000 years?”.
Reviewing all answers, I must conclude that no fossilized organisms can be found of which can be proven they have died during the past 100 or 1000 years. This is strange, because all of you believe that fossilization (= the process in which the organic molecules of a dead organism are replaced by inorganic molecules from the earth material that covers it) can run under ordinary, everyday conditions. As a consequence fossils would still be formed every day on many ordinary spots on earth, and consequently an abundance of examples of recent fossilizations should be present.
This absence of an abundance of proof of recent fossilization on countless ordinary spots on earth is understandable because:
A dead organism can only be transformed by the fossilization process into a fossil, if it is covered airtight by layers of earth material. Otherwise it will be digested by micro-organisms within a short time and disappear, and no fossil can be formed.
In ordinary circumstances and under normal conditions, dead organisms never end up in an anoxic environment or in an environment without micro-organisms, covered by layers of earth material.
The theory that fossilization (= the process in which the organic molecules of a dead organism are replaced by inorganic molecules from the earth material that covers it) runs in ordinary circumstances and under normal conditions, is contradicted by empirical facts (see above nr. 1 and 2) and must be rejected, according to the playing rules of empirical science. This falsified theory must be removed from the domain of empirical science and transported to the domain of fairy tales.
I didn’t see empirical facts in your 1 and 2, just false declarations that multiple people on this thread have told you are mistaken. Why do you repeat them?
You seem to be saying that if fossilization happens at all, it should happen in a hundred or a thousand years, and if it doesn’t, then any fossilization is a fairy tale? I’m sorry but I’m having an extremely difficult time following your train of thought.
I might go so far as to say, sir, that your case is not airtight.
You are mistakenly conflating the assertion “things can be fossilized within a time frame of 100 to 1000 years” with the assertion “the process of fossilization is presently occurring under normal everyday conditions we find on earth now.” The first assertion is false. The second is true.
“Recent fossilzations” (of the kind you are talking about that require mineral replacement) are not found, not because the conditions for fossilization are absent, but because by definition, the fossilization process does not occur in the time frame of 100 to 1000 years.
This assertion has been repeatedly contested as flat out wrong on this thread. You are just going to ignore that? If we reject your premises, obviously your conclusion doesn’t follow.
Fossils as we know them cannot be produced in a1000 year timespan. (or 6000 years) by known natural processes
Therefore, they are older than 1000 years. (or 6000 years)
You have thus reasoned the earth is old. The only other explanation is that fossils were miraculously created outside of a natural process, which opens other cans of worms that have been discussed elsewhere.
How about this as a “corrective” to your disjointed analysis?
A) The great bulk of fossils that most of the world knows about, has seen, has studied, are from plants and animals from multiple millions of years ago… even multiple-multiple millions of years ago!
B) A google search for fossils associated with time frames less than a million years produces a very small number, and thus an even smaller percentage of the total… representing a proxy of the probability of bumping into once-living-things that were part of the generally rare process of fossilization.
C) When I further restricted a search for fossils that were under 25,000 years old, I found one. Just one. Mastodon bones dated approximately 20,000 years ago.
D) You report general disappointment that nobody has found examples of fossilization (we can only presume that you are being consistent with your context and that you intend “living things partially fossilized”) that are just 1000, or even 100 years old. What you have not done is provide a criterion or criteria for how you will know a partially fossilized dead thing when you see it?
E) The definition of a fossil commonly encountered is that something has to be at least 10,000 years old; part of this definition is not arbitrary. It is constructed from the collective experience that virtually nobody has found anything remotely like a fossil that isn’t at least that old (based on various testing techniques).
So by anyone’s guess, there shouldn’t be any fossils anywhere, if the Earth itself doesn’t qualify for the first criterion for fossils: of being at least 10,000 years old.
But let’s look at it from the Creationist viewpoint. Temporarily accepting the idea that the great bulk of thousands and thousands (or is it millions?) of fossils were formed during the Great Flood of the Bible (which, for the sake of argument, we will say happened 5,000 years ago, all in a year).
All these layers upon layers upon layers … all laid down in a single year … capturing virtually all the creatures of the world all at once… becoming rock hard fossils in 4000 years.
When shall we think this process was complete? Did one of Noah’s sons or grandchildren live long enough to potentially dig up a fossil? Or do we need more time than that? Homer is believed to have lived around 800 BCE… that’s 2,800 years ago. That would mean all those drowned creatures and plants had been under the all the flood sediments for just 2,200 years! And that’s only if we use the generous time frame of the flood happening 5,000 years ago.
But let’s start using a little more precision:
“Ussher’s chronology, one of the most prominent attempts to date events according to the Bible, calculated that Noah would have lived from 2948 until 1998 BCE, with the deluge occurring in 2349 BCE. Calculations based on figures in the Hebrew Bible place the flood in 1656 AM (Anno Mundi); those based on the Greek LXX Bible in 2262 AM; and those based on the Samaritan Pentateuch, in 1308 AM. The Book of Jubilees, by a different calculation, also yields the date 1308 AM for the flood.”
For the sake of discussion, let’s use an approximation of Ussher’s date: let’s make his 2349 BCE date something easier to remember … say: 2,400 BCE … or… a nice round 2,500 BCE!
This puts the Great Flood, at its very earliest, at the tail end of the 4th Dynasty of Egypt (at the very very earliest).
This puts the great Flood around the end of the rule of Menkaure! He ruled about 20 years, dying around 2500 BCE ! And we know a lot about him! Isn’t that amazing? You can see a naturalist portrait of him produced by the Egyptian craftsman! (I think I see hints of Nubian genetics as part of his genealogy… mixed in with the usual swarthy appearance of the “Moor-like” nomadic tribes of the northern coast of Africa.)
But wait… there’s more!:
The Greeks knew this great pharaoh! “… well known under his Hellenized names Mykerinos (Greek: Μυκερίνος) (by Herodotus) and Menkheres (by Manetho). According to Manetho, he was the throne successor of king Bikheris,”
But wait… there’s more!:
“Menkaure became famous for his tomb, the Pyramid of Menkaure, at Giza and his beautiful statue triads, showing the king together with his wives Rekhetre and Khamerernebty.”
But wait… there’s more!: Menkaure was the son of Khafra and the grandson of Khufu! "A flint knife found in the mortuary temple of Menkaure mentioned a king’s mother Khamerernebty I, suggesting that Khafra and this queen were the parents of Menkaure. Menkaure is thought to have had at least two wives… Menkaure was not succeeded by Prince Khuenre, his eldest son, who predeceased Menkaure, but rather by Shepseskaf, a younger son of this king. … A daughter that died in early adulthood is mentioned by Herodotus (d. 425 BCE).
The reason even the Greeks knew so much about this 4th dynasty ruler is the smallest of the 3 amazing pyramids of Giza was his (the one on the left in the URL below):
So, his pyramid was the just completed just before the Flood, joining the same neighborhood his grandfather Khufu had claimed for his family of pharaohs and their eternal pyramids (Grandfather Khufu, Father Khafre and Grandson Menkaure).
It tells us that if Menkaure had not been fortunate enough to be in his pyramid tomb, he could have been entombed under sediments just like everyone else during the flood. And he could have been fossilized just like all those T-Rexes!
We should also find the pyramids (all built before the flood) totally covered with flood sediments, right?
And everyone who died on or around the death of Menkaure… they all became eligible for becoming fossils themselves !!!
Now that I’ve laid all the excruciating detail and minutia that your interpretation and scenario seem to touch upon, what is the final conclusion?
That millions of humans, who would have been drowned and entombed with all those dinosaurs, should also be fossilized along with the T Rexes, Brontosaurs, Stegosaurs, and so on and so on and so on.
Maybe Egypt at that time wasn’t particularly good at making fossils. Okay… let’s assume that is true. Humans were, by this time, all over most of the places of the Earth. And by the Bible’s own admission, virtually all of them drowned. And so… somewhere … all around the Earth, fossils were being made. And yet not none of these myriad human corpses have been found (singly or in village groups) anywhere on Earth.
You have asked a question, @WilliamDJ, whose answer ultimately disproves 95% of the very foundation of the world view of Young Earth Creationists!
Might I add a term I haven’t seen in this comment stream: subfossil. Modern bone to fossil is a continuum and bridging the area between which is difficult to define we use the term subfossil. I was writing about the 10s of thousands of bones and plant fragments that are found in the sediments of the snowmastodon site high in the Colorado Rockies recently. The plant “fossils” as they are referred to are subfossils. They still contain most of their organic content. The molecules are degraded (little to no DNA left) but they still are flexible and have intact cells. The mastodon bones are “mostly bone” which means they are more bone than they are inorganic replacement material. However, they have been preserved for 10 to 100,000 years (depends on the depth) in sediments. In all likelihood, had they not been dug up they would gradually make the transition to having the organic material replaced with inorganic material. When would an individual bone go from being a bone to a subfossil to a fossil? Could be thousands of years, 10s of thousands of years in in some cases a bone might remain more subfossil than fossil for millions of years. It all depends on the environmental conditions it finds itself in.
One of the pitfalls in science is the human bias towards concrete definitions. For whatever reason, humans like neat little categories and try to jam everything into them, even in cases where there is an obvious continuum. It would appear that fossils suffer from this bias, as do things like the species concept. Even when we look at a rainbow we try to describe it as a handful of specific colors (Roy G. Biv) instead of a nearly continuous spectrum.
You claim that the fossils we know are produced in normal circumstances by a process of fossilization that at first stands on hold, but miraculously starts to run after 6000 years. Unfortunately, your theory is not based on experiential evidence of how natural fossilization proceeds in normal circumstances, but solely on fantasy. Let me explain.
In normal circumstances, dead organisms never end up in an anoxic environment or in an environment without micro-organisms. Therefore, fossils can only be formed in extra ordinary circumstances, namely an anoxic environment, which prevents a dead organism to be digested by micro-organisms in short time.
The fossils geologists have found in layers of sediments are detailed. This proves that the original organisms were covered suddenly and airtight by earth material, preventing the normal digestion by micro-organism to start. Geologists even have discovered fossilized action pictures of predators swallowing their prey. These pictures prove that the airtight covering by layers of earth material took place in a split second.
Your theory that fossils can be formed under natural conditions by natural processes that initially stand on hold but miraculously start to run after 6000 years, is refuted by the empirical facts mentioned at point 1, 2 and 3 above. According to the playing rules of empirical science, your theory must be removed from the domain of science and transported to the domain of fairy tales. This will probably be painful, but please respect empirical science and accept its empirical facts and its playing rules.
Try to live with the empirical fact from Forensic Science, that in normal circumstances and under normal conditions any dead organism disappears within short time by the work of micro-organisms, preventing it to be fossilized.
Sorry but you are grossly mistaken about a lot of thing in your post. While this list is incomplete, let me make a few observations:
The world is a big place, and while the most common fate of dead animals is as you state, it is still fairly common and totally normal for a few here and there to be buried in volcanic ash, be swept away in the flooding of rivers, to settle to ocean depths where oxygen is low, to be buried in landslides and mudslides, to get stuck in tar pits and peat bogs, and other such things. Also, while fleshy parts are often lost to the cycle of life, bony parts remain, and may be washed away or/and covered by mud and sediment. Many fossils start off as highly mineralized crustaceans and mollusks.
Again, all completely natural and likely to happen somewhere everyday. As an aside, the shear number of these fossils attests to the long ages it has taken for them to accumulate, much greater numbers than is possible with a one time kill off.
As noted above, this is a wrong. It is perfectly normal in the sense of happening naturally, though perhaps you could argue word meaning and say that it is not normal in the the sense of “being the norm”. Just look at the news when there is a natural disaster especially in third world countries and listen to number of bodies never recovered in landslides and mudslides and floods. Future fossils.
Not a great deal to disagree with here, though I suspect the devil is in the details. So to speak.
Wrong. That is nowhere near what I think is true or said. What was said perhaps in different words by myself and others is that fossils take a lot longer to form, but that process starts the first day and continues on bit by bit for thousands of years. As Joel Duff commented, even after thousands of years or even tens of thousands, you may have something in between a bone and fossil.
To use your words, this may be painful, but go back and try to look at things objectively, seeing them as they are, not as you wish them to be.
I’m not very impressed with your approach to @jpm regarding his parsing of terminology for fossils.
Would you talk like that to a friend? JPM isn’t trying to con anyone. He is working with conventional definitions. We all know that things start to happen as soon as something gets buried or submerged… this is no mystery.
And so far, we haven’t found anything in the literature that comes close to being considered a convincing fossil that is younger than 10,000 years old.
If you know of one … or if you someday learn of one… bring it here for discussion. You don’t have to be so unpleasant about it.
The claim is that fossils are formed through natural and known processes that don’t require the entire Earth to be flooded at the same time. It is also being claimed that the Earth does not have to be young in order for fossils to form.
In normal circumstances, people don’t win the lottery. Does this mean that we can deny winnings to anyone who claims to have won because normally people don’t win?
Why does being buried quickly or being buried in an environment lacking oxygen require a young Earth or a global flood?
We are discussing dead organisms that are transformed by a fossilization process (= the replacement of their organic molecules by inorganic molecules from the sediments that cover them) into a fossil. 99,9% of the fossils we know are found in sedimentary rock. We are not discussing dead organisms stuck in tar pits, peat bogs, settled at great depths in anoxic water, or buried under volcanic ash, because their organic molecules are not replaced by inorganic molecules.
You overlook the presence of micro-organisms. According to Forensic Science, any organism that drowns in water is digested in short time by micro-organisms, and disappears. A disappeared organism cannot be a future fossil.
Again you overlook the presence of micro-organisms. Only in your imagination a dead organism can be fossilized ten thousands of years after its digestion by micro-organisms.
1. A fossil is the product of a process of fossilization in which the organic molecules of a dead organism are replaced by inorganic molecules from the layers of sediment covering it.
2. 99,9% of the fossils known are found in layers of sediment.
3. The appearance of the fossils found in layers of sediment is detailed. This proves that the original organism has suddenly been covered airtight by the sediments that surround it. Otherwise micro-organisms would have erased the details of its appearance in short time. Fossils of predators swallowing their prey, prove that the airtight covering by layers of sediment took place in a split second.
4. According to Forensic Science, a dead organisms that ends up in water and is buried slowly under sediments, is digested in short time largely or completely by micro-organisms. Therefore, In everyday circumstances no fossils can be formed.
5. Only in extra ordinary circumstances, when a dead organism is suddenly covered airtight by layers of sediment, a fossil can be formed. Such circumstances are that rare, that no 100 or 1000 years old fossils are known.
6. The well-known theory that the detailed fossils and the fossilized action pictures geologists have found in sedimentary layers have been formed slowly in everyday circumstances, is falsified by the empirical evidence mentioned above at point 3, 4 and 5. According to the playing rules of empirical science this theory must be removed from the domain of science.
We are discussing neither the age of the Earth, nor a global flood. We are discussing the theory that the detailed fossils that are found in sedimentary layers (99,9 % of the fossils found) are formed slowly in everyday circumstances. That theory is contradicted by empirical facts and by Forensic Science. Therefore, it must be removed from the domain of science and transported to the domain of fairy tales.
Thanks for continuing this discussion, I think it is making clear where you are going wrong. Many sedimentary layers are former lake bottoms, ocean bottoms, peat bogs and tar pits. The processes that formed these fossils are the same processes operating today.
Also, most fossils are “detailed” bones because microorganisms have eaten away the softer parts.
This statement, as we’ve gone over, is far too broad. Who is “Forensic Science,” what exactly did they say and when, and how did they know?
A “split second?” Really? I cannot imagine any fossils that “prove” they were covered in a literal fraction of a second. Modern snakes can take over a day to swallow their prey. I am afraid statements like this do your case no credit.