googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Tracks Before Trilobites

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tracks Before Trilobites

Answers in Genesis is a wonderful resource. I certainly learn a lot from them. There are many times when they make such great points that I'm tempted to repeat them here but I resist for a couple of reasons. First, I know there are some Christian bloggers out there who simply plagiarize AiG articles. That's just wrong. Also, if people want to hear what AiG says, they could visit there instead of my blog. I try to write original material and give people a reason to come here. Certainly I know that many of the points I raise have been raised before, but I at least try to put them in my own words and put a fresh spin on them. You won't find any cut and paste posts here.

Having said all that, AiG has one particular article that nails it so wonderfully that I cannot make a more interesting point than the obvious one. I still am not going to cut and paste the article but I will discuss it in great detail here.

A frequent visitor to my blog, one Steven J (a nice guy and rather rational for an unbeliever), made some comments on my blog about the fossil record. He didn't raise this point directly but some of his remarks reminded me of a point made by other evolutionists about fossils. If the fossil record was primarily made during the events surrounding the Flood, how do creationists explain trace fossils – like footprints – in different layers?

Like I said above, I can't explain this any better than has already been explained on AiG's website. In an article titled, Tracks But No Trilobites, author Kurt Wise talked about this very phenomenon. When describing a visit to Death Valley, he made this observation:

I found a trilobite trackway—the only fossil I found in that layer. In the next layer I found several more tracks, but no remains of the trilobites themselves. As I went up, the tracks became more abundant, but I found not the slightest hint of the animals that made the tracks.

Then suddenly I came to a layer jam-packed with trilobite “shells.” I had been concentrating so hard on finding just one little fragment of a trilobite that the abundance startled me.

Odd. Why would dozens of feet of rock have tracks but not the animals that made them? This finding is especially mysterious if you believe the rock was deposited over thousands of years.

That's very interesting. We have several layers of tracks, which represents “millions of years” in evolutionary reckoning, before finding any fossils of the critters who made the tracks. Wise said this find is rather usual. According to him, Tracks are found before trilobites everywhere that the lowest trilobite layers are known.”  If evolution were true, we would expect to find tracks and trilobites mingled throughout the “millions of years.” That's not what we find at all.

I believe the Flood scenario is a far better explanation. As the Flood waters began to prevail, tsunami like waves would ebb and flow, depositing sediment on top of trilobites. At each ebb, the critters would scurry to the surface only to be buried again in the next wave. This happened over and over until the poor things were finally overwhelmed. That this is the correct explanation seems obvious to me. It certainly fits the evidence better than the evolutionary explanation.

Let me say one more thing in closing: I know the Flood was a real event because the Bible describes it as a real event. I'm not looking for any more evidence for the Flood. However, knowing that the Flood was real helps me understand why the world looks the way it does. When we find evidence like tracks before trilobites, I almost have a, “Well, duh” reaction. Of course there should be tracks before trilobites!


Steven J. said...

There are formations known as "varves," found on the bottoms of glacial lakes, where each layer is interpreted as the result of a single year's sedimentation (generally, each layer has a dark, organic-rich portion laid down during the spring and summer, and a lighter, organic-poor portion laid down in the winter). The famous Green River formation in Utah has six million of these annual layers.

The "polystrate trees" occasionally cited by YECs are likewise easily explained by mainstream geologists in terms of layers of sediment (or occasionally volcanic ash) deposited over months rather than geological periods.

Okay, it's puzzling enough if we assume that those layers that Wise describes were laid down over three successive years, or even three successive months. But my point is that is it simply and absolutely false that "evolutionists" automatically assume that a given layer represents millions, or even thousands, of years of time.

I have not yet been able to find any "mainstream" article that discusses Wise's trilobites and tracks (it doesn't help that he doesn't mention the species or the exact site: I tentatively assume it's somewhere in the Carrara formation). For all I know, his own explanation for his find is the right one: trilobites desperately crawling through a rapid series of mudfalls until they collapse in exhaustion and are buried.

I don't see anything in mainstream, "uniformitarian" geology that prohibits such an interpretation; the problem is assuming that if layers were deposited over hours in this case, it is equally reasonable to suppose they might have been laid down in the time frame in, say, the Grand Canyon, or in the alternating freshwater and marine sediments in the rocks near Paris.

RKBentley said...

Steven J,

I'm very pressed for time so I can only make one short comment.

I'm familiar with varves and the common interpretation that each varve represents one year. Did you notice the part of Wise's account where he said, “Why would dozens of feet of rock have tracks but not the animals that made them?” So, how many years would it take varves to accumulate to “dozens of feet” deep? One thousand? One million? Certainly it's more than 2 or 3. You said 2 or 3 years would be puzzling. 100, 1,000, or 1,000,000 years of footprints without bodies is absurd.

God bless!!


Steven J. said...

I appreciate that you have things to do that take precedence over posting on this blog.

I'm not sure that Wise meant that the layers he found were "dozens of feet" deep. If the illustration accompanying his article was anything close to scale, the layers were about half as deep as the trilobites were long ... which could imply foot-thick layers for the largest known trilobites, but for an average-sized trilobite would imply a layer an inch or two thick.

Wise himself does not state how thick the layers were (I'm pretty sure that "dozens of yards" refers to the length of the tracks he followed before finding trilobite fossils, not the depth of the formation).

Note that I did not claim that the layers were varves; varves were simply an off-the-top of my head counterexample to the claim that "evolutionists" think that every rock layer invariably represents millennia of time. I stated explicitly that as far as I knew, Wise's explanation made sense in this particular case.