Horseshoe crab’s death march into the pages of history is consistent with the Genesis account of the global Flood.
A fossilized trackway memorializing the death march of a horseshoe crab—the longest known such fossil—is back in the news. Found in 2002 in Bavaria, Germany, in the same region as the famous Archaeopteryx fossil, the tracks begin abruptly, meander along for about 32 feet, and end with the fossilized track-maker “himself.” Investigators now report in Ichnos: An International Journal for Plant and Animal Traces their proposed scenario for the creature’s final moments of life, but questions remain. As we often point out, the answers are in Genesis.
The trackway was found in the Solnhofen Lithographic Limestone of Bavaria. Why the tracks begin quite suddenly is a puzzler to most paleontologists. Some have proposed the creature was dropped by a flying predator into an isolated lagoon, but the authors doubt that since it shows no predation marks. The animal died at the end of the trail. After initially having a normal-appearing gait, its gait seemed erratic near the end. The authors suspect it was in some sort of distress. They therefore believe the cause of death to be a lack of oxygen.
The next question, of course, is why a horseshoe crab was strolling through anoxic waters. And although the limestone of the area is famous for its rich collection of fossils, including many soft-bodied creatures, why were none preserved with this trackway? And how did the crab and its tracks get preserved? The authors propose that a storm tossed this hapless marine bottom-dweller up into an isolated, oxygen-free, extremely salty lagoon devoid of life, whereupon it took off walking until overcome by anoxia. The presumed high salinity pickled it—preventing decay until it fossilized.
Author Dean Lomax explains:
The lagoon that the animal found itself in was anoxic, so at the bottom of these lagoons there was no oxygen and nothing was living. This horseshoe crab [Mesolimulus walchi] found itself on the lagoon floor and we can tell by looking at the trace that the animal righted itself, managed to get on to its feet and began to walk. However, the anoxic conditions of the lagoon floor quickly proved fatal to the arthropod and it soon began to struggle. We started to study the specimen closer and saw that the walking patterns and the animal's behaviour started to change. The leg impressions became deeper and more erratic, the telson (the long spiny tail) started being lifted up and down, up and down, showing that the animal was really being affected by the conditions.1
The horseshoe crab is considered a living fossil since the species living today do not differ significantly from those preserved in the fossil record. The supposed “millions of years” of evolution seem to have by-passed such organisms. The proposed scenario explaining this horseshoe crab’s presence, death, and preservation fails to explain how such an isolated lagoon was close enough to catch this crab but isolated enough to keep its tracks from being disturbed in the storm. The Flood model of geology explains the findings, however, by providing the minerals and the loads of sediment needed.
Tracks can be preserved in moist mineral-rich sediment under the right conditions. Tracks, like animals themselves, must be buried rapidly to preserve them. Information about the global Flood, as described in Genesis, has enabled Bible-believing geologists to explain findings such as these. When the floodwaters were rising—something Genesis 7:17–18 documents they did for many days—there would have been surges and regressions of water under the influence of tectonic and volcanic-related seismic activity and tides. This ocean water would naturally be rich in carbonate (lime) from volcanic activity and dissolved mollusk shells from the ocean bottom. Surges of ocean water would have brought in carbonate-laden water and a great deal of sediment. This bottom-dwelling horseshoe crab and other such invertebrates preserved at Solnhofen may have arrived with this sediment.
These surges would have left behind mineral-rich sediment surfaces on which animal tracks could be made. The crab’s change in gait shortly before its demise may or may not have been related to changes in the chemical content of its environment; we cannot know the significance of the gait for certain, but the ocean water could have carried toxic chemicals related to the volcanic activity. Additional surges bearing more loads of sediment could then rapidly bury tracks set in the cement-like carbonate-rich mud, preserving the fossil impressions and occasionally the track-makers too.
This fossilized death march of another horseshoe crab from the Solnhofen region graces the lobby of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. It was obtained from Upper Jurassic limestone in the Schernfeld Quarry near Solnhofen, Germany. Fossils like these form rapidly as a result of catastrophic events under certain conditions. The sign by the exhibit explains: “Here lies the last remains of a horseshoe crab, stopped dead in its tracks. The fine preservation of both body and tracks is amazing. Horseshoe crabs live on the ocean floor. Special conditions unknown in the present ocean must have quickly sealed and preserved both animal and prints. The Bible describes a unique event that may provide all the ingredients to preserve such a fine specimen—the worldwide Flood of Noah’s day. The water killed billions of animals, dumped millions of tons of sediments worldwide, and created unique chemical conditions never before seen on earth. Horseshoe crabs are ‘living fossils’ that have kept the same basic form, from fossils deep in the fossil record to species alive today. (This is a specimen of the sediment that buried the specimen, so everything is reversed like a film negative. This explains why the path is raised and animal is indented.)” Be sure to see this excellent fossil at the Creation Museum.
Close-up of track.
Thus, the Flood geology model drawn from a study of geology and the fossil record in the light of biblical history explains the final march of the horseshoe crab at Solnhofen.
Faith and science: are there any absolutes?
The fall 2012 Assemblies of God Enrichment Journal is devoted to helping those in ministry reach the world for Jesus Christ in this scientific age. The issue is a collection of articles by scientists, philosophers, and theologians debating “the biblical and scientific evidence for the age of the earth,”2 discussing “how to minister to a scientifically literate culture,”2 and dealing with “the New Atheist misuses of science.”2
An introductory message from Assemblies of God general superintendent George Wood, “Faith and Science: Interpreting God’s Word and God’s World,” recalls his own crisis of faith brought on not by scientific concerns but by the apparent hypocrisy of some people who claimed to be mature Christians. His crisis was resolved, he reports, when he realized that “Christianity was based on fact, not feeling” and that “subjective experiences are a weak foundation for Christian faith, but objective truth is solid ground.” (To all this, I believe most regular Christian readers of this column would say a resounding “Amen.”)
Following this strong beginning, however, Dr. Wood then explains that in order to equip Christians in his denomination to minister to those who find their faith threatened by science, the journal does not take sides on the age-of-the-earth debate. He deems this the best way to win scientifically literate people for the gospel. That non-committal philosophy is reflected in the journal, not only by the multiplicity of views presented but also by clear instructions that the best way to reach people for Christ is to avoid taking sides.
The Young Earth Creationist (YEC) position—the view that God created the earth and all that exists about 6,000 years ago in six literal days as described in Genesis—is presented as a position that pastors simply should not take for fear of implying people should check their brains at the door.
The colossal inconsistency of Dr. Wood’s position here should be apparent. The “facts” on which Christianity is based—the “objective truths” that provide a solid foundation for all the doctrines of Christianity—are the truths in the Word of God. God did not provide a book with a few scattered truths and nice thoughts amidst a morass of fairy tales from which individuals were expected to root out some individual happy-thoughts.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, told His Father, “Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17). The ever–self-deceiving hearts of men and women described in Jeremiah 17:9 could never determine which parts were true if God left it to us to decide which parts were worthy of belief. Jesus Christ Himself referred to key events in the Old Testament as factual. Those Christ-attested events include the creation of man and woman (Matthew 19:4), the global Flood of Noah’s day (Matthew 24:38), and the three miserable days and nights Jonah spent inside the great fish’s belly (Matthew 12:40). And Jesus made it clear that belief in the writings of Moses is foundational to understanding and believing in Him (John 5:46–47).
Thus, while acknowledging the importance of absolute truths based on God’s Word, Dr. Wood gives his blessing to a journal that teaches ministers to refrain from suggesting there is a solid basis for all the major doctrines in the Bible, even including the doctrines that explain the origin of sin, death, guilt, and the need for a Savior. Those doctrines (and all the other major biblical doctrines) have their roots in Genesis. Dr. Wood describes this approach as “tough sledding, intellectually speaking.” What he is really recommending isn’t just “tough sledding” though, but a slippery slope that starts out telling people that the Bible might very well be wrong from its beginning. This approach encourages people to pick and choose what parts of God’s Word they want to believe until they finally realize that approach is so farcical they throw out the whole thing. Dr. Wood’s “anything goes” approach to the foundational book of the Bible is no way to win people to Christ. It is a way to build their faith on an unstable basis, destined to crumble.
Popular paleo-blogger calls evolutionists who reject feathered dinosaurs “misguided.”
Using what he calls “a heap of lovely fossils,” free-lance writer Brian Switek takes a swipe not just at creationists this week but also at fellow evolutionists. His own feathers ruffled by last week’s discussion here of the Doctor Who episode “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship,” Switek does reserve his choicest derogatory names for Answers in Genesis president Ken Ham. However, he also calls evolutionary paleontologists who do not believe birds evolved from dinosaurs “misguided researchers.”
Claiming that there is a “mountain of evidence that birds are living dinosaurs,” Switek writes:
To help them dispute the evidence, creationists have become followers of a group of misguided researchers who denounce the idea that birds are living dinosaurs. Paleontologists such as Alan Feduccia, Larry Martin, Theagarten Lingham-Soliar, and John Ruben insist that birds sprang from a different ancestor, one more closely allied with crocodiles than dinosaurs. They also claim that feathered dinosaurs such as Microraptor must be birds that lost the ability to fly. These scientists, while they have made worthwhile contributions in other areas of fossil research, have not provided a reasonable, testable hypothesis for an alternate bird origin, and they take an entirely critical approach to the work of others. In other words, they are acting a bit like creationists—pushing a particular agenda, unhindered by evidence, because of a preconceived conclusion.
Thus Switek implies that the only evolutionary scientists he respects are those who toe the party line. The feathered dinosaur crowd is free to criticize the work of others, but Switek takes these scientists to task for their “critical approach to the work of others.” He accuses them of coming up with no “testable hypotheses” for an alternate bird origin. Thus Switek indicates that the feathered story must be right because experts in the field—evolutionary experts at that—disagree but fail to provide an alternative evolutionary view.
Furthermore, Switek says these “misguided” scientists have provided no “testable hypotheses” for bird origins. Here he, like Bill Nye,3 confuses “here and now science” (experimental, operational science) with historical (origins) science.4 Experimental science—the kind that makes real discoveries in the present world—is based on making observations and performing controlled scientific tests. Since the origin of life occurred in the unobservable past, it is not amenable to controlled, repeatable scientific evaluation.
Switek also criticizes the creationist campaign to “take dinosaurs back.” He writes, “This isn’t about science. It’s about marketing.” And what does he say Answers in Genesis is marketing? “Creationists, in Ham’s view,” he reports, “should use dinosaurs as star attractions to get the public to imbibe the religious swill he and his organization peddle.”
Switek himself demonstrates that this isn’t about science; it’s about worldview! He writes, “Creationism is concerned with dinosaurs only as marketing tools to sell their interpretation of a vengeful God.” And then he explains that the evolutionary view in which “our own mammalian progenitors snuffled around in the undergrowth during the majority of the dinosaurian reign” has its own metaphysical purpose: “If we can be humble enough to approach the fossilized dinosaur remains with questions, rather than prepackaged dogma, we’ll be better able to understand why we’re here at all.”
Well, the fact is, the rabid enthusiasm surrounding feathered dinosaurs is itself about marketing: marketing a dangerous idea—the idea that the God of the Bible cannot be trusted. The idea that God—if He exists—is too powerless to create the universe by the power of His word, to remember how long it took Him, and to communicate clearly how He did it. That idea is dangerous because, if God cannot be trusted to tell us the truth at the beginning of the Bible, then how could He be trusted to tell us the truth about Jesus Christ (John 5:46–47). The truths in Genesis explain the origin of sin and death, telling us why each of us—whether we admit it or not—desperately needs Christ.
Dinosaurs long ago became an icon of the evolutionary war on biblical truth. Switek thinks, “Dinosaurs are unlikely symbols of religious fundamentalism.” But there is nothing inherently evolutionary about dinosaurs. They are just the fossilized remains of extinct animals. Nothing about them proves they are millions of years old or that they evolved into birds; those ideas are merely evolutionary interpretations. Unfortunately, evolutionary mythologizing about dinosaurs has helped evolutionists tell a compelling story. Bill Nye explained the strategy in his 2010 Humanist of the Year award acceptance speech:
I believe that the way to do it [referring to curing the “problem” of people not believing in evolution] is by coming up with stories. People respond to stories. . . . But what we have to do is find a story that is more compelling, and I think we can plan that easily because instead of focusing on the truth we focus on the pursuit of it.5
Thus, evolutionists have now recruited feathered dinosaurs to make evolutionary storytelling about the past engaging and compelling enough to capture hearts, minds, and imaginations.
No wonder Switek is critical of Answers in Genesis efforts to “take dinosaurs back”! Fantasy is fiction, but the Word of God is full of authentic history to back up its claims. The Bible tells a compelling story—a real-life story—the story of an omniscient all-powerful and holy Creator who created all that is, who made mankind in His image, and whose human creations (Adam and Eve) rebelled against Him: the story of how from the beginning God set in motion a plan to redeem mankind from the hell we all deserve by sending His Son Jesus Christ into the world.
“We’re taking them back” is not a new slogan—Answers in Genesis has been using it for quite a while now. And a few years ago while visiting a Tennessee church where my husband Dr. Tommy Mitchell was speaking, a woman saw My Creation Bible with dinosaurs on the cover. Puzzled as to what dinosaurs had to do with the Bible, she soon exclaimed, “That’s great! That’s wonderful! We’re taking our children back! And we’re using dinosaurs to do it!” Because that’s what it comes down to: our children have become the currency of success. They need to know that real science affirms what the Bible says. If we are “marketing,” we are marketing to win them for the kingdom of God. The hearts and minds of our children are at stake.
Convenient evolutionary answer tying human pregnancy to bipedality becomes extinct.
Everyone knows human pregnancy is supposed to last nine months, but why is that? And why are newborn humans so helpless? The traditional evolutionary explanation just bit the dust. The usual explanation described the 9-month human gestation as an evolutionary trade-off that evolved to solve competing problems: the need to walk upright and the need to grow a bigger brain. This so-called “obstetrical dilemma” (OD) hypothesis has long outlasted research suggesting its retirement.
The traditional explanation seemed—to evolutionists—“plausible” even though it was based on “speculative tales.” Even the famous evolutionists Stephen J. Gould and Richard Lewontin have been critical of such criteria for accepting explanations.6 The tale seemed plausible because evolutionists have painted a picture of human evolution from ape-like ancestors with the need to evolve bipedal locomotion and bigger brains. Evolutionists consider these features to be the hallmarks of human evolutionary history. In imagining a reason for humans to give birth to helpless babies, they have maintained that longer gestation to grow bigger brains would require broader hips—a pelvic size that would surely (they thought) make it difficult to run and walk efficiently. The authors of a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Metabolic hypothesis for human altriciality,” write that this idea is “intuitively appealing, but is it correct?”7
Anthropologist and lead author Holly Dunsworth writes, “Notice how the OD skillfully ties together many unique or fascinating phenomena in human evolution such as human bipedalism, human encephalization, hellish human childbirth, helpless human babies, male-biased human athletic ability, and broad ladies’ hips. And we haven’t proven this popular story wrong. But our paper throws some serious doubt on it, demonstrating how little of it holds up to current evidence.”
In their paper, the authors point out that three decades of research have consistently shown that the broader hips of women do not decrease the efficiency of locomotion. As they write, genuine bipedal locomotion requires that “The hip abductors (M. gluteus medius and minimus) activate during single-leg-support phase during walking and running to prevent the trunk from rotating (falling) away from the stance leg.”7 Studies have long concluded that broadening the pelvis has no detrimental effects of walking or running. Yet until Dunsworth’s research suggested a more plausible evolutionary reason for the 9-month plan, the faulty explanation stuck.
Dunsworth says, “I see the world through evolution goggles.” She has no intention of disparaging an evolutionary explanation. She just proposes a different one. Her group discovered that extending human gestation long enough to achieve a brain as developed as a newborn chimp’s—relative to its full-grown size—would not increase a baby’s head size beyond the typical human pelvic capacity. As she points out, no one has ever thought a baby’s head size sent a “let me out” signal to the mother. But the appealing little story stuck for lack of a better one.
What her group did discover is that the trigger for human pregnancy to end at nine months is the same signal that triggers the end of gestation in mammalian animals: the baby’s energy demands exceed the capacity of the mother to supply them. As a result, metabolic stress triggers hormonal signals that tell a woman’s body “it’s time.”
Specifically, mammals cannot sustain a metabolic rate above about 2 to 2.5 times their basal metabolic rate (BMR) for very long. The limit for humans is about 2. Typically, by the sixth month of pregnancy, a woman’s metabolic rate reaches about double her BMR, and it remains so until the ninth month. At that point, the typical pregnancy begins demanding more energy than a woman has to give, and the signals that trigger labor to begin are given.
Dunsworth sees the world through “evolutionary goggles,” has an evolutionary worldview, and applies the evolutionary explanation to everything. The authors clearly consider their revelation to be an evolutionary explanation for the 9-month limit in humans. However, there is nothing evolutionary about the explanation at all. Their discovery is simply a reason—a reason we are “done at nine.” But we can be thankful that they do think their explanation is an evolutionary alternative to the traditional evolutionary one. Otherwise, the myth of the “obstetrical dilemma” would resist death for decades to come.
As to why many babies have a tight fit, the best the authors have to offer is that the improved diet of humans over the eons has led to bigger babies, and evolution hasn’t had time to catch up. But there is no evolutionary issue here either: humans with bigger babies and bigger hips would still be humans.
In reality, our Creator designed humans and each kind of animal with the intricate structures and physiological functions they needed. This research has just shed a little more light on the reason we deliver our helpless babies at nine months. God’s design doesn’t end with the physiological limit of nine months. The amazing design of the human pelvis is uniquely engineered to guide a baby’s head through the perfect path to the outside world. For more about the marvelous design of the human female pelvis suitable for walking, having babies, and keeping our “insides” in despite gravity, see The Evolution of Childbirth? And for a discussion of pain in childbirth see Feedback: Is It Wrong to Interfere with the Pain of Childbirth? and News to Note, March 31, 2012.
Note: This information is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended as professional medical advice. The information should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor or other healthcare professional. If you have specific questions about any medical condition, diagnosis, or treatment, you should consult your doctor or other healthcare provider.
Strelley Pool stromatolites strike another blow for early life.
Western Australia’s Strelley Pool Formation is thought by many to harbor earth’s oldest microfossils. Sandwiched in between volcanic rock, they are conventionally dated with their Archaean host rock at about 3.45 billion years old. Not everyone agrees that the Strelley Pool structures are truly biological in origin. However, a study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences adds to the evidence that the Strelley Pool stromatolites are truly biological.
While many evolutionists searching for the chemical origin of life believe Strelley Pool’s stromatolites are “the oldest evidence for life on earth,”8 some dispute the finding. Those who doubt their biological origin consider the timespan between the asteroid that supposedly struck the earth and burned away all its oxygen 3.85 billion years ago and this claimed evidence for life only 400 million years later to be much too short to be believed.
Stromatolites are finely layered dome-shaped structures found in sedimentary rocks. Those of biologic origin are created by mats of microorganisms (including some sulfur-eating bacteria) as well as the minerals they precipitate and the grit which they bind together and thus have entombed themselves. Living things that process sulfur preferentially incorporate lighter-weight isotopes of sulfur, but some non-biologic processes incorporate lighter isotopes too.
In order to determine the precise distribution of sulfur isotopes in the Strelley Pool stromatolites, the authors first sliced the stromatolites into extremely thin layers. They found that the stromatolites had preferentially incorporated lower weight isotopes in a non-uniform way, consistent with biological origins.9 (Non-biological processes that concentrate lower molecular weight isotopes do so more uniformly.) They not only indicate this finding confirms the stromatolites are genuine fossils but that their sulfur content is consistent with the evolutionary contention that the Archaean atmosphere was sulfurous, allowing life to evolve in an oxygen-free world.
The living stromatolites of today (found in many places, but particularly in Western Australia and the Bahamas) appear to be very similar to fossil stromatolites. Since they survive quite nicely in our oxygenated world today, their presence in some of the lowest rock layers is not evidence that the world then had a non-oxygen atmosphere. The notion of an anoxic early earth does not survive careful geologic scrutiny but is needed by evolutionists to explain how evolving biological systems could avoid being oxidized. We know from biblical history that God created an oxygen-rich atmosphere during Creation week, about 6,000 years ago, to support the life He created the same week.
The Archean rock layers are believed by many creationist geologists to have been formed early in the Creation week. God populated the early earth with these tiny mineral processors at about the same time as He created the plants. And while larger organisms such as those found in higher rock layers needed to be buried rapidly and catastrophically to fossilize, mostly during the global Flood, microorganisms are a different story. In the relatively stable environment of the pre-Flood world, their tiny forms would have easily been buried and preserved, even just by their mineral-processing activities, leaving these tiny rocky remnants from that time.
A biological origin for the stromatolite structures in these Archean rock layers is thus consistent with a biblical understanding of earth’s history. The long ages attributed to them and their host rock, however, are based on the unverifiable uniformitarian assumptions used to interpret radiometric measurements. And the biological origin of the Strelley Pool stromatolites does not support the idea that life evolved from chemicals and does not prove that billions of years elapsed on earth with or without oxygen.
Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us. If you didn’t catch last week’s News to Note, why not take a look at it now? See you next week!
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