18  Rapid fossilisation (taphonomy)

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In order for a creature to become fossilised, it must be covered almost immediately with sediment and sealed off from the air. Otherwise it will rot /decompose. After the sealed creature has been surrounded by suitable minerals, due to the laws of chemistry an exchange takes place between the creature’s molecules and its mineral-containing surroundings. The actual process can, under favourable conditions, actually begin within five days and be completed in weeks, months or a few years. How quickly a creature is mineralised depends on the surroundings in which it was embedded.

Fossils usually come about only as the result of major catastrophes. In the 1988 edition of Brockhaus, under the heading "fossilisation,” it says the following: “The prerequisite (for the formation of fossils) is the rapid embedding of dead creatures in clay, sand and other sediments or in resin (later to become amber), so that they cannot decompose, be consumed or destroyed by any other external physical or chemical forces,”

Rapid fossilisation:

 According to a report by Derek Briggs and Amanda Kear in Science magazine, it has been observed in laboratory experiments that part mineralisation of shrimp occurred as soon as two weeks after death (1). There was already forty percent mineralisation of the muscles after only eight weeks. Even if this process does not always take place as quickly as that, it is, however, true that millions of years are not necessary.

Dinosaur bones with elastic tissue and cellular structures: 

Interestingly, in past years some dinosaur bones have been found in which the process of mineralisation was not complete. Among other things, they contained elastic tissue with cellular structures (collagen and blood vessels). If one assumes that these bones are actually sixty million years old or older, then it is very hard to explain how this organic material could defy the decaying process (entropy) for such a long time (2) (3).

 Furthermore, dinosaur bones have been found which contain fragments of protein. According to current knowledge, these should only be capable of being preserved for significantly less than one million years (4).

Actualism and catastrophism:

 Actualism is one of the cornerstones of the theory of evolution. This doctrine says that, in the past, processes took place which are similar to those we still see today. Measures are therefore taken of the amount of material deposited each year at certain points on the seabed, and estimates made, according to this, of the time it would have taken to build up the whole stratum. To deposit a chalk stratum one metre thick would, under the present environmental conditions, take approximately 40,000 years. It also, however, has to be borne in mind that fossils of soft body parts and plants could come about only if the creature was buried quickly and completely enough so that neither air and water nor bacteria and scavengers could damage it.

Most rock strata found today contain larger or smaller fossils. All these strata must have been built up very quickly.

In Sweden, half of the Ordovician (allegedly some thirty million or more years old) can be viewed in a single quarry. This is called a condensation camp because one assumes that the stratification occurred very slowly. However, even in these deposits, any number of trilobites can be found (5). These stratifications must have taken place in phases, which could have occurred within days, years or decades. Otherwise the trilobites would have disintegrated before they could fossilise.

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(1) Derek E.G. Briggs and Amanda J. Kear, Fossilization of Soft Tissue in the Laboratory, Science 259 (5. March 1993): pages 1439–1442.
(2) Mary Higby Schweitzer et al., Analyses of Soft Tissue from Tyrannosaurus rex suggest the Presence of Protein, Science 316, 13. April 2007 pages 277–280.
(3) H. Binder, Elastisches Gewebe aus fossilen Dinosaurier-Knochen, Studium Integrale, (Oktober 2005): pages 72–73. http://www.wort-und-wissen.de/index2.php?artikel=sij/sij122/sij122-5.html.
(4) H. Binder, Proteine aus einem fossilen Oberschenkelknochen von Tyrannosaurus Rex, Studium Integrale, October 2007, pages 78–81 (A.d.L.: The spelling "Tyrannosaurus Rex" appears mainly in German publications, while the variant Tyrannosaurus rex is to be found published in English).
(5) R. Fortey, Trilobiten! (München, 2002): page 203.

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