Friday, 3 January 2014

Poop and Flood Geology

Naturalis Historia discusses how the existence of poop in the sediment column is a big problem for Young Earth Creationists.  It is a long post so I don't feel too bad in offering this extended quote:

Young earth creationists propose an alternative history. In their history a massive global flood deposited 10s of thousands of feet of sediments in this area over a period of a few days to maybe a few months. In the past 4000 year erosion has then sculpted the rocks into these mountains and hills.  Therefore, these flood geology theories of YECs would undoubtedly view the rock formations from which these fossils were found as having formed right in the middle of a chaotic global flood only 4-6 thousand years ago.
So how does a group of strange-looking 8-foot long reptiles survive the initial stages of a cataclysmic global flood in which 15,000 feet of sediments have already been deposited below where they gathered together? Even if they were running or swimming around during the flood and managed to find their way onto a small piece of land between waves how come these feces appear to have aged before being preserved (many show desiccation cracks as if they dried out before they were preserved)?  Also, how does a pile of loose digested plant material survive the next huge wave of water bringing sediments in to cover them up.  In this case these piles of feces look to have been preserved by a layer of volcanic ash being dumped on them. How does that happen in the middle of a global flood? 
Naturalis Historia had previously discussed animal feces during the flood here.  The blogger described dinosaur, bird and fish feces as well as the action of dung beetles.  Here is an excerpt from the dung beetle portion:
Dung beetles take dung from large dung piles of herbivores like elephants and roll pieces up into balls, roll them away and bury them for safe keeping like a squirrel buries nuts.   The presence of these in the fossil record is yet another evidence that where they are preserved represents a place were the normal ecology of the world was working rather than a large global catastrophe.  For dung balls to be found in burrows, now only did there have to be fresh dung around but it had to be there long enough for beetles to do their work.  Again, in the young earth creationists view these beetles were living near the end of a global catastrophe after 20,000 feet of sediments had suddenly been laid down and yet they were still alive managed to find fresh dung and had time to roll it up and bury it before being covered by the next giant wave of water that would then cover them with many new layers of sediments that would become rock. 
The Rocks Don't Lie is my favorite book on the subject.  As I read the book, I understood what the author was writing about but now, around a year later, the clearest and simplest evidence I remember from the book for an ancient Earth rather than a global flood was in discussion of Grand Canyon sediment.  Montgomery points out that the layers include sediment, then shale, then sediment, then shale, then sediment.  Sediment and shale require different processes to form so at least five different events had to have occurred.  He also points out the 'discontinuities' - parts where the column had built up, then been worn away, creating gaps of millions of years.  Silvestru had claimed that such discontinuities were simply guesses by secular scientists and chose to ignore any evidence to the contrary.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Fascinating human evolution discoveries of 2013

From Scientific American.  A few excerpts.
  • Analysis of the shape of the braincase of seven-million-year-old Sahelanthropus tchadensis from Chad supports the claim that it is the oldest human ancestor on record.
  • The femur of Orrorin tugenensis, a putative human ancestor that lived six million years ago in Kenya, has a shape that is intermediate between that of fossil apes and early members of the human lineage—a finding that confirms previous claims thatthe creature walked upright.
  • Tiny, rarely preserved middle-ear bones from two of our ancient relatives that lived millions of years ago exhibit modern features, which may indicate an early shift in hearing ability.
  • The latest round of studies of Australopithecus sediba, a nearly two-million-year-old relative of ours from South Africa, reveals a previously unknown form of upright walking and decidedly humanlike jaws and teeth. But is it the ancestor of our genus, Homo? Not so fast.
Not really related: American political parties and evolution/creation, a takedown.