“How old are fossils?” If you grew up as I did (taught in state-run schools), you have a ready answer. “Millions of years!”
I grew up learning the typical evolutionary story’s party line regarding rocks and fossils, that slow fossilization ideas were true and that fossils were millions of years old. I read books with detailed and colorful diagrams showing that fossils formed mostly when animals and/or plants died in watery environments. And there would often be references to former “inland seas” (from millions of years ago, of course) in the area where the particular fossil being discussed was found. I could easily recite the standard example of how fossils form to any adult that would bother to take the time to listen.
I’d typically use the canned example I’d seen and heard so often, a fish, for example. According to the typical series of pictures I’d seen depicted in a wide assortment of books, a fish would die, sink to the bottom of a lake, and get slowly covered in layers of silt and mud. Then as millions of years would pass, the sediment got compressed as new layers gathered, the mud would turn into rock, the fish would become permineralized, and voila’, it became a fossil!
If I had just taken a few seconds to think about it, I would have easily realized that what my own eyes observed . . .
So convincing was this seemingly “scientific” process that I never seemed to compare it to what I’d actually observed dead fish doing, sitting on the bottom of the Atlantic at the end of the wooden docks I’d sat on, feet dangling over the water in Newfoundland. If I had just taken a few seconds to think about it, I would have easily realized that what my own eyes observed is that dead fish tend to float and bloat, and the ones that were at the bottom were chewed up by crabs and little “nippers” quite quickly. And even the bones didn’t last all that long.
I realize now I’d been taught what to think, not how to think, and I never heard anyone challenge these ideas in class. And like me, due to that widespread evolutionary indoctrination in the school system, most people, even Christians, still believe that it takes millions of years for rocks to form and a living organism to become a fossil.
I realize now that a major reason I never doubted these ideas is that I had never been shown an alternative for how fossils could have formed. I never heard one person in my earlier years ever mention that a giant catastrophe (especially the great deluge recorded in the Bible) could have buried creatures rapidly and completely and formed fossils very quickly.
After revisiting the whole idea of fossilization many years later, I realized evolutionary researchers can’t explain many things according to that long-age paradigm (which is likely why they’ve more recently begun to embrace and incorporate catastrophic explanations into their evolutionary system). Like why they’ve found fossilized animals in the middle of very specific, short-term activities and actions, like eating or giving birth. For example, a fossil of squid-like creature was discovered in the southern coast of England with its arms wrapped around a fish with a head that was crushed.1
This supposed 200-million-year-old fossil was discovered in the 19th century but was recently re-examined and identified as the oldest known example of a coleoid (a class of cephalopods that includes octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish) attacking prey. It appears that the belemnoid captured, killed, and was about to eat a fish, when, according to evolutionary researchers, both animals were buried in sediments so suddenly by a catastrophic event that they were entombed instantaneously and obviously fossilized quite rapidly before decay set in (cephalopods like squid and octopus turn to “jelly” quite quickly upon dying).
These types of fossils are becoming well known. For example, at the Creation Museum in the United States, we have a fossil fish displayed that was swallowing another fish while they were buried. Another is the fossil of a horseshoe crab with its tracks visible in the sediment it was traveling along. This indicates that not only was it buried at “lightning speed,” according to the common geological perspective, but that the right chemical conditions in the sediment for rapid fossilization (to protect the specimen and its tracks) must have been present, eliminating the need for any kind of “deep time” processes to account for the fossilization process.2
These fossils formed very rapidly indeed, which means the sedimentary rock they are preserved in hardened almost immediately, not slowly over thousands of years.
Even more rapidly decaying soft-bodied animals like jellyfish have been found in Australia, Canada, Germany, the United States, and other countries.3 This presents an incredible conundrum for evolutionary scientists, because jellyfish decay so rapidly they typically leave no trace whatsoever after a very short time. And the details of the fossil jellyfish discovered are so well preserved they reveal minute details that demonstrate the complexity of the “ancient” jellyfish are actually very similar to their modern counterparts. That means that these fossils formed very rapidly indeed, which means the sedimentary rock they are preserved in hardened almost immediately, not slowly over thousands of years.
Fossils are typically embedded in rock. Which means if the fossilization of an organism occurred rapidly, then the rock they are trapped in must have formed quickly as well. As we just saw, the fossils and rocks I mentioned earlier didn’t come about according to the tales I’d been told as a young, naïve, and easily influenced student.
But the naturalistic indoctrination most people have received is powerful, and sometimes hard to break. Most of us have been told over and over, since we were very young, that it takes millions of years for large portions of strata we see around the world to have formed, but there is a lot of evidence against that long-age paradigm. Similar to our fishy fossil finds, how would that explanation fit with the clock in the rock found in Washington, USA, in 1975?4 Obviously, the clock isn’t a million-year-old construct, and the rock it’s embedded in was formed after the clock was, which disqualifies it as an ancient fossil relic.
So, we know rocks can form rapidly under the right conditions, and we can find evidence of this having happened throughout the world. All those fossils found across the earth are consistent with rapid catastrophic burial, and the sheer magnitude and worldwide scope of them speak of them as the consequence of the global flood described in Genesis 6–9, Noah’s flood.
When you realize this was a real event, you can understand that the flood would have swept away plants and animals, creating huge amounts of biomass and burying them in water-borne sediments. This would mean many were buried en masse, which would have created huge fossil graveyards, of which we find many around the world.
As one example, mixtures of fossils found together of creatures that wouldn’t normally coexist in the same environment have also been found in fossil graveyards like the Messel Pit in Germany. Here fossils of birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects, fish, and mammals are found in the same place.5 This once again does away with the old “slow and steady” evolutionary story I was taught.
Not only that, many of the animals in the pit (some of which are extinct, while others are just like those we see in present times) are so well preserved they show color, fur, food in their stomachs, and demonstrate certain activities (like pairs of turtles mating) when the catastrophic event that preserved them occurred.
Try asking this question with your friends and family as an experiment (those unfamiliar with these arguments) as a metric of what most people believe about these ideas. What will you hear? A million years? 100K? 10K? A week? Watch many of them shake their head in disbelief when you tell them the scientific fact—a day!
Yes, that’s right, fossils have been made in a laboratory in 24 hours, mimicking naturally occurring fossils to a T! This news was published in a secular article from the University of Bristol called “Creating ‘synthetic’ fossils in the lab sheds light on fossilization processes,” which mentions that the experimental samples, or what they refer to as “synthetic fossils,” were compared to “real fossils” (supposedly thousands or millions of years old), and they were basically identical.
The article described their similarity as not just superficial in nature:
[N]ot just visually, but also microscopically as revealed using a scanning electron microscope.6
Scientists even found that just as in the naturally occurring fossils, the 24-hour fossils contained preserved “microscopic, pigment-bearing structures called melanosomes [that] reside within the organic films in feathers and lizards treated . . . while unstable protein and fatty tissues degrade and are lost . . . .”
This experiment, accomplished using a hydraulic press, shows that under the right conditions, fossils can really form very rapidly rather than taking millions of years. (You may want to bookmark this evolution-based article so you can reference it as an unbiased source and forward it to those you mention it to).
The fossil evidence found around the world only makes sense in the light of a global flood. The rapid burial, caused by consecutive water surges and associated layers of sediment, preserved and fossilized the animal bodies, and even their footprints and other tracks.
2 Peter 3:3–6 (ESV) states:
Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.
Noah’s flood is the only clear explanation for the great variety of fossils that experts find today, and powerful evidence of quickly buried animals like octopuses and jellyfish (before they could decay or be scavenged) speak of the authenticity of the biblical account.
These topics can be used as a segue from the material to the spiritual in conversation with those around you. Why not plan on asking the question, “How long does it take for a fossil to form?” to someone you know soon? It may make a great springboard to some great conversations the Lord will use to enlighten someone in your life to the truth of God’s Word, especially the gospel message!“