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Originally published in Creation 19, no 3 (June 1997): 38-39.
There is an exquisitely preserved fossil of an extinct marine reptile called an ichthyosaur. The mother ichthyosaur is shown having almost completed giving birth to a live infant—the beak of the young reptile is still inside mother's birth canal.
Most members of the public still think, as a result of years of conditioning, that the formation of fossils is somehow associated with long time-spans. Those who accept the Bible as the truthful Word of the Creator would know that this cannot be, since there could not have been death and bloodshed before the rebellion of the first man, Adam. They would therefore expect evidence that fossil formation is generally a rapid, catastrophic process.
When one finds a fossil of an isolated tooth or shell, for example, it is not possible to say how quickly or slowly it formed. However, there are countless examples of fossils concerning which it is obvious that long time-spans could not have been involved. For instance, fossils which have features so beautifully preserved that they must have been buried and hardened before they could be damaged by scavengers or decay.
In this spectacular case, not only is the fossil exquisitely preserved, but the fact that mother and infant are 'trapped' in a not-yet-completed birth process makes it profoundly clear that both were rapidly overwhelmed by catastrophic burial, consistent with the world flood of Noah's day. It is, of course, not feasible that mother just lay on the bottom of the ocean floor giving birth for thousands of years while being slowly covered up by accumulating sediments!
Unlike many other reptiles, ichthyosaurs gave birth to live young. Another photo shows another fossilised mother ichthyosaur with several unborn in her abdomen, and with what appears to be a newborn juvenile a short distance away (perhaps her own). Again, the beautiful state of preservation defies the idea that long time-spans were involved in the formation of this fossil.