What Rotting Fish and Worms Tell Us About Fossilization

by Ken Ham
Featured in Ken Ham Blog

Being a scientist isn’t always a very glamorous job—sometimes it can be downright nasty. A recent news item carried the story of a team of scientists at the University of Leicester in England who are recording the results of a really smelly study that involves watching fish and worms rot.

This team of paleontologists is “rethinking the way fossils form” with their experiments and observations. They’ve collected specimens from the most “primitive” creatures, or at least representatives of the most primitive creatures, such as hagfish, eels, and worms, that evolutionists believe have been around for 300–500 million years. Then they watched their specimens rot and recorded which tissues, such as muscle or cartilage, decompose first. They are hoping this will help them fill in the gaps and figure out which parts of fossils are missing, having rotted away before fossilization could occur.

The results are surprising them. Dr. Gabbott, coauthor of a new study published on this research, says this experiment shows that “fossils may form significantly faster than most of us imagine.” He said,

Most people think fossils take millions of years to form. . . . But with these animals that don't have any hard parts — no mineral, or skeleton, or teeth — everything is pretty much gone after 100 days. So, the fossilization process has to occur super quickly, before the entire body is all rotted away.
Fossils don’t take long ages to form.

Of course, the findings of this research come as no surprise to creationists—we’ve been saying the exact same thing for decades. Fossils don’t take long ages to form. The organism would have completely decomposed or been eaten by scavengers long before fossilization occurred. The lab doesn’t have scavengers, an addition which would surely show that fossilization must occur even more rapidly before the body is eaten.

Geologist Dr. Andrew Snelling, the head of our research department, shared the following about rapid fossilization:

It is well known that fossilization has to have been rapid, with numerous experiments already having been done to demonstrate how fossilization occurs extremely rapidly. For example, Englishman Derrek Briggs has performed experiments to replicate how the famous fish fossils in Brazil’s Santana Formation were preserved in phosphate rock nodules with their soft tissues intact. He found that the calcium phosphate (the mineral apatite, of which our teeth and bones are made) starts being deposited within the fish’s tissues even while it is still alive. Thus the fish is progressively fossilized while still living! And it all happens within days in water with the necessary chemicals in it. Applying these experimental observations to the Santana fossils with preserved soft tissues has led researchers such as Briggs to conclude fossilization was virtually instantaneous under catastrophic, watery conditions.

These researchers misunderstand fossilization because they have the wrong starting point. They believe the slow and gradual processes of the present are the key to the past. But this ignores the history in God’s Word that reveals a global Flood that would have rapidly buried billions of organisms (starting with bottom-dwellers such as these hagfish, eels, and worms) before they had a chance to decompose or get picked apart by scavengers.

When we start with the history in God’s Word, what we see in the world makes sense.

Get More Answers on Answers News

I discussed this science news item today on Answers News along with regular cohost Dr. Georgia Purdom and guest host Avery Foley. Answers News is our twice-weekly news program filmed before a live studio audience here at the Creation Museum and broadcast on my Facebook page. We also discussed the following topics:

  • Are the oldest footprints in North America 13,000 years old?
  • Humanism is now considered a religion in North Carolina prisons.
  • What do dinosaur footprints in Scotland tell us about history?
  • And more!

Be sure to join us each Monday and Thursday at 2 p.m. (EDT) on my Facebook page for Answers News. You won’t want to miss this unique news program that gives science and culture news from a distinctly biblical and Christian perspective.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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