The usual story behind the fossil record is that each layer represents a period in time during which certain animals lived and died. Again, creationists offer a different interpretation of the evidence. The following model, developed by Dr. Kurt Wise, presents one idea about how the fossil layers may have been deposited. (Note: although we use the given names for the various layers of the geologic column, we reject the long timescales associated with those names.)
4004 BC: The Precambrian strata represent earth’s “basement rocks” that God formed during the initial creation period. The initial continent was distributed as is pictured by the Rodinia concept. Much of this initial continent was covered by shallow seas. Located along the edge of the continent, were hot water reefs. Massive floating forests existed. Further inland were the habitats of the original created kinds of animals and humans.
2349 BC: The Flood begins. The Paleozoic invertebrate animals that lived in the shallow seas were among the first to be covered with sediment. The sand dunes along Rodinia’s beaches and coastal animals were carried out to sea and redeposited by floodwaters as the Permo-Triassic sands of the world.
The Ediacaran through Cretaceous layers largely represent how the Flood picked off, in sequence, the hot spring reefs (Vendian/Cambrian layers), the shallow seas (Ordovician/Silurian layers), the floating forest (Sigillaria/Devonian/Mississippian/Pennsylvanian layers), and finally the dinosaurs (Triassic/ Jurassic/Cretaceous layers). Land animals were among the last to be buried.
2300—2000 BC: The Paleogene and Neogene (Tertiary and Quaternary) were produced in the first couple centuries following the Flood.
For more information, see K. Wise, “The Hydrothermal Biome: a Pre-Flood Environment,” Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism. Creation Science Fellowhip, 2003, pp. 359–370.
Although there is some disagreement among creationist geologists about the sequence of events given here, most accept this model of fossil layer formation. They agree that, rather than representing time periods separated by millions of years, the rock and fossil layers are more accurately described as buried ecosystems.