Conformable Contacts
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Conformable Contacts
Notes from the intersection of faith, reason and geology
Curated by YEC Geo
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Can This Dog Sniff Out Fossils?

Can This Dog Sniff Out Fossils? | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

Gary Jackson and his dog Migaloo, trained to sniff out buried remains, work with locals to uncover archaeological sites and help Australian police locate the bodies of murder victims.

 

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, "Migaloo quickly located the 600-year-old remains of an indigenous Australian," which researchers found a decade ago. But that specialized training resulted in an unforeseen crossover—Migaloo can also smell fossils.

YEC Geo's insight:

Here's the thing--is this dog sniffing out organic remains?  Because if it is, then the implication is that fossils which are supposedly millions of years old still have enough biologic material to be detected by a dog's sensitive nose.

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YEC Geo's curator insight, May 29, 2013 12:57 PM

Getting a new puppy this summer--how do I train it to do this?  A geologist's dream dog!

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Dispatches from the feathered dinosaur wars

Dispatches from the feathered dinosaur wars | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
If all your Ray Harryhausen dreams have been crushed by recent news that dinosaurs actually had fluffy, cute feathers, then we have the online protest campaign for you. Those who refuse to believe in dino feathers have their own stickers!

 

And on the pro-feathered dinosaur side, here is a rant from the amusingly-titled blog, Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs, on the recent disclosure that feathered dinosaurs will not be featured in the latest Jurassic Park iteration:  http://chasmosaurs.blogspot.com/2013/03/no-feathers.html

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Fossils at the ferry

Fossils at the ferry | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

In which geologist Dan McShane shows that field trips can happen anywhere (in this case, a ferry dock in Whatcom County, WA).

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If it looks like a duck...

If it looks like a duck... | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
From Brian Thomas at ICR:

"A portion of a fossilized dinosaur upper arm bone from Tanzania, originally collected in the 1930s, spent many years nestled among thousands of dinosaur specimens housed at London's Natural History Museum. ...Researchers published their analysis, which visualized bones under a microscope, in Biology Letters. Taken together, the arm and spine fossils convinced the team that they were looking at dinosaurian bones, and yet they hesitated to confidently identify them as dinosaur. ...'It is possible that instead of being a true dinosaur, Nyasasaurus might have been a very close relative, lying just outside the dinosaur group,' according to the Natural History Museum."

Why not just call it a true dinosaur?

The problem is, the bones are dated to the mid-Triassic, which places them uncomfortably low in the evolutionary timeline for dinosaurs.

Thomas comments, "...to keep evolution's plausibility, the Current Biology authors nursed the idea that Nyasasaurus could have been almost a dinosaur despite its perfectly dinosaurian anatomy."

In the footnotes, he also points out that:

"On the one hand, researchers were able to reconstruct the general theropod dinosaur form by making valid inferences from the shapes of a few of its bones, assuming that the bones would have fit in a proper and practical arrangement. But on the other hand, co-author Paul Barrett told the Natural History Museum, 'Dinosaurs started as just one of a number of evolutionary experiments in reptile evolution.'

If Nyasasaurus was just an early evolutionary experiment, then why would Barrett expect its bones to be in any proper arrangement? Within the evolutionary worldview, there should be no reliable way to reconstruct ancient bones undergoing experimental size and proportion adjustments.

Thus the irony: Researchers had to borrow from the creation worldview's idea of well-formed kinds in order to do their evolutionary research."

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck...
YEC Geo's insight:

 

 

 

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Kimberley dinosaur footprints

Kimberley dinosaur footprints | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

Site of the world's largest dinosaur footprint.

 

"It’s interesting that Steve Salisbury recognises the transience of the situation. He says, “Most of the track sites that we see probably only represent, you know, between a few days and a couple of weeks, 130 million years ago, so they really do provide a fantastic snapshot.”

 

Note, “A few days and a couple of weeks”, and “snapshot”

 

The footprints are the clear evidence for this brief, short time frame. They were made in soft sediment, and that provides a tight time constraint. And the imprints have been well preserved, which also constrains the time before the subsequent sediment was deposited on top. If the footprints had been exposed for any longer than a few weeks they would have been eroded away.

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Migaloo the dog has a nose for archeology

Migaloo the dog has a nose for archeology | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
MEET Migaloo - the wonder dog that can sniff out a 600-year-old human skeleton buried almost 2m underground.

 

Quote:  "We've never heard of fossil dogs, nobody ever thought there would be any scent left on these old bones, nobody thought it could be done."

 

The next step is to see if they can sniff out other, presumably much older fossils. 

 

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Gwadar - Jiwani - Lonely Planet travel forum

Gwadar - Jiwani - Lonely Planet travel forum | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

Best description I could find of the museum where these bones are found.  

 

Image credit: http://www.panoramio.com/user/1092747/tags/Balochistan?photo_page=2

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Ediacaran fossil fix...

Ediacaran fossil fix... | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

Mountain Beltway takes his class to view Precambrian fossils.  In keeping with the limestone thread that I've got going on here, what struck me was the caption for the above 'tubestone' stromatolites, which are presumed to have lived in a "...hothouse aftermath of the Snowball Earth glaciation. The idea is that these guys exist in the “cap carbonate” layer in such a distinctive morphology because they were being “buried alive” by the massive, rapid precipitation of calcite from the ocean."

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Of Moas and Men

Of Moas and Men | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

What appeared to be three different species of moas in New Zealand actually turns out to be sexual dimorphism in one species.  In this case, the two large former "species" are females, and one small "species" is actually the male.  All three belonged to the same species. 

 

Salient quote from the researcher, applicable to all paleontology:  

 

“So the moas have turned out to be just remarkable in so many ways about basic evolutionary processes, and you think you’ve got the whole thing sorted out … and you’ve got to remember they only went extinct 650 years ago and we’ve got thousands if not tens of thousands of skeletons of these things, and we still couldn’t work it out. And if you’re looking at our ability to completely understand human evolution and Africa from the remnants of a few bits of bone and some teeth left behind and we can understand the series of steps between the species, certainly we can see the change, certainly we can understand the general process, but the specifics? If we can’t get it right 600 years ago, how are we going to do it 500,000 years ago with a tiny amount of material?”

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AGU Blogosphere | Mountain Beltway | Hiking to the Burgess Shale

AGU Blogosphere | Mountain Beltway | Hiking to the Burgess Shale | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

Last summer, this geoblogger visited the Burgess shale in Canada, the famed site of preserved soft-bodied organisms conventionally dated to the middle Cambrian.  The Burgess shale is part of a deposit of thin-bedded rocks that is 270-370 m thick.

 

He writes. "Four of these layers are intensely fossiliferous, a subtlety that Walcott was said to have missed due to his collection technique (dynamite).

 

Wow.  Why is this a big deal?  Because shales have traditionally been interpreted to have been laid down in quiet, calm waters.  The question then becomes, why aren't the fossils distributed evenly throughout the vertical thickness of the deposit?  Why only in four layers?

 

The famous fossils of the Green River shales of Wyoming, (average thickness of 600m, Roehler, 1992) are only found in two layers, one about 6' thick, and one only 18" thick.  The same question applies:  Why, if the shale represents 48 million years of quiet deposition, are there only 2 layers of preserved fossils--less than 2% of the average thickness of the formation?

 

Mike Oard suggests the thin layers are not true varves, but repeating layers of sediments called rhythmites.  (http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/arj/v1/n1/green-river-formation-likely-not-postdiluvial-lake)

 

That makes more sense to me.  That way, the discrete layers of fossils are more representative of catastrophic burial, not slow gradual accretion.

 

The story gets more intriguing: 25 miles away from the original Burgess shale locality, another layer of Burgess type fossils has been discovered. (http://news.discovery.com/history/canadian-rockies-fossils.html) It will be interesting to find out how thick the fossiliferous layers are here in relation to the main deposit.

 

Ref: Roehler, H.W., 1992, Correlation, composition,
areal distribution, and thickness of Eocene
stratigraphic units, Greater Green River Basin,
Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado: U.S. Geological
Survey Professional Paper 1506-E, 49 p

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Can This Dog Sniff Out Fossils?

Can This Dog Sniff Out Fossils? | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

Gary Jackson and his dog Migaloo, trained to sniff out buried remains, work with locals to uncover archaeological sites and help Australian police locate the bodies of murder victims.

 

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, "Migaloo quickly located the 600-year-old remains of an indigenous Australian," which researchers found a decade ago. But that specialized training resulted in an unforeseen crossover—Migaloo can also smell fossils.

YEC Geo's insight:

Getting a new puppy this summer--how do I train it to do this?  A geologist's dream dog!

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YEC Geo's curator insight, May 4, 2015 9:22 AM

Here's the thing--is this dog sniffing out organic remains?  Because if it is, then the implication is that fossils which are supposedly millions of years old still have enough biologic material to be detected by a dog's sensitive nose.

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Soft tissue in triceratops horn

Soft tissue in triceratops horn | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

The Hell Creek Formation yields more soft tissue discoveries.  Here, soft tissue is reported from a Hell Creek triceratops horn, accompanied by detailed SEM photos.

 

From the abstract:

 

"This is the first report of sheets of soft tissues from Triceratops horn bearing layers of osteocytes, and extends the range and type of dinosaur specimens known to contain non-fossilized material in bone matrix."

 

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Study: Chicxulub Asteroid Wiped Out Obamadon and Many Other Cretaceous Lizards, Snakes

Study: Chicxulub Asteroid Wiped Out Obamadon and Many Other Cretaceous Lizards, Snakes | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
"A new study shows that the Chicxulub asteroid collision led to a devastating mass extinction of Cretaceous snakes and lizards."

Stratigraphically, an extinction means that fossils are found in lower rock layers, but not in upper rock layers, so an extinction is presumed to have taken place somewhere after the fossils disappear.

Besides the obvious, unverifiable assumption that fossilization must be relatively constant in order for the appearances of fossils in rocks to be proxies for speciation and extinction events, there's another problem. In many instances, fossils which are found to be inconveniently out-of-place because they are located above the presumed extinction zone are in many instances simply labeled as "reworked"--that is, they are presumed to be older fossils, which were exhumed by erosion and then re-deposited in younger sediment.

This is especially acute in fossils dated to the Cretaceous-Paleogene border, the place in the geologic column where dinosaurs are thought to have gone extinct.

For example, the article cited by the International Commission on Stratigraphy for the Danian stage (the period of time just above the Mesozoic) notes the presence of Cretaceous-aged fossils above the Chicxulub ejecta layer, stating that "..the fossils present in it are reworked from the Cretaceous and cannot be used for dating this unit as Maastrichtian [that is, upper Cretaceous]." (www.stratigraphy.org/GSSP/file12.pdf)

It goes on to point out that there are Cretaceous species of calcareous nannofossils at El Kef, in Tunisia, but that they are "mainly considered as reworked."

It's too convenient, and too ad hoc. When theoretical considerations trump objective stratigraphic observations, the whole principle of parsimony is thrown out the window, and every paleontological age assignment is made suspect.
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Prehistoric Transylvanian mammal had blood-red teeth

Prehistoric Transylvanian mammal had blood-red teeth | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it
Just in time for Halloween, we bring you Barbatodon transylvanicus, a mammal that scurried beneath the feet of dinosaurs and had blood-red tooth enamel (RT @TheDanWells: What's cooler than finding a new Transylvanian fossil with giant fangs?

 

Does the preservation the coloration of the tooth enamel indicate that some of the original enamel was preserved as well?  Sounds like a potential candidate for C-14 testing.


Via Catherine Russell
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New reptile fossils found in Arizona - UPI.com

New reptile fossils found in Arizona - UPI.com | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

"New reptile fossils found in Arizona (UPI) -- Paleontologists say fossils discovered in Arizona's Petrified Forest National Park are of an extinct reptile from a family of creatures never seen before."

 

The article goes on to state:

 

"Eleven fossil specimens of the creatures were found together, suggesting some event wiped out all 11 at once in the same location. That may have been something like a flood, Parker said, since -- when the creatures existed around 213 million years ago -- northern Arizona was closer to the equator and parts of the land contained large rivers.

 

'It was a one-time event that killed them, and all those animals were together for some reason,' Parker said."

 

The problem with that interpretation is that under normal circumstances, corpses rot, whether they were killed in a flood or not.  Think of all the floods that have occurred in just the past century--the 2004 tsunami, the 2011 floods in the Mississippi, the great Mississippi flood event  of 1927--many animals have died in those events, but they're not being fossilized.  They die too close to what's called the TAZ, the "taphonomically-active zone," where decomposition occurs. 

It takes rapid, deep burial to preserve organisms from decay, burial that's not a normal part of most floods.

 

The other thing about this particular find is that it's in the Petrified Forest.  If you've ever been there, you know that the place is simply littered with petrified wood--gigantic logs sitting around on top of eroded bluffs, and areas that are so carpeted with petrified wood chips that there's a ranger on permanent guard to make sure people don't get tempted to stuff some in their pockets.

 

These plants have been mineralized by siliceous groundwater penetration.  Where'd the silica come from?  One clue is the sediments, piles and piles of uniformly layered strata, often of bentonitic composition.  Burial from igneous eruption.  It's laid out in the park website:  http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/parks/pefo/

 

Another clue is that the layer underneath the Petrified Forest formation is a basal conglomerate, while the fossil-containing members are shales and siltstones.  While the normal interpretation is that the individual layers were laid down individually and superposed upon each other over long periods of time, another possibility is that the whole package was one pulse of sedimentation, similar to what's seen in the modern offshore landslides called turbidites.

 

If you read the NPS website and compress the timeframe, it gives a good summary of what the YEC scenario might be for the formation of the Petrified Forest.

 

 


Via Catherine Russell
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Intelligent Design and Universal Common Descent

Intelligent Design and Universal Common Descent | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

In an article entitled, "On the Evolution of the Mammalian Middle Ear", Discovery Institute blogger Jonathan M. gives the clearest explanation that I have seen yet of the relationship between ID and the theory of common descent, in the context of one of the well-preserved mammalian fossils from the famous Lianoing province fossil beds in China.  Salient quote:

 

 "There are a few points that are worth raising here. Firstly, even supposing that the hypothesis of common ancestry is valid, this lends little traction to neo-Darwinism (one has to distinguish between pattern and process) and it does nothing to undermine the hypothesis of design. ID, in its purest sense, has nothing to say about common ancestry. ID does, however, open up the possibility that universal hereditary continuity may be false, perhaps radically so. Many of us Darwin critics, therefore, also happen to be skeptical of common ancestry. But it would not invalidate our position on ID if common ancestry turned out to be true."

 

Image from http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v472/n7342/full/nature09921.html?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20110414#/supplementary-information

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Mystery fossil has scientists stumped

An amateur paleontologist from Ohio has found a very large and very mysterious fossil in Kentucky that professional scientists say has them puzzled.

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List of fossils in literature

List of fossils in literature | Conformable Contacts | Scoop.it

"Fossils turn up in all sorts of places, from 18th-century satire to modern historical fiction..."

 

Apparently reading Charles Lyell caused Alfred Lord Tennyson to lose his faith in "the divine plenitude of Creation."

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