Thursday, October 7, 2010

Contorted Fossils Prove... Nothing.

In the CMI Newsletter that I received a few days ago they were mainly taking aim at Stephen Hawking's new book, they didn't really address anything he said, but merely attacked his character and motivation, while asserting that his ideas require 'faith'. Not really much of an argument against anything if you ask me.

Anyway, back on topic.
They linked to one of their recent articles called "Death Throes", the main idea in the article is that since many fossils are found in contorted positions, with the neck bent back, or with twisted limbs proves that all fossils were formed in a global flood.
Sorry, it proves nothing of the kind. It is worthy to note that the picture they used was quite possibly the most extreme example they could find, in fact since the picture they used was from wikipedia, I'll post it here too.
As you can see, the neck is bent back all the way so that the spine is starting to become detached, and the head is touching the lower back. I'm no palaeontologist, but I think it's safe to say that this creature died from a broken neck. This could have happened any number of ways I can think of three: from falling, in a landslide or in a flood. The creationist's method seems to be: finding an example of something that could possibly have been formed in a flood, attribute it to their flood-myth and then walk away with a smile declaring victory.

I thought that I would take the effort to look up this claim on the Talk Origins list of creationist claims, and I found it there.
This is what TalkOrigins has to say.

  1. As carcasses dry, ligaments contract and distort the body (Weber 1980). Also, dead animals are often disturbed by scavengers and/or water currents before their remains become buried. This can account for the contorted positions.
  2. Some fossils do form by rapid burial, but these indicate only local catastrophes, such as landslides of a river bank. 
 I thought it was quite interesting that the journal that they referenced refuting CMI's claim came from 1980. So this piece of creationist propaganda was refuted three decades ago, and is refutable by common people. I can't seem to think of a good justification for creationist lies.


  1. Nice post. I'm not a paleo-something either and even I could see that bendy skeletons are not proof of the flood.

  2. In the CMI article under Reality Check.....

    ....are you proposing they just made that stuff up?

    Because those particular observations under Reality Check appear to be at odds with TalkOrigins points 1 and 2.

  3. In reading again - only the last 5th of the article is proposing creationism. The rest is about some paleontologist's observations that clash with the observations of whoever Weber 1980 is. Maybe TalkOrigins need to update this 30 year old theory contorted fossils?

  4. And that Kevin Padian guy seems legit man.

  5. The two people they cite seem legit I agree. What isn't legit is their jumping from "the fossils are contorted" to "global flood".

  6. I agree, their last paragraph contains their creationist agenda. But what's up with TalkOrigins explaining contorted fossils the way they do when these paleontologist chaps are saying otherwise?


  7. Faux and Padian's hypothesis is 'new' and isn't the scientific consensus yet. It's not really something that most palaeontologists care about as far as I know.

  8. Prehistoric autopsies? You'd think paleontologists would find that stuff riveting.

  9. Palaeontologists are more interested in what animals did when that were alive that how they died from my understanding. Their hypothesis only applies to certain fossils anyway, for example, the picture of the fossil in my post CLEARLY didn't die from drowning, or if it did, its neck didn't move into that position by itself.

  10. Actually, it isn't safe to say that it died from a broken neck. It could have died from a number of things. It is thought that the ligaments on the back of the neck are stronger than the ones on the front of the neck. The ligaments on the front of the neck decay faster which causes the stronger ligaments on the back of the neck to contort the skeleton by pulling the neck back.