Evolutionary Enigmas

4 Feb 2010

Rancho La Brea tar pits ... these are found in the heart of Los Angeles and are a rich source of fossils - over 565 species were caught in the tar (asphalt) over tens of thousands of years and fossilised. However, the uniformitarian explanation is not accepted by everyone - and why should it be? The official attitude is a bit like damage limitation - we know it is hard to believe but we simply will not accept this was a sudden and rapid event and fossilisation took place in a geological blink of an eye. It is fairly obvious that some animals became trapped but the deposits include a bed of bones which included over 700 sabre-toothed tiger skulls, even greater numbers of wolf skulls, all mixed up with a jumble of broken bones that were smashed, contorted, and mixed into a great heap - or several such heaps bound together with asphalt. One hundred thousand fossilised birds are among the remains, it is alleged. This seems an extraordinary number but it comprises 138 species, a few of them extinct. It is possible predators became stuck when they were attempting to feed on trapped animals - but that idea does not explain the presence of so many non-predator bird species, or even the inclusion of fossils of fish in the melee of bones. For some reason, mainstream books such as Anthony Sutcliffe On the Tracks of Ice Age Mammals or Peter Ward's The Call of Distant Mammoths are deliberately reticent about the numbers of bones found in the Tar Pits, caves, or in the Alaska muck deposits - and most certainly appear to avoid attempting to describe the scale of the heaps of bones found in Siberia, in the loess of China, or in European caves. All this is described by Velikovsky in Earth in Upheaval but how do you check the facts when textbooks pretend that just an occasional mammoth has been found in permafrost. Are the weight of numbers embarrassing in some way? To get any idea of the numbers it is necessary to go to Creationist web sites (and presumably books) but are these numbers inflated? Skeptic sites are not a lot of use either as they have an agenda - to ridicule Creationist literature and promote the Uniformitarian model. There seems to be an extraordinary lack of genuinely truthful reporting of such controversial issues. In fact, surprising I thought, the Creation Research Society Quarterly volume 38:4 March 2002 (downloadable from www.creationresearch.org ) summarised the problem quite well, acknowledging the conventional model had merit - but was stretched when it came to the sheer number of bones. Pools of water sometimes formed around the asphalt seepages that have an origin in oil deposits below ground. Animals came to drink, were snared by the sticky tar, and their struggles attracted predators and they too became stuck and sank into the tar. However, from various early reports, including those of geologists, the asphalt was said to harden at the surface - and much of it was covered by alluvial deposits of silt and mud. Hence, the tar tends to be as hard as road asphalt at the surface but even then tends to fracture which allows more oil to seep towards the surface which in turn hardens, or forms a crust. Presumably it also became more liquid during very hot summers as road tar tends to do. There is no argument that animals from recent times became trapped in the mix - even cattle and horses from the 19th century according to some reports. This would not have been a major problem as farmers would have kept their animals away from the tar pits but quite clearly large animals could have become stuck in puddles of oozing asphalt and oil. In addition, there are plenty of smaller animals that became trapped in the tar from quite recent periods too - even artifacts of local Indians. However, there are only a minority of animal remains that can be assigned to the last 10,000 years (the Holocene) and this is where the numbers come in. The uniformitarian descriptions tend to ignore the numbers because they are vast, so great they make the idea of gradual accumulation look questionable. The dates assigned to the heaps of bones are even more revealing - they coincide with great die-offs elsewhere (at around 35,000 years ago and at the end of the Ice Age and at the end of the Pleistocene. Is that a coincidence?