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16 February 2014

At www.newscientist.com/article/dn25046-the-reptile-labour-that-lasted-248-… … is a classic case of uniformitarianism glossing over the discovery of an uncomfortable fossil, a reptile in the act of giving birth (248 million years ago). One head is popping out of the pelvis of the mother, another is still inside her and yet another is lying alongside her, having just popped out. In that moment of giving birth she and her offspring were buried alive.

At http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/the-dinosaurs-demis… … a site in the Italian Apennines is closely associated with Walter Alvarez and the claim that an asteroid strike brought an end to the Dinosaur Age. It is still visited by American geologists and their students as the clay layer associated with the catastrophe is easily picked out in the limestone rock face. The limestone itself is full of small fossils – marine creatures. In a uniformitarian interpretation these fossils indicate Italy was once under a sea, the Tethys Sea. This is reminiscent of the chalk formations in Britain. These are thought to also represent a former shallow sea situation as chalk is mainly made from coccoliths – the remains of algae that have been browsed by other sea creatures (but see later). 

Later, tectonic events rearranged the strata in the Apennines, and thrust them upwards to form mountains. Or, that is the hypothesis – and many geologists will tell you, that is the facts. They will point, as an added bonus, there are even magnetic stripes visible in the Apennines (and these are believed to be produced on the sea floor). However, in SIS Workshop 6:1 another New Scientist story, from as long ago as 27th October 1983, p279, is mentioned. The sea scape of the Jurassic and Cretaceous of Lowland Britain if a geological fundamental – most of southern England was under the sea in the Dinosaur Age. In contradiction of this, a quarry in the chalk country of Wiltshire came up with some surprising fossils – all of land species. From trees to plant spores, and a variety of animal remains. Many teeth of Iguanadon and Diplodocus were also found – big animals that required lots of land to walk around. They were buried in a sand deposit which had been previously made famous from the abundance of marine fossils. So, what really was the situation, in Italy and in southern England, a shallow sea, or land that was subject to big movements of water, the ocean splashing across some parts of the continental land mass. What does that say about the Jurassic clays and the Cretaceous chalk. Where did all the Tertiary go to?

Meanwhile, at www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-02/miot-gme021014.php … we find a story that says the Permian extinction was rapid – it only took 60,000 years to achieve. The quoted spokesman asks – how do you kill 96 per cent of everything in the oceans in tens of thousands of years? Is that question posed properly we might wonder. Should it not be how do you kill them in a blink of an eye? May be so – may be not. The spokesman has to work in the system, and Sam Bowring of MIT added, which is more important, 'it could be that an exceptional extinction requires an exceptional explanation' – and by reducing the time it took he is half way there to a catastrophist interpretation – and that is all to the good.

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