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deep time tracks

11 August 2015

At http://phys.org/print358435621.html … we get a flavour of how geological deep time affects interpretations of data regarding rocks and geochronology (how long a certain formation took to coalesce into a particular layer in the geological sequence) at this link. In this instance, dinosaur tracks preserved in rocks at Muchehagen, 50km from Hannover. Logic would suggest the tracks were laid down in mud or sand that was subsequently buried and preserved (hardening into rock in the process). However, because the concept of deep time overrides and is difficult sometimes to handle, or conceive, the mind is left playing tricks – thinking that what should have been a rapid process may very well have  taken place over a long period of time. The biologists involved in this instance are hedging their bets – not wanting to upstage the geologists.

Footprints from two dinosaurs, one larger than the other, have been distinguished – and one appears to go in a different direction (or more correctly, is somewhat directionless as it appears to keep slipping). The biologists say that it is not certain they were laid down at the same time – and one set of footprints could have been made hundreds if not thousands of years later than the first tracks. This is not necessarily what they thought, deep down, only that it was prudent to air the possibility (in case a geologist might object). The fact that there was a slippery surface, in order for one of them to keep slipping, legs skew-whiff, is compounded by recognising they were most probably running – but running from what?

The piece ends up by telling us that dinosaur footprints have been found elsewhere in Europe, in England and northern Germany (quite near each other when you consider the North Sea had yet to form) and in Spain and elsewhere (between 140 and 145 million years ago). The 5 million years here are just a speck in geological time – but enough to distance what should more properly represent some kind of disaster.

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