How long does it take a well-preserved fish fossil to form? The average member of the public, including most teachers of science classes, would reply with a story involving long periods of time. In this view, a dead fish on the bottom of a lake or sea is slowly covered by particles of mud or sand settling on the bottom.
The Bible would indicate, on the other hand, that most fossils were formed rapidly, buried in mud or sand carried by large volumes of water during the great Flood or its aftermath.1
One fossilized fish is of the species Mioplosus labracoides, from the so-called late Early Eocene Fossil Lake sediments of the Green River Formation (Wyoming, USA). It was apparently trapped in sediment and buried while part-way through swallowing another fish. Another fossil shows a fish which has already eaten its meal, but has not yet had a chance to digest it.
Although these are spectacular examples of rapid burial, the evidence against the idea of slow burial of fossils has always been there in the many millions of well-preserved fossil fish, often showing such things as scales and fins in exquisite detail. This fits with the idea that they were buried before scavengers got to them. We do not observe carpets of dead fish, or even their skeletons, on the sea floor today waiting to become fossils. Also, if the sediment did not harden fairly soon after entombing the fish, oxygen and bacteria could still get at the specimens, causing decay and ruining the features.2
Some evolutionists today have conceded that fossils do not need millions of years to form, but unfortunately for most people the very word ‘fossils’ still speaks of slow processes over millions of years. God’s Word, the Bible, prophesied3 of ‘scoffers’ who would be ‘willingly ignorant’ about the Flood, which is a testimony to God’s awesome holiness and judgment upon sin. Evidence such as this is clearly and dramatically consistent with the biblical account.
References and notes
- We know today of huge underwater avalanches called ‘turbidity currents’ which happen when there are earth tremors and/or slumpings of sediments on the sea floor. They can carry millions of tonnes of mud and ooze at express train speeds. With the upheavals inevitably associated with the breaking up of the ‘fountains of the great deep’ recorded in the Bible, it is no wonder that most of the fossil record consists of buried sea creatures.
- Diehard ‘gradualists’ would claim that there would occasionally be areas of the sea or lake floor with, say, very little oxygen. However, there are bacteria which thrive without oxygen. In any case, a dead fish on the bottom of a sealed, sterile container in water does not retain its features for long at all, but falls apart (try the experiment yourself).
- 2 Peter chapter 3.