Giant oysters on the mountain
Whether or not you think of oysters as a gourmet delicacy, there’s something about these fossilized giant oysters that attracts attention. Eye-catching not just for their size—some measure up to 3.5 m (12 ft) across and weigh 300 kg (650 lb)—but also for where they were found … high in the Andes Mountains!
About 500 of these gigantic fossilized oysters were discovered 4,000 m (13,000 ft) above sea level in Huancavelica province, approximately 400 km (250 miles) south-east of Peru’s capital city, Lima.1,2 But how could oysters have ever lived up there?
For paleontologist Arturo Vildozola (photographed with oysters), the find demonstrates that the Andes mountains were once under water. So does this mean that he and other scientists believe the Biblical account of the worldwide Flood of Noah’s day, around 4,300 years ago?
No, for according to their theory, based on evolutionary timescales, these oysters hail from the early Jurassic period, 200 million years ago. Geologists believe that since that time, the Andes have been slowly uplifted from the ocean, as a plate under the Pacific Ocean collided with the South American plate, forcing the latter upwards.
But this long-age scenario of slow uplift faces a major current problem. Rates of erosion are greater than uplift rates, so uplift cannot keep pace with erosion3—i.e. the Andes (4,000 m above sea level) would erode within 56 million years. Yet evolutionists claim that these oysters atop the Andes date from 200 million years ago! Put simply, the stark conundrum is that if the Andes really were that old, they would no longer be here.
And this long-age conundrum is not confined to the Andes. All over the world, fossils of marine organisms can be found in rock layers in high mountains. But evolutionary dating puts the age of these mountain rock layers far beyond their ‘erode-by’ date—clearly not reconcilable with reality.
In contrast, the Biblical account of the worldwide Flood not only explains why so many marine creatures came to be buried in layers of sediment, but also how these layers came to be lifted to high altitude. Psalm 104 describes how the Flood ended when ‘The mountains rose up; the valleys sank down’,4 and the waters flowed off the uplifted land into the new ocean basins. The whole process did not take millions of years, but occurred rapidly, marking the end of the Flood, around a mere 4,300 years ago.
So next time you hear of fossilized aquatic organisms high above sea level, you can confidently say, ‘Yes! Yet more evidence that all the world was once covered with water in a global Flood, not millions of years ago but relatively recently—just as the Bible says.’
The article ‘Giant Oysters on the Mountain’ (Creation 24(2):54) prompted several readers to write, including creationist geologist Mats Molen of Sweden, who said:
Could it be that the internationally published news reports describing these as ‘oysters’, based on first-hand assessment by Arturo Vildozola, described as a paleontologist (‘presidente de la Sociedad Andina de Paleontología’), were wrong? When we checked the Web for any further developments, we found that the news reports had prompted debate at <manandmollusc.net/links_giant_shells.html>, where some contributors echoed Mats’s perspective, i.e. the rocks are concretions rather than fossil oysters.
Hopefully other paleontologists will be spurred by this to check Vildozola’s contention first-hand. Though we would not want to have described concretions (should that turn out to be the case) as oysters, the conclusion of our article remains valid—i.e. that marine-deposited sediments at high altitudes fit with Biblical history. We thank Mats Molen for sending the above two photos of undisputed fossil oysters that he (along with well-known American creationist Dr Gary Parker, and others) observed on some 200 m (600 ft)-high hills on the Californian coast.
References and notes
- The Cairns Post, 3 March 2001, p. 24. Return to text.
- Sunday Herald Sun, 11 March 2001, p. 40. Return to text.
- See: Walker, T., Eroding Ages, Creation22(2):18–21, 2000. Return to text.
- See: Taylor, C.V., Did the mountains really rise according to Psalm 104:8?, CEN Tech. J., 12(3):312–313, 1998. Return to text.
Oysters have the unfortunate distinction that they were one of the first examples of an alleged proof of evolutionary lineage in the fossil record (mooted by paleontologist A.E. Trueman in 1922).1 The ‘flat’ oyster, Ostrea sp., was said to have evolved into the coiled shell Gryphaea sp. Several generations of science students were taught this as ‘one of the best documented cases of evolution’ in the fossil record.
However, today it seems that coiling is a built-in programming response to the environment, i.e. mud-sticking oysters grow into a coiled cup-shaped form, while oysters attaching to firmer substrate2 grow to be ‘flat, fan-shaped recliners’. 3 So, coiling is an individual growth response to local environment; not a millions-of-years evolutionary twist.
Sadly, many Christians compromised with evolutionary ideas because of supposed ‘proofs’ like the flat-became-twisted oyster evolution story. The futility of twisting the truth of Scripture in order to accommodate the so-called ‘scientific facts’ of the day is highlighted when such ‘facts’ are repeatedly thrown out by evolutionists themselves:
‘It must be significant that nearly all the evolutionary stories I learned as a student, from Trueman’s Ostrea/Gryphaea to Carruthers’ Zaphrentis delanouei, have now been “debunked”. Similarly, my own experinece [sic] of more than twenty years looking for evolutionary lineages among the Mesozoic Brachiopoda has proved them equally elusive.’ 4
Instead of trusting man’s changing theories, heralded as ‘fact’ today but discarded tomorrow, we can rely on the absolute truth of the unchanging Word of God.
References and notes
- Palaeo-Comment 38, <www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/Paleonet/PalAss/pages/comment38.html>, 30 November 2001. Return to text.
- For the first days of their life, young oysters swim freely, but then attach themselves permanently to a site. (They obtain their food—minute organic particles—by filtering the water.) Return to text.
- Machalski, M., Oyster life positions and shell beds from the Upper Jurassic of Poland, Acta palaeontologica Polonica43(4):609–634, 1998. Abstract downloaded from <www.paleo.pan.pl/acta/acta43-4.htm#Machalski>, 30 November 2001. Return to text.
- Ager, D.V., The nature of the fossil record, Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, 87(2):131–160, 1976. Return to text.
Oysters are bivalve mollusks found in coastal waters of all oceans.1 The two valves of each shell are hinged together by an elastic ligament, with a large central muscle serving to close the valve against the pull of the ligament. The fact that the fossilized oysters of the Andes (main article) are closed suggests they were buried alive. Ordinarily, when the central muscle relaxes after death, the ligament pulls the shells open—but in this case the weight of overlying sediment (evidence of Flood deposit) prevented this.
Oysters have been cultivated for food for over 2,000 years. Edible oysters are ready for harvesting in three to five years. One of the largest oysters living today, Crassostrea gigas, which occurs in Japanese coastal waters, can attain lengths of about 30 cm (1 ft). This is considerably smaller than the mountain-top fossilized oysters (main article)—it is not uncommon for fossil forms (of many species, not just oysters) to be substantially larger than their counterparts living today.2,3
Pearls form in oysters when nacre (the same material as that lining the oyster shell—also known as ‘mother-of-pearl’) accumulates around a piece of foreign matter lodged inside the shell. The discovery that pearls could be cultivated by artificially introducing a foreign body was apparently made in 13th-century China. Cultured pearls are harvested mostly from oysters over five years old.
References and notes
- The general information about oysters presented here is based on Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th edition, 3:785; 9:37, 226, 1992. Return to text.
- One possible explanation is that selection pressure from expanding post-Babel human populations hunting food has favoured survival of smaller individuals of targeted species. (This is not evolution because the genes for small size already existed—no new information was generated.) Fisheries surveys bear this out—the trend over recent decades is for fish to mature at a smaller size as a result of fishermen selectively removing larger fish. Return to text.
- Other examples of pre-Flood giantism include penguins, snakes, insects, emus, wombats and kangaroos: see Creation 5(1):5, 1982; 7(1):4, 1984; 12(4):25, 1990; Kangaroos: God's amazing craftsmanship20(3):30–31, 1998. Return to text.