Paleontologists have found sea predators on land, in the wrong layer. Only a cataclysmic Flood could have put them there.
The latest sea predators
The journal Nature has an article this week about the latest finding of sea predators on dry land. (See here and here.) Paleontologists (scientists who study ancient, extinct creatures that they find buried deep in shale, limestone, and so on) call these creatures anomalocaridids—literally, “abnormal shrimp.” They look like shrimp, but are giant-sized. Some of them measure a meter long. They had long limbs, bristling with spines, on their heads, and blade-like filaments across their backs.
Everyone who has looked closely at them agrees that these were sea predators. They are among the largest of all sea predators and other creatures buried on the same level.
Until recently, all the experts thought that the anomalocaridids all died out during the so-called Cambrian Period. The Cambrian stratum is the deepest layer of ground containing fossils of various types. But the latest finds, from southern Morocco, were in a layer one step up: the Ordovician. So now the scientists think that these sea predators out-lasted their fellow products of the “Cambrian Explosion” and persisted longer than anyone has thought.
The geological column
Most people learn in high school about the geological column or geologic system. This system describes the broad and deep layers of rock under the ground, rock containing many fossils. The broad layers, twelve in all, each have their own sets of fossils within them. Geologists assume that some process or processes laid down all the things in one layer at roughly the same time. They also assume that these processes took a great deal of time—millions of years.
The system divides the supposed great age of the earth into three eras and divides these further into periods. But though the names of the eras suggest the passage of time, the names of the periods do not. The periods all take their names from the area of their first geographical discovery, or else from some feature of the rocks or their fossils. Hence, Cambrian (Latin Cambria, the ancient Roman name for Wales) means “first found in Wales,” Mississippian means “first found in Mississippi,” and so on. Cretaceous means “filled with chalk.”
No single spot on earth has rocks or fossils from all twelve periods. Different areas have different groups of layers from the twelve periods. But sometimes one or more periods are missing, though no one can say that the rocks from that period simply washed away.
The sea predators pose a problem
Sea predators, like these giant shrimp found on dry land, pose a problem. What event buried these creatures on land? The land must have flooded when those creatures died. Furthermore, they died suddenly. Any fossil is either a suddenly dead creature or the impression that it made (like a negative mold).
These particular sea predators, the giant shrimp, pose a bigger problem. They are not supposed to be where a local collector found them to turn over to the scientists. What made them last longer than anybody thought? And what finally killed them off, even if a little late?
William of Occam once said not to multiply guesses without good reason. In other words, when you want to explain something, keep it simple. The simple story is: The twelve periods are all one. They did not sort over time, but by the relative weights of the rocks. And because all the rocks fell in place at once, it doesn’t matter that you cannot find any given layer everywhere, or that layers are missing from their “sequence.”
What laid them down all at once? A Great Flood, the greatest that the world has ever known. That Flood also killed these creatures instantly. And it preserved them, so that today we can know the kinds of creatures that once swam the first oceans before the Flood wiped them out.
Featured image: Laggania cambria, in a life-sized model at the State Museum of Natural History, Karlsruhe, Germany. Credit: Espen Horn (model), H. Zell (photo). Creative Commons Attribution/Share-alike License 3.0 Unported.