Repost: The silliest thing Sea Pitman says

18 views
Skip to first unread message

John Harshman

unread,
May 16, 2005, 3:37:45 PM5/16/05
to
...on his web site. This is a repost of a thread I started a while ago,
to which Sean never replied. Since he's talking about geology now, I
thought I'd try again. The stuff set off by > is taken from the web
site, followed by my comments.

> "Simple" Organisms Buried Lower
>
> But what about the fact that the "simple" organisms are buried in the
> lower levels and the more “complicated” ones are buried in the higher
> levels?

Not really a major claim of evolution, is it? More of a strawman, really.

> It is interesting to note that fossilized organisms are
> generally found in the same relative areas with respect to each other
> that they would have naturally lived in during life. They are simply
> buried according to where they lived naturally when they were alive.

Generally true: fossils are seldom transported far from their native
habitats because transport tends to destroy remains. But why is that
interesting to note? We don't know.

> It is also interesting to note that those organisms that are found
> highest in the column, such as birds and warm-blooded animals, float when
> they die in water. They are also more able to escape a catastrophe
> for a longer period of time than many other creatures that generally
> live beneath them in the column.

The implied claim here would be that cold-blooded animals don't float
when they die in water. Nor do fish, apparently. So forget that goldfish
floating upside down on top of his bowl: not really there. Of course
this is all absurd anyway. To take the simplest possible habitat
division, marine organisms are found everywhere in the column, from
bottom to top. This just doesn't work at any level.

> Another unique fact is that for almost all animals, excluding birds
> and mammals, their footprints are not generally located in the same
> layer that their bodies are found, but in lower layers. Did the
> footprints evolve before they did? The footprints of dinosaurs for
> example are almost always located in lower levels than the actual
> fossilized bones of the dinosaur itself. This is true for every
> walking animal except birds and mammals in which the footprints and
> the bodies are both located in the highest layers.1

I have no idea where this claim ultimately comes from, but I doubt it
could possibly be true. For one thing, you just can't match the track to
the species. At higher taxonomic levels, I don't know of any such
phenomenon. And of course birds and mammals, footprints or other
fossils, are not found just in the highest layers anyway. The oldest
mammals are Triassic, and the oldest birds are Jurassic.

> Also, what is usually overlooked is that fact that there is no such
> animal as a "simple" animal. All living things are extraordinarily
> complex. Those creatures that once lived and then formed the fossil
> record are no different than those that live a breath today. The
> "simplest" one celled organism is just a complicated as any single
> cell that exists in the body of a human being. A rat is also no less
> complex than a human as far as the information needed to build a rat.
> In fact, out of 35,000 to 40,000 genes that the human genome
> contains, the rat is only about 500 genes different.9

Well, it's difficult to define "complex" and "simple" well enough to
make a rigorous test of this claim. I suppose most people would allow
that a diploblast is simpler than a triploblast, and that a
multicellular organism is generally simpler than a single-celled one,
and that a prokaryote is generally simpler than a eukaryote. I would
agree that a rat is no less complex than a human by any measure I can
think of right now.

However. Prokaryotes precede eukaryotes in the fossil record by a couple
of billion years at least. Single-celled eukaryotes precede
multicellular eukaryotes by a bit too, depending on whether you consider
some contentious fossils to be multicellular or not. Diploblasts appear
to precede triploblasts, again depending on the interpretation of
certain contentious fossils (the "ediacaran" biota). So there does seem
to be some ordering.

> Certain plant species also require a
> similar amount of genetic material.

Require? Have, perhaps. I don't know any of the estimates of gene number
in any plant, though doubtless they are out there at least for the ones
with genome projects. Like humans and rats, many plants have enormous
amounts of junk DNA, so it's not good to equate "genetic" material and
"genes".

> Every living thing is staggeringly
> complex. It is therefore an error to say that "simple" life forms
> evolved into more complex life forms since there is no such thing as a
> "simple" life form.

Come now. This is semantic silliness. We're talking about relative
complexity at most. Some organisms are more complex than others, though
we have no really good measure of this and can only wave our hands at
some differences we imagine are obvious.

> Consider also the fact that all the main "forms" of
> life to include vertebrates and all other phylums of life forms that
> exist today were present in the very first layer of the sedimentary
> fossil record called the Cambrian.

Not true at all. First, the Cambrian is by no means the first layer of
the sedimentary fossil record. Second, some phyla are known from fossils
before the Cambrian, and others are known from fossils in the Cambrian
but before the traditional start of the explosion. Third, some phyla are
not known from the Cambrian at all. There are for example no plants
known from the Cambrian. And the majority of modern phyla have no known
fossil record at all, while others have extremely sporadic records. The
first known nematode, for example (perhaps the most diverse phylum today
next to arthropods) is Jurassic in age, though there is a disputed
candidate from the Carboniferous. Fourth, the Cambrian explosion doesn't
just happen without warning. There's a gradual buildup in diversity and
numbers of body fossils and trace fossils from the late Precambrian
through the early Cambrian. Fifth, the Cambrian phyla may be mostly the
same phyla (at least those we have found) as are around today, but most
Cambrian organisms belong to the stem group rather than the crown group
of modern phyla -- that is, they lack some characters that are universal
identifiers of those modern phyla. Sixth, they may belong to modern
phyla, but few of them belong to modern classes. There are for example
no members of any groups of land animals known from the Cambrian,
despite the fact that there are extensive terrestrial deposits of
Cambrian age.

> This fact is commonly referred to in scientific literature as the
> "Cambrian explosion." So really, there is no increase in complexity
> from lower to higher in the fossil record. This idea is a common
> myth."

Perhaps true if you start with the Cambrian explosion. But of course
there is a fossil record that predates that explosion. And there is no
general trend in evolution for increasing complexity; there has been
about as much decrease as increase as far as can be estimated without a
rigorous definition.

> 1. Veith, W. J., Amazing Discoveries Video Series, 2000.
> (http://www.amazingdiscoveries.org )

I am unable to find this claim on the web site; maybe it's in the video
only.

> 9. Lemonick, M. Gene Mapper, Time, Vol. 156, No. 26, pp110, 2001

To summarize: This is the feeblest possible attempt to explain the
fossil record by means of a single flood, and requires ignoring almost
everything we know and not looking closely at the rest. Silly and pathetic.

By the way, I had thought Sean was an OEC. How does all this compute?

Richard Forrest

unread,
May 17, 2005, 3:45:17 AM5/17/05
to

allanm

unread,
May 17, 2005, 4:07:01 AM5/17/05
to

Staggering! :o)

Richard Forrest

unread,
May 17, 2005, 4:31:19 AM5/17/05
to


There are several other examples of fossils from Solhofen like this
one, in which the animal is found at the end of a meandering track.
These are some of my favourite fossils, as they show not just a dead
animal but are a record of events which happened in the space of a few
minutes 160 million years ago. The 'conventional' explanation for this
(and by 'conventional, I mean 'backed up by evidence') is that the
Solnhofen lagoon was anoxic, and that animals wandering in by chance
suffocated before finding their way out again. I wonder how Sean can
explan away these fossils in the context of flood 'geology'?

Interestingly, one can find a similar phenomenon in some areas of
volcanic activity in which carbon dioxide collects in depressions.
Animals finding their way into these areas die of suffocation. The
presence of carcases draws in scavengers such as vultures, which in
turn suffocate. Which draws in more scavengers, and so on. Then there's
the La Brea tar pits, of course, and other deposits world-wide. A
friend of mine is working on dinosaur specimens from the Wealden of the
Isle of Wight, and thinks that a similar mechanism is at work in some
of the deposits from there. The lower parts of the limbs of some
sauropod dinosaurs have been found preserved in perfect articulation,
whereas the rest of the skeleton is scattered or missing. His
interpretation is that the animals were mired, and unable to escape
from deep mud. In general the scavengers, being more lightly built,
were able to eat from the carcase (assuming that they gave it a decent
time to die, of course) without becomming stuck in turn. There is
corroborating evidence for this hypothesis from the geochemistry of the
deposits.

Once again, I wonder how this fits in with flood 'geology'?


RF

Message has been deleted

allanm

unread,
May 26, 2005, 11:38:11 AM5/26/05
to

Limestone is my favourite. I live above a tilted band of the stuff,
overlain in the immediate vicinity by glacial deposits, exposed down at
the river and up the side of the valley to the west, diving down below
Silurian mudstones to the east, and forming a number of substantial
hils to the south. The local tilt, and that of other resurgences
circling the mountains to the west, indicates that these were once
overlain by a great dome of the stuff, showing a MASSIVE amount of
material has been removed to ... where? Even the bit that's left is
substantial, and barely a dent has been made by the construction of all
our cities and roads, the liming of our fields.... Limestone crops up
throughout my region, often interspersed with great bands of other
sedimentary deposits. I can rock-climb up through the ages, sometimes
using the little critters as hand- and footholds. Off the top of my
head I can think of dozens of areas where limestone, or chalk, or
marble, is massively present. Malham, Verdon, the Burren, the
Dolomites, Picos de Europa, Cheddar Gorge, Wuhan, Gibraltar... and the
top of Everest. And the Pyramids and Sphinx, several thousand years
old, were built on and from limestone. 10% of all sedimentary rock is
limestone, I believe.

That such - literal - mountains of material came from the shelly
creatures alive in the sea at a particular moment in time, to become so
neatly sorted in finely detailed bedded bands interleaved with other
deposits, consolidated, uplifted and folded and eroded in just a few
years and not a dinosaur or a cow or a pair of socks mixed in with it?
Where on earth did all the calcium/magnesium/CO2 come from to build
such a vast biomass in the pre-Noachian ocean? .... incredulity is the
only response I can muster

Paul J Gans

unread,
May 26, 2005, 1:51:15 PM5/26/05
to
allanm <allang...@madasafish.com> wrote:

>Limestone is my favourite. I live above a tilted band of the stuff,


>overlain in the immediate vicinity by glacial deposits, exposed down at
>the river and up the side of the valley to the west, diving down below
>Silurian mudstones to the east, and forming a number of substantial
>hils to the south. The local tilt, and that of other resurgences
>circling the mountains to the west, indicates that these were once
>overlain by a great dome of the stuff, showing a MASSIVE amount of
>material has been removed to ... where? Even the bit that's left is
>substantial, and barely a dent has been made by the construction of all
>our cities and roads, the liming of our fields.... Limestone crops up
>throughout my region, often interspersed with great bands of other
>sedimentary deposits. I can rock-climb up through the ages, sometimes
>using the little critters as hand- and footholds. Off the top of my
>head I can think of dozens of areas where limestone, or chalk, or
>marble, is massively present. Malham, Verdon, the Burren, the
>Dolomites, Picos de Europa, Cheddar Gorge, Wuhan, Gibraltar... and the

>top of Everest. 10% of all sedimentary rock is limestone, I believe.

>That most of this came from the shelly creatures alive in the sea at a
>particular moment in time, to become so highly consolidated and neatly
>sorted in bedded bands interleaved with other deposits, uplifted and
>folded and eroded in 4000 years and not a dinosaur or a cow or a pair
>of socks mixed in with it? .... incredulity is the only response I can
>muster.

Excellent post! Seriously.

Less seriously you forgot the alternate hypothesis:
God did it.

---- Paul J. Gans

Seanpit

unread,
May 28, 2005, 11:25:26 AM5/28/05
to

Richard Forrest wrote:

Regarding:

http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/edu/dees/courses/v1001/images/horseshoecrab.gif

> What about this?

I was obviously talking about trackways produced by land animals - not
creatures that lived on the bottoms of the sea. The fact is that
trackways produced by amphibians and reptiles, to include dinosaurs,
are much more abundant in the lower layers than in the upper layers.
They appear to be sorted from the body fossils with the bodies
appearing in more abundance, compared with the trackways, in higher
layers.

Leonard Brand and James Florence comment on this most interesting
phenomenon:

"If the geologic column represents sediments that have accumulated over
many millions of years, and the fossils from each geologic period are
the remains of animals living in successive time periods, it would be
reasonable to expect that the stratigraphic patterns of footprint
diversity should roughly parallel the patterns of equivalent body
fossil diversity - the periods with the most kinds of dinosaur bones
should have the most kinds of dinosaur tracks, for example. The bird
and mammal fossil record fits that expectation quite well, but the
reptile and amphibian record definitely does not."

http://www.grisda.org/origins/09067.htm

Beyond this, the trackway you present of a trilobite together with its
own trackway does not seem consistent preservation in an "anoxic
lagoon". How are such crisp footprints and such a well-preserved body
going to be preserved at the milky bottom of some anoxic lagoon? Where
are such conditions as you describe preserving such fine fossils today
in the way you describe? Please do provide your reference. Also,
scavengers are still active even in highly anoxic conditions. What
made it possible for such delicate footprints and bodies of such
creatures to be preserved in such fine detail - avoiding all hints of
bioturbation?

Bioturbation is an extremely effective way of destroying layering in
sedimentary rocks by mixing up the sediment and homogenizing it. It is
easy to find modern-day examples of this. Hurricane Carla laid down a
distinctive layer of sediment off the coast of central Texas in 1961.
About twenty years later, geologists returned to find out what had
happened to this layer. Most of the layer had been destroyed by living
creatures burrowing into it and disturbing it; and where the layer
could still be found it was almost unrecognizable.

In the light of such modern day findings, it is very difficult to
imagine how such layering of sediment found throughout the geologic
column, with such crisp lines between these layers, could have been
kept in such pristine condition for not only tens or hundreds of years,
but hundreds of thousands and even millions upon millions of years of
time. It is even more difficult for me to imagine how such finely
detailed fossils and trace fossils could be preserved.

Rather, it seems to me that the fossil presented here, with its
trackway, was preserved by sudden and deep burial by sedimentary
layering. The trilobite survived the first periods of layering, making
its trackway on a newly deposited surface, only to be overcome quite
suddenly by a subsequent depositional event which was so large that the
trilobite, which was probably very good at digging, was trapped with
such pressure that it could not escape. Its body and fine trackways
were also preserved because of the sheer deepness of the burial - which
prevented subsequent disturbance by bioturbation.

To suggest that such trackways, in particular, could be preserved in
the bottom of some anoxic lagoon just doesn't make nearly as much sense
to me. However, if someone can show me a real life example, I'd be
more open to such potential explanations. Your example of carbon
dioxide traps just won't due because of the preservation problem.
Killing things in a trap is one thing - preserving them in very fine
condition is quite another.

> RF

Sean Pitman
DetectingDesign.com

Seanpit

unread,
May 28, 2005, 12:21:22 PM5/28/05
to
Note: I meant horseshoe crab, not "trilobite" ; )

Richard Forrest

unread,
May 28, 2005, 12:49:46 PM5/28/05
to

Seanpit wrote:
> Richard Forrest wrote:
>
> Regarding:
>
> http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/edu/dees/courses/v1001/images/horseshoecrab.gif
>
> > What about this?
>
> I was obviously talking about trackways produced by land animals - not
> creatures that lived on the bottoms of the sea.

You were? Not to me or anyone else.

> The fact is that
> trackways produced by amphibians and reptiles, to include dinosaurs,
> are much more abundant in the lower layers than in the upper layers.

This is a 'fact'? Care to cite a reference?

I'm not aware of any greater abundance of footprints and trackways at
the lower in the geological column. I know of dinosaur footprints from
the Cretaceous of North America, the lower Cretaceous of the Isle of
Wight and the Middle Jurassic of the Yorkshire coast. I know of
trackways such as the one in the image I linked to from the
Kimmeridgian of Germany. There are tetrapod trackways from the Permian
of Shropshire - a friend of mine completed her PhD on them last year.
There are spectacular collections of trackways, including those of
lizards, turtles, mammals, dinosaurs and pterosaurs from Craysac in
France. Here's a link to a database of ichnology recording trackways in
France alone- http://www.dinodata.net/tracks/EU/geography/EUfrance.htm.
As you can see, they are represented from the Norian through to the
Upper Jurassic.

Here's a link to a page giving Vertebrate ichnology references:
http://www.envs.emory.edu/ichnology/vertichno.bib.htm
Note that the first on the list refers to Quaternary deposits (that's
at the *top* of the geological column, Sean) and the next refers to
Upper Devonian deposits (which is about as far down the geological
column as one can go and expect to find tetrapods of any kind).

> They appear to be sorted from the body fossils with the bodies
> appearing in more abundance, compared with the trackways, in higher
> layers.

And you reference for this is ....?

Trackways and body fossils are rarely found together. This is because
1) the conditions needed to preserve trackways are different from those
needed to preserve body fossils and
2) trackways are created in a period of a few minutes, and bearing in
mind that most tetrapods capable of creating trackways live for several
years, the chances of the animal dying conveniently at the end of a
trackway are pretty remote.


>
> Leonard Brand and James Florence comment on this most interesting
> phenomenon:
>

> "If the geologic column represents sediments that have accumulated over
> many millions of years, and the fossils from each geologic period are
> the remains of animals living in successive time periods, it would be
> reasonable to expect that the stratigraphic patterns of footprint
> diversity should roughly parallel the patterns of equivalent body
> fossil diversity - the periods with the most kinds of dinosaur bones
> should have the most kinds of dinosaur tracks, for example. The bird
> and mammal fossil record fits that expectation quite well, but the
> reptile and amphibian record definitely does not."
>
> http://www.grisda.org/origins/09067.htm


As Mandy Rice Davies famously remarked, 'He would, wouldn't he'.

I suggest that you don't rely in creationist sources if you want to be
taken seriously, Sean. You are being led astray.

There is a large and growing literature on trackway formation, and
Brand and Florence conveniently ignore most of it. In particular, their
assertion of 'bird-like' tracks in Permian deposits completely ignores
what we have learned about how the propogation of pressure through
sediments can create undertracks very different in appearance from
those of the foot which made them. My friend Phil Manning studied this
phenomenon for his PhD, and will be publishing a hefty tome on the
subject shortly. I can also recommend Jesper Milan and his famous
performing emus, but I doubt that you would make a trip to Denmark just
to find out that you have been misled.

>
> Beyond this, the trackway you present of a trilobite

Sean, it's not a trilobite: it's a king crab. Trilobites were (as far
as we know) extinct by the Kimmeridgian.

> together with its
> own trackway does not seem consistent preservation in an "anoxic
> lagoon". How are such crisp footprints and such a well-preserved body
> going to be preserved at the milky bottom of some anoxic lagoon?

Who said it had a soft bottom? You must try to concentrate, Sean. These
trackways are found in Solnhofen, not Holzmaden. They are Kimmeridgian
in age, not Toarcian. They were laid down under different conditions.

> Where
> are such conditions as you describe preserving such fine fossils today
> in the way you describe? Please do provide your reference.

Try Palaeobiology II, Briggs DE, Crowther PR, (2001). You'll find a
whole section describing the different preservational environments
leading to exceptional preservation. I suggest that you get your friend
Brand to read it too.

> Also,
> scavengers are still active even in highly anoxic conditions. What
> made it possible for such delicate footprints and bodies of such
> creatures to be preserved in such fine detail - avoiding all hints of
> bioturbation?
>

They were buried by suspension fall-out. Read the book.

> Bioturbation is an extremely effective way of destroying layering in
> sedimentary rocks by mixing up the sediment and homogenizing it.

Quite so.

So what? Not all sediments are bioturbated.

> It is
> easy to find modern-day examples of this.


Quite so.

So what? Not all sediments are bioturbated.

>Hurricane Carla laid down a
> distinctive layer of sediment off the coast of central Texas in 1961.
> About twenty years later, geologists returned to find out what had
> happened to this layer. Most of the layer had been destroyed by living
> creatures burrowing into it and disturbing it; and where the layer
> could still be found it was almost unrecognizable.


Quite so.

So what? Not all sediments are bioturbated.

>
> In the light of such modern day findings, it is very difficult to
> imagine how such layering of sediment found throughout the geologic
> column, with such crisp lines between these layers, could have been
> kept in such pristine condition for not only tens or hundreds of years,
> but hundreds of thousands and even millions upon millions of years of
> time. It is even more difficult for me to imagine how such finely
> detailed fossils and trace fossils could be preserved.
>

Hang on.
Your evidence for this is that bioturbation disturbed the sedimentary
structures in a single occasion following a hurricane. From this you
extropolate that bioturbation distubes all sedimentary structure all
over the world in any conditions.

Spot the non-sequitur, Sean?

Try reading about the depositional characteristics found on the floor
of the Black Sea.

> Rather, it seems to me that the fossil presented here, with its
> trackway, was preserved by sudden and deep burial by sedimentary
> layering.

Well, in that case I suggest that you write a paper which tests your
hypothesis against the evidence, and provides an alternative
interpretation to that of scientists such as Dolf Seilacher. It might
be a good start to study taphonomic processes, though.

Oh, and looking a some rocks might help.

> The trilobite survived the first periods of layering, making
> its trackway on a newly deposited surface, only to be overcome quite
> suddenly by a subsequent depositional event which was so large that the
> trilobite, which was probably very good at digging, was trapped with
> such pressure that it could not escape. Its body and fine trackways
> were also preserved because of the sheer deepness of the burial - which
> prevented subsequent disturbance by bioturbation.
>

ditto

By the way, it's not a trilobite. It would be a good idea to learn some
elementary palaeontology. Silly mistakes such as this do not add to
your veracity.

> To suggest that such trackways, in particular, could be preserved in
> the bottom of some anoxic lagoon just doesn't make nearly as much sense
> to me.

On the other hand, it does make sense to people who have studied the
sediments and even know enough about biology to tell the difference
between a trilobite and a king crab. I have a young relative who is
very interested in fossils who can. Perhaps she should give you
lessons. She's six, by the way.

> However, if someone can show me a real life example, I'd be
> more open to such potential explanations.

You?
Open to 'potential' explanations? (what is a 'potenial explantion', by
the way?)

Thank you for the humour.

> Your example of carbon
> dioxide traps just won't due because of the preservation problem.
> Killing things in a trap is one thing - preserving them in very fine
> condition is quite another.


How about tar pits?
Or deep mud?

>
> > RF
>
> Sean Pitman
> DetectingDesign.com

By the way, you haven't responded to another posting of mine yet. Are
you trying to evade the question?

>From your site:

"However, the bodies of these large creatures take up a fair percentage
of the thickness of some of these layers."

Further down the page you refer to the Miocene Whales from Peru as
supporting this statement.

>From the abstract of the paper describing the find:

"The 346 whales within ~1.5 km2 of surveyed surface were not buried as
an event, but were distributed uninterrupted through an 80-m-thick
sedimentary section"

How deep is a whale? 2m? 3m?
The caracases are distributed throughout the section over an area of
1.5 sq. km. That's one whale to every 6,500 sq.m.: they are not exactly
piled up on top of each other.

3m of an 80m is a bit less than 4% of the depth of the section.

Are you asserting that 4% is "a fair percentage of the thickness" of
this section?

If not, can you provide a reference to a deposit in which vertebrate
remains take up 'a fair percentage of the thickness' of the sedimentary
structures in which they are found?


Care to comment?

RF

Seanpit

unread,
May 28, 2005, 4:08:47 PM5/28/05
to

Richard Forrest wrote:
> Seanpit wrote:
> > Richard Forrest wrote:
> >
> > Regarding:
> >
> > http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/edu/dees/courses/v1001/images/horseshoecrab.gif
> >
> > > What about this?
> >
> > I was obviously talking about trackways
> > produced by land animals - not
> > creatures that lived on the bottoms
> > of the sea.
>
> You were? Not to me or anyone else.

It is quite clear in context from where this statement of mine was
taken on my website - to include the reference to Leonard Brand's work.
Leonard Brand has, by the way, his Ph.D. from the Cornell in
Paleobiology. It's not like he has no training in this topic. He also
has multiple papers published in mainstream journals. Yet, he is still
a young life creationist. Go figure?

Now, your citation of various tetrapod trackways in "older" sedimentary
layers is not helpful because Brand is not arguing that the trackways
do not exist in such older layers. Rather, he is arguing that they do
not exist in the ratio expected relative to the numbers of fossilized
bodies found. Do you see the difference here?

> Trackways and body fossils are rarely found together.

Again, this is not the main issue. It is that when they are found,
together or not, the ratio of trackways to fossilized bodies/skeletal
remains is different as one moves up or down the column, with the
trackways being much more abundant lower in the column.

> This is because:
> 1) the conditions needed to preserve
> trackways are different from those
> needed to preserve body fossils and

And how does this explain the difference in ratio?

> 2) trackways are created in a period
> of a few minutes, and bearing in
> mind that most tetrapods capable of
> creating trackways live for several
> years, the chances of the animal
> dying conveniently at the end of a
> trackway are pretty remote.

Certainly true, but I fail to see how this has anything to do with the
difference in ratios observed as one moves up the column?

> I suggest that you don't rely in
> creationist sources if you want to be
> taken seriously, Sean. You are being
> led astray.

Leonard Brand has his Ph.D. in this field of study - Forrest. He is a
thoughtful, intelligent scientist who is not simply misinformed here.
If you think he is wrong, please do provide something that actually
counters what he is saying here. The fact that he is a creationist
should have nothing to do with it.

> There is a large and growing literature
> on trackway formation, and
> Brand and Florence conveniently
> ignore most of it.

Please do provide your counter examples that show how Brand and
Florence are wrong.

> In particular, their
> assertion of 'bird-like' tracks in
> Permian deposits completely ignores
> what we have learned about how
> the propogation of pressure through
> sediments can create undertracks
> very different in appearance from
> those of the foot which made them.

These tracks described by Brand are often crisp and well formed. They
just don't look like under tracks. But, please do provide a reference
that specifically describes the tracks that Brand is talking about as
"undertracks".

> My friend Phil Manning studied this
> phenomenon for his PhD, and will be
> publishing a hefty tome on the
> subject shortly. I can also recommend
> Jesper Milan and his famous
> performing emus, but I doubt that you
> would make a trip to Denmark just
> to find out that you have been misled.

Just present your data here. Quote what these references say about the
tracks Brand is describing in particular.

> > Beyond this, the trackway
> > you present of a trilobite
>
> Sean, it's not a trilobite: it's a
> king crab. Trilobites were (as far
> as we know) extinct by the Kimmeridgian.

I was just talking with someone else about trilobites, so I had that
thought in my head when I wrote this response. Certainly the picture
you presented is not of a fossil trilobite. I've already noted this in
the post I made just before yours - if you care to check.


> > together with its
> > own trackway does not seem
> > consistent preservation in an "anoxic
> > lagoon". How are such crisp footprints
> > and such a well-preserved body
> > going to be preserved at the milky
> > bottom of some anoxic lagoon?
>
> Who said it had a soft bottom? You must
> try to concentrate, Sean. These
> trackways are found in Solnhofen, not
> Holzmaden. They are Kimmeridgian
> in age, not Toarcian. They were laid
> down under different conditions.

Obviously - that must be true if you are correct. Only, where on Earth
do you find such conditions today?

> > Where
> > are such conditions as you describe
> > preserving such fine fossils today
> > in the way you describe? Please do
> > provide your reference.
>
> Try Palaeobiology II, Briggs DE,
> Crowther PR, (2001). You'll find a
> whole section describing the
> different preservational environments
> leading to exceptional preservation.
> I suggest that you get your friend
> Brand to read it too.

Why don't you quote some passage from that reference that describes a
place on Earth today where such fossilization is taking place - i.e.,
an anoxic sea or ocean environment that preserves crisply detailed
trackways and fossilized bodies of sea creatures? Tell me what they
say, specifically, that is so convincing to you.

> > Also,
> > scavengers are still active even in
> > highly anoxic conditions. What
> > made it possible for such delicate
> > footprints and bodies of such
> > creatures to be preserved in such fine
> > detail - avoiding all hints of
> > bioturbation?
>
> They were buried by suspension
> fall-out. Read the book.

I don't need to read the book to know this. What I am wondering though
is how much suspension fallout there needs to be in order for trackways
and bodies to be preserved without any bioturbation.

> > Bioturbation is an extremely effective
> > way of destroying layering in
> > sedimentary rocks by mixing up
> > the sediment and homogenizing it.
>
> Quite so.
>
> So what? Not all sediments are bioturbated.

Where on Earth are ocean sediments that have horseshoe craps running
around on them not subject to bioturbation?

- snip -

> > In the light of such modern day
> > findings, it is very difficult to
> > imagine how such layering of
> > sediment found throughout the geologic
> > column, with such crisp lines
> > between these layers, could have been
> > kept in such pristine condition for
> > not only tens or hundreds of years,
> > but hundreds of thousands and even
> > millions upon millions of years of
> > time. It is even more difficult for
> > me to imagine how such finely
> > detailed fossils and trace fossils
> > could be preserved.
>
> Hang on.
> Your evidence for this is that
> bioturbation disturbed the sedimentary
> structures in a single occasion
> following a hurricane. From this you
> extropolate that bioturbation distubes
> all sedimentary structure all
> over the world in any conditions.

And what examples do you have of a shallow sea environment that can
avoid bioturbation for even 10 thousand years?

> Spot the non-sequitur, Sean?

Not at all . . .

> Try reading about the depositional
> characteristics found on the floor
> of the Black Sea.

Why don't you tell me about them? Tell me about the fossilization
taking place on the floor of the Black Sea and how there is no
significant bioturbation going on here.

- snip -

> By the way, it's not a trilobite. It would
> be a good idea to learn some
> elementary palaeontology. Silly mistakes
> such as this do not add to
> your veracity.

Oh please - I've already noted this little slip in a post listed before
yours. However, I am truly touched by your concern for my credibility
; ) By the way, perhaps your 6yo cousin has time to teach Brand, as
well as myself, about anoxic seas and trackway formation? Perhaps at
least I would be more able to understand her - not sure about Brand?

- snip -

> > Your example of carbon
> > dioxide traps just won't due because
> > of the preservation problem.
> > Killing things in a trap is one thing
> > - preserving them in very fine
> > condition is quite another.
>
>
> How about tar pits?
> Or deep mud?

Tar pits and deep mud don't explain trackways and their preservation.

- snip -

> Are you asserting that 4% is "a fair
> percentage of the thickness" of
> this section?

Certainly! If a fossil's thickness covers 4% of a layer that is
supposed to have taken a great deal of time to form, there is
definitely a problem.

- snip -

> RF

Sean Pitman
DetectingDesign.com

Seanpit

unread,
May 28, 2005, 4:08:08 PM5/28/05
to

Richard Forrest wrote:
> Seanpit wrote:
> > Richard Forrest wrote:
> >
> > Regarding:
> >
> > http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/edu/dees/courses/v1001/images/horseshoecrab.gif
> >
> > > What about this?
> >
> > I was obviously talking about trackways
> > produced by land animals - not
> > creatures that lived on the bottoms
> > of the sea.
>
> You were? Not to me or anyone else.

It is quite clear in context from where this statement of mine was


taken on my website - to include the reference to Leonard Brand's work.
Leonard Brand has, by the way, his Ph.D. from the Cornell in
Paleobiology. It's not like he has no training in this topic. He also
has multiple papers published in mainstream journals. Yet, he is still
a young life creationist. Go figure?

Now, your citation of various tetrapod trackways in "older" sedimentary
layers is not helpful because Brand is not arguing that the trackways
do not exist in such older layers. Rather, he is arguing that they do
not exist in the ratio expected relative to the numbers of fossilized
bodies found. Do you see the difference here?

> Trackways and body fossils are rarely found together.

Again, this is not the main issue. It is that when they are found,


together or not, the ratio of trackways to fossilized bodies/skeletal
remains is different as one moves up or down the column, with the
trackways being much more abundant lower in the column.

> This is because:


> 1) the conditions needed to preserve
> trackways are different from those
> needed to preserve body fossils and

And how does this explain the difference in ratio?

> 2) trackways are created in a period


> of a few minutes, and bearing in
> mind that most tetrapods capable of
> creating trackways live for several
> years, the chances of the animal
> dying conveniently at the end of a
> trackway are pretty remote.

Certainly true, but I fail to see how this has anything to do with the


difference in ratios observed as one moves up the column?

> I suggest that you don't rely in


> creationist sources if you want to be
> taken seriously, Sean. You are being
> led astray.

Leonard Brand has his Ph.D. in this field of study - Forrest. He is a


thoughtful, intelligent scientist who is not simply misinformed here.
If you think he is wrong, please do provide something that actually
counters what he is saying here. The fact that he is a creationist
should have nothing to do with it.

> There is a large and growing literature


> on trackway formation, and
> Brand and Florence conveniently
> ignore most of it.

Please do provide your counter examples that show how Brand and
Florence are wrong.

> In particular, their


> assertion of 'bird-like' tracks in
> Permian deposits completely ignores
> what we have learned about how
> the propogation of pressure through
> sediments can create undertracks
> very different in appearance from
> those of the foot which made them.

These tracks described by Brand are often crisp and well formed. They


just don't look like under tracks. But, please do provide a reference
that specifically describes the tracks that Brand is talking about as
"undertracks".

> My friend Phil Manning studied this


> phenomenon for his PhD, and will be
> publishing a hefty tome on the
> subject shortly. I can also recommend
> Jesper Milan and his famous
> performing emus, but I doubt that you
> would make a trip to Denmark just
> to find out that you have been misled.

Just present your data here. Quote what these references say about the


tracks Brand is describing in particular.

> > Beyond this, the trackway


> > you present of a trilobite
>
> Sean, it's not a trilobite: it's a
> king crab. Trilobites were (as far
> as we know) extinct by the Kimmeridgian.

I was just talking with someone else about trilobites, so I had that


thought in my head when I wrote this response. Certainly the picture
you presented is not of a fossil trilobite. I've already noted this in
the post I made just before yours - if you care to check.

> > together with its
> > own trackway does not seem
> > consistent preservation in an "anoxic
> > lagoon". How are such crisp footprints
> > and such a well-preserved body
> > going to be preserved at the milky
> > bottom of some anoxic lagoon?
>
> Who said it had a soft bottom? You must
> try to concentrate, Sean. These
> trackways are found in Solnhofen, not
> Holzmaden. They are Kimmeridgian
> in age, not Toarcian. They were laid
> down under different conditions.

Obviously - that must be true if you are correct. Only, where on Earth


do you find such conditions today?

> > Where


> > are such conditions as you describe
> > preserving such fine fossils today
> > in the way you describe? Please do
> > provide your reference.
>
> Try Palaeobiology II, Briggs DE,
> Crowther PR, (2001). You'll find a
> whole section describing the
> different preservational environments
> leading to exceptional preservation.
> I suggest that you get your friend
> Brand to read it too.

Why don't you quote some passage from that reference that describes a


place on Earth today where such fossilization is taking place - i.e.,
an anoxic sea or ocean environment that preserves crisply detailed
trackways and fossilized bodies of sea creatures? Tell me what they
say, specifically, that is so convincing to you.

> > Also,


> > scavengers are still active even in
> > highly anoxic conditions. What
> > made it possible for such delicate
> > footprints and bodies of such
> > creatures to be preserved in such fine
> > detail - avoiding all hints of
> > bioturbation?
>
> They were buried by suspension
> fall-out. Read the book.

I don't need to read the book to know this. What I am wondering though


is how much suspension fallout there needs to be in order for trackways
and bodies to be preserved without any bioturbation.

> > Bioturbation is an extremely effective


> > way of destroying layering in
> > sedimentary rocks by mixing up
> > the sediment and homogenizing it.
>
> Quite so.
>
> So what? Not all sediments are bioturbated.

Where on Earth are ocean sediments that have horseshoe craps running


around on them not subject to bioturbation?

- snip -

> > In the light of such modern day


> > findings, it is very difficult to
> > imagine how such layering of
> > sediment found throughout the geologic
> > column, with such crisp lines
> > between these layers, could have been
> > kept in such pristine condition for
> > not only tens or hundreds of years,
> > but hundreds of thousands and even
> > millions upon millions of years of
> > time. It is even more difficult for
> > me to imagine how such finely
> > detailed fossils and trace fossils
> > could be preserved.
>
> Hang on.
> Your evidence for this is that
> bioturbation disturbed the sedimentary
> structures in a single occasion
> following a hurricane. From this you
> extropolate that bioturbation distubes
> all sedimentary structure all
> over the world in any conditions.

And what examples do you have of a shallow sea environment that can


avoid bioturbation for even 10 thousand years?

> Spot the non-sequitur, Sean?

Not at all . . .

> Try reading about the depositional


> characteristics found on the floor
> of the Black Sea.

Why don't you tell me about them? Tell me about the fossilization


taking place on the floor of the Black Sea and how there is no
significant bioturbation going on here.

- snip -

> By the way, it's not a trilobite. It would


> be a good idea to learn some
> elementary palaeontology. Silly mistakes
> such as this do not add to
> your veracity.

Oh please - I've already noted this little slip in a post listed before


yours. However, I am truly touched by your concern for my credibility
; ) By the way, perhaps your 6yo cousin has time to teach Brand, as
well as myself, about anoxic seas and trackway formation? Perhaps at
least I would be more able to understand her - not sure about Brand?

- snip -

> > Your example of carbon


> > dioxide traps just won't due because
> > of the preservation problem.
> > Killing things in a trap is one thing
> > - preserving them in very fine
> > condition is quite another.
>
>
> How about tar pits?
> Or deep mud?

Tar pits and deep mud don't explain trackways and their preservation.

- snip -

> Are you asserting that 4% is "a fair


> percentage of the thickness" of
> this section?

Certainly! If a fossil's thickness covers 4% of a layer that is

John Harshman

unread,
May 28, 2005, 5:23:10 PM5/28/05
to
Seanpit wrote:

>
> Richard Forrest wrote:
>
>>Seanpit wrote:
>>
>>>Richard Forrest wrote:
>>>
>>>Regarding:
>>>
>>>http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/edu/dees/courses/v1001/images/horseshoecrab.gif
>>>
>>>
>>>>What about this?
>>>
>>>I was obviously talking about trackways
>>>produced by land animals - not
>>>creatures that lived on the bottoms
>>>of the sea.
>>
>>You were? Not to me or anyone else.
>
>
> It is quite clear in context from where this statement of mine was
> taken on my website - to include the reference to Leonard Brand's work.
> Leonard Brand has, by the way, his Ph.D. from the Cornell in
> Paleobiology. It's not like he has no training in this topic. He also
> has multiple papers published in mainstream journals. Yet, he is still
> a young life creationist. Go figure?

Doublethink is a wonderful thing.

> Now, your citation of various tetrapod trackways in "older" sedimentary
> layers is not helpful because Brand is not arguing that the trackways
> do not exist in such older layers. Rather, he is arguing that they do
> not exist in the ratio expected relative to the numbers of fossilized
> bodies found. Do you see the difference here?

Could you cite the paper in which Brand makes this argument?

[snip]

Richard Forrest

unread,
May 28, 2005, 6:51:56 PM5/28/05
to

Seanpit wrote:
> Richard Forrest wrote:
> > Seanpit wrote:
> > > Richard Forrest wrote:
> > >
> > > Regarding:
> > >
> > > http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/edu/dees/courses/v1001/images/horseshoecrab.gif
> > >
> > > > What about this?
> > >
> > > I was obviously talking about trackways
> > > produced by land animals - not
> > > creatures that lived on the bottoms
> > > of the sea.
> >
> > You were? Not to me or anyone else.
>
> It is quite clear in context from where this statement of mine was
> taken on my website - to include the reference to Leonard Brand's work.
> Leonard Brand has, by the way, his Ph.D. from the Cornell in
> Paleobiology. It's not like he has no training in this topic. He also
> has multiple papers published in mainstream journals.


Let's see:
Google Scholar shows the following:
Dental impression materials useful for making molds of fossils
Leonard Brand, and Gilbert Dupper

Athens shows the following:
Fossil whale preservation implies high diatom accumulation rate in the
Miocene--Pliocene Pisco Formation of Peru. (Author Abstract) Leonard R.
Brand; Raul Esperante; Arthur V. Chadwick; Orlando Poma Porras; Merling
Alomia.

Variations in Salamander trackways resulting from substrate
differences. Leonard R. Brand.

Comment and reply on "Fossil vertebrate footprints in the Coconino
Sandstone (Permian) of northern Arizona: evidence for underwater
origin." Martin G. Lockley; David B. Loope; Leonard R. Brand.

Fossil vertebrate footprints in the Coconino Sandstone (Permian) of
northern Arizona: evidence for underwater origin. Leonard R. Brand; Thu
Tang.


So that's three papers for which he is principal author.

What was the subject of his PhD?

> Yet, he is still
> a young life creationist. Go figure?
>

Now, what about the tens of thousands of other palaeobiologists who are
not 'young life creationists'?

What is a 'young life creationist' by the way?

> Now, your citation of various tetrapod trackways in "older" sedimentary
> layers is not helpful because Brand is not arguing that the trackways
> do not exist in such older layers. Rather, he is arguing that they do
> not exist in the ratio expected relative to the numbers of fossilized
> bodies found. Do you see the difference here?
>
> > Trackways and body fossils are rarely found together.
>
> Again, this is not the main issue. It is that when they are found,
> together or not, the ratio of trackways to fossilized bodies/skeletal
> remains is different as one moves up or down the column, with the
> trackways being much more abundant lower in the column.
>

This could be nothing more than variation in reporting in the
literature. More recent trackways are under-reported because there are
more abundant body fossils to investigate. It's worth noting that the
footprints and trackways on the Yorkshire coast, of which there are
thousands, are barely noted in the literature.

> > This is because:
> > 1) the conditions needed to preserve
> > trackways are different from those
> > needed to preserve body fossils and
>
> And how does this explain the difference in ratio?
>

Different modes of locomotion and greater dispersal into different
environments where trackways are less likely to be formed? Changing
sedimentary conditions? Differential reporting in the literature? I can
think of those reasons off the top of my head, and these are hypotheses
which can be tested against the evidence.

As a matter of idle curiosity, how does this support your idea of a
global flood or a young earth?

> > 2) trackways are created in a period
> > of a few minutes, and bearing in
> > mind that most tetrapods capable of
> > creating trackways live for several
> > years, the chances of the animal
> > dying conveniently at the end of a
> > trackway are pretty remote.
>
> Certainly true, but I fail to see how this has anything to do with the
> difference in ratios observed as one moves up the column?
>

I've given a list of possible explanations off the top of my head.

> > I suggest that you don't rely in
> > creationist sources if you want to be
> > taken seriously, Sean. You are being
> > led astray.
>
> Leonard Brand has his Ph.D. in this field of study - Forrest.

What was his PhD subject?

> He is a
> thoughtful, intelligent scientist who is not simply misinformed here.
> If you think he is wrong, please do provide something that actually
> counters what he is saying here. The fact that he is a creationist
> should have nothing to do with it.
>

> > There is a large and growing literature
> > on trackway formation, and
> > Brand and Florence conveniently
> > ignore most of it.
>
> Please do provide your counter examples that show how Brand and
> Florence are wrong.
>


Something that leaps out from the 'paper' to which you link is the very
restricted list of reference - six papers. This hardly supports his
assertions of a thorough review of the literature and is the first
things that an academic reviewer would pick out. So the paper is either
relying on far too limited a data set, or is poorly written and argued
- hardly a good start.

His argument in favour of a flood model does not offer any testable
hypothesis to confirm such a model. In fact, he argues for
characteristics of the flood "This model suggests that during the early
to middle part of the flood large numbers of amphibians and reptiles
were moving about, and thus producing footprints," without any attempt
to provide supporting data, or even to explain why amphibians and
reptiles *should* be more active in the early to middle part of the
flood.

His argument in favour of bird-like tracks in the Permian is based on
line drawings apparently taken from old papers. There is no indication
in this 'paper' that he has personally examined this or any other
material. If this is the most important evidence to support his
'hypothesis', it would be a matter of scientific and academic integrity
at least to publish photographs of the specimens. It's worth noting
that the original authors refered to the tracks as 'superficially'
bird-like, yet Brand simply dismisses this.

He makes no mention of the fact that tridactyl prints can be produced
by tetradactyl feet, and of the difficulty of infering foot morphology
from such prints. Given the fact that he has published a paper on the
variation in morphology of prints deriving from different substrate
conditions, this seems to be a rather glaring oversight. Presumably he
knows how misleading footprint morphology can be?

The argument in his paper is circular: he offers as evidence for a
flood a skewed distribution of footprints against body fossils, yet his
argument that they support a flood is based on the assumption that
amphibians and reptiles were more active during the early part of the
flood. He offers no argument as to why they should be more active.

This is a paper which any academic journal would throw out because it
fail to meet minimal standards of integrity.


> > In particular, their
> > assertion of 'bird-like' tracks in
> > Permian deposits completely ignores
> > what we have learned about how
> > the propogation of pressure through
> > sediments can create undertracks
> > very different in appearance from
> > those of the foot which made them.
>
> These tracks described by Brand are often crisp and well formed.

The tracks were not described by Brand, but by Sternberg and Gilmore,
who formed different conclusions about their origin. There is no
indication the Brand has even seen the tracks.

> They
> just don't look like under tracks.

And you base this assertion on what? A detailed knowledge of track
formation? It's worth noting that when the papers to which Brand refers
were published, our knowledge of undertracks was non-existent.

> But, please do provide a reference
> that specifically describes the tracks that Brand is talking about as
> "undertracks".
>

It would seem more to the point that, bearing in mind that Brand is
making an extraordinary claim, he should back it up with more than old
references and line drawings.

> > My friend Phil Manning studied this
> > phenomenon for his PhD, and will be
> > publishing a hefty tome on the
> > subject shortly. I can also recommend
> > Jesper Milan and his famous
> > performing emus, but I doubt that you
> > would make a trip to Denmark just
> > to find out that you have been misled.
>
> Just present your data here. Quote what these references say about the
> tracks Brand is describing in particular.
>

Just to repeat: Brand is not describing those tracks. He is relying on
papers published 50 years ago and presents his data as line drawings.
His 'paper' offers no evidence that he has even examined the tracks
himself.

> > > Beyond this, the trackway
> > > you present of a trilobite
> >
> > Sean, it's not a trilobite: it's a
> > king crab. Trilobites were (as far
> > as we know) extinct by the Kimmeridgian.
>
> I was just talking with someone else about trilobites, so I had that
> thought in my head when I wrote this response. Certainly the picture
> you presented is not of a fossil trilobite. I've already noted this in
> the post I made just before yours - if you care to check.
>
>
> > > together with its
> > > own trackway does not seem
> > > consistent preservation in an "anoxic
> > > lagoon". How are such crisp footprints
> > > and such a well-preserved body
> > > going to be preserved at the milky
> > > bottom of some anoxic lagoon?
> >
> > Who said it had a soft bottom? You must
> > try to concentrate, Sean. These
> > trackways are found in Solnhofen, not
> > Holzmaden. They are Kimmeridgian
> > in age, not Toarcian. They were laid
> > down under different conditions.
>
> Obviously - that must be true if you are correct. Only, where on Earth
> do you find such conditions today?
>

Bearing in mind that preservation of this quality is found on only a
dozen or so sites from all over the world over a period of geological
history of 600 million years, why should be expect to find identical
conditions today?


You are linking things which don't need to be linked. In the case of
the Solnhofen lagoon, the conditions were hypersaline. This is what
killed the animals which drifted in or walked in.

>
> > > Bioturbation is an extremely effective
> > > way of destroying layering in
> > > sedimentary rocks by mixing up
> > > the sediment and homogenizing it.
> >
> > Quite so.
> >
> > So what? Not all sediments are bioturbated.
>
> Where on Earth are ocean sediments that have horseshoe craps running
> around on them not subject to bioturbation?
>

In hypersaline envirionments? Try the floor of the Dead Sea. I doubt
that you'll find much bioturbation happening there.

Who said anything about 10,000 years? You're projecting, Sean.

> > Spot the non-sequitur, Sean?
>
> Not at all . . .
>
> > Try reading about the depositional
> > characteristics found on the floor
> > of the Black Sea.
>
> Why don't you tell me about them? Tell me about the fossilization
> taking place on the floor of the Black Sea and how there is no
> significant bioturbation going on here.

Black Sea chemocline oscillations during the Holocene: molecular and
isotopic studies of marginal sediments. Y. Huang; K.H. Freeman; R.T.
Wilkina1; M.A. Arthur; A.D. Jones.
Abstract:

We measured 13C values of free and sulfur-bound lipids and framboidal
pyrite-size distributions in three sediment cores from the southern
margins of the Black Sea. The margin cores show a marked difference in
the occurrence of biomarkers from green sulfur bacteria compared with
the deep-basin cores, as a result of deepening of the chemocline
resulting from enhanced mixing and/or decreased light-penetration as a
consequence of high turbidity and productivity in shelf waters.
Quantitation of biomarkers suggests that photic-zone anoxia along the
shelf margin was generally absent during the deposition of unit I,
although occurred during the deposition of Unit IIb at two sites.


Sulfur isotope geochemistry of the Black Sea water column. L.N.
Neretin; M.E. Bottcher; V.A. Grinenko.
Abstract:

We studied the isotopic composition of dissolved sulfide in the Black
Sea water column during different seasons at a total of 15 stations
spanning the entire basin. The isotopic composition of dissolved
sulfide averaged over all depths varies between -42.0%% and -32.6%%,
ave. -39.6+/-1.3%% (1) (118 data points). Seasonal and spatial (open
sea vs. coastal stations) differences in the 34S-H2S values are not
observed. Slight 34S enrichments in the sulfide isotope composition are
revealed in the uppermost and the lowest parts of the anoxic water
column. The upper trend is explained as (i) the effect of mixing with
34S-enriched sulfide produced near the interface by chemical oxidation
with MnO2 or O2, (ii) small fractionation during biological sulfide
oxidation, (iii) a result of a decreased isotope fractionation factor
due to higher sulfate reduction rates. The lower trend is likely the
result of the mixing with 34S-enriched pore water sulfide. We generated
the first isotope data for sulfur intermediates in the lower part of
the anoxic zone, which show values close to the isotope composition of
dissolved sulfide. We hypothesize that the high isotope depletions of
sulfide observed in the entire Black Sea water column are a result of
low sulfate reduction rates and superimposed disproportionation
reactions within the oxidative part of the sulfur cycle. Different
physical and chemical mechanisms facilitating the formation and
transport of sulfur intermediates in the anoxic interior are discussed.


>
> - snip -
>
> > By the way, it's not a trilobite. It would
> > be a good idea to learn some
> > elementary palaeontology. Silly mistakes
> > such as this do not add to
> > your veracity.
>
> Oh please - I've already noted this little slip in a post listed before
> yours. However, I am truly touched by your concern for my credibility
> ; ) By the way, perhaps your 6yo cousin has time to teach Brand, as
> well as myself, about anoxic seas and trackway formation? Perhaps at
> least I would be more able to understand her - not sure about Brand?
>
> - snip -
>
> > > Your example of carbon
> > > dioxide traps just won't due because
> > > of the preservation problem.
> > > Killing things in a trap is one thing
> > > - preserving them in very fine
> > > condition is quite another.
> >
> >
> > How about tar pits?
> > Or deep mud?
>
> Tar pits and deep mud don't explain trackways and their preservation.
>

You were talking about preserving things in very fine condition, not
trackways, Sean.

> - snip -
>
> > Are you asserting that 4% is "a fair
> > percentage of the thickness" of
> > this section?
>
> Certainly! If a fossil's thickness covers 4% of a layer that is
> supposed to have taken a great deal of time to form, there is
> definitely a problem.
>

You made the assertion that 4% is a fair percentage of the thickness of
the section. I fail to see why this poses any problem for conventional
models of sedimentation, and if it is perhaps you can explain why. I
simply think that 4% is not a fair percentage of anything.

> - snip -
>
> > RF
>
> Sean Pitman
> DetectingDesign.com


RF

Seanpit

unread,
May 28, 2005, 10:30:33 PM5/28/05
to
Richard Forrest wrote:

- snip -

> So that's three papers for which he is principal author.

Brand, L. R., R. Esperante, A. V. Chadwick, O. Poma, and M. Alomia.
2004. Fossil whale preservation implies high diatom accumulation rate
in the Miocene-Pliocene Pisco Formation of Peru. Geology, 32:165-168.

Brand, L. R. 1995. An improved high-precision Jacob's staff design.
Jour. Sedim. Res., A65:561.

Brand, L. R. 1992. Reply to comments on "fossil vertebrate footprints


in the Coconino Sandstone (Permian) of northern Arizona: evidence for

underwater origin." Geology, 20:668-670.

Brand, L.R., and J. Kramer. 1996. Underprints of vertebrate and
invertebrate trackways in the Permian Coconino Sandstone in Arizona.
Ichnos, 4:225-230.

Brand, L. R. 1996. Variations in salamander trackways resulting from
substrate differences. Jour. of Paleontol., 70:1004-1010.

Brand, L. R., H. T. Goodwin, P. G. Ambrose, and H. P. Buchheim. 2000.
Taphonomy of turtles in the Middle Eocene Bridger Formation, SW
Wyoming. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology,
162:171-189.

Brand, L., P. C. Murphey, and J. E. Haessig. In press. Bedrock geologic
map of the Antelope Wash 7.5' Quadrangle, Sweetwater County, Wyoming.
Wyoming State Geological Survey Open File Map, 1 sheet (scale
1:24,000).

Brand, L., P. C. Murphey, and J. E. Haessig. In press. Bedrock geologic
map of the Linwood Canyon 7.5' Quadrangle, Sweetwater County, Wyoming.
Wyoming State Geologic Survey Open File Map, 1 sheet (scale 1;24,000)

Brand, L. R., M. Hussey, and J. Taylor. 2003. Decay and disarticulation
of small vertebrates in controlled experiments. Journal of Taphonomy,
1(2):69-95.

Esperante-Caamano, R., L. Brand, A. Chadwick, and O. Poma. 2002.
Taphonomy of fossil whales in the diatomaceous sediments of the
Miocene/Pliocene Pisco Formation, Peru. pp. 337-343 In: De Renzi, M.,
M. Alonso, M. Belinchon, E. Penalver, P. Montoya, and A. Marquez-Aliaga
(eds.). Current Topics on Taphonomy and Fossilization. International
Conference Taphos 2002. 3rd Meeting on Taphonomy and Fossilization,
Valencia, Spain.

Buchheim, H. P., L. R. Brand, and H. T. Goodwin. 2000. Lacustrine to
fluvial flood-plain deposition in the Eocene Bridger Formation.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 162:191-209.

- snip -

> > Again, this is not the main issue.
> > It is that when they are found,
> > together or not, the ratio of trackways
> > to fossilized bodies/skeletal
> > remains is different as one moves
> > up or down the column, with the
> > trackways being much more
> > abundant lower in the column.
>
> This could be nothing more than
> variation in reporting in the
> literature.

Don't you find it interesting that the "variation" in literature
reporting was so significantly skewed in so many journals and museum
records - in such a consistent manner? I mean, the data from many
sources basically agree with each other. There does indeed seem to be
a significant change in ratio of trackways to body fossils as one moves
up the column. Very strange, don't you think, that "data from about
800 published papers and from additional specimens in the American
Museum, U.S. National Museum, Yale University Peabody Museum, and the
Raymond Alf Museum" would all say pretty much the same thing?

http://www.grisda.org/origins/09067.htm

> More recent trackways are
> under-reported because there are
> more abundant body fossils to
> investigate. It's worth noting that the
> footprints and trackways on the
> Yorkshire coast, of which there are
> thousands, are barely noted in the
> literature.

Brand discusses this argument in the same paper:

"In Mesozoic and Tertiary deposits containing larger, more conspicuous
tracks, smaller tracks may be more likely to be overlooked, and not
collected. This argument is weakened by the fact that small reptile
tracks are abundant in Triassic and Early Jurassic rocks, when dinosaur
tracks are also at their peak of abundance. It also does not explain
the near absence of amphibian and reptile tracks in Early Tertiary
deposits, which have no dinosaur tracks and few bird and mammal tracks
to divert attention from the smaller tracks."

http://www.grisda.org/origins/09067.htm

- snip -

> > Where on Earth are ocean sediments that
> > have horseshoe craps running
> > around on them not subject to
> > bioturbation?
> >
>
> In hypersaline envirionments? Try the
> floor of the Dead Sea. I doubt
> that you'll find much bioturbation
> happening there.

Are there any horseshoe crabs or anything else living anywhere in the
Dead Sea to leave tracks and get fossilized ; )

- snip -

> > And what examples do you have of a
> > shallow sea environment that can
> > avoid bioturbation for even 10
> > thousand years?
> >
>
> Who said anything about 10,000 years?
> You're projecting, Sean.

You don't get it? If you have no examples of real time environments
that can avoid significant bioturbation for even a short period of
time, what on Earth makes you believe that such environments existed in
the past that could avoid any bioturbation whatsoever for millions of
years?

And how does this indicate a lack of bioactivity/bioturbation that
would affect any organism creating trackways and or being fossilized
here? The authors even said that there was no evidence for anoxia
during deposition of unit I. How then was significant bioturbation
avoided during this time? Also, where do the authors note that
fossilization is currently going on in the Black Sea region - or a lack
of bioturbation?

Again, a significantly anoxic environment does not prevent scavenging
or bioturbation as far as I can tell. I mean, where are the fossils
being made today in this or any other region?

- snip -

> > Tar pits and deep mud don't explain
> > trackways and their preservation.
>
> You were talking about preserving
> things in very fine condition, not
> trackways, Sean.

In this particular thread, we were talking about trackways in
particular - at least I was. Certainly there are many ways to preserve
bodies in fine condition, but not so many ways to produce trackways in
fine condition or in a significantly different ratio as one moves up or
down the geologic column.

> > > Are you asserting that 4% is "a fair
> > > percentage of the thickness" of
> > > this section?
> >
> > Certainly! If a fossil's thickness
> > covers 4% of a layer that is
> > supposed to have taken a great deal
> > of time to form, there is
> > definitely a problem.
>
> You made the assertion that 4% is a
> fair percentage of the thickness of
> the section. I fail to see why this
> poses any problem for conventional
> models of sedimentation, and if it
> is perhaps you can explain why. I
> simply think that 4% is not a
> fair percentage of anything.

If a fossil covers 4% of a vertical measurement of a given layer, and
the layer is thought to have been laid down over the course of say, a
million years, you don't see a problem with that? This suggests that
it took an average of 40,000 years to create 4% of that layer - right?

> RF

Sean Pitman
DetectingDesign.com

RAM

unread,
May 29, 2005, 1:40:51 AM5/29/05
to

Seanpit wrote:
SNIP

> It is quite clear in context from where this statement of mine was
> taken on my website - to include the reference to Leonard Brand's work.
> Leonard Brand has, by the way, his Ph.D. from the Cornell in
> Paleobiology. It's not like he has no training in this topic. He also
> has multiple papers published in mainstream journals. Yet, he is still
> a young life creationist. Go figure?

Here is how social scientist "go figure." First they don't accept what
people say about themselves or of the universe as a anything other than
socially constructed knowledge. They recognize science as a form of
social organization to arrive at a consensus of the best available
interpretation of a specific area of knowledge. They recognize that
all the available empirical evidence must be taking into account for
ascertaining the reliability of that knowledge, They also establish
replicable standards for ascertaining the empirical evidence and
measuring the variables in the development of this knowledge. These
practices led to what is known as "normative" science.

Dr. Brand doesn't practice normative science.

Social scientists measure non normative scientific practices by
comparing normative science against non normative science. They also
look for non rational justifications for engaging in non normative
science. These are often religious, ideological, economic, political,
cultural, or idiosyncratic in nature or frequently some combination of
these factors All the criteria for normative vs non normative science
and non-rational factors are specified in advance and there are
hypotheses advanced and the methods frequently involve some detailed
statistical analysis of what factors are involved in promoting non
normative science and normative science. Conclusions are drawn. More
research ensures and more data and hypotheses emerge and then a
consensus emerges around what the phenomena mean in a social scientific
context.

It is of course obvious religion is a primary variable for him engaging
in non normative science. Indeed the same religion that motivates you
to engage in non normative science and make claims about "following the
evidence" while denying religion is the salient variable in your
behavior.

Social scientist label this behavior as "saving face" and/or
'rationalizing deviance" depending on the context in which its done.
Your' and Dr. Brand's behaviors are not novel but expected results
given certain religious/social environments. Social scientists are
also aware that religious communities that isolate themselves from
other religions gain by engaging in social practices that are seen as
not mainstream thus a non normative science that comports with their
values is seen as necessary for social solidarity regardless of its
otiose results. It's the message not the results that matter.
Criticism of the non normative science only reinforces their sense of
being marginalized and being victimized by hostile or at best
unconcerned non believers.

IDC is a religious/political/cultural movement to marginalize the
sciences that they believe have marginalized their
religious/political/cultural lives. From a social scientific point of
view if people believe it is true it is true in its consequences. Thus
victimization becomes true by the fact of believing it. Therefore
IDCists want to control/destroy/distort normative science in those
areas that conflict with their religious/political/cultural beliefs.

Social science mode off.

The IDC movement employs these latter tactics. Given the shrill claims
they often make one would think they have all been branded with a large
"V" on their collective chests. This is again expected behavior
particularly when one has no replicate-able substantive scientific
evidence for knowledge. The IDC movement will ultimately be
destructive of normative science while making claims about correcting
the blindness, bigotry, and bias of normative science. Of course it's
the blindness, bigotry, and bias of the IDCers that is the base of the
problem and that means challenging their religious values, beliefs and
political influences and cultural stands. In short a fractious
religious/political/cultural conflict is becoming more destructive of
American life and promises to become an uncivil war that divides the
nation even more than at present.

Thank you Sean, Dr. Brand, and the Discovery Institute and other IDCers
for your maligning efforts at renewing science and culture. If God is
on your side I only hope it's on your backside.

BIG SNIP
>
> Sean Pitman
> DetectingDesign.com

Richard Forrest

unread,
May 29, 2005, 3:38:49 AM5/29/05
to

In my field the literature records specimens from a very limited range
of formations. 90% of specimens described come from periods
representing only 10% of the geological periods during which
plesiosaurs existed. The formations in which the specimens to not
represent the full extent of the time periods. If records of provenance
of a lot of the historical material was better, that 10% would reduce
further. Why should footprints be any different?

> I mean, the data from many
> sources basically agree with each other. There does indeed seem to be
> a significant change in ratio of trackways to body fossils as one moves
> up the column. Very strange, don't you think, that "data from about
> 800 published papers and from additional specimens in the American
> Museum, U.S. National Museum, Yale University Peabody Museum, and the
> Raymond Alf Museum" would all say pretty much the same thing?
>
> http://www.grisda.org/origins/09067.htm
>


And this supports 'flood geology' how?

> > More recent trackways are
> > under-reported because there are
> > more abundant body fossils to
> > investigate. It's worth noting that the
> > footprints and trackways on the
> > Yorkshire coast, of which there are
> > thousands, are barely noted in the
> > literature.
>
> Brand discusses this argument in the same paper:
>
> "In Mesozoic and Tertiary deposits containing larger, more conspicuous
> tracks, smaller tracks may be more likely to be overlooked, and not
> collected. This argument is weakened by the fact that small reptile
> tracks are abundant in Triassic and Early Jurassic rocks, when dinosaur
> tracks are also at their peak of abundance. It also does not explain
> the near absence of amphibian and reptile tracks in Early Tertiary
> deposits, which have no dinosaur tracks and few bird and mammal tracks
> to divert attention from the smaller tracks."
>


This is called dismissing the argument, not discussing the argument.
1) If there are a load of dinosaurs strolling around looking for lunch,
smaller reptiles are going to stay out of sight.
2) The lack of tracks in early Tertiary deposits simply reflects the
huge dip in populations and biodiversity following the K/T events.

Selective snipping going on here, Sean.

> > > Where on Earth are ocean sediments that
> > > have horseshoe craps running
> > > around on them not subject to
> > > bioturbation?
> > >
> >
> > In hypersaline envirionments? Try the
> > floor of the Dead Sea. I doubt
> > that you'll find much bioturbation
> > happening there.
>
> Are there any horseshoe crabs or anything else living anywhere in the
> Dead Sea to leave tracks and get fossilized ; )
>
> - snip -
>

Please explain again how a global flood creates localised hypersaline
environments.

It goes like this, Sean. A lagoon in a tropical region is cut off from
the open ocean. The heat of the sun makes the water evaporate. This
creates hypersaline conditions in the lagoon. A storm surge washes
water containing the horseshoe crab over the barrier separating the
lagoon from the sea, and with it some sediment. The animal wonders
around for a while until it dies, and the fine particles washed in with
it settles over the body and trackway.

Now, whether or not we have similar conditions today is irrelevant:
it's a hypothesis which can be tested against the evidence.

> > > And what examples do you have of a
> > > shallow sea environment that can
> > > avoid bioturbation for even 10
> > > thousand years?
> > >
> >
> > Who said anything about 10,000 years?
> > You're projecting, Sean.
>
> You don't get it? If you have no examples of real time environments
> that can avoid significant bioturbation for even a short period of
> time, what on Earth makes you believe that such environments existed in
> the past that could avoid any bioturbation whatsoever for millions of
> years?
>

Why millions of years, Sean. Who is arguing that such sedimentary
structures take millions of years to form?

Try reading the references to the Kimmerigdge Clay deposits I gave you.

Another selective snip Sean.
I take it that you accept my analysis of the weakness of Brand's
'paper' then.


> > > Tar pits and deep mud don't explain
> > > trackways and their preservation.
> >
> > You were talking about preserving
> > things in very fine condition, not
> > trackways, Sean.
>
> In this particular thread, we were talking about trackways in
> particular - at least I was. Certainly there are many ways to preserve
> bodies in fine condition, but not so many ways to produce trackways in
> fine condition or in a significantly different ratio as one moves up or
> down the geologic column.
>


To quote your words from back up the thread, Sean:


" Killing things in a trap is one thing - preserving them in very fine
condition is quite another."

You were talking about good quality preseservation of body fossils, not
trackways, at this point.

> > > > Are you asserting that 4% is "a fair
> > > > percentage of the thickness" of
> > > > this section?
> > >
> > > Certainly! If a fossil's thickness
> > > covers 4% of a layer that is
> > > supposed to have taken a great deal
> > > of time to form, there is
> > > definitely a problem.
> >
> > You made the assertion that 4% is a
> > fair percentage of the thickness of
> > the section. I fail to see why this
> > poses any problem for conventional
> > models of sedimentation, and if it
> > is perhaps you can explain why. I
> > simply think that 4% is not a
> > fair percentage of anything.
>
> If a fossil covers 4% of a vertical measurement of a given layer, and
> the layer is thought to have been laid down over the course of say, a
> million years,

Where does the paper say that these particular sediments were laid down
over a million years? You should stop making things up as you go along,
Sean.

> you don't see a problem with that? This suggests that
> it took an average of 40,000 years to create 4% of that layer - right?

Again, why this obsession with millions of years? The geological record
shows that some formations were laid down rapidly, others much more
slowly. These fossils whales are preserved in deposits which were laid
down relatively rapidly. If the sea floor was soft, the caracases could
have sunk and been covered very quickly.

This does not mean that the same sedimentary conditions are responsible
for every other sedimentary structure in existence.

>
> > RF
>
> Sean Pitman
> DetectingDesign.com


Having snipped my comments on Brand's 'paper', perhaps you could point
out to me where he provides any evidence whatsoever by which he tests
the hypothesis that a global flood occured? His strongest argument in
favour of a flood appears to be that reptiles and amphibians *might*
have been more active in the early part of the flood.

The tracks (which he hasn't examined himself, and for whose morphology
he is relying on reports more than 50 years old) which are
*superficially* bird-like, would, even if created by birds in the
Permian, provide no support whatsover for a global flood.

I don't find this a compelling argument, but perhaps you do.


RF

Richard Forrest

unread,
May 29, 2005, 7:23:55 AM5/29/05
to

Seanpit wrote:
<snipped>

> You don't get it? If you have no examples of real time environments
> that can avoid significant bioturbation for even a short period of
> time, what on Earth makes you believe that such environments existed in
> the past that could avoid any bioturbation whatsoever for millions of
> years?

How about human footprint from the mesolithic period preserved on tidal
mudflats? They've found them near Sefton in Cheshire.

http://www.seftoncoast.org.uk/hist_footprints.html
http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=2146411338&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0
http://www.eyes-and-ears.co.uk/pennine/footprints.htm

Note the absence of bioturbation.
Note the presence of red deer, aurochs and wolves - rather
conspicuously absent in Formby today.

For an academic paper try Gonzalez, S., Huddart, D. and Roberts, G.
1996. Holocene development of the Sefton Coast: a multidisciplinary
approach to understanding the archaeology. In A. Sinclair, E. Slater
and J. Gowlett (eds) Proceedings of the Archaeological Sciences
Conference 1995, 289-299. Oxford University Archaeological Monograph
Series. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

They are dated to about 5,000 years ago.

So are you prepared to withdraw your assertion that there are "no


examples of real time environments that can avoid significant

bioturbation for even a short period of time." ?

No?

Thought not. Revising your 'theory' in the light of evidence was never
your strong point. I suppose you will find some way of interpreting
these footprints as evidence for a global flood. Perhaps Noah decided
he needed a trip to the seaside, and these are the footprints he and
his family left behind when they took the red deer, aurochs, wolves,
horses and so on for a walk to stretch their legs after being cooped up
in the ark for so long.

RF

Von R. Smith

unread,
May 30, 2005, 9:53:33 AM5/30/05
to

Richard Forrest wrote:

<big snip>

>
>
> Having snipped my comments on Brand's 'paper', perhaps you could point
> out to me where he provides any evidence whatsoever by which he tests
> the hypothesis that a global flood occured? His strongest argument in
> favour of a flood appears to be that reptiles and amphibians *might*
> have been more active in the early part of the flood.


There are several other, more basic problems that trouble a layman like
myself about this article. First, Brand provides absolutely nothing to
connect the footprints in question to the fossils found higher up in
the strata. Has he compared any of the two in a way that argues for
any sort of match? Or does he consider it sufficient that they are
both "amphibian" or "reptile"? Sean, apparently does, as he seems to
think that this article establishes the "unique fact is that for almost


all animals, excluding birds and mammals, their footprints are not
generally located in the same layer that their bodies are found, but in
lower layers."

Another is Brand's blithe dismissal of the possibility of preservation
artifacts. But if he had bothered to set the diagram in Fig. 1 next to
and on the same scale with the diagram in Fig. 2, he would have noticed
that there is an across-the-board dip in the diveresity of *all*
tracks, relative to contemporary fossil species diversity, in the
Cretaceous and late Jurassic, which is where much of the diversity the
authors harp on . I would suggest that had he presented such an
analysis, as he should have done before dismissing the notion of
artifacts in the data, he would have had a much harder time excluding
alternate interpretations of his evidence.

Finally, his explanation for why mammal and bird species track better
is implausible on its face:

"This flood model suggests that during the flood the birds and mammals
were in the uplands, away from the depositional basins, because of
ecological differences and/or their more adaptable behavioral response
to the unusual biological crisis caused by the flood. Consequently they
left almost no footprints. This model further suggests that the upper
Tertiary footprints were formed after the flood when geological
processes were more like those observed today."

Classic apologetic hogwash. These are the old discredited "ecological
zonation" and "differential mobility" hypotheses that Morris and other
"flood geologists" have been trying to peddle for decades, in spite of
their transparent flaws.

>
> The tracks (which he hasn't examined himself, and for whose morphology
> he is relying on reports more than 50 years old) which are
> *superficially* bird-like, would, even if created by birds in the
> Permian, provide no support whatsover for a global flood.

It also definitely does not add up to Pitman's claim that "for almost


all animals, excluding birds and mammals, their footprints are not
generally located in the same layer that their bodies are found, but in
lower layers."

I'm still waiting for the good doctor to support that contention.

John Harshman

unread,
May 30, 2005, 10:51:51 AM5/30/05
to
Von R. Smith wrote:

Good catch. Perhaps this is a partial explanation for why Brand hasn't
actually published this "paper". One also wonders just what counts as
"amphibian" and "reptile", and how you reliably tell the difference by
tracks. For that matter, what counts as "mammal" as opposed to
"reptile"? What are therapsids?

> Finally, his explanation for why mammal and bird species track better
> is implausible on its face:
>
> "This flood model suggests that during the flood the birds and mammals
> were in the uplands, away from the depositional basins, because of
> ecological differences and/or their more adaptable behavioral response
> to the unusual biological crisis caused by the flood. Consequently they
> left almost no footprints. This model further suggests that the upper
> Tertiary footprints were formed after the flood when geological
> processes were more like those observed today."
>
> Classic apologetic hogwash. These are the old discredited "ecological
> zonation" and "differential mobility" hypotheses that Morris and other
> "flood geologists" have been trying to peddle for decades, in spite of
> their transparent flaws.

And as Sean is trying to peddle too. That's one of the problems with his
web site that occasioned my original post, to which he still hasn't
responded, even on this second try.

>>The tracks (which he hasn't examined himself, and for whose morphology
>>he is relying on reports more than 50 years old) which are
>>*superficially* bird-like, would, even if created by birds in the
>>Permian, provide no support whatsover for a global flood.
>
> It also definitely does not add up to Pitman's claim that "for almost
> all animals, excluding birds and mammals, their footprints are not
> generally located in the same layer that their bodies are found, but in
> lower layers."
>
> I'm still waiting for the good doctor to support that contention.

This is problematic on a number of fronts. Apparently "almost all
animals" means amphibians and reptiles, and "their" means something
belonging to the same nominal class, and "not generally located" refers
to relative abundance. No wonder nobody can understand him.

I've noticed this about scientists who are creationists, that they can
often do good science, and they can even do creationist science, but
that the two don't intersect. The closer to real creationism they get,
the worse their science gets: they don't examine alternatives, and they
are willing to accept the lamest possible arguments. Needless to say,
these papers are not published in real journals, because the wouldn't
get past a single reviewer. The same is obvious in the productions of
the Baraminology Working Group centered around Kurt Wise. We've
discussed their "textbook" Understanding the Pattern of Life, by Todd
Charles Wood and Megan J. Murray, in this group before (to great
amusement), and it's a wonderful example of this phenomenon. Sean seems
unacquainted with it, which is too bad: it's right up his alley.

Seanpit

unread,
Jun 5, 2005, 11:00:40 AM6/5/05
to

Richard Forrest,

Your argument is that the significant difference in ratios between the
number of body vs. footprint fossils as one moves up the column is due
to limited sampling. This is simply not convincing since the ratio
differences are so consistent for different types of animals from so
many references in such a dramatic fashion.

Take dinosaurs, for example. Trackways largely outnumber bones in the
late Triassic and early Jurassic. But then, quite suddenly, the ratio
shifts in the mid Jurassic. The number of trackways falls off
dramatically, and the number of bones starts to build up. The same
thing is true for reptiles. This is not simply some reporting bias that
I can tell. The numbers are too significant and too consistent from
too many sources.

Which leads into your argument that Brand's paper just doesn't use
enough sources to be credible. That's ridiculous. Brand used data
from about 800 published papers as well as data from additional


specimens in the American Museum, U.S. National Museum, Yale University

Peabody Museum, and the Raymond Alf Museum. I'd say that is quite a
number of data sources, wouldn't you?

You also argue, strangely that, "If there are a load of dinosaurs


strolling around looking for lunch, smaller reptiles are going to stay

out of sight." You make this argument in an apparent effort to explain
the differences in ratios between large trackways and small trackways?
The problem is that the small trackways are present in abundance when
the dinosaur trackways are also present in greatest abundance. That
doesn't fit your argument now does it?

You go on to argue that, "The lack of tracks in the early Tertiary


deposits simply reflects the huge dip in populations and biodiversity

following the K/T events." Just look at the body fossils for reptiles
and amphibians in the late Cretaceous and early Tertiary. There is not
a significant difference. Yet, the trackways are pretty much
nonexistent. That also doesn't seem to fit your argument. Why would
body fossils be present in significant numbers while hardly any
trackways to speak of were preserved at all over the course of millions
of years of time? Population numbers would have rebounded very
quickly, in much less time than even 1 million years, after an
extinction event. Where are the trackways to match the body fossils?

Your argument for hypersaline lagoons to kill off horseshoe crabs in
mid-stride is also quite stretched. It is much more consistent with
the evidence that such fossils and their trackways were buried very
quickly and deeply by sedimentary layers - in mid stride. The highly
unusual environments and events that you dream up are just so fantastic
as to require too much faith. There simply are no such incredible
events or locations as you describe preserving such fossils today.
Your presentation of wonderfully preserved human footprint fossils does
nothing to help out your position that I can tell. Such footprints had
to be buried by sediment very quickly and deeply in order to be
preserved in such detail from the forces of bioturbation and erosion.
That is right in line with my position - not yours.

As far as fossils taking up a fair percentage of the layers in which
they are found (and yes, 4% is very significant) fossil whales are not
the only fossils to do this. If the preservation of whales in such
condition where their fossils require rapid burial, as you yourself
agree, then certainly the presents of intact bones of dinosaurs and
other large creatures requires fairly rapid burial as well as the
fairly rapid formation of the entire layer in which they are found.

Sean Pitman
DetectingDesign.com

Richard Forrest

unread,
Jun 5, 2005, 3:24:06 PM6/5/05
to

Seanpit wrote:
> Richard Forrest,
>
> Your argument is that the significant difference in ratios between the
> number of body vs. footprint fossils as one moves up the column is due
> to limited sampling. This is simply not convincing since the ratio
> differences are so consistent for different types of animals from so
> many references in such a dramatic fashion.
>
> Take dinosaurs, for example. Trackways largely outnumber bones in the
> late Triassic and early Jurassic. But then, quite suddenly, the ratio
> shifts in the mid Jurassic. The number of trackways falls off
> dramatically, and the number of bones starts to build up. The same
> thing is true for reptiles. This is not simply some reporting bias that
> I can tell. The numbers are too significant and too consistent from
> too many sources.
>
> Which leads into your argument that Brand's paper just doesn't use
> enough sources to be credible. That's ridiculous. Brand used data
> from about 800 published papers as well as data from additional
> specimens in the American Museum, U.S. National Museum, Yale University
> Peabody Museum, and the Raymond Alf Museum. I'd say that is quite a
> number of data sources, wouldn't you?


He doesn't list them in his references, as is standard practice for any
scientific paper.

By the way, did he inspect the bird-like footprints on which he puts so
much weight as evidence for the existence of birds in the Permian, or
is he simply relying on drawings from old papers?

Explain to me again how the possible existence of birds in the Permian
supports your scenario of a global flood again?

And while we're on the subject, perhaps you could explain why the
assertion that small reptiles and amphibians were probably more active
in the early stages of the flood, as evidenced by the footprints, is
evidence for a global flood?

There seem to be gaps missing from the argument.

Rather large gaps.


>
> You also argue, strangely that, "If there are a load of dinosaurs
> strolling around looking for lunch, smaller reptiles are going to stay
> out of sight." You make this argument in an apparent effort to explain
> the differences in ratios between large trackways and small trackways?
> The problem is that the small trackways are present in abundance when
> the dinosaur trackways are also present in greatest abundance. That
> doesn't fit your argument now does it?
>
> You go on to argue that, "The lack of tracks in the early Tertiary
> deposits simply reflects the huge dip in populations and biodiversity
> following the K/T events." Just look at the body fossils for reptiles
> and amphibians in the late Cretaceous and early Tertiary. There is not
> a significant difference.

Well actually, there is. There is a large drop in biodiversity in the
early Tertiary. I'd suggest that you read some of the papers written
and co-authored by Mike Benton on the subject of mass extinctions, but
why waste my time providing references you won't read?

> Yet, the trackways are pretty much
> nonexistent. That also doesn't seem to fit your argument. Why would
> body fossils be present in significant numbers while hardly any
> trackways to speak of were preserved at all over the course of millions
> of years of time? Population numbers would have rebounded very
> quickly, in much less time than even 1 million years, after an
> extinction event.

This is not what the people who have studied mass extinctions say, but
then they don't have your advantage of being ignorant of the data. Try
15 million years after the K/T event, and rather longer after the
Permo-Triassic event.

> Where are the trackways to match the body fossils?
>
> Your argument for hypersaline lagoons to kill off horseshoe crabs in
> mid-stride is also quite stretched.

Well, I suggest that you address your criticism at the authors of the
relevant chapter in Palaeobiology. From the relevant paper: (Author
G.Viohl)
"Some necrolytic features may be due to a hypersaline environment. Mayr
(1967) described strongly bent teleostean fishes with the tail fin torn
off the vertebral column. This phenomenon can best be explained by
dehyrdration in brine, and consequent contraction of the ligaments
tying together the neural arches. The caudal fin adhered firmly to the
bottom, obviously to a cyanobacterial mat; it could not follow the
movement of the carcase and became detached (fig 2)
[Fig 2 shows a young *Tharsis dubius* stongly bent by dehydration in a
hypersaline environment]

Evidently the people who have studied the material do not find the
explanation 'stretched', by hey - what do they know? They've only been
studying the fossils and the sedimentary structures for decades.

> It is much more consistent with
> the evidence that such fossils and their trackways were buried very
> quickly and deeply by sedimentary layers - in mid stride.

Quickly, yes. Deeply, no. The sedimentary structures are finely
laminated, and a fresh set of fossils can be found on each of the
laminar surfaces.

> The highly
> unusual environments and events that you dream up are just so fantastic
> as to require too much faith.

Well, bearing in mind that these are incredibly rare fossils, it seems
not unreasonable to suppose that they were formed in unusual
conditions.

These are not, incidentally, scenarios that I dream up: I'm quite
willing to accept the reasoned arguments based on evidence provided by
the scientists who have devoted their lifetimes to research such
matters. I suggest that if you think they are wrong you should address
the evidence and argument rather than dismissing all this work with an
airy wave of your hand.

> There simply are no such incredible
> events or locations as you describe preserving such fossils today.

So what?
If you don't accept the interpretation of the evidence, provide an
alternative interpretation of the evidence which does not rely on
ignoring most geological science.

> Your presentation of wonderfully preserved human footprint fossils does
> nothing to help out your position that I can tell. Such footprints had
> to be buried by sediment very quickly and deeply in order to be
> preserved in such detail from the forces of bioturbation and erosion.
> That is right in line with my position - not yours.
>

And your position would be that they were formed at the time of the
flood? Or were formed during one of the other geological upheavals
which happened around the time of the flood (such as, presumably, the
eruption of billions of tons of volcanic lava in Siberia and the
accompanying release of vast amounts of toxic gasses into the
atmosphere, contributing to the greatest mass extinction in the
geological record which the writers of the Bible somehow failed to
notice?)

They are a few thousand years old.


> As far as fossils taking up a fair percentage of the layers in which
> they are found (and yes, 4% is very significant)

And you base this assertion on what, exactly? A thorough knowledge and
understanding of sedimentary processes?

In some sediments the fossils take up 100% of the thickness of the
layers in which they are found. The chalk is composed almost entirely
of fossils.

>fossil whales are not
> the only fossils to do this.

Please - give me a few other instances. You evidently feel that you are
qualified to dismiss with an airy wave of the hand the conclusions of
such scientific lightweights are Ernst Mayr, so I guess I should listen
to what you have to offer.


> If the preservation of whales in such
> condition where their fossils require rapid burial, as you yourself
> agree, then certainly the presents of intact bones of dinosaurs and
> other large creatures requires fairly rapid burial as well as the
> fairly rapid formation of the entire layer in which they are found.
>

Some fossils are formed in conditions where they are buried rapidly by
sedimentation. Some fossils are buried rapidly because they sink into
soupy substrates. Some fossil sink partly into soupy substrates,
leaving portions of their anatomy exposed to scavengers. Some fossils
are buried slowly in anoxic conditions.

Why not take a course in basic geology?

I truly do not understand why you think that these facile arguments you
are producing hold any weight if you don't have even a basic knowledge
of sedimentary processes, and the reasons why we think that certain
sedimentary conditions have occured based on the evience of the
geological record. You should have a copy of Briggs and Crowther
'Palaeobiology' (and probably the original as well as II) in your
University library. Why not read the chapters on Taphonomy? Then, if
you disagree with the interpretation of the data provided by the
authors you can base your disagreement on the data, not handwaving.

Your argument is based on the assertion that because *some* fossils are
formed under conditions where they are buried rapidly, *all* fossils
must be formed under such conditions. I should not have to point out to
you the sheer illogic of this argument.


> Sean Pitman
> DetectingDesign.com

RF

Seanpit

unread,
Jun 6, 2005, 11:22:39 AM6/6/05
to
Richard Forrest,

A decrease in biodiversity is not the same thing as a decrease in
absolute number of creatures that may form trackways. The number of
different kinds of reptiles and/or amphibians may have been
dramatically reduced, but the population of individuals made up of the
remaining kinds were not significantly reduced in body part remains -
at least not enough to explain a near absence of trackway fossils
following the K/T events. It just doesn't make any sense to me for
someone to argue that a decrease in variation of kinds (i.e.,
biodiversity) translates into a significant decrease in the total
population size made up of the remaining creatures or that this
decrease in absolute numbers should last millions of years.
Reproductive rates are much better than that ; )

You're argument that some fish were evidently buried in a hypersaline
environment has what to do explaining your horseshoe crab trackway and
fossil?

In any case, what is interesting about these fish from places like the
Solnhofen Lithographic Limestone is the evidence that many of them died
suddenly and were buried rapidly. Some, like Flinze, believe that the
sedimentary layers here represent storm deposits - although others,
like Barthel, disagree suggesting the more popular view (your view)
that they are the result of normal deposition over time. However, the
excellent soft tissue preservation speaks strongly in favor of very
rapid sedimentation. There are even stomach contents evident in some
of the fish and pterosaurs and one case of a fish preserved in the
process of swallowing another.

This all sounds like a large catastrophic event or closely spaced
series of events to me. How do you get such excellent preservation and
evidence for rapid death of otherwise healthy creatures in a
non-catastrophic setting?

The necrolytic features, which you mention, "could be due to the
hypersaline nature of the environment . . . although this may also be
due to the drifting position of the organism [in the case of
pterosaurs]." Of course, additional evidence for hypersalinity comes
from the "state of preservation of the commatulid crinoid Saccocoma",
which generally have their arms coiled up - although some have them
open. The suggestion is that this coiling effect is the result of
dehydration due to a hypersaline environment. That may be possible,
but normal ocean salinity is hypersaline relative to the soft tissues
of ocean creatures. This is differential is actively maintained, but
not after death.

At the very least there seems to be a bit more to this place that a
simple lagoon with a hypersaline trap at the bottom. It just isn't
that easy.

http://palaeo.gly.bris.ac.uk/Palaeofiles/Lagerstatten/solnhofen/

By the way, finely laminated sedimentary structures can be laid down
very rapidly. Julien, Lan and Berthault (1994) experimentally produced
laminations by slowly pouring mixtures of sand, limestone and coal into
a cylinder of still water. Using a variety of materials, they found
that laminae formed if there were differences in size and density of
the materials and that the thickness of the laminae depended upon
differences in grain size and density. Even fairly thick turbiditic
flows can be finely laminated.

So, your argument that fine laminations speak against deep rapid burial
is simply not true. Fossils may be found on different surfaces of such
laminations and still be part of a very rapid burial event or closely
spaced series of events. Those creatures that survive and dig out of
earlier events would most certainly leave their trackways and bodies on
higher layers. This is most certainly what happened at places like the
Yenaby Sea Stacks (see discussion at
http://naturalselection.0catch.com/Files/geologiccolumn.html).

Sean Pitman
DetectingDesign.com

Richard Forrest

unread,
Jun 6, 2005, 12:11:11 PM6/6/05
to

Seanpit wrote:
> Richard Forrest,
>
> A decrease in biodiversity is not the same thing as a decrease in
> absolute number of creatures that may form trackways.

No, but in this case there is strong evidence that there was

> The number of
> different kinds of reptiles and/or amphibians may have been
> dramatically reduced, but the population of individuals made up of the
> remaining kinds were not significantly reduced in body part remains -
> at least not enough to explain a near absence of trackway fossils
> following the K/T events.

How do you work this one out?
What is the relationship to the numbers of living animals to the
numbers of fossils found?
You task for the week: read up on the subject.

> It just doesn't make any sense to me for
> someone to argue that a decrease in variation of kinds

Do tell me, what is a biologically meaningful definition of 'kinds'?

> (i.e.,
> biodiversity) translates into a significant decrease in the total
> population size made up of the remaining creatures or that this
> decrease in absolute numbers should last millions of years.
> Reproductive rates are much better than that ; )

Depends on the environment.

>
> You're argument that some fish were evidently buried in a hypersaline
> environment has what to do explaining your horseshoe crab trackway and
> fossil?

They are found in the same deposists. Haven't you bothered to read the
references I provided?

>
> In any case, what is interesting about these fish from places like the
> Solnhofen Lithographic Limestone is the evidence that many of them died
> suddenly and were buried rapidly.

Yes, but not deeply.

> Some, like Flinze, believe that the
> sedimentary layers here represent storm deposits - although others,
> like Barthel, disagree suggesting the more popular view (your view)
> that they are the result of normal deposition over time.

Sorry, this is not 'my view', nor one I have expressed. Read my
postings.


> However, the
> excellent soft tissue preservation speaks strongly in favor of very
> rapid sedimentation.

As well as other factors. Rapid sedimentation by itself will not result
in such preservation. In fact, if sedimentation is too rapid, and
involve large particles, it will destroy any skeletons lying on the
bottom. This is no more than simple hydrodynamics, Sean.

> There are even stomach contents evident in some
> of the fish and pterosaurs and one case of a fish preserved in the
> process of swallowing another.
>

Quite so, Sean, and unlike you I have examined such specimens under the
microscope.


> This all sounds like a large catastrophic event or closely spaced
> series of events to me.

And your opinion is of value for what reason?

> How do you get such excellent preservation and
> evidence for rapid death of otherwise healthy creatures in a
> non-catastrophic setting?

I've explained this to you several times. I've pointed you at the
literature on the subject. You chose not to read it.
Fine.
Your choice.
But don't expect anyone to take your objections as anything other than
a joke unless you address the evidence.

>
> The necrolytic featres, which you mention, "could be due to the


> hypersaline nature of the environment . . . although this may also be
> due to the drifting position of the organism [in the case of
> pterosaurs]." Of course, additional evidence for hypersalinity comes
> from the "state of preservation of the commatulid crinoid Saccocoma",
> which generally have their arms coiled up - although some have them
> open. The suggestion is that this coiling effect is the result of
> dehydration due to a hypersaline environment. That may be possible,
> but normal ocean salinity is hypersaline relative to the soft tissues
> of ocean creatures. This is differential is actively maintained, but
> not after death.


You cannot be serious! This implies that any dead fish floating in the
sea will adopt such a posture.

They don't.

>
> At the very least there seems to be a bit more to this place that a
> simple lagoon with a hypersaline trap at the bottom.

Who on earth said there wasn't?

Please explain which aspects of this page support your assertion that
the whole deposit was laid down in a single large-scale flood event, or
even as a series of catastropic events?

You might try reading Simon Claby's text and try to understand what he
is saying. If you disagree with any of his conclusions, I'll mention it
to him next time I see him.


>
> By the way, finely laminated sedimentary structures can be laid down
> very rapidly. Julien, Lan and Berthault (1994) experimentally produced
> laminations by slowly pouring mixtures of sand, limestone and coal into
> a cylinder of still water. Using a variety of materials, they found
> that laminae formed if there were differences in size and density of
> the materials and that the thickness of the laminae depended upon
> differences in grain size and density. Even fairly thick turbiditic
> flows can be finely laminated.

So what? They didn't have fossils on the sedimentary laminae. Do you
think that sedimentologists can't tell the difference between sediments
produced by different processes?

>
> So, your argument that fine laminations speak against deep rapid burial
> is simply not true.

Not in themselves, perhaps. But when the structure of the sedimentary
layers, the presence of fossils aligned on those layers, and the
presence of trackways on those layers is taken into account, they do.

> Fossils may be found on different surfaces of such
> laminations and still be part of a very rapid burial event or closely
> spaced series of events.

Says who? Is this just another assertion, or do you have a reference to
this?

> Those creatures that survive and dig out of
> earlier events would most certainly leave their trackways and bodies on
> higher layers. This is most certainly what happened at places like the
> Yenaby Sea Stacks (see discussion at
> http://naturalselection.0catch.com/Files/geologiccolumn.html).
>

Oh, please! Not another of your ill-informed scribblings!

"As one looks at the geologic column, it is obvious that the contact
zones, between the various layers, are generally very flat and smooth
relative to each other"

Bollocks. Try looking at some rocks. But then, as the first reference
on your list is Henry Morris "The Young Earth", it shows the quality of
your scholarship.

Incidentally, where are the "Yenaby Sea Stacks" you refer to?

I've heard of the Yesnaby Sea Stacks in the Orkneys, but have not had
the chance to visit them. But there are plenty of references on the
web. Here's one: http://home.entouch.net/dmd/orkney.htm

Of course, the photographs may be faked, but they seem to pretty well
demolish the scenario you have lifted wholesale from the fabrications
of creationists.


> Sean Pitman
> DetectingDesign.com


Please keep this up.
I'm enjoying myself.

RF

Von R. Smith

unread,
Jun 6, 2005, 1:44:15 PM6/6/05
to

Seanpit wrote:
> Richard Forrest,
>
> A decrease in biodiversity is not the same thing as a decrease in
> absolute number of creatures that may form trackways.

That's funny. Brand seems to think so. If you disagree, try working
out what implications insisting on this distinction has for his
argument in the on-line article you linked. The data presented in Fig.
1 and Fig. 2 refer mainly to diversity, not absolute number.


> The number of
> different kinds of reptiles and/or amphibians may have been
> dramatically reduced, but the population of individuals made up of the
> remaining kinds were not significantly reduced in body part remains -
> at least not enough to explain a near absence of trackway fossils
> following the K/T events.

How does one eliminate entire taxa without also affecting total
populations? More importantly, how does such a proposal resemble the
mainstream thinking about natural history that you are critiqueing
here?


> It just doesn't make any sense to me for
> someone to argue that a decrease in variation of kinds (i.e.,
> biodiversity) translates into a significant decrease in the total
> population size made up of the remaining creatures or that this
> decrease in absolute numbers should last millions of years.
> Reproductive rates are much better than that ; )

But survival rates weren't, which is presumably why the mass extinction
happened in the first place. Apparently Sean thinks that mass
extinctions such as at the K-T boundary are precision strikes on
individual taxa that leave the populations of surviving species intact.
The rest of us think that there must have been considerable stress on
most, if not all contemporary populations, a portion of whom went
extinct as a result. He also seems to think that mass extinctions
simply blow over once their done, leaving the previous environment
intact for the survivors to repopulate, as opposed to being events that
drastically and lastingly change the fitness landscape itself,
requiring a good deal of adaption before populations can even begin to
re-establish themselves.

Just more evidence that creationists like Sean don't believe in
ecology.

snip rest

Von R. Smith

unread,
Jun 6, 2005, 1:57:16 PM6/6/05
to

Additionally, some species are lynchpins of their ecosystems, meaning
that the entire setup is severely affected if they are removed from
that environment. With 60 or 70 percent of extant species going the
way of all taxa, the odds of a few such lynchpins being pulled out of
various ecologies is quite good. Biodiversity wouldn't just "grow
back" in such environments any time soon.

John Harshman

unread,
Jun 6, 2005, 2:07:30 PM6/6/05
to
Von R. Smith wrote:

>
> Seanpit wrote:
>
>>Richard Forrest,
>>
>>A decrease in biodiversity is not the same thing as a decrease in
>>absolute number of creatures that may form trackways.
>
>
> That's funny. Brand seems to think so. If you disagree, try working
> out what implications insisting on this distinction has for his
> argument in the on-line article you linked. The data presented in Fig.
> 1 and Fig. 2 refer mainly to diversity, not absolute number.
>
>
>
>>The number of
>>different kinds of reptiles and/or amphibians may have been
>>dramatically reduced, but the population of individuals made up of the
>>remaining kinds were not significantly reduced in body part remains -
>>at least not enough to explain a near absence of trackway fossils
>>following the K/T events.
>
>
> How does one eliminate entire taxa without also affecting total
> populations? More importantly, how does such a proposal resemble the
> mainstream thinking about natural history that you are critiqueing
> here?

He's saying that populations can recover from mass extinctions much
faster than species diversity can. And that makes sense to me. I would
imagine that sheer numbers would return to pre-extinction levels within
a few thousand years at most, i.e. near-zero time for the fossil record,
whereas it's documented that diversity takes as much as 10 million years
to recover.

However, has he considered what a problem this is for his scenario?
Ignoring diversity for the moment, what about that recovery of numbers?
If it takes hundreds or thousands of years, shouldn't we see a large
portion of the post-flood record (whatever that is) pretty much missing
all fossils? The best possible scenario for him is a population
increasing at its maximum rate, with all selection relaxed. However,
this requires a seriously benign environment, and the post-flood
environment he postulates is not only filled with catastrophes, it
requires the extinction of great masses of taxa, i.e. all those found in
the fossil record but not today. This is yet another case of
creationists being uninterested in considering the implications of their
own theories, and yet another sign that creation science is grossly
misnamed.

>>It just doesn't make any sense to me for
>>someone to argue that a decrease in variation of kinds (i.e.,
>>biodiversity) translates into a significant decrease in the total
>>population size made up of the remaining creatures or that this
>>decrease in absolute numbers should last millions of years.
>>Reproductive rates are much better than that ; )
>
> But survival rates weren't, which is presumably why the mass extinction
> happened in the first place. Apparently Sean thinks that mass
> extinctions such as at the K-T boundary are precision strikes on
> individual taxa that leave the populations of surviving species intact.

No, not necessary. All we need is for recovery of populations to be much
faster than recovery of diversity. Sean isn't calling for surgical
strikes, though his ideas are nonsensical in other ways.

> The rest of us think that there must have been considerable stress on
> most, if not all contemporary populations, a portion of whom went
> extinct as a result. He also seems to think that mass extinctions
> simply blow over once their done, leaving the previous environment
> intact for the survivors to repopulate, as opposed to being events that
> drastically and lastingly change the fitness landscape itself,
> requiring a good deal of adaption before populations can even begin to
> re-establish themselves.

This depends on the population. Some species recover very quickly;
consider the immediate post-KT fern spike. Then again, "very quickly" in
Sean's world should mean something quite different from "very quickly"
in the real world. In Sean's world, recovery lags should be highly
visible in the fossil record. But they aren't.

> Just more evidence that creationists like Sean don't believe in
> ecology.

Nah, they just don't think about anything other than their central goal.

jo...@dix.mines.edu

unread,
Jun 6, 2005, 2:48:58 PM6/6/05
to

Seanpit wrote:
> Richard Forrest wrote:
>
> Regarding:
>
> http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/edu/dees/courses/v1001/images/horseshoecrab.gif
>
> > What about this?
>
> I was obviously talking about trackways produced by land animals - not
> creatures that lived on the bottoms of the sea. The fact is that
> trackways produced by amphibians and reptiles, to include dinosaurs,
> are much more abundant in the lower layers than in the upper layers.
> They appear to be sorted from the body fossils with the bodies
> appearing in more abundance, compared with the trackways, in higher
> layers.
>
> Leonard Brand and James Florence comment on this most interesting
> phenomenon:
>
> "If the geologic column represents sediments that have accumulated over
> many millions of years, and the fossils from each geologic period are
> the remains of animals living in successive time periods, it would be
> reasonable to expect that the stratigraphic patterns of footprint
> diversity should roughly parallel the patterns of equivalent body
> fossil diversity - the periods with the most kinds of dinosaur bones
> should have the most kinds of dinosaur tracks, for example. The bird
> and mammal fossil record fits that expectation quite well, but the
> reptile and amphibian record definitely does not."
>
> http://www.grisda.org/origins/09067.htm

This is not peer reviewed media. Indeed, I seriously doubt that
hard numbers can be obtained for such a comparison of 'tracks versus
fossils'. Remember also, that tracks are not preserved in all
environments,
so any attempt to study tracks will be environment dependent.


>
> Beyond this, the trackway you present of a trilobite together with its
> own trackway does not seem consistent preservation in an "anoxic
> lagoon". How are such crisp footprints and such a well-preserved body
> going to be preserved at the milky bottom of some anoxic lagoon? Where
> are such conditions as you describe preserving such fine fossils today
> in the way you describe? Please do provide your reference. Also,
> scavengers are still active even in highly anoxic conditions. What
> made it possible for such delicate footprints and bodies of such
> creatures to be preserved in such fine detail - avoiding all hints of
> bioturbation?

I really don't know what planet you live on, but "anoxic" means without
oxygen. Now, how many organisms that can bioturbate can also live
without
oxygen? Indeed, the anoxic environments that exist in many ocean and
lake floor environments are also accomplanied by the presence of high
concentrations of hydrogen sulfide, not only making the environment
unhospitable for animals, but also making the environment a quick kill
zone.

If you would like to learn more about this, I would suggest that you do
google searches on: anoxic zones, Black Sea, anoxic kill zones,
hydrogen sulfind kill zones, and any other variation. Such anoxic zones
are quite common in oceans of today, and are thus not unreasonable to
be assumed to have existed in the ancient past.


>
> Bioturbation is an extremely effective way of destroying layering in
> sedimentary rocks by mixing up the sediment and homogenizing it. It is
> easy to find modern-day examples of this. Hurricane Carla laid down a
> distinctive layer of sediment off the coast of central Texas in 1961.
> About twenty years later, geologists returned to find out what had
> happened to this layer. Most of the layer had been destroyed by living
> creatures burrowing into it and disturbing it; and where the layer
> could still be found it was almost unrecognizable.

In an oxygen rich environment, yes. Indeed, we find much of the same
sort of bioturbated regions in the geologic record.


>
> In the light of such modern day findings, it is very difficult to
> imagine how such layering of sediment found throughout the geologic
> column, with such crisp lines between these layers, could have been
> kept in such pristine condition for not only tens or hundreds of years,
> but hundreds of thousands and even millions upon millions of years of
> time. It is even more difficult for me to imagine how such finely
> detailed fossils and trace fossils could be preserved.

The question is one of preservation. For example in an obviously
aeolian desert dune environment such as the Coconino sandstone, there
isn't anything to do bioturbation. Also, tracks do not necessarily
represent
the actual surface that the organism was walking on, but may be the
material immediately below the actual surface, with the track preserved
because the material below is not exposed.

As to preservation, most surface exposed materials are not preserved.

>
> Rather, it seems to me that the fossil presented here, with its
> trackway, was preserved by sudden and deep burial by sedimentary
> layering. The trilobite survived the first periods of layering, making
> its trackway on a newly deposited surface, only to be overcome quite
> suddenly by a subsequent depositional event which was so large that the
> trilobite, which was probably very good at digging, was trapped with
> such pressure that it could not escape. Its body and fine trackways
> were also preserved because of the sheer deepness of the burial - which
> prevented subsequent disturbance by bioturbation.

The Solenhofen Limestone is famous because it is extremely fine
grained.
The stone was quarried for lithography stone, for this reason. There
isn't a lot of evidence of this material being stirred up. As is
evidenced
by "death tracks" such as the one people here are discussing, it is
likely
that the bay had an anoxic (and maybe even a hydrogen sulfide) kill
zone
in the bottom. Subaqueous track preservation of this variety suggests
that
the track was preserved by a gentle, yet relatively rapid,
process of deposition. The horseshoe
crab couldn't escape because it "died in its tracks", and was covered
by a rain of the bodies of calcareous organisms.

Indeed, there is not going to be any bioturbation in an anoxic kill
zone.


>
> To suggest that such trackways, in particular, could be preserved in
> the bottom of some anoxic lagoon just doesn't make nearly as much sense
> to me. However, if someone can show me a real life example, I'd be
> more open to such potential explanations. Your example of carbon
> dioxide traps just won't due because of the preservation problem.
> Killing things in a trap is one thing - preserving them in very fine
> condition is quite another.
>

It only fails to make sense to you, because it so obviously blows what
you are saying away that you cannot conciously come to grips with the
fact.


> > RF
>
> Sean Pitman
-John

John Stockwell | jo...@dix.Mines.EDU
Center for Wave Phenomena (The Home of Seismic Un*x)
Colorado School of Mines
Golden, CO 80401 | http://www.cwp.mines.edu/cwpcodes
voice: (303) 273-3049

Richard Forrest

unread,
Jun 6, 2005, 2:54:11 PM6/6/05
to

John Harshman wrote:
<snipped>


>
> He's saying that populations can recover from mass extinctions much
> faster than species diversity can. And that makes sense to me. I would
> imagine that sheer numbers would return to pre-extinction levels within
> a few thousand years at most, i.e. near-zero time for the fossil record,
> whereas it's documented that diversity takes as much as 10 million years
> to recover.
>

<snipped>

Mike Benton gave a talk about this at PalAss a couple of years ago. He
argues that there is an absolute decrease in the numbers of
individuals, though in this case he was talking about the
Permo-Triassic rather than the K/T event.

The ecological systems of much of the planet were destroyed, and
although there were brief periods during wich a small number of taxa -
the 'Fern spike' is evidence of this - increased dramatically in
numbers, these were relatively short-lived. The recovery from these
massive disasters is not simply a matter of animals and plants
surviving, but also the need to evoluve entirely new ecological
systems. While they are still evolving, there are essentially gaps
between ecosystems which are not being exploited.

RF

Richard Forrest

unread,
Jun 6, 2005, 3:11:59 PM6/6/05
to

Now that the memory is jogged (frankly, I don't waste much brain-power
on dear Sean), he published a paper in Nature on this in 2004.
'Ecosystem remodelling amongst vertebrates at the Permo-Triassic
boundary in Russia'; M J Benton, V P Tverdoklebov and M V Surkov;
Nature, Vol 432, 4 November 2004

RF

Von R. Smith

unread,
Jun 6, 2005, 4:13:46 PM6/6/05
to

John Harshman wrote:
> Von R. Smith wrote:
>
> >
> > Seanpit wrote:
> >
> >>Richard Forrest,
> >>
> >>A decrease in biodiversity is not the same thing as a decrease in
> >>absolute number of creatures that may form trackways.
> >
> >
> > That's funny. Brand seems to think so. If you disagree, try working
> > out what implications insisting on this distinction has for his
> > argument in the on-line article you linked. The data presented in Fig.
> > 1 and Fig. 2 refer mainly to diversity, not absolute number.
> >
> >
> >
> >>The number of
> >>different kinds of reptiles and/or amphibians may have been
> >>dramatically reduced, but the population of individuals made up of the
> >>remaining kinds were not significantly reduced in body part remains -
> >>at least not enough to explain a near absence of trackway fossils
> >>following the K/T events.
> >
> >
> > How does one eliminate entire taxa without also affecting total
> > populations? More importantly, how does such a proposal resemble the
> > mainstream thinking about natural history that you are critiqueing
> > here?
>
> He's saying that populations can recover from mass extinctions much
> faster than species diversity can. And that makes sense to me.

Perhaps. I read him as claiming that one can have a mass extinction
without a decrease in the total number of organisms. Such an idea is
absurd, and unfortunately that is not enough for me to dismiss it as an
implausible reading of what Sean is saying.

> I would
> imagine that sheer numbers would return to pre-extinction levels within
> a few thousand years at most, i.e. near-zero time for the fossil record,
> whereas it's documented that diversity takes as much as 10 million years
> to recover.

I would imagine something quite different if one buys into the concept
of lynchpins. For example, I wouldn't expect the sheer numbers of rain
forest flora and fauna to rebound to their pre-extinction levels if the
extinct species included the trees that made up most of the canopy, or
for coral reef populations to grow back if the coral were wiped out.
For a substantial mass extinction, I would imagine there would be at
least a few major ecosystems affected in such a way.

But then I'm a layman, not a professional. So I am happy to be
educated as to why I am wrong.

I disagree for the reasons I gave above. If lynchpins *weren't*
affected, I wouldn't expect the mass extinctions to occur at all.

sea...@gmail.com

unread,
Jun 7, 2005, 12:03:17 PM6/7/05
to
Richard Forrest, John Harshman, and Von Smith,

It seems to me that all of you are arguing a moot point. The fact of
the matter is that there are quite a number and diversity of body
fossils following the K/T boundary, at times even more than in earlier
periods when trackways were very abundant. But, there are no trackway
fossils to speak of following the K/T events? That's the main point
that Brand is trying to make. How is this explained in light of the
notion of millions of years of formation?

http://www.grisda.org/origins/09067.htm

Oh, and by the way, telling me to "read up" on the topic is not an
argument nor is it helpful. If you have some information that may help
support your position, then please do present it.

Another thing is, you seem to think I'm here to convince you and others
of my position. That's just not true. I'm here to see if you guys
have anything convincing to say for your side of the issue. I'm here
for myself, not for you or anyone else. I really don't care what you
believe about this issue. You also seem more concerned with the source
of the argument than the ideas presented. Really, it shouldn't matter
where an idea came from as much as if the idea makes sense or not given
the evidence at hand.

The argument that the fossils at places like the Solnhofen Lithographic
Limestone where buried rapidly, but not deeply, due to fine laminations
and fossils being found on different levels, is very weak in my
opinion. When presented with evidence that laminations can be formed
very rapidly and very deeply, no other argument than, "read up on it"
was presented in answer to my question. Again, that's not helpful.

You then argue from authority asking, "Do you think that


sedimentologists can't tell the difference between sediments produced

by different processes?" Well, obviously, that is what we are
discussing here. It is clearly my position that sedimentologists are
wrong in their views of the geologic column and the fossil record. You
believe they are correct in their views, but what explanations have you
given? Rapid sedimentation can form laminations and creatures can be
buried at different levels very rapidly, to include trackway formation
on different layers, during such a rapid series of events. Upon what
then do sedimentologists base their notions of required long-term
formation?

You make fun of the notion that the shale beds in places like the
Yesnaby Sea Stacks, Haymond Beds, and the Dougherty Gap Outcrop could
represent very rapid sedimentation with the same creatures forming the
trace fossils in each layer. Of course, many do argue that these
layers must have been formed over long periods of time because colonies
of such burrowing creatures take time to colonize each layer of clay as
it forms - that the burrows themselves take a fair amount of time to
create.

You list the website of Glenn Morton who promotes this idea. You
suggest that Glenn's arguments "demolish" my position. Again, you don't
attempt to counter what I actually say - yet another non-argument.

http://home.entouch.net/dmd/orkney.htm

Glenn Morton, a former creationist who visits TO on occasion, comments
that, "These burrows are horizontal and the animals don't seem to be
digging out. They are digging through the sediment. And there are
thousands of layers of sediment with the burrows on them." Morton
actually suggests that when each sandy turbidite covered a layer of
clay that the burrowing creatures didn't burrow out, but died when the
sandy layer covered the layer of clay. He says, "We know that the
burrowers who were buried did not survive. If they had, they would
have had to dig up through the sand to escape their entombment. There
are no burrowers going up through the sand. And, if there had been
these burrows, there should be little circular piles of sand with a
central crater pocking the entire upper surface of the sand. We don't
see these."

Glenn Morton is not the only one who thinks this way. This is in fact
the prevailing paradigm about how these layers must have formed.
However, there may be an even more reasonable explanation. If these
layers were in fact formed over long periods of time where each
individual layer took at least a few years to form, it seems like
tunneling organisms would mess up the layers (i.e., bioturbation
again). Most of these layers are very thin, averaging only a few
centimeters in thickness. And yet, they are extremely crisp and
distinct from the layers above and below. Burrowers living in lake or
ocean bottoms or swampy areas, burrow all around and cause mixing of
the sediments. However, even the thinnest sandstone units fail to show
any obvious signs of bioturbation, blurring of bedding contacts, or
internal bedding features. Rather they appear as homogenized
small-grained sandstones clearly demarcated from the overlying and
underlying layers of shale. Further evidence suggesting a more rapid
formation of the layers comes from work done by Kuenen in 1967. Kuenen
documented the differences in sand textures between interdistributary
bay deposits and turbidite deposits. Using his work as a reference the
sandstone units found at Dougherty Gap best correlate to turbidite
emplacement based on both lithology and bioturbation. Also, the work
of Coleman and Prior gives even more support for this idea. In 1980
they presented photographs of cores taken from a modern
interdistributary bay which in no way resemble the stratigraphy or
sedimentation found exposed at the Dougherty Gap site.

Another interesting finding is that these layers get thicker as one
moves up the various outcrops. This finding is a common characteristic
of rapid turbidite deposition and is "believed to reflect the
progradation of submarine fan lobes." In any case, this finding is not
consistent with a slow cyclic deposition over vast spans of time.

The sand in the sand layers is also, "well sorted" meaning that it
probably was not deposited slowly. "Good sorting is particularly
significant because the sands are found in an environment where, unless
deposition is very fast, one would expect silt and clay to be
contributed..."

Also, almost every sandstone layer exhibits some degree of sole casts
on its bottom surface as well as ripple marks on its top surface. The
upper surfaces of all of the sandstone layers, no matter how thick or
thin, were found to contain "asymmetric, linguoid ripples" According to
Sheehan "... these structures formed in response to unidirectional
currents which occurred either contemporaneously (at the same time) or
penecontemporaneously (immediately following) with sediment
deposition."

Given all of these findings, what theory makes more sense? Were these
layers deposited slowly where each layer was created over the course of
tens, hundreds or even thousands of years, or were these layers formed
rapidly by successive turbiditic flows in a highly silted watery
environment?

Is it reasonable for those such as Glenn Morton to suggest that
burrowing creatures give evidence of a slow formation? What about the
argument that such burrowing creatures must have been killed by each
sandy turbidite so that a new colony of burrowing creatures would have
had to take over the next layer of clay? This argument makes no sense
at all. Since when does a few centimeters of sand kill any burrowing
creature? This argument sounds almost silly, especially if one has
ever tried to bury such creatures under sand at the beach. They simply
dig out in short order. But, what about the fact that no evidence of
"escape burrows" with "little circular piles of sand with a central
crater pocking the entire upper surface of the sand" can be found? No
one who considered that the tops of each sand layer shows current
ripples would ask such a question because the watery current would
surely have removed any such piles of sand in short order as soon as
they were made. With each new sandy turbidite the burrowers would
simply burrow up through the sand to populate the newly forming layer
of organically rich material as it rapidly formed over the turbiditic
sand flow in a heavily silted environment. More and more layers would
have formed in rapid succession leaving no time for the bioturbation of
lower layers.

We are left then with the curious findings of thin crisp alternating
layers of shale and sandstone showing no evidence of bioturbation
between layers and increasing layer thickness as one moves up these
formations. This sort of layering is only consistent with rapid
formation and cannot be explained by the prevailing paradigm where
millions of years are required to produce such shale bed formations.

You go on to argue that rapid sedimentation will actually destroy body
skeletons if the particles are too large. Well obviously - if you are
talking boulders or gravel-sized stones. However, fine-grained
sedimentation carried out very rapidly and deeply, so as to prevent
future bioturbation, will most certainly preserve very detailed
fossils.

As far as healthy creatures being trapped and killed suddenly by a
hypersaline area, and then buried suddenly - that just seems like
reaching for straws. Saltwater fish and other creatures do indeed
maintain their internal salt levels below that of the external
environment by actively pumping out salt from their systems. If killed
and buried in such an environment, in a way that prevents decay and/or
scavenging, such creatures will become dehydrated quite rapidly -
especially if buried in sediment that is also high in salt and other
minerals. The effect, especially when it comes to the soft arms of
crinoids, will be to curl up. What is also quite interesting is that
some of the crinoid arms are not curled. This seems to indicate very
rapid and deep burial indeed - while the creature was still alive.

You also laugh at my statement that the contact zones between many
layers in the geologic column are very flat relative to the layers
themselves. You say that this is "Bullocks" - that I should try
looking at some rocks". Well, Richard, I've looked at a lot of rocks
and I have a lot of pictures of sedimentary rocks on my website where
the layers are indeed very flat and distinct relative to each other
over hundreds of thousands of square miles. How you can laugh at this
is simply beyond me. I live in plain view of mountains with layers
like this. This observation is obvious and needs no serious
"scholarship" to recognize. A grade-school kid could easily make this
observation.

Sean Pitman
DetectingDesign.com

John Harshman

unread,
Jun 7, 2005, 12:55:26 PM6/7/05
to
sea...@gmail.com wrote:

> Richard Forrest, John Harshman, and Von Smith,
>
> It seems to me that all of you are arguing a moot point. The fact of
> the matter is that there are quite a number and diversity of body
> fossils following the K/T boundary, at times even more than in earlier
> periods when trackways were very abundant. But, there are no trackway
> fossils to speak of following the K/T events? That's the main point
> that Brand is trying to make. How is this explained in light of the
> notion of millions of years of formation?

Assuming that I don't know, how is anything explained in light of the
notion of a worldwide flood? Even if my theory has holes, it must be
replaced with a theory that not only fills those holes, but explains the
rest of the data as well as or better than my theory. But your theory is
absurd; you have not even attempted a defense of its basics. You have
never replied to the starting post in this thread, for example.

I find nothing below that is in any way a response to anything I said.
Perhaps if you replied to me, quoting my statements that are being
responded to, it would become clearer.

[snip]

John Harshman

unread,
Jun 7, 2005, 1:02:07 PM6/7/05
to
sea...@gmail.com wrote:

> Richard Forrest, John Harshman, and Von Smith,
>
> It seems to me that all of you are arguing a moot point. The fact of
> the matter is that there are quite a number and diversity of body
> fossils following the K/T boundary, at times even more than in earlier
> periods when trackways were very abundant. But, there are no trackway
> fossils to speak of following the K/T events?

This is not true based on Brand's own graphs. Mammal and bird trackways
roughly match their body fossils. "Reptile" trackways change at the K/T
boundary in that dinosaur tracks disappear along with dinosaur body
fossils. Amphibian and "other reptile" trackways are largely gone much
earlier. I wonder how well each of these tracks the diversity of
large-bodied, terrestrial animals in each of those groups? At any rate,
your association of any phenomenon at all with the K/T boundary is
hallucination.

> That's the main point
> that Brand is trying to make.

If so, his own graphs don't support that point.

sea...@gmail.com

unread,
Jun 7, 2005, 1:28:14 PM6/7/05
to

jo...@dix.mines.edu wrote:

> > http://www.grisda.org/origins/09067.htm
>
> This is not peer reviewed media.
> Indeed, I seriously doubt that
> hard numbers can be obtained for
> such a comparison of 'tracks versus
> fossils'. Remember also, that
> tracks are not preserved in all
> environments, so any attempt to study
> tracks will be environment dependent.

The data the Brand used was from over 800 sources from a wide range of
locations and environments. It is quite compelling to note the
dramatic change in ratio between body fossils and trackways with a near
absence of trackways for reptiles as you move up the column past the
K/T boundary. There is just no way around this that I can tell. Your
"doubts" certainly don't seem very convincing to me.

> I really don't know what planet you live
> on, but "anoxic" means without
> oxygen. Now, how many organisms
> that can bioturbate can also live without
> oxygen?

If you are talking a very highly anoxic environment, in a place that
can support horseshoe crabs close by, then there would most likely be a
great deal of anaerobic bacteria and other microbes around. Where are
these organic mats with the horseshoe crab specimen presented by
Richard? The finely laminated sediments here speak of a non-anoxic
environment where the fairly pure fine-grained sedimentary layers were
built up very rapidly.

> Indeed, the anoxic environments
> that exist in many ocean and
> lake floor environments are also
> accomplanied by the presence of high
> concentrations of hydrogen sulfide,
> not only making the environment
> unhospitable for animals, but also
> making the environment a quick kill
> zone.

Such places have a thriving bacterial/microbial population that rapidly
degrades organic material and forms its own organic mat layer at the
bottom. Where is this evidence with the horseshoe crab?

> If you would like to learn more about
> this, I would suggest that you do
> google searches on: anoxic zones,
> Black Sea, anoxic kill zones,
> hydrogen sulfind kill zones, and any
> other variation. Such anoxic zones
> are quite common in oceans of today,
> and are thus not unreasonable to
> be assumed to have existed in the ancient past.

The anoxic zone of the Black Sea is located at about 100m below the
surface. I strongly doubt that any fish swimming above is going to get
"trapped" in such a zone while healthy. Rather a fish the dies is
going to float first, get scavanged above, and then the remains are
going to sink down. As they sink into the anoxic zone, they will be
further scavenged by hordes of microbes. If anything actually makes it
to the milky bottom, they will quickly be diffused by the microbes
living there. They will not form the beautifully preserved fossils
that we see in sediments like the Solnhofen Lithographic Limestone. I
mean really, how do you explain a horseshoe crab getting trapped at
such a depth in such a highly acidic, highly salinic, and highly anoxic
place without being dead first? Then, how did it and its footprints
become so beautifully preserved on such a finely grained surface in
such a microbial soup? Where is such a thing happening today?

> In an oxygen rich environment, yes.
> Indeed, we find much of the same
> sort of bioturbated regions in the
> geologic record.

Not to any significant degree as one might expect if the layers really
do represent vast periods of time over a huge area and widespread
environmental conditions.

> The question is one of preservation.
> For example in an obviously
> aeolian desert dune environment such
> as the Coconino sandstone, there
> isn't anything to do bioturbation.

Not true. The creatures that live in deserts do indeed dig around in
the sand making their burrows etc. Also, it is very interesting that
such crisp footprints would be made and preserved so well in a dry
desert environment - all going uphill.

> Also, tracks do not necessarily represent
> the actual surface that the organism
> was walking on, but may be the
> material immediately below the actual
> surface, with the track preserved
> because the material below is not exposed.

Not when you are talking about the tracks made in the Coconino
sandstone or the tracks made by the horseshoe crab referenced by
Richard. They are just too crisp and finely detailed to be
undertracks.

> The Solenhofen Limestone is famous
> because it is extremely fine
> grained. The stone was quarried for
> lithography stone, for this reason. There
> isn't a lot of evidence of this
> material being stirred up. As is
> evidenced by "death tracks" such as the
> one people here are discussing, it is
> likely that the bay had an anoxic (and
> maybe even a hydrogen sulfide) kill
> zone in the bottom. Subaqueous track
> preservation of this variety suggests
> that the track was preserved by
> a gentle, yet relatively rapid,
> process of deposition. The horseshoe
> crab couldn't escape because it
> "died in its tracks", and was covered
> by a rain of the bodies of calcareous
> organisms.

Amazing, isn't it, that it was buried so rapidly in such pure
fine-grained sediment - with little if any evidence of significant
anaerobic activity. Where is this going on today? How did the poor
creature and many other creatures become so misguided if otherwise
healthy? How did some fish become trapped and buried by such anoxia
while in the middle of eating other fish?

> Indeed, there is not going to be any
> bioturbation in an anoxic kill
> zone.

There will be rapid decay by anaerobic microorganisms.

> It only fails to make sense to you,
> because it so obviously blows what
> you are saying away that you cannot
> conciously come to grips with the
> fact.

And I suppose it makes perfect sense to you because it goes along with
your desired paradigm, which you cannot consciously question despite
overwhelming contrary facts? ; ) Come on now John. This sort of
thing just isn't a helpful argument.

> John Stockwell

Sean Pitman
DetectingDesign.com

sea...@gmail.com

unread,
Jun 7, 2005, 1:26:57 PM6/7/05
to

jo...@dix.mines.edu wrote:

> > http://www.grisda.org/origins/09067.htm
>
> This is not peer reviewed media.
> Indeed, I seriously doubt that
> hard numbers can be obtained for
> such a comparison of 'tracks versus
> fossils'. Remember also, that
> tracks are not preserved in all
> environments, so any attempt to study
> tracks will be environment dependent.

The data the Brand used was from over 800 sources from a wide range of


locations and environments. It is quite compelling to note the
dramatic change in ratio between body fossils and trackways with a near
absence of trackways for reptiles as you move up the column past the
K/T boundary. There is just no way around this that I can tell. Your
"doubts" certainly don't seem very convincing to me.

> I really don't know what planet you live


> on, but "anoxic" means without
> oxygen. Now, how many organisms
> that can bioturbate can also live without
> oxygen?

If you are talking a very highly anoxic environment, in a place that


can support horseshoe crabs close by, then there would most likely be a
great deal of anaerobic bacteria and other microbes around. Where are
these organic mats with the horseshoe crab specimen presented by
Richard? The finely laminated sediments here speak of a non-anoxic
environment where the fairly pure fine-grained sedimentary layers were
built up very rapidly.

> Indeed, the anoxic environments


> that exist in many ocean and
> lake floor environments are also
> accomplanied by the presence of high
> concentrations of hydrogen sulfide,
> not only making the environment
> unhospitable for animals, but also
> making the environment a quick kill
> zone.

Such places have a thriving bacterial/microbial population that rapidly


degrades organic material and forms its own organic mat layer at the
bottom. Where is this evidence with the horseshoe crab?

> If you would like to learn more about


> this, I would suggest that you do
> google searches on: anoxic zones,
> Black Sea, anoxic kill zones,
> hydrogen sulfind kill zones, and any
> other variation. Such anoxic zones
> are quite common in oceans of today,
> and are thus not unreasonable to
> be assumed to have existed in the ancient past.

The anoxic zone of the Black Sea is located at about 100m below the


surface. I strongly doubt that any fish swimming above is going to get
"trapped" in such a zone while healthy. Rather a fish the dies is
going to float first, get scavanged above, and then the remains are
going to sink down. As they sink into the anoxic zone, they will be
further scavenged by hordes of microbes. If anything actually makes it
to the milky bottom, they will quickly be diffused by the microbes
living there. They will not form the beautifully preserved fossils
that we see in sediments like the Solnhofen Lithographic Limestone. I
mean really, how do you explain a horseshoe crab getting trapped at
such a depth in such a highly acidic, highly salinic, and highly anoxic
place without being dead first? Then, how did it and its footprints
become so beautifully preserved on such a finely grained surface in
such a microbial soup? Where is such a thing happening today?

> In an oxygen rich environment, yes.


> Indeed, we find much of the same
> sort of bioturbated regions in the
> geologic record.

Not to any significant degree as one might expect if the layers really


do represent vast periods of time over a huge area and widespread
environmental conditions.

> The question is one of preservation.


> For example in an obviously
> aeolian desert dune environment such
> as the Coconino sandstone, there
> isn't anything to do bioturbation.

Not true. The creatures that live in deserts do indeed dig around in


the sand making their burrows etc. Also, it is very interesting that
such crisp footprints would be made and preserved so well in a dry
desert environment - all going uphill.

> Also, tracks do not necessarily represent


> the actual surface that the organism
> was walking on, but may be the
> material immediately below the actual
> surface, with the track preserved
> because the material below is not exposed.

Not when you are talking about the tracks made in the Coconino


sandstone or the tracks made by the horseshoe crab referenced by
Richard. They are just too crisp and finely detailed to be
undertracks.

> The Solenhofen Limestone is famous


> because it is extremely fine
> grained. The stone was quarried for
> lithography stone, for this reason. There
> isn't a lot of evidence of this
> material being stirred up. As is
> evidenced by "death tracks" such as the
> one people here are discussing, it is
> likely that the bay had an anoxic (and
> maybe even a hydrogen sulfide) kill
> zone in the bottom. Subaqueous track
> preservation of this variety suggests
> that the track was preserved by
> a gentle, yet relatively rapid,
> process of deposition. The horseshoe
> crab couldn't escape because it
> "died in its tracks", and was covered
> by a rain of the bodies of calcareous
> organisms.

Amazing, isn't it, that it was buried so rapidly in such pure


fine-grained sediment - with little if any evidence of significant
anaerobic activity. Where is this going on today? How did the poor
creature and many other creatures become so misguided if otherwise
healthy? How did some fish become trapped and buried by such anoxia
while in the middle of eating other fish?

> Indeed, there is not going to be any


> bioturbation in an anoxic kill
> zone.

There will be rapid decay by anaerobic microorganisms.

> It only fails to make sense to you,


> because it so obviously blows what
> you are saying away that you cannot
> conciously come to grips with the
> fact.

And I suppose it makes perfect sense to you because it goes along with

sea...@gmail.com

unread,
Jun 7, 2005, 1:44:00 PM6/7/05
to
John Harshman wrote:

> > It seems to me that all of you are
> > arguing a moot point. The fact of
> > the matter is that there are quite a
> > number and diversity of body
> > fossils following the K/T boundary,
> > at times even more than in earlier
> > periods when trackways were very
> > abundant. But, there are no trackway
> > fossils to speak of following the K/T events?
>
> This is not true based on Brand's own
> graphs. Mammal and bird trackways
> roughly match their body fossils.

Yes, but we aren't talking about mammals or birds as I made very clear
earlier. We are talking about reptiles and amphibians here.

> "Reptile" trackways change at the K/T
> boundary in that dinosaur tracks
> disappear along with dinosaur body
> fossils. Amphibian and "other reptile"
> trackways are largely gone much
> earlier.

http://www.grisda.org/origins/09067.htm

The "Reptilia" graph and "Other Reptile" graph show a fair number of
trackways, though significantly reduced, all the way to the K/T. Then,
suddenly, there are no more trackways although the body fossils of
reptiles continue on in significant numbers - even more numbers than
there were when the trackways were the most prevalent. Why the
trackways should be significantly reduced in ratio while approaching
the K/T, to include those of dinosaurs, and then suddenly disappear for
all reptiles after the K/T, despite the continued presence of plenty of
body fossils, is really a problem for your position. It just doesn't
add up given the notion of long ages of formation.

> I wonder how well each of
> these tracks the diversity of
> large-bodied, terrestrial animals in
> each of those groups? At any rate,
> your association of any phenomenon
> at all with the K/T boundary is
> hallucination.

Why then do the reptile trackways suddenly stop completely while the
bodies continue? Where is the hallucination here?

> > That's the main point
> > that Brand is trying to make.
>
> If so, his own graphs don't support that point.

Yes, they do. That is what his whole paper is about. He is wondering
why there would be such a significant change in ratio of trackways vs.
body fossils as one moves up the column and then a sudden disappearance
of reptile trackways beyond the K/T. There is just no getting around
this problem. It really is a fact and it really hasn't been explained
very well by anyone on your side of the fence.

Sean Pitman
DetectingDesign.com

jo...@dix.mines.edu

unread,
Jun 7, 2005, 2:36:48 PM6/7/05
to

sea...@gmail.com wrote:
> jo...@dix.mines.edu wrote:
>
> > > http://www.grisda.org/origins/09067.htm
> >
> > This is not peer reviewed media.
> > Indeed, I seriously doubt that
> > hard numbers can be obtained for
> > such a comparison of 'tracks versus
> > fossils'. Remember also, that
> > tracks are not preserved in all
> > environments, so any attempt to study
> > tracks will be environment dependent.
>
> The data the Brand used was from over 800 sources from a wide range of
> locations and environments.

Brand claims that he used "data from 800 sources", yet he lists only
a few papers in his bibliography.


> It is quite compelling to note the
> dramatic change in ratio between body fossils and trackways with a near
> absence of trackways for reptiles as you move up the column past the
> K/T boundary. There is just no way around this that I can tell.

It may possibly be compelling if it were true. It could, however,
represent
systematic sampling errors. Indeed, to make a study based on a
literature
search alone always has this danger.

Indeed, if Brand really had a study of such magnitude, he should be
able
to publish this in peer reviewed media. The fact that this work is
reported
to have been done in 1982, but there is no corresponding peer reviewed
paper suggests that the work likely was either rejected, or was never
really completed.

> Your
> "doubts" certainly don't seem very convincing to me.

If you don't have doubts about stuff you read you don't have your head
screwed on right.

>
> > I really don't know what planet you live
> > on, but "anoxic" means without
> > oxygen. Now, how many organisms
> > that can bioturbate can also live without
> > oxygen?
>
> If you are talking a very highly anoxic environment, in a place that
> can support horseshoe crabs close by, then there would most likely be a
> great deal of anaerobic bacteria and other microbes around. Where are
> these organic mats with the horseshoe crab specimen presented by
> Richard? The finely laminated sediments here speak of a non-anoxic
> environment where the fairly pure fine-grained sedimentary layers were
> built up very rapidly.

...but not so rapidly as to disturb the soft material that the tracks
are
composed of... Remember, it's an arthropod. What is preserved is the
exoskeleton.


>
> > Indeed, the anoxic environments
> > that exist in many ocean and
> > lake floor environments are also
> > accomplanied by the presence of high
> > concentrations of hydrogen sulfide,
> > not only making the environment
> > unhospitable for animals, but also
> > making the environment a quick kill
> > zone.
>
> Such places have a thriving bacterial/microbial population that rapidly
> degrades organic material and forms its own organic mat layer at the
> bottom. Where is this evidence with the horseshoe crab?

That's a good question. Apparently the rate of sedimentation was
rapid enough for such a mat not to have time to form. So we are talking
about sedimentation over a days or weeks. So, what?

>
> > If you would like to learn more about
> > this, I would suggest that you do
> > google searches on: anoxic zones,
> > Black Sea, anoxic kill zones,
> > hydrogen sulfind kill zones, and any
> > other variation. Such anoxic zones
> > are quite common in oceans of today,
> > and are thus not unreasonable to
> > be assumed to have existed in the ancient past.
>
> The anoxic zone of the Black Sea is located at about 100m below the
> surface. I strongly doubt that any fish swimming above is going to get
> "trapped" in such a zone while healthy.

Fish get sick. Accidents happen.

> Rather a fish the dies is
> going to float first, get scavanged above, and then the remains are
> going to sink down. As they sink into the anoxic zone, they will be
> further scavenged by hordes of microbes. If anything actually makes it
> to the milky bottom, they will quickly be diffused by the microbes
> living there.

Indeed, the Black Sea is not a backarc region with lots of plankton
raining down.


> They will not form the beautifully preserved fossils
> that we see in sediments like the Solnhofen Lithographic Limestone. I
> mean really, how do you explain a horseshoe crab getting trapped at
> such a depth in such a highly acidic, highly salinic, and highly anoxic
> place without being dead first? Then, how did it and its footprints
> become so beautifully preserved on such a finely grained surface in
> such a microbial soup? Where is such a thing happening today?

So we are talking about a sick/ unlucky horseshoe crab. So what?

>
> > In an oxygen rich environment, yes.
> > Indeed, we find much of the same
> > sort of bioturbated regions in the
> > geologic record.
>
> Not to any significant degree as one might expect if the layers really
> do represent vast periods of time over a huge area and widespread
> environmental conditions.

On the contrary, the geologic record is full of bioturbation, as well
as paleo-soil horizons.

>
> > The question is one of preservation.
> > For example in an obviously
> > aeolian desert dune environment such
> > as the Coconino sandstone, there
> > isn't anything to do bioturbation.
>
> Not true. The creatures that live in deserts do indeed dig around in
> the sand making their burrows etc.

The density of bioturbation in a shallow highly oxygenated coastal
environment
is to the point that there are organisms everywhere, digging into the
sediments. Apparently there weren't a lot of burrowers in the Coconino
back in the Permian, just as there aren't a lot of burrowers in the
Saudi Arabian desert today.

> Also, it is very interesting that
> such crisp footprints would be made and preserved so well in a dry
> desert environment - all going uphill.

Yep. Interesting. Fatal to the flood.


>
> > Also, tracks do not necessarily represent
> > the actual surface that the organism
> > was walking on, but may be the
> > material immediately below the actual
> > surface, with the track preserved
> > because the material below is not exposed.
>
> Not when you are talking about the tracks made in the Coconino
> sandstone or the tracks made by the horseshoe crab referenced by
> Richard. They are just too crisp and finely detailed to be
> undertracks.

The horseshoe crab is obvious. Indeed, no strong currents in that
water---another flood killer.

It's not so obvious in an environment such as the Coconino
that some are not undertracks. We arn't talking about great depth
here. The material is fine grained.


>
> > The Solenhofen Limestone is famous
> > because it is extremely fine
> > grained. The stone was quarried for
> > lithography stone, for this reason. There
> > isn't a lot of evidence of this
> > material being stirred up. As is
> > evidenced by "death tracks" such as the
> > one people here are discussing, it is
> > likely that the bay had an anoxic (and
> > maybe even a hydrogen sulfide) kill
> > zone in the bottom. Subaqueous track
> > preservation of this variety suggests
> > that the track was preserved by
> > a gentle, yet relatively rapid,
> > process of deposition. The horseshoe
> > crab couldn't escape because it
> > "died in its tracks", and was covered
> > by a rain of the bodies of calcareous
> > organisms.
>
> Amazing, isn't it, that it was buried so rapidly in such pure
> fine-grained sediment - with little if any evidence of significant
> anaerobic activity.

The pure fine grained sediment is definitely *not* deposited in
a flood.


> Where is this going on today? How did the poor
> creature and many other creatures become so misguided if otherwise
> healthy?

Who says they were otherwise healthy?


> How did some fish become trapped and buried by such anoxia
> while in the middle of eating other fish?

In those relatively few known cases, the fish being eated seem to
be on the large side. Pehaps that answers the question?

Indeed, if it was a flood, why isn't all just a jumbled slurry mass
of parts and junk? Why doesn't the Solenhofen limestone contain the
huge boulders displaced by the titanic force of the flood? Where are
the horses, pigs, and elephants. The Solenofen should have been able
to
preserve those too. It preserved archeaopterix so it was near enough
to shore for a bird to fly over.


>
> > Indeed, there is not going to be any
> > bioturbation in an anoxic kill
> > zone.
>
> There will be rapid decay by anaerobic microorganisms.

Not if the rate of plankton related deposition is high enough. We
aren't
talking about something that had to be continuous. Plankton blooms
occur all the time.

>
> > It only fails to make sense to you,
> > because it so obviously blows what
> > you are saying away that you cannot
> > conciously come to grips with the
> > fact.
>
> And I suppose it makes perfect sense to you because it goes along with
> your desired paradigm, which you cannot consciously question despite
> overwhelming contrary facts? ; )

It makes sense to me because I have mapped rocks. You have not
supplied even marginally contrary facts, let alone "overwhelmingly"
contrary facts.

> Come on now John. This sort of
> thing just isn't a helpful argument.

I was merely answering your question. You need to be continually
reminded that you are a propagandist pushing a minority agenda
of a cult, and that the ideas that you hold are not convincing to
mainstream scientists only because of their lack of merit.

You really need to hang out with geologists other than Brand and
his buddies.

John Harshman

unread,
Jun 7, 2005, 2:41:38 PM6/7/05
to
sea...@gmail.com wrote:

> John Harshman wrote:
>
>
>>>It seems to me that all of you are
>>>arguing a moot point. The fact of
>>>the matter is that there are quite a
>>>number and diversity of body
>>>fossils following the K/T boundary,
>>>at times even more than in earlier
>>>periods when trackways were very
>>>abundant. But, there are no trackway
>>>fossils to speak of following the K/T events?
>>
>>This is not true based on Brand's own
>>graphs. Mammal and bird trackways
>>roughly match their body fossils.
>
> Yes, but we aren't talking about mammals or birds as I made very clear
> earlier. We are talking about reptiles and amphibians here.

In fact, we're talking about reptiles only, since there are no amphibian
tracks anywhere in the Mesozoic. And all the reptiles we're talking
about are dinosaurs, if you would only look.

>>"Reptile" trackways change at the K/T
>>boundary in that dinosaur tracks
>>disappear along with dinosaur body
>>fossils. Amphibian and "other reptile"
>>trackways are largely gone much
>>earlier.
>
>
> http://www.grisda.org/origins/09067.htm
>
> The "Reptilia" graph and "Other Reptile" graph show a fair number of
> trackways, though significantly reduced, all the way to the K/T.

Not true. The "Other Reptile" graph shows zero trackways in the
Cretaceous. The "Reptilia" graph shows Cretaceous trackways, but they
are all dinosaurs. Surely it's not too much to ask for you to read your
own references correctly.

> Then,
> suddenly, there are no more trackways although the body fossils of
> reptiles continue on in significant numbers - even more numbers than
> there were when the trackways were the most prevalent. Why the
> trackways should be significantly reduced in ratio while approaching
> the K/T, to include those of dinosaurs, and then suddenly disappear for
> all reptiles after the K/T, despite the continued presence of plenty of
> body fossils, is really a problem for your position. It just doesn't
> add up given the notion of long ages of formation.

Hard to address this when you can't even get your basic facts, as
contained in your own references, straight.

>>I wonder how well each of
>>these tracks the diversity of
>>large-bodied, terrestrial animals in
>>each of those groups? At any rate,
>>your association of any phenomenon
>>at all with the K/T boundary is
>>hallucination.
>
> Why then do the reptile trackways suddenly stop completely while the
> bodies continue? Where is the hallucination here?

Because all the "Reptile" tracks are dinosaur tracks, and those stop
quite nicely when the dinosaurs themselves stop. This is the problem
with defining big, artificial categories of data. You can hallucinate a
phenomenon that doesn't exist at all.

>>>That's the main point
>>>that Brand is trying to make.
>>
>>If so, his own graphs don't support that point.
>
> Yes, they do. That is what his whole paper is about. He is wondering
> why there would be such a significant change in ratio of trackways vs.
> body fossils as one moves up the column and then a sudden disappearance
> of reptile trackways beyond the K/T.

In fact, Brand notes that the only Cretaceous "Reptile" tracks are those
of dinosaurs. There is no sudden disappearance, except for those that
become extinct. You mistake Brand's point. He's talking about a gradual
disappearance of "Other Reptilia" considerably before the K/T boundary.
What I'm wondering is if this correlates with body size in any way, in
that the bulk of tracks are left by large, terrestrial animals, and
these diversity curves don't take size or habitat into account at all.
That would certainly fit the amphibian curve nicely, and I suspect the
"Other Reptilia" curve too. Come to think of it, I bet the bulk of his
"Other Reptilia" are synapsids, so having a big drop at the end of the
Triassic when they go extinct (or get redefined as mammals) is quite
reasonable. Large terrestrial "reptiles" became increasingly limited to
dinosaurs as the Cretaceous went on.


> There is just no getting around
> this problem. It really is a fact and it really hasn't been explained
> very well by anyone on your side of the fence.

First you have to get straight what Brand is talking about, and what's
actually on his graphs. Let me know when you have that.

snex

unread,
Jun 7, 2005, 3:17:12 PM6/7/05
to

i think sean is assuming that the graph shows reptilia, dinosaurs, and
others, as if they are three separate categories, as opposed to
reptilia, broken down further into dinosaurs and others. i must admit
that the graph is rather badly drawn for what it is trying to show,
although the text does clarify it.

John Harshman

unread,
Jun 7, 2005, 3:24:57 PM6/7/05
to
snex wrote:

Not even that interpretation works, because Sean specifically says that
the "Other Reptilia" graph shows his point.

Matt Silberstein

unread,
Jun 7, 2005, 4:43:09 PM6/7/05
to
On Tue, 07 Jun 2005 19:24:57 GMT, in talk.origins , John Harshman
<jharshman....@pacbell.net> in
<cwmpe.1186$Z44...@newssvr13.news.prodigy.com> wrote:

[snip]

>>>>