Birth of Hawaii

Flying into the Island of Hawaii – notice the volcano peak amid the clouds. Copyright Mikkelson 2017

“Look!  There’s the island!  Which volcano do you think that is?”  I wondered, noticing a mountain peak poking through the layer of clouds as I looked out of the small plane window.  We were in the Hawaiian islands, headed towards the Big Island of Hawaii, where we would be staying right next to an active volcano.  It was an amazing place.  One minute, we could be in a tropical rain forest, and suddenly it would turn into a giant deserted field of black lava rock.  Although some areas of the island have soft sandy beaches, others have dramatic sea cliffs where lava flows into the ocean.

When many people think of Hawaii, they think of a paradise, much like the Garden of Eden in the Bible.  But, unlike the Garden of Eden, these islands are the result of catastrophic forces and a dramatic, fiery origin.  Many aspects of Hawaii, like the lush plants, beautiful waterfalls, and incredible creatures point us back to the splendor and careful design of our Creator, God.  However, the Hawaiian islands are there today because of the global, catastrophic flood, sent as God’s righteous judgement for the sin of mankind.

Hawii sea cliffs at sunset. Copyright Mikkelson, 2017.

There is still a lot of mystery surrounding the geology of Hawaii.  Although we know that the global flood was catastrophic, the Bible gives less information about how exactly it happened, scientifically speaking.  This means that many of the details of the geology of the flood depend on which scientific model a person is using.  There are several scientific models that try to explain how exactly the flood happened.  Every good model will have it’s strong points and weak points.  The more information we gather by doing science, the more we can narrow out some of those models, testing which ones are most likely to be true.  Keeping that in mind, here’s what we can tell so far about how Hawaii formed.

Evidence shows that earth’s surface is made up of plates that move on top of the hot mantle. Lots of earthquakes, volcanoes, mountains, etc. form around the edges of these plates.  But, Hawaii is in the middle of a big plate, far from the plate boundaries that cause most volcanoes. Hawaii is actually part of a chain of seamounts that meet with the Emperor Sea Mounts and reach all the way to the Aleutian islands of Alaska.  The Big Island of Hawaii is the largest and is volcanically active, while the other islands are extinct volcanoes and get progressively smaller, the farther northwest on the chain of seamounts.  The current theory is that there is a plume of hot magma welling up in the mantle, creating a volcano on the outer plate of earth’s surface.  As that plate moves, the hot spot stays in place beneath it, creating a new volcano right next to the previous one.  The hot spot idea has a few problems and is being debated among scientists, but this model seems to be the best fit for Hawaii until we have more information.

This idea would also work well with the global flood. Although Earth’s plates move slowly today, they would have moved much faster in the past during, and for a short time after, the global flood.  The chain of seamounts over the Hawaiian hot spot probably started forming some time towards the end of the flood, when the plates were moving quickly.  The plates would have continued moving quickly for a little while after the flood, slowing down to the current speed of plate movement.  Hawaii must have formed a short while after the flood.

Hawaiian Volcano From Pixabay.com – Copyright free image

Measuring from the seafloor to the peak Mauna Kea (the tallest volcano on the Big Island), Hawaii is 6.3 miles high, which is taller than Mount Everest, measuring from sea level to the peak.  It’s a powerful, but normally quite active volcano.  Although Hawaii is stunningly beautiful, it was formed as a fiery volcano from the aftermath of the flood – God’s judgement.  In places like Hawaii, we can see the grace of God stunningly illustrated. Hawaii was definitely not part of God’s “very good” original creation.  But, our gracious Creator took a messy situation – the flood of judgement – and turned it into something beautiful.  No matter how much you’ve messed up, remember that God’s grace can turn your life into a new and beautiful creation, just like Hawaii.

© 2017 Sara J. Mikkelson

References:

Sticky Situations

Carefully and proudly, I opened the black case, lined with dark blue velvet, and gently removed a long, slender violin bow. Excitement, nervousness, and anticipation filled the room –  as a high schooler, I loved preforming in orchestra concerts. After tightening the knob, I gently ran the hairs of the bow along a shiny block of dark, golden-orange and brown rosin.  Flipping back a few years, at age six, after climbing a pine tree, I remember being frustrated with the gooey sap that wouldn’t come off my hands, no matter how many times I washed them.  Around college age, I remember examining pieces of amber for the first time, gazing intently at the little fossil bugs, plants, and other little things trapped inside.  What do these three things – fossil amber, sap, and violin rosin have in common and how are they different?

While they all ultimately come from trees, amber, sap, and rosin have several important differences. People often get these a little bit confused when it comes to how these things are related and different.  You may have heard that amber is fossilized sap.  This is a myth.  Both fine jewelry amber and rosin used on bows for violins are made from the resin of a tree, not a sap of the tree.  While rosin (used on violin bows) is refined and hardened resin, amber is fossilized resin, with a different chemistry behind it.  Sap and resin may seem similar at first – they are both golden sticky substances found in trees.   However, sap has a different chemistry and different job inside the tree than resin has.  Sap is usually more drippy and clear, while resin is more solid, tacky, and darker colored.  This dark, sticky resin is exposed when a tree is cut into.

Live Water Strider – Copyright free, Pixabay

So exactly how does fossil amber form, and why does it make such beautiful, perfectly preserved fossils? Although we weren’t there to see how amber formed, we have a few hints based off what we can clearly test on resin and amber today. First, we know that resin is exposed when a tree is cut into, or broken in certain ways. Second, we know that at least some of that resin had to be covered in water, because some water-dwelling creatures, including shells, water striders, and others, have been found fossilized in amber. Resin is also stickier and more likely to catch small creatures and plant pieces when it is wet.  But, resin will not turn into amber when it’s wet, and must also be covered in sediments and pressurized.

Wet resin explains why we find so many different fossil creatures and plants preserved in amber, and it also makes sense with the global flood and possibly other catastrophes that happened while Earth was recovering from the flood.  During the flood, trees would have been ripped up and torn apart, exposing the sticky, wet resin.  Some of the smashed tree parts would have floated, and their wet resin would have easily caught bugs and other small pieces of debris.  As the waves moved, some of the resin could have dropped and been covered with new layers of mud, causing the resin to turn into amber.

All of this must be done very quickly so that that tiny creatures and plants would have been preserved in the perfect detail we see in amber. Mosquitoes, small wasps, beetles, slender-legged water striders, frogs, lizards, larvae, termites, flowers, leaves, and countless other little treasures have been found in amber, as if frozen in their tracks.  Almost every little detail of their bodies are perfectly preserved. Looking at amber for the first time up close, I was amazed at how real and alive these things looked.  Recently, a tick in amber was discovered with blood inside of it.  Researchers concluded that the blood probably belonged to a monkey that the tick was feeding on.  Things like this shouldn’t last millions of years, or be beautifully preserved like they are.  Amber presents good evidence for a rapid, catastrophic burial during a world wide flood and a young earth.  It also reminds us of how quickly life can come to a sudden halt, like it did for these creatures, frozen in their tracks.  We aren’t promised tomorrow – be sure to live each day with that in mind.

©2017 Sara J. Mikkelson

References:

Media Credit:

Featured image compiled by David Mikkelson from:

  • “Amber2” – ant in amber, © Anders L. Damgaard: www.amber-inclusions.dk Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
  • Amber © Sara J. Mikkelson, 2016

Other images: Pixabay.com (copyright free) and ©Sara J. Mikkelson

 

Four Arguments Against Living Fossils Answered

I scoured the beautiful, thick glossy pages with a skeptical eye.  Internally, questions and objections were popping up all over my mind as I fleshed out the ideas presented. The book was “Living Fossils”, by Dr. Carl Werner.  It’s a popular young earth creation science book, and I definitely believe in a Biblical young earth.  However, since my geology classes in a secular college, I’ve learned how to borrow the mindset of an evolutionist or old earth believer enough to test the weaknesses and strengths of different young earth models or ideas.  The common young earth view on living fossils is that creatures found both in the fossil record and alive today are a problem for evolution because they remain unchanged.  Today, let’s break down four common arguments against this view of living fossils (more on living fossils here)

1. Not the exact same genus & species name

Many of the fossil creatures mentioned in Dr. Werner’s book are classified in a different genus and/or species name than they have today.  Some of the fossils don’t have a species name at all.  However, keep in mind that naming a fossil can be tricky.  The fossil versions can be squished, look different with various angles, or have missing parts.  Soft body parts, color, behavior, and other details that help us identify a creature usually don’t get preserved in fossils.  However, even if we could tell that these creatures were from a different genus and species than the living versions, the point remains that they appear very similar and unchanged, despite vast amounts of supposed evolution.

2. Limited information available

Good scientists will readily admit that we don’t know everything about the fossil record and evolution.  If a fossil creature, thought to be long extinct, suddenly appears alive today, some people say it just means we have more information now and need to change their evolutionary dates. The same thing would be thought when living creatures are found deeper inside the fossil record than evolutionary ideas predict. But, this kind of thinking side-steps the problem that these creatures remain unchanged over supposed millions of years of transition and dramatic change in other creatures.  Of course, this leads us right into the next objection to living fossils:

3. Evolution doesn’t require a creature to change

Could a creature stay the same, if it just had the right conditions?   Perhaps. But, “Change over time” is the main point behind the idea of evolution. The theory of evolution is constantly changing.  Many scientists think this is good and scientific.  But, if a theory constantly needs to be adjusted because it failed after being tested against observable data, keeping an open mind to considering different theories might be wise. The use of true scientific method should have eliminated evolutionary theory long ago because it fails testing. It’s interesting to note that we find many examples of living fossils (creatures staying the same) but even supposed transitional forms (creatures evolving) are quite rare in the fossil record.

4. Most living fossils in Dr. Werner’s book are Mesozoic (dinosaur era)

According to the evolutionary model, the “dinosaur era” or Mesozoic rock unit, is in the middle of the fossil record (not counting the Precambrian rock units – more about rock units here).  Theoretically, there would have been plenty of time for the evolution of many complex, modern-looking creatures.  At the same time, the Mesozoic isn’t too far from modern times for some creatures to survive, according to the evolutionary timeline. Although Dr. Werner focused on dinosaur-era fossils, there are numerous examples of much “older” living fossils, found deeper in the fossil record.  Numerous living fossils can be found in Carboniferous and even Cambrian rock layers.

Are living fossils a good argument against evolution?  There are a number of stronger arguments for young earth creation I would use first, like soft tissue in fossils and helium in granite. But, living fossils do present a good question for evolution and a challenge to the way people think about the fossil record.  We tend to think that fossil creatures lived in a “pre-historic” world that was very strange and different from our own.  However, Dinosaurs and many other fossil creatures lived with things that looked a lot like our modern creatures. Living fossils are a beautiful illustration of the faithfulness and mercy of our Creator, God. He has preserved so many amazingly designed creatures.  This is not preservation through heartless favor of evolution, but by God’s mercy through His righteous judgment.  Just as He preserves those creatures, He can preserve you, too.

©2017 Sara J. Mikkelson

Read previous Articles in this Series:

References:

  • Werner, Dr. Carl. Living Fossils. Evolution: The Grand Experiment, Vol. 2. 2008. Audio Visual Consultants, Inc. New Leaf Press. Green Forest, Arkansas, USA.

Butterflies – Creation Clues for Kids Vol 5 No 3

Flutter By


Do you ever like to catch bugs, butterflies, or other little creatures outside? Sometimes, you can catch bugs and watch them live in a jar for a while.  Some of the most exciting bugs I remember chasing around the back yard were butterflies.  There was something mysterious and extra special about these thin, colorful bugs that never went where I wanted them to go.  Chasing butterflies always made me laugh.  Just when I thought I nearly caught one, the butterfly would suddenly turn or switch directions, fluttering above my head. Have you ever tried to chase a butterfly?

Butterflies

Butterflies have long, thin bodies, made of three sections, just like other insects. They have compound bug eyes made up of many different lenses. Our eyes each have a single lens, but butterflies and other bugs have thousands of tiny lenses clustered together in each eye.  This gives a creature special abilities to see around itself and get a better picture of the outside world.   Butterflies feed on flower nectar by using a proboscis (say it: “praw-boss-cuss”)– a long, super thin touge-like part of their body that can curl and suck up nectar, almost like a straw.  Of course, wings are usually the most beautiful part of a butterfly (and give it the ability to fly).  Wings come in many different colors, patterns, shapes, and sizes.

Worm Work

Have you ever read the short picture book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”?    Just like the little caterpillar in this book eats and eats until it is ready to be transformed into a butterfly, real caterpillars have a very healthy appetite.  They don’t eat junk-food, like the caterpillar in the book, but are very picky eaters.  Caterpillars from different types of butterflies only eat leaves from their specific types of plants. Caterpillars of Monarch butterflies only eat milkweed plants.  A mother butterfly lays her caterpillar eggs on just the right type of leaf.  After the egg hatches, the caterpillar eats its egg shell and the leaf the egg was on and continues eating and growing.  Caterpillars must shed their outer skin several times because they outgrow their outer skeletons (like a snake sheds).  The last time it’s ready to shed, the caterpillar does something very different . . .

After hatching, some caterpillars grow more than 3,000 times their size. This would be like a six-pound newborn human baby eating enough to weigh more than two African elephants together!

Remodeling

The last time a caterpillar sheds, it doesn’t have a new skeleton underneath, but develops a chrysalis instead. While hanging upside-down on a nice branch, the caterpillar creates this nearly cone-shaped wrapping.  The outside of a chysalis has a special pattern of dots.  On the outside of its bright green chrysalis, a monarch butterfly has twenty-four gold specks around its heart, and twelve more gold specks marking other important body parts. Many critical body parts that the creature could not live without (including the stomach) are completely dissolved and re-made during this process of metamorphosis (pronounced “met-a-more-fa-sis”).  Whole body systems are remodeled, changing the way the creature eats, moves, senses, and more.

 A butterfly transforms in a chrysalis (say it: “Kris-a-lis”) that hangs from something, while a moth uses a cocoon that hides instead of hangs. You can call either one a “pupa” (say it: “Pew-puh”) while it is transforming

Totally New Life

After going through metamorphosis, the fluttering butterfly is ready for a totally different life than it used to have as a caterpillar.  Those short, stubby caterpillar legs turn into very long and thin butterfly legs.  Its eyes transform into compound eyes, ready to help the butterfly see flowers.  It uses its new proboscis to suck nectar from those flowers and get a nice meal. Instead of crawling on the ground and on leaves, the butterfly now has the amazing ability to fly.  A transformation like this never could have come about by accidental evolution. Step by step – every part of the process of butterfly transformation had to be in place from the start.

Sometimes, the bright colors of butterfly wings can make them look poisonous to other creatures who might want to eat them

Big Blue

 

Blue Morpho. Photo copyright Sara J. Bruegel, 2016

Colors like red, brown, orange, and some blacks in butterfly wings come from the scales actually being naturally “dyed”.  Black and orange Monarch butterflies have these “dyed” scales. Colors like blue, green, white, and sometimes black are often iridescent. The color can look different as the butterfly moves its wings. They almost look like they’re glowing, like a computer screen.  These colors are not made by the scales being dyed, but by the microscopic designs inside the scales that reflect and bend light.  The way you can see these colors is a lot like the way you can see  the colors of a rainbow through distant rain. Blue Morpho (say it: “more-fow”) butterflies have this special iridescent blue color on their wings, but only on the top of their wings.  The bottom sides of their wings are brown and have shapes that help it to blend in with tree branches.

Moths

Atlas Moth

At first, moths look very similar to butterflies.  The bodies of a moth are usually thicker and more “hairy” than butterflies.  When moths rest, their wings are usually open or flat.  Butterflies rest with their wings folded closed or slowly opening and closing.  A moth’s antennae are usually shorter and hairier than those of a butterfly.   While you might be tempted to think of moths as the “ugly” version of a butterfly, some moths are actually quite colorful.  The Atlas Moth is very large and has some beautiful patterns on its wings

Monarch Relay

 

Lifeless monarch amid the flowers. Photo copyright Sara J. Bruegel, October 2015

Have you ever tried a relay race? You run for a lap, then you stop and a friend continues running for you, then someone else takes over for them. Monarch butterflies have special orange and black patterns on their wings. This type of butterfly is an amazing traveler and survivor with a special family adventure story.  Grandma monarch eggs usually hatch near Texas in the spring.  They fly north a few states, following the spring warmth, then lay their eggs, and die.  Mamma monarchs hatch from those eggs, enjoy their lives, and keep flying north until they find their southern home around the border between the United States and Canada where they lay their eggs.  Baby Monarchs hatch from those eggs, and notice that it’s time to go south for the winter, so they begin the long journey, flying all the way to Mexico. While both Grandma and Mamma Monarch lived for only a few weeks and traveled a short distance, Baby Monarch lives for eight to nine months and flies about three thousand miles south. In a forest of special trees in the mountains of Mexico, monarch butterflies gather by the millions all clumping together on the trees to keep warm.  Some don’t survive the winter, but the ones that do fly back to Texas in the spring, lay their eggs, and die.  (Learn more about this incredible journey of the monarch by clicking here)

“Monarch” means royal.  While changing from a caterpillar to a butterfly, they forma a special “crown” of golden dots on the outside of the chrysalis around the area where their head is developing

Butterfly

Looking at the lives of butterflies, and especially the traveling Monarch, we can see God’s extra special care for the creatures He made.  He makes them beautiful and gives them special abilities.  He perfectly planned their amazing transformation from caterpillars to butterflies.  But, most butterflies only live for a few weeks.  If our Creator put so much care and art into these butterflies, how much more does He care about you and carefully craft all the details of your life?  He made you “in His image” – so much more special than any kind of animal.  (To learn more about butterflies, click here)

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Printable Coloring Page – Click Here

For Your Information . . .

CCK is written by Sara J. Bruegel.  Many thanks to Richard Gunther for the fun cartoon & coloring page.  If you have a question or comment about God’s creation that you would like to share, please write to Sara at: CreationCluesForKids@gmail.com Also, you can visit www.CreationClues.com to learn more about our Creator’s amazing world of science, read a new article every week or read & print past issues of CCK.  Please share CCK with your friends & family!

We encourage you to print as many copies as you like for yourself, friends, church, private school, ministry, or other groups, free of charge. All we ask is that you respect the author’s copyright by 1)giving full credit to the author, 2)DO NOT charge for this newsletter or in any way try to make money off of Creation Clues

 

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Exploring Living Fossils – Land Lovers – Part 3

The stillness of a summer evening was just beginning to set in.   But looking down on the wide grassy area, it buzzed with life.  In the summer, swarms of dragonflies loved this area that could be seen from my favorite sunset-watching perch on the roof.  These small creatures seemed simply to bubble over from a bottomless well of energy and joy, as if they were dancing in the air, praising their Creator with an endless well of zeal and excitement.  They were beautiful, simple, elegant, extravagant, and inspiring.  Dragonflies are fun to watch today, but did you realize we find fossil dragonflies, too?  Fossil dragonflies can be found buried in the same rock layers that hold dinosaur bones (more about fossil dragonflies here).

Dragonflies are a beautiful example of a “living fossil” – a creature that can be found both as a fossil buried in rock layers and living today.  Among other fossils, the Solnhofen rock formation in Germany holds many beautifully preserved creatures, including dragonflies, katydids, beetles, crickets, and mayfly fossils, all of which look very similar to those living creatures today.  The Solnhofen is most famous for the discovery of Archaeopteryx. This rock layer is classified as part of the Jurassic rock unit (learn more about rock units & the geologic column here), known for containing stegosaurus and other dinosaurs.  Dragonflies and other creatures that look almost just like what we see today lived with stegosaurus and other dinosaurs.

Small snake skeleton

Did you know that a fossil boa constrictor snake, looking a lot like modern boa constrictors, was found buried in rock with a triceratops?  Or that salamanders, frogs, turtles, and crocodiles, very similar to these modern creatures, all lived with dinosaurs?  Even fossils looking very similar to modern lizards, like iguana, gliding lizards, and tuataras, can be found buried in rock layers with dinosaurs. These are living fossils – creatures that we can find living today and buried in rock layers with dinosaurs.

We tend to think that dinosaurs and other extinct fossil creatures lived in “prehistoric” times.  We tend to envision their world as a strange place full of odd creatures, but taking a look at the fossil record shows us that odd creatures like dinosaurs lived with modern-looking insects and other creatures. They also lived among and probably ate plants just like some of the plants we have today – ginkgo trees, sycamore trees, palm trees, pine trees, and various types of ferns.  Even birds, including parrots, penguins, ducks, and owls have been found as fossils, buried in dinosaur rock.

The author with a fossil Araucaria pine tree at a fossil dig in western Colorado

Today we covered some of the types of living fossils of land animals, insects, and plants.  Last week, we covered living fossils of fish and other sea creatures (read that here).  Next week, we will answer some of the common questions people have about living fossils.  We can see an underlying theme in the preservation of living fossils – creatures that survived the global flood and other dramatic changes.  That theme is the merciful faithfulness of God to preserve the creatures He created.  You will probably live through many seasons of change or hard times.  You may encounter tragedy.  But, try to remember that the same God who preserves fossil creatures through many different trials and disasters can also preserve you.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” ~ Matthew 10:29-31

Copyright Sara J. Bruegel, 2017

References:

  • Werner, Dr. Carl. Living Fossils. Evolution: The Grand Experiment, Vol. 2. 2008. Audio Visual Consultants, Inc. New Leaf Press. Green Forest, Arkansas, USA.

Exploring Living Fossils – Sea Life – Part 2

Public Domain picture from www.pixabay.com

In those quiet moments just before dawn, the rhythmic sound of rolling waves cascading against the sandy beach was the only sound. The wet sand gradually began to glisten as the minutes passed and the first rays of sunshine struck the microscopic crystals within the sand.  The early morning stillness was broken by the dull, thudding noise of small, running bare feet, interspersed with high-pitched giggles as a child ran along, leaving footprints in the damp sand.  Suddenly, the child stopped and dropped to the ground on bent knees to examine a small treasure.  Running a slender finger along the edges of the delicate, smooth object, the child was intrigued by the shape, beauty, and wonder of the object.  Carefully, those fingers lifted the object, brushing off the sand to reveal the complete sea shell.

Many people love collecting sea shells today.  Not only are they beautiful, interesting objects, but they are also made and used by living creatures. You might have a shell collection that could include half of a clam or oyster shell, a swirled snail shell, or even a spiraled nautilus shell. We find fossils of shells almost exactly like those modern shells, buried in rock layers with dinosaur bones.  These are living fossils.  Last week, we started talking about living fossils – creatures we find both in the fossil record and still living today (read the previous article here). Living fossils present a challenge to evolution.  If creatures are supposed to be changing into other things, why do we find so many creatures that stay the same throughout supposed millions of years of evolution?

Living fossils present a problem for one theory for the supposed evolution of fish.   Dr. John Long is considered an expert on the evolution of fish.  According to Dr. Long’s ideas on the evolution of fish, both cartilaginous fish (a group that includes sharks and rays) and bony fish (like salmon, gars, and sardines) evolved from their shared granddaddy, the jawless fish.  But, we still find jawless fish, like the blood-sucking lampreys alive today.  If both shark-like creatures and bony fish were “better” or “more-evolved” versions of jawless fish, why did jawless fish survive until today?  Take a look at modern waters and the fossil record: we find fossil sharks, rays, salmon, gars, and sardines, along with jawless lampreys in both places. Doesn’t it seem more likely they have all been around the whole time than that they evolved?

Fossil Lobster from the Solnhoffen in Germany. Photo Credit: David Mikkeson

The Solnhofen formation in Germany provides many examples of these living fossils, beautifully preserving delicate creatures (read about jellyfish fossils in this formation here).  In these rock layers, you can find shrimp, lobsters, prawns, and horseshoe crabs, all that look very similar to what we see today. This rock layer is classified as part of the Jurassic group – a group of layers in which dinosaur fossils can be found (more about rock layers & geologic column here). Looking at life in the waters, we can see that the fossil record isn’t quite as bizarre as it’s often made out to be.

Without evolution and vast ages of time, the Biblical global flood provides a good explanation for what we see in rock formations and fossils throughout the world.  When reading about Noah’s ark and the flood in the Bible, you may have noticed that only land dwelling creatures were on the ark.  That would mean no fish tanks on the ark.  This often brings up the question, how did fish survive the flood? There are more fossils of water-dwelling creatures than any other type of creature.  Numerous fish, clams, and other sea creatures died in the flood.  But, through living fossils, we can see that many of the same types of fish buried in the flood are also alive today.  The flood would not have been a perfectly mixed soup, so fish and other sea creatures that survived probably found pockets of water that were suitable for them.  Living fossils that survived the flood are a beautiful reminder of God’s grace and preservation.

©2017, Sara J. Bruegel

References:

  • Batten, Don and Sarfati, Jonathan.How did fish and plants survive the Genesis Flood? February 24, 2006. Creation Ministries International. Retrieved 2-8-17. http://creation.com/how-did-fish-and-plants-survive-the-genesis-flood
  • Levin, Harold.  2010. The Earth Through Time, 9th edition.  Pages 361-6.  John Wiley & Sons Inc.  United States.
  • Werner, Dr. Carl. Living Fossils. Evolution: The Grand Experiment, Vol. 2. 2008. Audio Visual Consultants, Inc. New Leaf Press. Green Forest, Arkansas, USA.

Exploring Living Fossils – Part 1

As I scanned the display of familiar Kansas fossils, taking lots of pictures for my personal research record, there was one oddly shaped fossil that didn’t quite seem to fit in with the others.  But, with the overwhelming number of fossils at the annual fossil show in Tucson, I didn’t give that fossil much thought until recently.  It looked like two globs of pale tan against the gray surrounding rock that had spikes sticking out of them in a random pattern.  They were sea urchin fossils.  What’s remarkable about them is that they look almost identical to the live sea urchins we find in the oceans today.

When you think “fossil”, dinosaurs and other strange creatures that are considered “extinct” probably come to mind.  But, did you realize that our modern oceans, beaches, forests, and yards are crawling with all kinds of living things we find throughout the fossil record? “Living Fossils” are creatures found in the fossil record that are also alive today, like the sea urchin fossils.

Living fossils present a big problem for the idea of pond-scum-to-people-evolution.  The word “evolution” just means change – change over time.  Living fossils are a problem for evolutionary ideas because they are creatures that have not been changing, even over vast amounts of time (at least, in theory).  We tend to want to depict dinosaurs living in strange worlds with other odd creatures, unlike anything we see today.  But, taking a better look at the fossil record, you can see that many fossil creatures look an awful lot like the modern creatures we have today.  A big, long-necked Apatosaurus could have munched the branches of a tree just like the one in your yard; sea creatures you find in an aquarium today, like coral, eels, rays, and jellyfish were there when fierce mosasaurs roamed the seas.

Living Pencil Sea Urchin – Public domain picture, Pixabay
https://pixabay.com/en/pencil-urchin-sea-life-ocean-water-139403/

Aquatic creatures are the most common type of fossils, and living fossils swimming in our modern oceans are also quite abundant.  Those sea urchin fossils I mentioned at the beginning were from central Texas, found in the Winchell Limestone.  This rock layer is officially classified as part of the Pennsylvanian group (read more about rock layer grouping & the geologic column here).  According to evolutionary theory, those sea urchins are supposed to be about 300 million years old, yet, the fossil looks an awful lot like the modern Pencil Sea Urchin.  We find star fish, sea cucumbers, sponges, various corals, and sand dollars, to name a few that are all considered at least 65 million years old (i.e., living with the dinosaurs, according to evolutionary ideas).  Crinoid (sea lily) fossils look a lot like modern “sea lilies”, virtually unchanged after a supposed 400 million years of evolution.

Public domain photo from Pixabay.com
https://pixabay.com/en/jellyfish-aquarium-wildlife-aquatic-695127/

If “evolution” keeps the crinoid, jelly fish, sea urchins, and other things unchanged for hundreds of millions of years, why would we expect fish to grow legs and start walking and change into lizards, dinosaurs, and a variety of mammals all within that same timespan?  Why would these creatures stay the same over those vast amounts of time? Perhaps a better explanation is that 1) they really haven’t been around hundreds of millions of years, 2) each basic type of creature was fully-formed from the start, with the ability to diversify within limits (e.g., different breeds of dogs, but all are still dogs), 3) all of the animals we know of today lived at the same time because they were all created at the same time, and 4) fossils were buried during different stages of the global flood, just a few thousand years ago.

Over the next few of weeks, we will be digging in to more of the different types of living fossils and what they mean.  Living fossils are a beautiful illustration of the faithfulness of God.  He not only created all of these marvelous creatures we see in our world today, but He also preserved them through the global flood.  May living fossils be a reminder to you that the Lord is faithful in His love for you and His desire to preserve you:

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.  ~ Jude 24-25

©2017, Sara J. Bruegel

References:

  • Werner, Dr. Carl. Living Fossils. Evolution: The Grand Experiment, Vol. 2. 2008. Audio Visual Consultants, Inc. New Leaf Press. Green Forest, Arkansas, USA.

 

He Nose About Breathing

Breathe through my nose?  What do you mean? That’s the problem. I can’t breathe through my nose – it’s stuffy!  These were my first thoughts when I heard about using certain breathing exercises to help relieve my seasonal allergies to pollen, dust, animals, and other things (in Texas, it’s called “Hay Fever”). The more I studied these methods, the more sense it made and the more I found out it actually seemed to be working. Learning more about it, I came to appreciate the amazing design of the human nose.  The key point was learning how to breath the way our bodies were originally designed to do this essential function.

The smelling ability of your nose is pretty incredible, but there’s so much more to the nose than just smelling.  Did you know that your nose is specially equipped to clean, warm, and humidify the air you breathe? Nitric Oxide is released when you breathe through your nose, sterilizing the air as it goes to your lungs, among other functions.  As nasty as the topic may seem, nose hairs, mucus, and boogers have important functions to help defend your body and especially your lungs.  As you breathe, nose hairs and mucus help collect harmful things in the air and tiny hair-like structures (called cilia) help move more of these tiny harmful things to a safe waste zone.  Those potentially dangerous things usually get safely sneezed or swallowed.

The inside of the human nose is built in such a way that it can perfectly channel the direction and speed of the air coming in and out of the nose.  These air streams are just turbulent enough to gently bring a sample of air to the smelling sensors, but smooth enough to go through the right processes it needs to get to the lungs.  Your mouth is equipped to be able to breathe, too, but the mouth has a number of other important jobs, and the nose is best equipped for breathing.

If you’re ever temped to look in the mirror and criticize what your nose looks like – how big or small, pointed or flat, narrow or wide, freckled or not etc. – remember how incredibly designed it is.  Remember how your Creator lovingly designed the way it works to protect and nourish you. He is a creative artist Who made you one of His grand, beautiful, unique masterpieces.  He formed Adam from the dust and breathed the breath of life into him.  God carefully crafted your flesh, and gave you life and breath.  The stars, rocks, animal, and molecules are all spectacularly amazing works of God, but it was you that He sent His Son to rescue.  And to those who have accepted that gift, He also gives the life-breath gift of His Holy Spirit, true life living inside us.  As you breathe through your nose today, remember how carefully God made it, and all the ways He is using it to protect you, and remember to thank Him and praise Him for it.

©2017, Sara J. Bruegel

Preserving Pearls

Grouping of fossil pearls as being held by the author. Fossilized inside the oyster. Photo Copyright Sara J. Bruegel, 2016

“May I hold it?” I asked, marveling at the two small objects in his hands.  The man placed them in my hands.  Gently, I rolled around the small, imperfectly shaped little ball.  It felt lighter than I had expected, almost as if it had been made of wax.  I was holding a fossil pearl and part of the oyster shell that went with it. The man traded me for another object –  this time several pearls were still inside the oyster, but the bump of the pearl was still clearly visible.

While I had certainly seen lots of fossil oysters and clams, scattered all over the ground at the dig site in Kansas, I had never really thought about fossil pearls.  One of the fossil pearls that I held was found near the region of Kansas where I have been digging in past years.  Walking along the surface of our dig sites, the ground is strewn with pieces of clams.  Often, a very large clam would be sitting on the surface.  On these large clam halves, one side is smooth, looking like more like a typical shell you would find on the beach, but the other side often has a very different texture.  This texture is actually made by a colony of small oysters that became fossilized with their host clam.

Let’s take a look at modern pearls forming in oysters before digging into the fossil pearls too deeply.  Oysters get their food by filtering tiny delicious tidbits (like algae) out of water.  Sometimes a small object gets stuck between the soft body parts inside and the shell, causing irritation.  Usually, it’s food or a parasite (not a grain of sand).  Our marvelous Creator designed the oyster with a special way of responding to this irritation.  After isolating the parasite, the oyster gently coats it with “nacre”, made of a special protein combined with calcium carbonate. Oysters continue to give that irritant one coat of nacre at a time, layer upon layer, slowly making it into the beautiful rounded object that we call a pearl.

Just like the minerals in clam and oyster shells get replaced and turned into rock during fossilization, the pearl can also become replaced, so that it is made of rock instead of the aragonite, or calcium carbonate, that we see in pearls today.  Sometimes the pearls can be completely replaced, but you can still see the rings made by the layering done by the oyster.   Other fossil pearls still have the same nacre that modern pearls do on the inside, and only some of the layers of the pearl are turned into rock.  Because they are replaced, most women (except the author) would probably not find a string of fossil pearls nearly as attractive as modern pearls.

Fossil bivalves (that fall under the same category as clams and oysters) can be found in some of the lowest and oldest rock layers of the world. They are found throughout the fossil record and in modern day.  Isn’t it interesting, that even in the oldest rock layers, these creatures were still basically the same as what we have today?  Yes, there are variations.  We see different sizes, shapes, and species, but they still had the same basic abilities and characteristics.  If the evolution and millions-of-years old earth models were true, why would these creatures suddenly appear, then stay basically unchanged through a supposed five hundred million years while everything else is theoretically evolving and getting better? Perhaps a better explanation is that God created oysters, clams, and other creatures with their unique features and ability to adapt, and they became preserved during different stages of the global flood.

Close up on grouping of pearls

Pearls, both fossil and modern offer a stunning illustration.  When someone or something irritating gets under your skin, you have some important choices to make.  It may be some kind of parasite of the heart – bitterness, hurt, selfishness or something else.  Like an oyster, our Creator has given you a very unique ability to control your thoughts and attitudes.  Instead of letting those “parasites” creep in and take over, you can choose to coat them with the love of Christ and truth from the Word of God. It may take time, but eventually, you will end up with a stunning treasure instead of a destructive disease.  Choose to be like the oyster today.

©Sara J. Bruegel, January 2017

Tip-Toe Tracks

The dark gray sky glowed with eerie shades of sickly green, rusty red, and deep purple.  Patches of smoky black lingered low in the sky, sometimes broken by torrential shafts of rain.  Deep rumbling noises and echoes of boiling water as it let off steam sounded constantly in the distance. Occasionally, those distant sounds were broken by sudden sharp noises of splintering wood, avalanching cliffs, explosions, and other noises.

Giant, brown waves swept back and forth across the land, carrying rocks of all sizes, shredded trees, and whatever else it picked up along the way.   A retreating wave revealing the wet sandy beach.  Moments later, the area shook, but not from an earthquake this time.  The sooty air rang clear with distressed wails and dire groans of a stampede of strange creatures as they tried to run across the wet sand, leaving deep footprints.

Three-toed dinosaur footprint in Glen Rose, TX. Photo copyright Sara J. Bruegel, 2017

Another surge of water intruded the area before the animals could go very far, filling in their fresh footprints with new mud.  They waded through the fast-rising waters until the water rose to their hips and started to sweep them off their feet. Struggling against the strong current the creatures frantically tried to paddle with their strong legs and short arms. Occasionally, they could feel the mud below touching their toes, then just the tips of their clawed toes touched the bottom.  But, soon, these creatures were swept away by the waters and all the dry land was completely covered.

This is a picture of what it might have looked like when dinosaurs were trying to escape the rising waters of the world-wide flood, mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 6-9. Many paleontologists have trouble giving a good explanation for the different types of dinosaur footprint fossils because they believe that the earth is billions of years old and dinosaurs lived and died long before humans came on the scene, dismissing the idea of a global flood before it has even been seriously considered as a good model for explaining what we see. What I call “toe-print” fossils are good examples of a type of dinosaur footprint fossil better explained by models of the global flood than by the old earth models.

“Toe-print” fossils capture just the toes and claws of a two-legged dinosaur (like velociraptor or Iguanodon) touching wet sand.  We have two options: either these dinosaurs were skilled ballerinas who danced along beaches and swamps, or their weight was being held up by water and they were moving their legs (trying to swim). “Toe-print” fossils like this have been found in several different places around the world.  Some were discovered in China in 2013 and another site is in Australia.

Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackway in Queensland, Australia was first thought to be a stampede of small two-legged dinosaurs being hunted by a bigger dinosaur.  By using computers to compare these tracks with other fossils, researchers recently discovered that they were actually made by all vegetarian dinosaurs (none trying to eat each other) and were originally mis-identified as the wrong type of dinosaur because they are “toe-print fossils”, not full footprints.  Some of the marks left by dragging claws made them look like footprints belonging to another type of dinosaur.

A volunteer cleaning the fresh mud out of a dinosaur footprint fossil. Photo copyright Sara J. Bruegel, 2015

Some paleontologists say that these dinosaurs got caught in a small river flooding, just like rivers sometimes flood today. However, ripple patterns, dents made by dragging debris, and other markers in the rock indicate fast rising water and drastic changes happening within seconds, more severe than what we see today. If you zoom out, the rock layer containing Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackway would require a “river” at least as wide as the Australian state of Queensland.  That’s wider than the state of Texas.  Putting that into perspective if you haven’t tried to drive across Texas, it would take over sixteen and a half hours of non-stop driving on a straight road at sixty miles per hour to go that distance.  That would be a very wide river. Taking that in the context of the other fossils and rocks we see around the world, it seems best explained by a global, catastrophic flood.

Thinking about the global flood, it sounds very catastrophic and violent.  Many creatures and people died in those flood waters.  People often ask why God would horrifically destroy the earth and people He created and loved.  But, perhaps there’s another question we should be asking: why has God been so very gracious and given people another chance over and over again?

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. ~Lamentations 3:21-23

©2017 Sara J. Bruegel

References: