by Chris Parker, Copyright 2012
â€śNow the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters prevailed and greatly increased on the earth, and the ark moved about on the surface of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered.
The waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward, and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man. All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died. So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive. And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty daysâ€ťâ€¦.Genesis 7
In a 2001 article in Palaios entitled â€śThe Taphonomy of a Centrosaurus (Omithischia:Certopsidae) Bone Bed from the Dinosaur Park Formation (Upper Campanian), Alberta, Canada, with Comments on Cranial Ontogenyâ€ť, authors MICHAEL J. RYAN and ANTHONY P. RUSSELL of the University of Calgary and David Eberth and Philip Currie of the Royal Tyrell Museum of Palaeontology attempt to come to grips with a huge fossil graveyard made up almost entirely of the remains of potentially thousands of Centrosaurus apertus, individuals who apparently died simultaneously as the result of some ancient catastrophe. Centrosaurus was considered a “medium sized” dinosaur with an average size of between 18 to 20 feet (6 meters) bearing a single, large horn over its nose.
In the past science has visited this location in Alberta, in terms of scientists and of scientific studies but much of the prior research about the dinosaur fossils there was centered on how finding these fossil herds informed science about the social behaviors of cerotopsian dinosaurs and dinosaurs in general. In this article, the authors focus more on the taphonomy of the formation and the events leading up to fossil deposition at the site.
Taphonomy is the study of decaying organisms over time and how they become fossilized (if they do). The term taphonomy (from the Greek taphos -meaning burial, and nomos – meaning law) was introduced to paleontology in 1940 by Russian scientist Ivan Efremov to describe the study of the transition of remains, parts, or products of organisms, from the biosphere, to the lithosphere, i.e. the creation of fossil assemblages….Wikipedia
What do the authors surmise happened to these dinosaurs? And, what do they suppose is the most likely way that fossils are created-especially a site where thousands of such fossils created at the same time? Do the authors believe that the huge numbers of fossilized individuals found there died as a result of some catastrophe or that that fossils were accumulated by some means over a long period of time?
Those answers in a moment but I want to mention that as extraordinary as the Dinosaur Park Bone Bed is, it is not the first huge dinosaur graveyard to be discovered on this planet that would cause such questions to be raised. For example there are an estimated 800 billion fossils at the Karoo Supergroup in South Africa. There were so many fossils estimated to be there that many initially “creationists” worried that the estimate might be too high to fit the Genesis flood theory. Now everyone more or less agrees that there are upwards of 800 billion veterbrate fossils buried there.
â€śMassive fossil graveyards of dinosaurs still exist all over the world. The Morrison beds in North America, the dinosaur beds in Montana, in the Rocky Mountains, in Alberta, the Dakotas, China, Colorado, Utah, Africa, etc., etc., contain literally millions of dinosaur fossils piled together in tremendous heaps. Ten thousand Hadrosaurs were found on Egg Mountain, Monatana alone, jumbled together in what appears to have been a mass death.â€ť Darwin Papers, James Foard
That represents a very short list of the dinosaur and fossil bone beds found around the world. For instance, another bone bed, the Sicilian “hippopotamus beds” are so extensive that they are mined as a source of charcoal.
This is what one might expect if one had read and believed the Genesis account of the great flood but it is more problematic for the science of the current paradigm which favors uniformatism over catastrophism in explaining the history of the planet.
There is yet at least one other issue related to dinosaur and mammalian fossils that scientists are loathe to discuss out there in the public where Bible believers might see it. That is the fact that; dinosaurs died agonizing deaths!
An article in LiveScience, June 2007 provides some details.
“Fossilized dinosaurs often have wide-open mouths, heads thrown back and tails that curve toward the head. Paleontologists have long assumed the dinosaurs died in water and the currents drifted the bones into that position, or that rigor mortis or drying muscles, tendons and ligaments contorted the limbs.”
Asphyxiation is the cause claims a veterinarian who studied many of the fossils. Of course, asphyxiation is consistent with drowning.
Conclusions reached in the lead article regarding the taphonomy of the Alberta, Canada Dinosaur Park Formation:
Cause of death: The bone bed is dominated by the disarticulated, mostly fragmentary and slightly abraded remains of Centrosaurus apertus, with minor occurrences of other taxa, notably teeth from the large tyrannosaurid Albertosaurus libratus. Fossils occur in a stacked to amalgamated succession of lag deposits, deposited and reworked at the erosional base of a paleochannel. The most parsomonious scenario suggests that Centrosaurus material represents part of a large aggregation of animals (possibly numbering in the thousands) that died by drowning on the alluvial plain.
Catastrophy or Fossils Deposited Over Time: â€śThis site may represent an upriver accumulation of the same centrosaur material in BB 43. If these two sites are part of the same bone bed then the original number of dead centrosaurs may have numbered in the tens of thousands. The data presented in this study support a catastrophic death for the original Centrosaurus assemblage. The low diversity assemblage with an almost uniform taphonomic signature suggests that a large group of one species was killed in one place at the same time, then disarticulated and transported to their final resting place very quickly, probably in under a few years.â€ť
Most Likely Cause of Fossillization of Entire Herd: â€śKurten (1952) points out that while mass deaths do occur, they are fairly rare. Behrensmeyer (1975) suggests that it is the exception (drowning) that usually produces a fossil, while â€śnormalâ€ť life habits leave little or no fossil evidence. Given the rarity of fossilization, it would seem like ly that the record of a mass death would best be preserved if it was tied to a specific instance that increased the chances of fossilization, such as in a mass death by drowning.â€ť
The Bible is not a â€śscientificâ€ť book. When Christians endeavor to explain biblical events scientifically, we leave the inerrancy of the Bible and in many ways become subject to the same errors as secular scientists who try to explain the history of this planet scientifically.
What we can say is that given our belief in a worldwide flood exactly as described in Genesis, the fact that huge fossil bone beds have been discovered around the world, and given the unique way fossils are formed (in water) and acknowledging the further fact that many of these animals died of asphyxiation we believe that the Genesis account of a great, worldwide flood is strongly supported by the data.