Historical Science: How do We Know a Fish Fossil is a Fish Fossil?

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The difference between what young earth creationists like to term “operational” or “observational” science and historical science doesn’t have the sharp distinction they like to project to their audience.  I was reminded of this recently when I had an opportunity to hear Tommy Mitchell speak at a local Answers in Genesis conference a few weeks ago.  One particular talk was […]

John Ray in 1695: The Flood, Fossils, and Extinction

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John Ray, one of England’s greatest 17th century natural theologians, spent much time pondering the meaning of fossils or “formed stones” as they were called then.  I have shared some of his thoughts about fossils and Earth’s history before (See:  John Ray on Flood Geology: Words that Still Apply Today).   In a correspondence with […]

A Visit to Fossil Butte National Monument in Wyoming

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At the bottom of an ancient lake in southwest Wyoming thousands of fish, plant leaves, and other animals were preserved with amazing detail. These fossils represent very different organisms than those found in other parts of Wyoming such as the fossil sites that we found this summer north-central Wyoming (Hiking through the Jurassic Period in Wyoming […]

The Ark Encounter Fossil Sluice: A Missed Educational Opportunity

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The Ark Encounter in Kentucky is built on a foundation of trillions of fossils but when they built a new activity to allow visitors to find their own fossils they opted to give them assorted fossils from other places in the world.  This was a missed educational opportunity. When I wrote about my visit to the […]

The Ark Encounter Sits on a Foundation Made of Trillions of Fossils

I made this image to show that the Ark is built on top of fossil-filled rock.  That is a natural resource they don't seem to be interested in using.

The Ark Encounter theme park in Kentucky is literally built on trillions of dead things.  This fact would seem to support Ken Ham’s popular response to what we would expect had the world been subject to a global flood: “Billions of dead things in rock layers…”   But the fossils that form the foundation of his Ark park […]

Quadrillions, Quintillions and Beyond: The Vast Fossil Record Refutes the Flood Geology Hypothesis

Don't worry I left a few for everyone else.  I collected just a few of the quadrillions of belemnite fossils that are contained in rocks of the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming.  These were collected on our hike on Sheep Mountain.  (image: Joel Duff)

Young earth creationists greatly underestimate the fossil record when they tell their audiences that there are “billions of dead things buried in rock layers.”  The point, that there are huge numbers of fossils, is correct but billions is such an underwhelming number compared to the reality of the fossil record.  The vastness of the fossil record was driven […]

Wyoming Fossils: Coming to Grips with the Absurdity of the Flood Geology Model of Fossil Origins

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The sedimentary rocks of the Earth hold vast quantities of fossils.  Hundreds of years of observations have shown that these fossils are far from random in their distribution but rather they appear in the geological column in a distinct pattern or order referred to as fossil succession.  How can we explain the observed distribution of fossils in the geological […]

Hiking through the Jurassic Period in Wyoming: A Sheep Mountain Fossil Hunt

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This summer two of my sons and I took a hike through the Jurassic time period.  Near Greybull, Wyoming is a long ridge called Sheep Mountain.  Geologically speaking, Sheep Mountain is an anticline which is a type of folded bedrock that has an arch-like shape with its oldest rocks at its core.  Because what are typically horizontal rock layers are here found tipped […]

Walking in the Footprints of Giants: The Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite in Wyoming

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Scattered across the upper surface of a hard layer of limestone in the badlands of the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming are the tell-tale signs of dinosaur activity: footprints.  Over one thousand footprints have been identified here, most of them on one exposure of rock in a small gully in the Red Gulch region.  On our family vacation this […]

Remnants of a Shallow Sea: A Visit to Monument Rocks in Kansas

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In remote western Kansas, groups of rock pillars stand like a natural Stonehenge over the grassy plains.  One such group of these pillars south of Oakley is named Monument Rocks.  Returning from our Wyoming and Colorado adventure, we stopped overnight in Scott City, Kansas just south of this interesting rock formation. The following morning we made our way along many […]

Fossil Hunting in the Badlands of South Dakota

A portion of a jawbone I picked up off a hillside in the badlands of South Dakota. Photo: Joel Duff

So many highlights from our vacation but I am going to hold off on some of my favorites until I am able to work through my images and develop more back story to go with them.  Instead, I will start with a short stop we made at Badlands National Park in South Dakota.  We were there all […]

NH Summer Update: Vacation, Ark Encounter and Coming Attractions

Devils Tower in Wyoming. Photo: Joel Duff, June 2016

The past month has been quite an adventure.  It has been good to get a break from my job and this blog, which was starting to feel like a job.  Hopefully I am refreshed and bring some new perspectives – and photos – to share with you in the coming months.  Below are a couple of highlights […]

Cave with Structures Made from Stalagmites Another Problem for YEC Chronology

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It seems like every month there is an amazing new discovery of ancient human activities.  Last week it was revealed that “structures” built from stalagmites deep – more than 1000 feet – in a French cave are much older than previously thought.  You can read about these strange structures in many places. I found this article in The Atlantic to be […]

2500 Year Old Human Footprints Discovered: Insight into the Formation of Fossil Footprints

If-drTSmith

Countless numbers of footprints made by hundreds of kinds of organisms are preserved in hundreds of individual layers of the geological column.   Millions of these tracks have been identified from just the tiny fraction of the rocks that are exposed at the surface of the Earth.   But how were so many footprints preserved? In conversations with […]

A Tale of Taphonomy: Clam Shrimp Fossils and the Age of the Earth

A clam shrimp.  This has a nearly clear carapace (the clam shells) and has a large number of eggs in its brood pouch over its back.

One of the great privileges of my job is that I get to participate on graduate student committees. This allows me to get up close and personal with data from a variety of sub-disciplines of biology that sometimes extend far from those of my particular expertise.  You know by now that I carry a particular […]