Do you like being outside and discovering different kinds of plants, bugs, and rocks? Maybe you even have your own collection of rocks or shells. If you have ever collected many rocks, you might have found some small fossils too. Today we are going to explore more about fossils
What is a fossil?
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “fossil”? Dinosaur bones? There are all different kinds of fossils, like sea creatures, plants, and footprints as well as bones. Officially in science a fossil is what’s left of an ancient animal or plant after it dies. So fossils are basically just dead things.
How are they made?
What happens if you leave leftover food in the refrigerator for too long? That’s right – it goes bad and starts to stink. In the same way, animals and plants that die in the wild don’t last just the way they are, but also tend to “go bad”. To get a fossil to last for thousands of years, it has to be buried or frozen right after the creature dies. Fossils last longest if they are permineralized (say it: “purr-min-err-ul-eyes-d”), when a bone is actually turned to stone. It doesn’t take millions of years for this to happen – you just need the right conditions.
Bones aren’t the only thing that can be turned to stone by being permineralized. A hat, boot, teddy bear, and other odd things have all been found permineralized. Those definitely didn’t take millions of years to turn to stone!
The Bible tells us about Noah’s flood in Genesis chapters 6-9. This flood was much worse than any flood we have ever seen. It covered the entire earth, even going above the tallest mountains. This created a giant, muddy soup of everything in the world at the time. Plants, animals, and people were all swept up into the mess. This was a recipe for lots of fossils. Most of the fossils we find today were buried in this flood about four thousand years ago.
The world-wide flood wasn’t just a long rain storm. The Bible says that the “fountains of the great deep” broke up. These were probably some kind of underwater volcanoes. We can’t even imagine how terrible that flood was.
Millions of Years?
You might have heard people say that fossils (especially dinosaurs) must be millions of years old because they are buried under many layers of rock. There are a lot of problems with this idea though. First, we know that this is against what the Bible says, and the Bible can’t be wrong. Second, there are a whole bunch of things in science that go against the idea of millions of years. For example, many of the fossils we find are super delicate and must have been buried alive. Fossils make much more sense when we remember what the Bible says about the world-wide flood.
You are most likely to find fossils of the hard parts of a creature like bones, horns, and shells. But fossils of soft body parts have also been found. Once a team of scientists, lead by a lady named Mary Schweitzer, found a t-rex fossil. Since the fossil was too heavy for the helicopter, they had to cut it in half and were surprised to find dinosaur blood vessels. We have found fossil skin, dinosaur blood cells, and even entire jellyfish fossils. Fossils like this had to have been buried very quickly in the world-wide flood just a few thousand years ago.
Have you ever been to a beach and seen your footprints in the wet sand? The animals outside the ark died in Noah’s flood, but they tried to get away from it first (they couldn’t because it was world-wide), leaving their footprints in the mud. Some of those footprints were quickly covered in mud and turned to hard rock. Fossil footprints like this are called “Ichnofossils”.
Ichnofossils (say it like “Ick! No- fossil!”) are not part of an animal’s body, but “clue” fossils. They can be fossil footprints, nests, claw marks, poop, or any other fossil that proves an animal was up to something. (more about Ichnofossils here)
Fosils & You
You may be thinking by now that some of this stuff with fossils sounds a little bit nasty or wondering why it really matters. Fossils are important because they remind us of the world-wide flood that the Bible talks about. All the animals and people outside the ark died, and some of them turned into fossils. God sent the flood to destroy the whole world because the people were very, very bad. Do you know what? We are all bad in our hearts and deserve to be punished just like those people who died in the flood. Just like Noah was saved in the ark, we can be saved by Jesus. Jesus died to take that punishment for us so that we can live forever in Heaven with God.
Thoughts From Readers
CCK is written by Sara J. Bruegel. If you have a question or comment, please write to Sara at: CreationCluesForKids@gmail.com and it may get published in the next issue. Also, you can visit www.CreationClues.com to read a new clue each week or read past issues of CCK. Cartoon drawn by Eliza Haley.
“After the flood, why were some animals fossilized and others weren’t?” ~ Britta H., age 7
Britta, thank you for your question! Only animals that were buried right away in mud turned to fossils. Some floated around on the water, were burned by underwater volcanoes, or other things happened that kept them from getting buried fast enough.
Originally published July-September 2014. Digitally Reformatted December 2014. Copyright Sara J. Bruegel, used with permission.