Fossil brains change minds and “Turn Paleontology on Its Head”, according to a report in University of Arizona News 9 November 2015. University of Arizona (UA) researcher Nicholas Strausfeld, “was met with ‘a lot of flack’”, when he co-authored a paper in 2012 announcing the discovery of a fossilized brain of the Cambrian arthropod Fuxianhuia protensa from the Chengjiang Shales of China. Why? Because, according to the UA press release, “Science has long dictated that brains don’t fossilize”. So, according to Strausfeld, “It was questioned by many paleontologists, who thought — and, in fact, some claimed in print — that maybe it was just an artifact or a one-off, implausible fossilization event”.

However, the results of Strausfeld’s new study, in which he and his colleagues, “analyzed seven newly discovered fossils of the same species to find in each, traces of what was undoubtedly a brain”, have laid sceptic’s claims to rest. But just how did these brain tissues come to be “preserved as flattened carbon films” in hardened sediment?

The UA report explains, “The only way to become fossilized is, first, to get rapidly buried. Hungry scavengers can’t eat a carcass if it’s buried, and as long as the water is anoxic enough — that is, lacking in oxygen — a buried creature’s tissues evade consumption by bacteria as well. Strausfeld and his collaborators suspect F. protensa was buried by rapid, underwater mudslides, a scenario they experimentally re-created by burying sandworms and cockroaches in mud”. Studying the detail of this incredibly-preserved fossil has, “revealed [that] F. protensa‘s ancient brain looked a lot like a modern crustacean’s, too”.

Link: UA News

Editorial Comment: Creationists have long pointed out that time is the least important factor in most geological phenomena, including fossilisation. Processes (particularly catastrophic ones) form fossils, not time. It’s certainly refreshing to see more secular scientists recognising this.

Unfortunately, as in all cases when catastrophic processes are invoked in secular explanations of fossils (and they very frequently are), the authors of the study have merely assimilated it within the overall paradigm of long-age unformitarianism (i.e. “the present is the key to the past”). Scenarios similar to the one that supposedly formed this fossil brain have been invoked to explain other well-preserved fossil sites around the world, including the Burgess Shale in Canada and some of the well-preserved soft-bodied Ediacaran fossils found in Namibia, Africa. (Written up in National Geographic 1993 and 1998.)

Indeed, catastrophic fossil formation appears to be the rule worldwide at all levels of the geologic column, not the exception, so attempts on the part of conventional geologists to limit these processes to local, ordinary scales, doesn’t really fit with the big picture, but reflects an attempt to retain the long ages undergirding Darwin’s evolutionary framework. But Darwin’s theory falls flat when attempting to fit fossils like these into the evolutionary scenario. For example, how could a complex structure such as a brain, arranged like those of modern crustaceans, evolve by chance, yet with no clear evolutionary predecessors found in the layers below it (i.e. Precambrian)?

Furthermore, this discovery shows that complex creatures existed at a very early point in supposed evolutionary history, thereby refuting the common misconception that the fossil record progresses from simple to complex life.

On the other hand, fossils like these fit well with the Bible’s account of the supernatural creation of “swarms of living creatures” in the oceans on Day 5 of Creation Week, and the geologic upheavals that took place during the year-long Global Flood of Genesis 7-9, which would have buried billions of sea creatures in mud and sand, creating perfect conditions for rapid and exquisite fossilization.

Right in line with other recent discoveries, this new fossil both confirms the flood deposited fossil scenario which preserved organisms descended from created original kinds, as well as shatters evolutionary assumptions. Nicholas Strausfeld put it perfectly, “People, especially scientists, make assumptions. The fun thing about science, actually, is to demolish them”. UA News 9 November 2015) They just don’t like it much when the creationists use it against them. ((Ref. arthropods, fossilisation, neurology)

Evidence News vol. 15, No. 23
2 December 2015
Creation Research Australia