Horsshoe Crabs

Horseshoe crab brains haven’t changed, according to a report in Science Alert 28 July 2021, Natural History Museum (NHM) Science News 5 August 2021, and Geology, doi: 10.1130/G49193.1, published online 26 July 2021.

An international group of scientists from Australia, UK and USA have studied an “exceptionally preserved” fossil horseshoe crab named Euproops danae, found in the Mazon Creek Konservat-Lagerstätte in Illinois, USA. This rock formation is dated as 310 million years old. The fossil is so well preserved that researchers were able to compare the structure of its brain with the brain of living horseshoe crabs. They concluded brains have “remained essentially unchanged in horseshoe crabs for >300 m.y.”.

According to NHM Science News, “It is actually this incredible lack of change between the ancient and modern horseshoe crabs that allowed the researchers to identify this feature in the first place”.

Scientists suggest the horseshoe crab was living in a shallow sea, but was buried in a mudflow and preserved when a mineral named siderite rapidly formed around it and each of its internal structures. The brain decayed but the void was filled by another mineral, kaolinite, enabling the structure of the brain to be seen. The research team commented the “siderite matrix must have been emplaced very quickly to capture neural tissue (brain)”. They went on to say “this rapid (siderite) growth could be difficult to account for”, but it is the currently accepted explanation for the fossils in this rock formation”.

Links: NHM, Science Alert

Editorial Comment. Horseshoe crabs are a classic living fossil, i.e. a life form whose fossils are the same as the living ones. Ironically, it was Charles Darwin who coined this term because he recognised that some living creatures in the world today have the same structure as their fossils. He thought they were “anomalous”, because his theory was about living things changing. However, over 160 years of research since Darwin’s time, has turned up so many examples that living fossils are really the norm rather than the exception. Furthermore, as the NHM scientists acknowledge, it is because living things have not evolved that we are able to identify their fossils.

Darwin also claimed “No organism wholly soft can be preserved”. (Origin of Species, 1859, Ch9, p288) He knew that decay processes rapidly destroyed soft tissues, but because he believed Lyell’s theory that rock layers were laid down slowly over vast periods of time, therefore fossils can only have been buried slowly. But real world research, such as the fossil described above, has shown soft tissues can be preserved, and scientists admit the rock formations with such soft tissues must have formed rapidly. Our own Creation Research on fossils, strata formation and mineralisation at our Jurassic Ark site confirms this also.

Again, at the risk of boring you, this horseshoe crab fossil confirms the record of Genesis, which tells us living creatures were created as fully functioning creatures according to their kinds, and have reproduced after their kinds ever since. 1600 years or so after creation, God judged the world with a flood that rapidly buried many creatures and preserved them as rock solid evidence of creation and judgement. Don’t be one of those who are without excuse for ignoring this clear evidence of your Creator, Judge and Saviour – the Lord Jesus Christ.

For more examples of living fossil, search for “living fossils” or “after their kind” in the search box above.

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