Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Fossil Wars: What Do Fossils Really Tell Us?

Scientists seldom agree on fossils because they have to be interpreted.

Joel Kontinen

Interpreting and dating fossils is an intriguing game. In 1990 J. Shreeve wrote in Discoverer magazine: ”Everybody knows fossils are fickle; bones will sing any song you want to hear.”

Others would agree with this statement. In 1996 science writer Michael Lemonick expressed the same thought in somewhat different words: “Paleontology is much like politics: passions run high, and it’s easy to draw very different conclusions from the same set of facts.”

Paleontology is the science of fossils. When scientists dig up old bones they have to make a number of assumptions. They usually interpret the evidence according to a Darwinian framework.

Now, if they use an incorrect framework, the result will also be incorrect. For instance, so great is the belief in millions of years that only a few will dare to question this “truth”, even though researchers have found soft tissue in tens of fossils.

There is a more logical interpretation: the fossils cannot be that old. Most fossils were probably formed during the great flood described in Genesis.


Michael D. Lemonick. 1996. Parenthood dino-style. Time, January 8, page 48.