The Cenozoic (meaning new- or recent- life) Era started with the Cretaceous Extinction
Event that destroyed the dinosaurs and has continued up to the present moment.
During the 1830's geologists subdivided the Cenozoic into several epochs, according to the proportion that modern species of mollusks (oysters and the like) form of all mollusk fossils. Initially there were 5 epochs; two more, the Paleocene and Oligocene, were added later.
The Holocene Epoch started with the end of the last Ice Age.
The absolute dates, obtained by radiodating, were not established until well into the 20th. Century.
In terms of sedimentary layers, of course, the Holocene form the uppermost and the Paleocene the lowest of the Cenozoic layers.
% OF MODERN
MILLIONS OF YEARS AGO
OLD EARLY RECENT 65 - 56
EARLY RECENT 56 - 35
SLIGHTLY RECENT 35 - 23
MODERATELY RECENT 23 - 5
nearly 50% PLIOCENE
5 - 1.64
over 90% PLEISTOCENE
1.64 - 0.01
RECENT 0.01 - 0.00
Much of these data have been garnered from John McPhee's wonderful book:
"Annals of the Former World"
Young-Earth Creationists may wonder how they can account for the fact that, with increasing
depth of sediments (laid down, according to their hypothesis, during the Noachian Flood), the
humble Oysters become increasingly less familiar. How can any combination of factors, that
don't include time and evolution, account for this?
And when they tire of trying to explain that, they might also recall that below the Cenozoic sediments, with their ever-so-humble Oysters, lie those of the Mesozoic with such marine monsters as the mighty Mosasaur and the not so pleasing Plesiosaur. The YECs may want to wonder how it was that these former mighty monarchs of the seas came to be buried underneath strata containing the Cenozoic oysters; seeing that, according to the YEC mythology, all these critters lived at the same time!
Oyster fossils are also found in UF SCIENTIST'S OYSTER DISCOVERY Jurassic deposits. In the lower strata they are about the size of a penny, but further up they are the size of dinner plates. Nowadays of course they are about 2-3 inches across. The question is: how did these oysters, all living together according to the YEC mythology, come to be sorted by the Flood in this fashion?
THE PALEOZOIC TRILOBITES
And then, below the Mesozoic lie the Paleozoic sediments characterized by the
Trilobites. These were three-lobed
arthropods, fossils of which are found all the way from layers of late Cambrian to those of
the late Permian, a period, according to orthodox science, of some 250-300 million years.
Some 15,000 species have already been described with more being added almost daily. Many books have been written about them and many professional lives have been devoted exclusively to their study.
A typical trilobite species lasted only a million years or so so they are often very useful as index fossils. A few species were swimmers but the great majority were bottom feeders.
Now then; according to the YEC mythology all these mud-grubbing bottom feeders should be confined to one bottom layer (because, remember, they all lived at the same time), not dispersed as they are, through such wide range of layers and in such a precisely defined order of species. Furthermore, the Devonian sediments, well-known for their fish fossils, underlie sediments (Mississippian, Pennsylvanian and Permian) that contain bottom-feeding trilobites.
So how do YECs explain these problems?
The standard YEC explanation for the fact that fossils are not all mixed together, as would be expected had they all died in a violent world-wide flood, is:
"The fossil-bearing strata were apparently laid down in large measure during the Flood, with apparent sequences attributed not to evolution but rather to hydrodynamic selectivity, ecological habitats, and differential mobility and strength of the various creatures."
(Whitcomb and Morris, 1961, p. 327 - as quoted in Lenny Flank's 'must-read' article:
Can Noah's Flood Account for the Geologic and Fossil Record?)
This might seem to some to be an easy escape route, but the devil is in the details and when
you consider such details as we have done here, it becomes obvious that this particular YEC
dogma is dead in the water (as it were!).
Of course, YECs aren't much given to such considerations for therein lurks heresy.
If you have any comments or suggestions, I'd appreciate hearing from you. You could do this
NOW or later at:
Return to My Opinions Index