Fossil whales in the Pisco Formation, Peru: What

Fossil whales in the Pisco Formation, Peru: What

Fossil whales in the Pisco Formation, Peru: What do they tell us about the Pisco? Research by: Leonard Brand, PhD, Loma Linda University Arthur Chadwick, PhD, Southwestern Adventist Univ. Raul Esperante, PhD, GRI Collaborators from Geoscience Research Institute, Loma Linda University, and Universidad Peruana Union,

Lima Research approach: A biblical worldview was significant in the recognition of a profitable research project, and in its successful pursuit. A biblical worldview, including a short-age geological model, can open our eyes to see things that others have overlooked. A very large assemblage of fossil marine vertebrates, mostly whales, had been interpreted in the conventional geological

model as buried very slowly by diatomaceous sediment a few centimeters per thousand years. Upon being introduced to the Miocene/Pliocene Pisco Formation in coastal Peru, we immediately recognized a problem in the conventional model for these fossil whales. The problem: The problem faced by the conventional, long ages interpretation was the incompatibility of these two concepts:

1. The thousands of whales have well-preserved bones, and the vast majority are articulated skeletons. 2. The sediments entombing them were believed to have accumulated at a very slow rate centimeters/thousand years. Since study of modern organisms indicates that rapid burial is necessary for such well-preserved fossils, these two concepts did not fit together. Our research task was to find the solution to this conflict.

We predicted that the whales were buried rapidly. The whales are mostly baleen whales, related to Blue Whales, Sei Whales, and Minke Whales Pisco Formation exposures cover a wide area in coastal Peru (green areas on the map). The photo shows typical Pisco outcrops

The horizontal layers once covered all this area, to the base of the Andes Mountains. Erosion has removed much of it. The whales are very numerous. This approximately one square mile area contained over 350 whales. Evidence indicates the partial whales were complete before damage by modern erosion.

The preservation of the whales in most cases was excellent. There were exceptions areas in the lower part of the Pisco with scattered, disarticulated bones. Otherwise the preservation and articulation of skeletons was unusually good

This whale had protein preserved in its baleen Excavating a fossil porpoise A complete whale with a mouth full of

baleen. Many whales had fossil baleen, which must be buried rapidly to be preserved Some publications from this research

Conclusions Study of modern whales after death, for comparison: The flesh is removed by scavengers within a few months. Baleen becomes detached in days, and is not fossilized easily. The bones are destroyed within a few years. The Pisco Fm fossil whales have well preserved bones. Scavengers evidently did remove the flesh quickly, but there was virtually no evidence of damage to the bones by scavengers.

Most skeletons are articulated there was not enough time for bones to become damaged or disarticulated. The evidence points to burial of any given whale within weeks to a few months after death, not thousands of years. Conclusions Ecology of the whale deaths: They were not beached. They died and sank in shallow bays along the coast.

The most abundant whales are in diatomaceous sediment, indicating massive diatom blooms (red tides). The sediment also contains much volcanic ash, from the Andes. The whales apparently were killed by toxins from diatom blooms, or suffocated by volcanic ash. The fossils were buried by fine sand or diatomaceous sediment concentrated in the shallow bays by storm or tidal currents. The sediments and fossils were later raised above sea level by earth movements.

Conclusions The excellent whale preservation indicates that burial was rapid. The burial conditions indicated above could bury them far more rapidly than could happen in modern diatom accumulations, which are in deep oceans. It appears that these Miocene to Pliocene deposits formed in the still somewhat catastrophic conditions after the global flood, not during the flood.

Our biblical worldview open our eyes to features that other researchers had not noticed. Questions brought to mind by ones worldview can then be carefully followed up by high quality scientific research to answer the questions.

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