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No. 105: May-Jun 1996

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The karoo: the greatest vertebrate graveyard

In SF#104, we mentioned a vast bone bed consisting mainly of fish remains. Now, an exchange of letters in a creationist journal gives us the opportunity to present a few facts about a giant bone bed of terrestrial vertebrate fossils: the Karoo Supergroup of southern Africa.

The point being discussed by the creationists is the source of the estimated 800 billion vertebrate fossils contain ed in the Karoo deposits. Whence this astronomical number of mainly swampdwelling reptiles? And whence the immense volume of sandstones and shale that contains their bones? The Genesis Flood model favored by creationists requires that all 800 billion animals be drowned at the same time and swept into South Africa and fossilized. But, they ask themselves, could the entire earth ever have supported so many swamploving reptiles at the same time? Is the Flood model threatened?

(Froede, Carl R., Jr.; "The Karoo and Other Fossil Graveyards: A Further Reply to Mr. Yake," Creation Research Society Quarterly, 32:199, 1996. A response by Bill Yake followed this letter.)

Comment. The figure of 800 billion fossils appears in several authoritative works, although concern is expressed about its magnitude and assumptions employed in calculating it. Once thing that is certain is that the Karoo deposits are immense and packed with bones. Even after decades of fossil collecting, bones are still sticking out of the ground.

Composed mainly of sandstones and shales deposited in shallow water, the Karoo can be 20,000 feet thick. The fossil-rich beds stretch out for hundreds of miles. Nowhere else on the planet is there such a massive, continuous, fossiliferous land deposit. The creationists' questions are not out of order at all. See Chapter ESD in Neglected Geological Anomalies for more on this. This volume is described here.

From Science Frontiers #105, MAY-JUN 1996. 1996-2000 William R. Corliss

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  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

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