Unprecedented Blood-Filled Mosquito Fossil Raises Questions Over Evolutionary Dating Methods
October 21, 2013 | Filed under: Highlights,Science,Top Stories |
By: Garrett Haley KALISPELL, Mont.
– The discovery of a fossilized mosquito has led some scientists to question the presumed age of ancient fossils and rock layers.
The National Academy of Sciences recently published a journal article written by a team of five American and European scientists. The 5-page paper details the recent discovery of a well-preserved, fossilized mosquito in northwestern Montana’s Kishenehn Formation. Remarkably, the fossil appears to contain traces of preserved blood—a feature that the discoverers describe as both “rare” and “unique.”
Remarkably, the fossil appears to contain traces of preserved blood—a feature that the discoverers describe as both “rare” and “unique.”
“The preservation of fossil female mosquito … was an extremely improbable event,” the journal article explains. “The insect had to take a blood meal, be blown to the water’s surface, and sink to the bottom of a pond or similar lacustrine structure to be quickly embedded in fine anaerobic sediment, all without disruption of its fragile distended blood-filled abdomen.”
The blood-engorged mosquito was discovered in shale sediment which many geologists claim is 46 million years old. Thus, the discovery team says the specimen must have been fossilized—blood and all—46 million years ago.
But even many scientists are stunned that the blood could have survived over such an immense period of time.
An article on the journal Nature’s website says it was “a long shot” that the blood was found still intact. “The abdomen of a blood-engorged mosquito is like a balloon ready to burst. It is very fragile,” Dale Greenwalt, leader of the mosquito-finding team, told Nature. “The chances that it wouldn’t have disintegrated prior to fossilization were infinitesimally small.” Therefore, some assert that the find indicates that the Montana shale formation is much younger than previously thought.
Brian Thomas, science writer for the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), says the mosquito blood could not have possibly survived for nearly 50 million years. He told Christian News Network that scientists estimate specimens’ ages by correlating the fossils to data listed on standardized geologic charts. “Investigating the origin of the numbered dates on the chart, notorious for being constantly tweaked,” Thomas explained, “reveals complicated circular reasoning involving deep time age assignments given to certain fossils on the assumption that those fossils were deposited during separate time eras rather than separate areas at nearly the same time.”
Connect with Christian News Thomas says that the rock-dating methods used in these situations are “notoriously unreliable,” since they often return “vastly inflated” age estimates.
He noted that a journal article written by geologist Steven Austin detailed that one volcanic rock formed at Mt. St. Helens in 1986 was assigned an age of nearly 3 million years. “The recent report of genuine [blood] … inside the Kishenehn Formation’s mosquito fossil assigns its age using similarly circular reasoning,” Thomas continued. “[The discovery team] asserts that the fossil is 46 million years old because the Kishenehn Formation is supposedly that old (although the reference they cited gave two ‘ages’—43 and 46 million, neither fitting within the other’s error margins).
And where do they learn the Formation is that old?
Because the corresponding fossils on the geologic chart indicate such an age.” Thomas told Christian News Network that “there is no scientific evidence that heme groups can last, under any circumstances of preservation, for even one million, let alone many millions of years.” Thomas also pointed out that the shale rocks containing the mosquito fossil are rich with oil. Like blood, the organic oils “should have completely degraded long ago, especially considering how voracious oil-eating bacteria are known to be,” he said. “Ultimately,” Thomas concluded, “the ‘millions of years’ dogma, bereft of genuine scientific substance, serves as the ultimate authority for geologists who wish to keep their jobs in a secularized discipline.”
Photo: National Academy of Sciences