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3-22-12 DJ floating_island_6-1-1999 blog

Floating Islands, Madagascar and the Genesis Flood

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For some years, creationists have suggested that a number of animals could have migrated from one land mass to another after the Genesis Flood by a method known as rafting.  Rafting involves the animals traveling across the water via floating islands, log mats or some sort of vegetative mat.

In response, a number of evolutionists have criticized this notion as being improbable and unlikely.  However, a recent report following a study of the animals on the island of Madagascar suggests that some of them may have migrated from the African mainland to the large island nation via floating islands.

Paleontologist Karen Samonds, from the University of Queensland, has been studying the animals on Madagascar and comparing them to living animals and fossils on the mainland some 250 miles away.  Her goal was to see if she could trace the origin of a number of Madagascar’s unique species, especially those that are more land bound than others.  To many in the evolutionary world this has been an enigma that has plagued them for years.

Samonds explained it this way,

The island has been fully isolated for more than 80 million years, which is well before the time period most of its animals are thought to have evolved, meaning many groups could not have been stranded there before the continents broke apart.

They began their study by constructing a database of the animals on the island, their relationships to each other and what they believed to be the nearest living or fossil relative off the island.  Based upon that database, they next tried to determine when the animals arrived on the island.  From there they set out to explain how they got there, taking into account from where on the mainland they originated and what the ocean characteristics were like then.  The methods of transport they considered were swimming, flying or rafting.

They determined that the distance was too great for swimming and many of the animals cannot fly, so that left some form of rafting as the most logical answer.  Samonds explained:

Rafting has long been hinted at as the explanation for much of Madagascar’s fauna.  Those in favor of the rafting theory point out that there are some tantalizing historic sightings of animals on floating clumps of vegetation, usually produced after major storm events. These ‘floating islands,’ up to 100 meters [330 feet] across, have been reported at sea more than 200 kilometers [125 miles] from their places of origination, some housing large, food-bearing trees and pockets of freshwater, as well as large terrestrial mammals, including a jaguar, puma, deer, monkeys and even a human infant.

There has been a great debate about rafting over at least the past 50 years.  While many authors have argued that dispersal events by terrestrial, land-dwelling animals across great distances of water are virtually impossible, others have argued that even unlikely events are certain to occur if the time elapsed is long enough, and that prevailing ocean currents could have aided these journeys.

When you consider the very long time-frame we’re talking about — tens of millions of years — even rare events have a chance to occur and be successful. In fact, for most groups, only one rare event explains the presence of the modern forms — for example, DNA evidence indicates that just one primate species made it across, probably 40 or 50 million years ago, and that ancestral form gave rise to the 101 descendent species you can find in Madagascar today.

Our results strongly suggest rafting did happen, mainly because the probability of successfully rafting changes predictably according to prevailing conditions.  There’s no reason to believe it has stopped — it is conceivable that rafting events on floating masses of vegetation detached by large tropical storms may still occur to Madagascar, especially through severe cyclones, some of which pass between Africa and Madagascar within a matter of days.

This is basically the same thing that creationists have proposed for animal migration after the Genesis flood when large vegetative mats, log jams and floating islands would have been abundant.  Rafting can easily explain how a number of animals could have made it to places like Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand and other island masses.  When you map out the ocean currents, you see that it would have also been possible for some animals to raft across the oceans from one continent to another on large enough mats of floating vegetation.

The only real difference between what creationists have been suggesting about rafting and what Samonds and her team is suggesting is the time frame.  She’s talking millions of years ago and we’re only talking about 4350 years ago.  They are guessing when the rafting took place while we know that it did take place not long after the recorded event of the Flood.  And if it weren’t for the biblical time frame used by creationists, perhaps the secular scientists might take our idea of rafting more seriously, especially since they are lending some credibility to the idea.

Reference

Choi Charles Q. Species Hitched Ride to Madagascar on Floating Islands, Live Science, March 19, 2012.

 

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