Cuttlefish are mollusks that look somewhat like squid. They have an internal, hard, supportive structure with soft organs around and inside it. This resilient “cuttlebone” is made of cleverly woven strands of a biochemical material called chitin and mixed with a hard biomineral called aragonite.
A team of paleontologists found a supposedly 34 million-year-old fossil cuttlebone that still had both the original aragonite and chitin. This is significant, because one might expect the hard aragonite to persist in the fossil record, but not the organic chitin or protein. The chitin, which is made of sugars tightly bonded into molecular chains, would have spontaneously degraded and been long gone after only thousands of years.
The researchers compared the fossil cuttlebone, found in a Mississippi clay deposit, with modern cuttlebone chitin, and their results showed a “shortening of the chitin strands,…the breakdown of chitosan [chemically altered chitin],… and loss of hydrogen bonds.”1 Thus, the chitin has been falling apart, as would be expected based on chitin biochemistry.
But the fact that it has not yet completely decayed is only expected if the cuttlebone was fossilized just thousands of years ago. If this fossil cuttlebone was deposited during Noah’s Flood, then its partly decayed chitin fits well with the Bible’s chronology.
The researchers also used three separate techniques to test for “original endogenous organics,” all of which confirmed the presence of chitin. They wrote in the online journal PLoS ONE that their results “show preservation of degraded original organics consistent with β-chitin.”1
Original chitin has rarely been reported in fossils. But it’s unclear if that is because it is not actually present, or because it is not expected to be there—and as a result is hardly ever even investigated….
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