The evolutionary history of certain extinct marine reptiles just got rewritten.

After rapidly evolving an array of variations, one particular variety of the dolphin-shape marine reptiles known as ichthyosaurs supposedly died out completely in extinction events dispersed over millions of years. But the recent description of out-of-place ichthyosaur fossils shows that this conception is wrong, and additional related clues point to even deeper problems.

A team of paleontologists examined ichthyosaur bone fossils from England and Germany, identifying a particular species in Cretaceous rocks.1 They didn’t expect this, since other researchers had described similar-looking fossils farther below, in middle Jurassic rocks. The newly described ichthyosaurs were supposedly deposited some 60 million years later, having presumably lived through earlier catastrophic extinctions.

Ulrich Joger, a German paleontologist and one of the co-authors of the study published online in PLoS ONE, told BBC News, “It’s a spectacular find. It raises new questions about the [Jurassic] (sic) extinction theory.”2

One such question is why so many other animals apparently became extinct while this variety of ichthyosaurs survived. But this is only a problem if one assumes that the rock layers in question are separated by millions of years and punctuated by separate extinction events.

Perhaps, instead, the local fossil-bearing rocks in England and Germany were deposited in rapid succession by tsunami-like waves associated with a global catastrophe, burying various groups of creatures in a sequence of quickly formed strata. This scenario needs no imaginative add-ons to explain why only certain species survived for “millions” of years longer than others, since the dogma of vast time doesn’t encumber it….

 

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