by David Catchpoole
‘Excitement’ doesn’t even begin to describe it. The news media heralded the ‘mating turtles’ fossils even before the Biology Letters research paper1 was officially available online. The famous fossil-filled shale deposits at the Messel Pit in Germany have yielded multiple fossil treasures with great fanfare before. But this announcement of the world’s first-ever discovery of copulating vertebrates fossilized “in flagrante delicto” (as both Nature journal2 and Science magazine3 put it) was a news editor’s dream.4 Even the dour (?) BBC didn’t hold back, headlining: “Turtles fossilised in sex embrace”.5
Note that it wasn’t just one aquatic turtle pair that had been found, but nine of them.6
From an evolutionary perspective, one can understand the scientists’ and media’s animation. That’s because, from their paradigm, it’s remarkable that any such fossils would be found—let alone nine. As lead researcher Walter Joyce, a fossil turtle expert at the University of Tübingen in Germany, mused, “there really is no reason to enter the fossil record while you are mating.”6
He’s right—but that’s if the traditional evolutionary millions-of-years uniformitarian paradigm is correct. As Joyce told LiveScience, “the chances of both partners dying while mating are extremely low, and the chances of both partners being preserved as fossils afterward even lower.”4 (To Discovery News Joyce said that “the chances of both partners dying at the same time is highly unlikely and the chances of both partners being preserved afterwards even less likely.”6 (Emphasis added.)
On the other hand, as we’ve pointed out on this website and in our other published works for many years, the evidence makes much better sense in light of the Bible’s account of history. These nine pairs of fossilized turtles are much better understood as a legacy of rapid burial in the global Flood of Noah’s day.
First, note their having been described as very well preserved: “incredible fossil specimens”,6 “truly exceptional fossils”,4 just like all the other “thousands of exquisitely preserved fossil creatures pulled from Messel Pit”5—fossils renowned for being “extraordinarily well preserved … [e.g.] insects and feathers that still have hints of their original colors.”3….
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