[In 2015] the world said hello to Homo naledi, a new species of ancient human discovered in South Africa’s Rising Star cave… at least 15 individual skeletons—one of the richest hauls of hominid fossils ever uncovered.
But one significant problem clouded the excitement over the discovery: The team doesn’t know how old the fossils are…Everyone from professional paleontologists to interested members of the public raised the same question: Why hadn’t the team dated the fossils yet?
The simple answer is: Because dating fossils is really difficult.
Scientific papers and news reports about new fossils so regularly come with estimates of age. I asked John Hawks, a biologist at the University of Wisconsin and one of the heads of the Rising Star expedition, to talk me through the various available methods—and why they have been difficult to apply to the latest finds.
absolute dating methods provide chronological estimates of the age of certain geological materials associated with fossils, and even direct age measurements of the fossil material itself…
Geologists commonly use radiometric dating methods, based on the natural radioactive decay of certain elements such as potassium and carbon…
All elements contain protons and neutrons, located in the atomic nucleus, and electrons that orbit around the nucleus. In each element, the number of protons is constant while the number of neutrons and electrons can vary. Atoms of the same element but with different number of neutrons are called isotopes of that element. Each isotope is identified by its atomic mass, which is the number of protons plus neutrons. For example, the element carbon has six protons, but can have six, seven, or eight neutrons. Thus, carbon has three isotopes: carbon 12 (12C), carbon 13 (13C), and carbon 14 (14C)…
some isotopes, like 14C, have an unstable nucleus and are radioactive. This means that occasionally the unstable isotope will change its number of protons, neutrons, or both. This change is called radioactive decay. For example, unstable 14C transforms to stable nitrogen (14N). The atomic nucleus that decays is called the parent isotope. The product of the decay is called the daughter isotope. In the example, 14C is the parent and 14N is the daughter…
The rate of decay for many radioactive isotopes has been measured and does not change over time. Thus, each radioactive isotope has been decaying at the same rate since it was formed, ticking along regularly like a clock…
The amount of time that it takes for half of the parent isotope to decay into daughter isotopes is called the half-life of an isotope…If the half life of an isotope is known, the abundance of the parent and daughter isotopes can be measured and the amount of time that has elapsed since the “radiometric clock” started can be calculated.
The technique people are most likely to have heard of is carbon dating. It hinges upon the presence of carbon-14, a radioactive isotope of carbon that accumulates in the bodies of animals throughout our lives, and gradually decays after we die. By measuring the amounts left in a specimen, scientists can calculate when its owner died.
- First…the proportions of C-14 in the atmosphere in historic times is unknown….the atmospheric ratio is known to vary over time…
- various plants have differing abilities to exclude significant proportions of the C-14 in their intake. This varies with environmental conditions as well…An animal that ingested plants with relatively low C-14 proportions would be dated older than their true age.
The…method is far less predictive of age than is commonly supposed, especially for older samples.
Whoa! So what methods are used to establish dates older than 50,000 years ago, i.e. millions of years on the calendar of the evolution of all living things?
An alternative technique, known as electron spin resonanceor ESR…is great for dating teeth…a tooth acts like a dosimeter for radiation, in a way that depends on two things: the levels of natural radiation in its environment, and how long it was buried for. If you know the former, you can deduce the latter.
But knowing the natural radiation levels is “sort of nightmarish,” says Hawks. It involves, for example, installing actual radiation dosimeters and taking out vertical cores of sediment. And even then, the results from ESR typically need to be cross-checked against other sources of data.
The same problem as with radiocarbon-14 – no certain knowledge of the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere or organism at the point of death.
Radioactive carbon-14…used to analyze an organic material, such as wood, seeds, or bones, to determine a date of the material’s growth…need to be calibrated with other dating techniques to ensure accuracy…
Dendrochronology, founded in the late 1800s and early 1900s, allowed scientists to mark exact calendar dates for each ring…
Long tree-ring sequences have been developed throughout the world...An extensive tree-ring sequence from the present to 6700 BC was developed in Arizona using California bristlecone pine, some of which are 4900 years old, making them the oldest living things on earth.
This provides scientific validation of the biblical model of earth’s living history beginning about 6,000 years ago.
Paleontologists can sometimes date a new fossil by looking at its companions in death, by finding nearby bones of other extinct animals that died within a known timeframe…
As a defense attorney, I would “Strike that!”
- Being in the vicinity does not prove being accomplices or companions in death.
- What is the proof for the ‘known” timeframe of the death of the other animals?
This provides scientific validation of the biblical model of earth’s living history beginning about 6,000 years ago.
There is a much bigger issue that has been skirted in the above discussion about dating fossils. Fossils contain no organic remains suitable for dating with the carbon-14 or magnetic spin resonance methods. So why are the “experts” even bringing these methods into the discussion? Smokescreen for the lack of any dating methods at all?
Fossils are not the remains of the organism itself! They are rocks.
Some rocks and minerals can only be created under certain conditions.An example of this is the coal deposits found in Antarctica…an environment with organic material and warm swampy areas is needed.
We can therefore deduce that Antarctica was once tropical. By looking at a geological layout of coal deposits on earth, we can also deduce the alignment of Antarctica when there was one single landmass, one occurrence of which was called Pangea.
Further evidence of catastrophic formation of fossils is found in the distribution of fossils’ flora and fauna prior to the literal earth-shattering breakup of Pangea. A small sample is shown below.
Note, if we swing Antarctica and Australia to the upper right of this graphic, the distribution of the pre-breakup flora and fauna lines up in a much more logical manner. This idea is supported by the layout of coal deposits from ancient flora which are also found in Antarctica. Just a thought, but it seems as scientific as the evidence for Pangea.
when a glacier moves past a smooth rock, it leaves behind deep scratches and deposits sediments that it has collected which can be identified, dated and traced to its original place…the Palaeozoic glaciation…left scratches on rocks, which today are several continents and far away from each other.
Extensive mountain-building events (or orogenies) occurred where the continents collided with one another, and the newly created high mountain ranges strongly influenced local and regional terrestrial climates.
East-west atmospheric flow in the temperate and higher latitudes was disrupted by two high mountain chains—one in the tropics oriented east-west and one running north-south—that diverted warm marine air into higher latitudes…
These developments may have contributed to the series of extinction events that took place...
Wegener’s outmoded concept of continental drift [as in slooowly]…simply stated that Earth’s continents were once joined together into the supercontinent Pangea that lasted for most of geologic time. [Instead] Plate tectonics states that Earth’s outer shell, or lithosphere, consists of large rigid plates that move apart at oceanic ridges, come together at subduction zones, or slip past one another along fault lines. The pattern of seafloor spreading indicates that Pangea did not break apart all at once but rather fragmented in distinct stages. Plate tectonics also postulates that the continents joined with one another and broke apart several times in Earth’s geologic history.
Fossils are formed…when a living organism…is quickly buried
- by sediment from ground water carrying dissolved minerals which fill up space inside
- the cells of plants and animals leaving petrified body parts, such as a bone, or
- the shape of a body part or plant that is then entirely removed by ground water flow
- or ash from a volcanic eruption.
Fossils are therefore either sedimentary or volcanic / igneous (as in “ignite”).
And of the two, only igneous rocks can be dated.
The Rift Valley is the result of an ancient series of faults, rifts, and volcanoes deriving from the shifting of tectonic plates at the junction between the Somalian and the African plates...
The faults occurred in…a time span of some 500 million years.
They forge on. (Get it? There are actually two puns there. Smelting iron as in a volcano, and, well, faking it.)
The fundamental assumptions in potassium-argon dating are that
(a) no argon was left in the volcanic material after formation and
(b) the system has remained closed since the material was produced, so that no argon has either entered or left the sample since formation.
The former assumption may be invalid in the case of…previously formed argon during formation under high hydrostatic pressure. [We see evidence of massive flooding again.]
Similarly, certain rocks may have incorporated older “argon-rich” material during formation.
Such factors result in the sample age being overestimated (Fitch, 1972)…
A lava flow that is known to have taken place in 1800-1801…was dated by potassium-argon as being 2,960 million years old. If the real dates had not been reasonably well established by other means, who could have proved that the potassium-argon dates were so wrong?…
The newly-formed lava dome at Mount St. Helens was dated to an age of 340,000 years when it was only 10 years old…
The K-Ar test is not trustworthy. Despite this it is still being used because it supports the preconceptions of the materialists.
Seriously? What is being claimed here is that
- igneous / volcanic rocks formed from material deep underground and spewed above ground
- can be used to assign the same date to the formation of above-ground sedimentary rock layers whose material has always been exposed to the atmospheric elements and which were formed by water-born events either slowly over time or during a rapid catastrophic flood event
- because they were thrown together during tectonic events that shook the earth hard enough to split it wide open.
How does that even make sense?
Relative dating can be determined through comparing finds in carefully mapped strata.
Stratigraphic chronologies: Context in Archeology – Museum of Ontario Archeology
One of the world’s oldest landfills was recently uncovered in Jerusalem….Through a systematic excavation of this landfill, Tel Aviv University archaeologist Yuval Gadot and his team have been able to shed light on Jerusalem during a particularly tumultuous chapter of its history—when Rome ruled, the Temple stood, and Jesus preached.
From the earliest agricultural villages through the early modern era, people have used clay vessels for almost every sort of activity…
Pottery also offers analytical evidence for dating, production and exchange through an array of scientific techniques, including Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis, X-Ray Fluorescenceand petrographic thin-section. More than a century of continuous excavation and study have resulted in a gold-mine of data—stylistic, stratigraphic, petrographic and elemental.
Earthenware vessels of different periods on display at Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum in Turkey from archeological sites estimated to date back to about 5,000 BC.
Several problems arise with the use of stratification for dating. Rodents, for example, can create havoc in a site by moving items from one context to another. Natural disasters like floods can sweep away top layers of sites to other locations.
Relative dating stems from the idea that…objects closer to the surface are more recent in time relative to items deeper in the ground…
geologists must make an initial assumption about the way rock strata are formed. Of course, it only applies to sedimentary rocks…
- Once we assume that all rock layers were originally horizontal,
- we can make another assumption: that the oldest rock layers are furthest toward the bottom, and the youngest rock layers are closest to the top.
- This rule is called the Law of Superposition…
I think we can all recognize that this assumed “Law” violates known evidence that during a volcanic explosion – as an airline steward once amusingly explained while giving his passenger instructions to secure their belongings -“shift happens.”
Why don’t Evolutionists factor into their calculations the rapid and frequent catastrophic events well known to have occurred throughout the earth’s history?
Because the dates derived thereby refute their belief system. That’s a quote.
Obvious? On what dating system? It was not obvious.
It was asserted out of an anti-religious idea rejecting moral authority. As the article itself admits, the idea of an old Earth came first, followed by efforts to prove it.
This area is a ridge of sedimentary rock where researchers have found more than 10,000 fossils, both human and other hominins, since 1968. These fossils aid the scientific investigation of human evolution.
All lakes, rivers, and streams carry sediment such as soil, sand, and volcanic matter…This process…slowly added layers…Over time the sediment solidified into rock. Bones of ancient humans, our hominin ancestors, and other animal species were buried in the sediment, and eventually became fossilized and preserved in the rocks.
Lorenyang Lake, a body of water formed during the Pleistocene (1.9 mya), was much longer-lasting than any other lake in the Turkana basin. Lorenyang Lake existed for about 400,000 years. Fossils of the Lorenyang Lake period are varied and rich, from hominins such as Homo habilis to organisms Homo habilis may have eaten: fish and shellfish, plants, and birds.
National Geographic is clearly a proponent of Uniformitarianism with its explanation of
- over time,
- the “Law” of superposition.
But as detailed above, only catastrophes create the circumstances required to transform organic materials to fossilized stone. The reason is obvious – organic material quickly decomposes when exposed to the elements.
Even more importantly, sedimentary rock does not contain the only element used in a radiometric dating method. Only igneous rocks from volcanoes contain potassium.
So how can National Geographic be saying…? Can National Geographic’s report be trusted?
The area has also been dominated by different landscapes over the span of Turkana’s history—flood plains…an active volcano…
fossils unearthed in the Tulu Bor flood plain, which blanked the basin near Mount Kulal, are embedded in tuff, or hardened volcanic ash.
OK. So at this location anyway there is the potential for dating with K-A, but that has been shown to be unreliable.
And that doesn’t account for the majority of fossils found in this region.
in southern Africa, hominid fossils are almost always found in caves like Rising Star. Here, there are no convenient volcanic layers. Instead, the bones are typically embedded within breccia—a concrete-like mixture of gravel, sand, and other junk that accumulated in the floor of the cave. These blocks might still be surrounded by informative layers called flowstones—sheets of calcite formed when water drips down the walls and floors of a cave. The water carries soluble uranium, which remains in the flowstone and decays over time into thorium and lead. Again, the levels of these elements reveal the age of the layer…
Strike that for the same reason as the K-A unreliability – assuming uniformity of levels of atmospheric and geological elements which is known not to be the case, especially over the millions of years required for the conceptual process of evolution.
Instead, volcanic activity is always catastrophic.
The Rift Valley of eastern Africa and Asia (sometimes called the Great Rift Valley [GRV] or East African Rift system [EAR or EARS]) is an enormous geological split in the crust of the earth, thousands of kilometers long, up to 125 miles (200 kilometers) wide, and between a few hundred to thousands of meters deep…and visible from space.
More than 100 young volcanoes – that have had activity within about 10,000 years…
Nothing in the Great Rift Valley can be honestly assumed to have lain in position for millions of years.
How fast is Africa splitting apart?
The Arabian plate is moving away from Africa at a rate of about 1 inch per year, while the two African plates are separating…between half an inch to 0.2 inches per year…
Despite this area of the world providing unequivocal evidence of catastrophism with tectonic forces capable of heaving the Himalayan Mountains skyward, the Evolutionists who flock to this area for fossils use the Uniformitarianism paradigm – applying the rate of today’s processes to the past – so they can shore up Evolution’s need for long periods of time for its biological processes.
The rapid uplift of these resistant rocks creates a high range…often exhibits large folds in which the rocks appear to have flowed instead of having been bent. Folds of this sort have formed at depths where the rocks were hot and soft before they reached the relatively cold surface of the Earth.
Evolution’s arbitrary designation of dating procedures to conform to its uniformitarianism belief system proves that, far more than any Creationist religion, it is based strictly on belief against the evidence.
National Geographic’s educational material is sounding more like indoctrinational to me.
[S]cientists at Britain’s University of Bristol developed a lab-based process using 1) clay, 2) pressure and 3) heat in which fresh specimens can be converted into “synthetic” fossils within approximately one day.
Volcanic activity is the source for making “natural” fossils in a short period of time.
[T]he fossil beds of northern China are famous—both for their exceptional preservation and for their incredible diversity…
Now researchers say they were likely killed by a series of volcanic eruptions…The ash entombed and preserved them, much like the doomed victims of Pompeii. (See also “Pompeiians Flash-Heated to Death—No Time to Suffocate.”)…
The fossils at Pompeii were formed as the cast type, in which the only the three dimensional shape is preserved. The rock quickly hardens around the body which quickly desiccates “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. The fossils beds of northern China include the bodily form created by the additional factor of 4) water transportation which replaces decaying organic matter with minerals.
Exactly like petrified wood.
Why is this location special? Mostly because of extremely favorable conditions that allowed to preserve the wood…Huge trees – up to 200 feet tall and 9 feet in diameter…
The area was also volcanically active,..
Floods or eruptions, as opposed to minor regular events such as normal accumulation of sediment over time, allow wood and specimens to get covered rapidly without oxygen. This swift burial protected some of the freshly fallen trees from major damage by oxygen and insects. The dissolved ash was replacing [the organic material] with silica. Other minerals, iron, and manganese were also mixed in, which gave the resulting rock a palette of colors…
petrified wood is not rare. It is found in many fossil beds, in volcanic deposits, sedimentary rocks, and various other formations. At times, it can be exposed after severe storms washing now underwater forests ashore. It can be exposed during digs that clear off ancient volcanic ash and mud…
How long can a dead body remain soaking in water to “slowly” replace organic matter with minerals?
In tropical waters such as the Arabian sea, it’s a different story…Putrefaction and scavenging creatures will dismember the corpse in a week or two and the bones will sink to the seabed. There they may be slowly buried by marine silt or broken down further over months or years, depending on the acidity of the water.
This disproves the evolutionary claim that “millions of years” passes to form fossils. Not only is it not a requirement, it can’t even be a possibility.
The evidence is that fossils were formed rapidly through a world-wide process including
- volcanic activity providing heat and mineral-rich ash,
- tectonic activity accompanying the volcanic activity providing pressure, and
- massive amounts of water providing both pressure and injection of mineral
The reality is that even National Geographic frankly states that all dating methods are highly unreliable. “Ask an archaeologist how old the site they’re excavating is, and they may not have an answer.”
See a rare baby dinosaur curled up in its fossilised egg. One of the most complete dino embryos ever found shows the ancient infant tucked into a position that’s strikingly similar to today’s unhatched chickens
the infant dino comes from rocks estimated to be roughly 70 million years old, though its precise age remains uncertain.
That estimated yet confident date OF THE ROCK places it prior to the advent of birds within the Evolutionary schema. This is circular reasoning.
“All birds directly evolved from a group of two-legged dinosaurs known as theropods.
The embryo is a type of oviraptorosaur—a group of beaked therapod dinosaurs closely related to modern birds that lived about 130 million to 66 million years ago. These creatures share many traits with their avian relatives, and the embryo hints at one more: a curled pre-hatching position.
“The evidence that birds are living theropod dinosaurs is, at this point, overwhelming.”
I’m finding the evidence underwhelming.
The fossil is also strikingly similar to today’s unhatched lizards. There’s just not much room in the egg to move around, is there?
One time frme we can deduce for certain is that extinction of species happens rapidly.
Following is a good example of how fossil dating cannot be taken seriously.
The discovery of carvings on a snake-shaped rock along with 70,000-year-old spearheads nearby has dramatically pushed back the earliest evidence for ritual behavior, or what could be called religion.The finding, which researchers have yet to formally publish, comes from a cave hidden in the Tsodilo Hills of Botswana, a mecca of sorts for the local people, who call it the Mountain of the Gods…
[The researchers] found…a six-meter-long rock that bore a striking resemblance to a snake, including a mouthlike gash at the end. “My first words I remember saying are, ‘My god…”
Snakes feature prominently in the traditions and the mythology of the San, sometimes called the Bushmen.
[R]eliable markers of the site’s longevity lay buried…In a one-meter-wide, two-meter-deep excavation right next to the snake, the researchers uncovered more than 100 multicolored spear points from a total of 13,000 man-made artifacts.
The tips closely resemble those found elsewhere in Africa that researchers have dated at up to 77,000 years old, Coulson says. Judging from the rare colors of the stone points and the pattern of fragments, people from far and wide likely brought them to the cave partially made and finished working them there, she explains.
Some of the stone tips seem to have been burned or smashed in what may have been a type of sacrifice…Other spearheads exhibit chips and marks that suggest someone had struck the finished tips dead-on, something that researchers have observed at sites in Siberia, she notes.
Did you catch the self-serving circular reasoning in this account?
- The researchers date the use of the stone snake by the artifacts found with it.
- Although it is impossible to date when these stones were worked into artifacts, in an inexcusable misuse of the term “reliable”, researchers deceptively claim they can be dated by their resemblance to those found elsewhere which have been dated to 77,000 years old.
- The reliability of that dating is not provided, and is in fact impossible to provide.
- The reality, as stated by the article, which, significantly, has not been published, is that this site has been in continuous use for just the last few thousand years by the San people whose offerings are most certainly among the artifacts discovered.
The San populated South Africa long before the arrival of the Bantu-speaking nations, and thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans…The San are the best model we have for the hunter-gatherer lifestyle…
Rock art by the late Stone Age hunter-gatherers can be found in the form of paintings or engravings in almost every district in South Africa…Although many are not well preserved, collectively they represent a remarkable record of the beliefs and cultural practices of the people who made them. Most were created by San hunter-gatherers…
The San have a rich oral history and have passed stories down from generation to generation. The oldest rock paintings they created are in Namibia and have been radiocarbon-dated to be 26,000 years old.
Wait, what? Radiocarbon dating has been demonstrated to be unreliable
In recent years, a field that has traditionally relied on fossil discoveries has acquired helpful new tools: genomics and ancient DNA techniques...hinting at a far more complex past than was previously appreciated—one rich in diversity, migration, and possibly even interbreeding…
“To piece together that story, we need information from multiple different fields of study,” remarks Eleanor Scerri, an archaeologist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany. “No single one is really going to have all the answers—not genetics, not archaeology, not the fossils, because all of these areas have challenges and limitations.”
“Only time will tell whether researchers’ current arsenal of technologies is enough to untangle the complete story of human evolution. Perhaps novel technologies —such as paleoproteomics, a nascent field that aims to reconstruct ancestry from fossilized proteins, which are more durable than DNA—will help researchers “push further back in time.”
Fossils are the preserved remains, or traces of remains, of ancient organisms. Fossils are not the remains of the organism itself! They are rocks.
Technologies analyzing proteins can’t be applied to true fossils, which are stone, but other ancient remains which are, however inaccurately, called fossils.
- amber-encased insects, popularized in Jurassic Park
- organic remains preserved in ice. Interestingly, two of the animals found in Siberia are known to have choked to death on mud before being flash-frozen.
Mammoths are some of the most famous creatures of the Ice Age and rightly so...they continued living until at around 1700 BC, the same time the Bronze Age began in China, the Indus Valley Civilisation collapsed, and Hammurabi lived and died…
This one…lived 39,000 years ago…
This one, along with all the other organic specimens, was dated by the carbon-14 method which is known to be flawed.
The same skin of a mammoth was sent to two different labs for carbon dating…the results differed in each test, in one case the results varied by more than 14,000 years. This test exposed error rates as high as more than 32%, which of course is well beyond any meaningful scientific perimeter. In the end, scientists pick the dates from their tests which best fit their evolutionary guesstimates of age.
Hundreds of large mammal species disappeared during the transition from the last glaciation to the present interglacial period, from around 50,000 to 5,000 years ago…
We are using large compilations of carefully audited radiocarbon dates for each mammal species to help us reconstruct their Late Quaternary distributions.
Note the excessive explanation:
- carefully audited
This indicates awareness that radiocarbon data is worthless in terms of accuracy, only used to bolster an a priori biased Evolutionary model with Uniformitarianism.
There is an interesting piece of evidence that geological disruptions responsible for fossil formations occurred within historic civilization.
Zeno Map. Published around 1380…depicts Greenland free of glaciers, meaning that somehow, someone charted it prior to the Ice Age.
The Hadji Ahmed map published in 1559. A complete and perfect map…accurate delineations of the western coast of Northern America and Antarctica…a land bridge connection Siberia and Alaska, indicating it originated from a time when the bridge was still present.
King Jaime World Chart…created in 1502…depicts parts of the Sahara Desert with fertile land, huge lakes, rivers and what appear to be ancient cities.
The Oronce Finé World Map created in 1534…displays features of Antarctica…rivers, valleys, and coastlines while also depicting the approximate location of what is the South Pole today.