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Fossils sorted hydrologically (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Fossils sorted hydrologically (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.


Claim CH561.2:

The order of fossils deposited by Noah's Flood, especially those of marine organisms, can be explained by hydrologic sorting. Fossils of the same size will be sorted together. Heavier and more streamlined forms will be found at lower levels.

Source: Whitcomb, John C. Jr. and Henry M. Morris, 1961. The Genesis Flood. Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., pp. 273-274

CreationWiki response:

First of all it needs to be noted that this is an old source and much research has been done in the area of hydrologic sorting in moving water though stratification experiments. Furthermore, hydrologic sorting produces a statistical trend, not an absolute one. Using it in isolation turns it into a Straw Man. (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Fossils are not sorted according to hydrodynamic principles. Ammonites, which are buoyant organisms similar to the chambered nautilus, are found only in deep strata. Turtles, which are rather dense, are found in middle and upper strata. Brachiopods are very similar to clams in size and shape, but brachiopods are found mostly in lower strata than clams. Most fossil-bearing strata contain fossils of various sizes and shapes. Some species are found in wide ranges, while others are found only in thin layers within those ranges. Hydrologic sorting can explain none of this.

Based on recent stratification experiments hydrologic sorting in moving water would produce similar patterns particularly when other factors are considered. Besides hydrologic sorting would only produce a statistical trend, not an absolute one.

2. The sediments which fossils are found in are not hydrologically sorted. Coarse sediments are often found above fine sediments.

Actually this is exactly what is indicated in moving water by recent stratification experiments.

Nor are the sediments sorted with the fossils. Large fossils are commonly found in fine sediments.

It needs to be remembered that there are other factors that affect the fossil location; hydrologic sorting is just one of several factors that determine where a fossil would end up.

3. A catastrophic flood would not be expected to produce much hydrologic sorting. A flood which lays down massive quantities of sediments would jumble up most of them.

This statement is made without any support for the claim. As is typical of evolutionists, Talk Origins is ignoring the effects of moving water. While there would be plenty of mixing up of both fossils and sediment there would still be factors that would tend to push towards certain statistical trends.

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