Sean Pitman's 'The Fossil Record'
Sean Pitman's site
Sean Pitman
I posted this as during a dialogue with Sean on goolgle groups (more

The bodies of some very large fossils, such as dinosaurs or whales are occasionally very well preserved.
You would benefit from reading 'Fossils explained 41: Taphonomy' (Stephen K. Donovan, Geology Today, Volume 18 Issue 6 Page 226 - November 2002).
Of course, the geologic layers that contain their fossilized remains are supposed to represent thousands or even millions of years of Earth's history.
Which has all been very well-researched and documented.
However, the bodies of these large creatures take up a fair percentage of the thickness of some of these layers.
Untrue. In most sediments the remains are compacted and reduced in thickness. Where good 3-D preservation occurs the remains are usually in nodules, the result of local diagenetic conditions. Sedimentary structure can be traced over and under such nodules. See:
Martill, David M; 1986a; The stratigraphic distribution and preservation of fossil vertebrates in the Oxford Clay of England; Mercian Geologist; 10(3) pp.161-186
Martill, David M; 1985a; The preservation of marine vertebrates in the Lower Oxford Clay (Jurassic) of central England; Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London; 311 pp.155-165
Martill, David M; 1993; Soupy Substrates: A Medium for the Exceptional Preservation of Ichthyosaurs of the Posidonia Shale (Lower Jurassic) of Germany; Kaupia . Darmstädter Beiträge zur Naturgeschichte; 2 pp.77-97
Sato, Tamaki; 1997; Taphonomy of a plesiosaurian fossil from Hokkaido, Japan; Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology; 17(3, Suppl.) pp.73; University of Oklahoma
Taylor, Michael Alan; 1992a; Taxonomy and taphonomy of Rhomaleosaurus zetlandicus (Plesiosauria, Reptilia) from the Toarcian (Early Jurassic) of the Yorkshire coast; Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society; 49, Part 1 pp.49-55
Zhou, Zhonghe, Barrett, Paul and Hilton, Jason; 2003; An exceptionally preserved Lower Cretaceous ecosystem; Nature (Review article); 421(20 February 2003) pp.808-810
Now this might just pose a bit of a problem for the standard way of interpreting these fossils and the layers of sediment in which they are found.
Completely untrue, as the premise is false
Obviously, If sedimentation slowly buried them over the course of thousands of years, their bodies would not have survived.
Quite so. But the bodies were not necessarily buried over thousands of years.
For fossilization to occur, burial must be very rapid.
Not necessarily. Anoxic conditions or submergence in a soft sediment can also produce exquisite preservation. See my references above.
Considering this fact, the entire layer that such fossils are found in could not possibly have been formed over eons of time.
This is not a fact. It is a supposition based in a lack of knowledge of taphonomic processes.
They speak rather of a sudden catastrophic burial event.
In some cases there is evidence of some local catastrophic events, but these do not necessarily give rise to the best conditions for good preservation. Most instances of exceptional preservation arise from other processes.
The pristine nature of many fossils give evidence of a rather instant burial, and not of a natural death with slow burial and time for decay.
Pristine' is a not the word which any experienced palaeontologist would apply even to the finest speciemens. There is ample documentation of the processes which lead to outstanding preservation.
Many fossils show evidence of surprise or a brief struggle before death.
Surprise'! How the hell can a fossil show surprise? Fossils show evidence of all sorts of predation and scavenging damage. They are, after all, the remains of dead animals.
Some fossils are found with food still in the mouth of the victim (in mid chew).
Very, very rarely are fossils found with food in the mouth. Much more commonly they are found with food in the stomach area. So what? Sometimes animals die from choking.
The fossil evidence clearly supports a catastrophic interpretation for much of the geologic column.
Complete and utter non-sequitur! Even if every well-preserved specimen showed signs of having been preserved as a result of rapid burial (and they don't), this would only be evidence of local catastrophies. Some faunas were buried by volcanic eruptions - hardly evidence for a global flood.
In fact, ""catastrophists"" are becoming the norm, even in mainstream scientific circles that were once staunchly in support of ""uniformitarianism.
Pure, unmitigated bullshit. There is no such thing as a 'catastrophist' or 'uniformanist' any more. No rational scientist denies that catastrophic events, such as the K/T asteroid impact or the massive Permo-Triassic volcanism occurred, but this does not imply in any way the acceptance of a global flood.
In this line of though, consider the fairly recent discoveries of fossil whales (Miocene/Pliocene) in western Peru are quite interesting. Leonard Brand, Ph.D., comments, ""In our survey of the area, we found the fossil remains of more than 100 whales in an area of less than two square kilometers… What was even more exciting was the well-preserved nature of the fossil remains."" Brand explains why these fossilized whales are so interesting. ""Typically, when a whale dies at sea, the carcass falls to the bottom and becomes the source of a rich ecosystem. Many species of sea life benefit from the decaying remains at each stage of the process. ""Within four to six months, the whale carcass has been mostly stripped down to the bones,"" explains Dr. Brand. ""At that point, other species of organisms burrow both into the bones and the surrounding sediment."" Within a year or two, the whale bones show much evidence of these burrowing animals."" How did the whales in western Peru meet their end? ""These whales were incredibly well-preserved,"" Brand observes, ""suggesting that they were covered quickly."" Brand found that the whale remains were blanketed by a thick layer of diatomite (silica remains of diatoms). These tiny creatures, known collectively as plankton together with dinoflagellates, are part of the food source for whales. In modern times, diatomite normally accumulates on the sea bottom at a rate of a few centimeters per thousand years. ""We also found beautifully preserved baleen,"" he adds. Baleen refers to the filtering teeth-like structures in the whale's mouth. ""Whales feed by gulping in water and forcing it out through the baleen, trapping the tiny plankton."" Baleen is actually more akin to the human fingernail or toenail in its structure. ""The well-preserved baleen supports the theory of a quick burial to an even greater extent,"" he concludes. But why did the whales die in the first place? ""There is more and more evidence that red tides--blooms of diatoms and dinoflagellates--produce toxins which can kill large animals and fish,"" he says.
Which is all very interesting, but what on earth does it have to do with your thesis of a global flood? Red tides are not a global flood.
Another very startling finding that demonstrates the sudden/catastrophic burial of very large creatures is a 1971 finding in Southern Mongolia of a perfectly articulated Protoceratops and a Velociraptor frozen in a life and death struggle with each other. Obviously these two creatures were buried suddenly by a huge catastrophe of magnificent proportions.
No. They were buried by a sandstorm. It's well documented. You realise, don't you, that the exhibit you illustrate has been substantially restored, and does not necessarily represent the condition in which they were found? Incidentally, and from your link: "Possibly these animals nested underground of the dune, and sudden falling sands killed them to left almost complete fossils." Hardly a "huge catastrophe of magnificent proportions", is it?
The dinosaurs didn’t even have time to fall over.
The dinosaurs were preserved lying on the ground!
Most ichthyosaur fossils show evidence of rapid burial, such as those found clustered together at places like the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in Nevada.
Most ichthyosaur fossils are scattered and isolated bones. I've found a fair few myself.
These same ichthyosaurs that show evidence of rapid burial are buried with certain other ichthyosaurs that show some evidence of rather brief exposure and/or scavenging.
Isn’t it strange that creatures showing evidence of some exposure are buried closely with others that show evidence of very rapid burial?
No. Why?
According to scientists studying these fossils, ""It is not yet certain how these large creatures died and were buried together in such a small area.""
Stop Press! Scientists don't know everything!
Also, at least in the Nevada location, ""the skeletons are generally oriented along a north-south axis, suggesting that currents or tides played some part in deciding their final resting place.""
How interesting. Ichthyosaurs lived in the sea. There are tides in the sea.
Other evidences of rapid ichthyosaur burial include some specimens that were suddenly buried in the middle of giving birth! Yes, a number of these partial birth fossils have been found in Germany showing baby ichthyosaurs frozen half way out of their mother’s birth canals.
So what? The toxic condition of the environment under which the Posidonia shales in Holzmaden (which is where these specimens have been found) were formed were such that animals straying into the area were poisoned. The fact that some (though very few) of these were pregnant females is unsurprising.
Consider also the large size of adult ichthyosaurs. In order to preserve such large specimens, in such well-preserved condition, rapid burial is required.
Not so. The mechanisms whereby the ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs of the Posidonia shales and the British lias were preserved is well studied. The sea bottom at the time was a soupy substrate, and caracase sank rapidly into the anoxic conditions of the substrate where good preservation could occur. We find (hell, I have found) specimens which show a clear distinction between the parts which were preserved in the substrate and are well-preserved, and those sticking out of the substrate and have rotted away. See also the references I have provided above.
These are all indications of some sort of sudden event that resulted in the relatively simultaneous deaths of many ichthyosaurs as well as their relatively rapid burial.
Not so
In any case, some prolonged exposure of such large creatures as ichthyosaurs is only to be expected, but the fact that their fossil remains were preserved in an articulated fashion, often with evidence of soft tissue detail, speaks in favor of a fairly rapid burial process with little chance for significant decay and/or scavenging.
The processes leading to such preservation are well-known and documented. See the references above.
Also, many creatures may die at the same time and then be buried rapidly at slightly different times by repeated waves of sediment deposition.
They can? Could you please provide some evidence for such an assertion?
Unfounded assertion.