Trilobites: Sudden Appearance and Rapid Burial | The Institute for Creation Research

Trilobites: Sudden Appearance and Rapid Burial

Trilobites are one of the most popular fossils for collectors and are found all over the world. The Ute Indians used one species as an amulet, and there is even a cave in France called the Grotte du Trilobite that contained a relic made out of one of these extinct marine creatures.1,2

Trilobites are members of the phylum Arthropoda, which includes spiders, insects, and crustaceans. Today, members of this group make up at least 85 percent of the species on Earth and live in every environment. Insects alone account for over 870,000 of these species.1 God designed all arthropods with an exoskeleton (i.e., an outer skeleton) that is segmented into appendages. In Greek, arthron means joint and podos means foot. This exoskeleton does not grow as the animal grows but rather has to be shed— molted—as the animal matures.

Although arthropods dominate the biomass of the planet today, their fossil record is much more limited, with only about 30,000 fossilized arthropod species identified.1 Because most arthropods have an exoskeleton of organic, chitinous cuticle, they decompose easily and don’t preserve well as fossils. A few arthropod groups like the trilobites, whose shells were calcified, were preserved in the Flood. There are over 2,000 genera (the plural of genus, the category above species) of trilobites in the fossil record and thousands of named species.1

Arthropods represent a major part of the great evolutionary mystery called the Cambrian Explosion. In fact, they are one of the most common fossils in Cambrian system strata.1 They appear in the rock layers fully formed—without ancestors. Evolutionist Richard Fortey writes, “And yet how can it be that all this variety [the trilobite fossils] arose apparently instantly at the base of the Cambrian?” He continues, “Where then were these ancestors? Why were they apparently invisible?”2 These questions are easily answered by creationists, who explain the sudden appearance of fossils in the Cambrian system as part of the initial sediments deposited by the Flood. It seems likely that shallow marine organisms would be the first types of animals buried and preserved by advancing floodwaters.

And now trilobite fossils are producing some of the strongest evidence of catastrophic burial. A recent study found that many of these creatures were inundated rapidly while they were still alive!3 Numerous specimens are found in a rolled-up position—like giant roly-polies—to protect themselves from danger. However, a few varieties lacked the design to “lock their shells” and hold the ball-shaped position; these arthropods had to rely on their internal muscles to hold themselves in a rounded shape.

Recently, evolutionists were surprised when they discovered many of these trilobites with non-locking shells in a rolled, protective position. Javier Ortega-Hernandez and his co-authors reported, “After death, the muscles responsible for flexing the trunk would have relaxed, causing the carcass to return to the outstretched position. Thus, the best possibility of preserving rolled olenellids [this type of trilobite] would require rapid burial of live individuals.”3

Entombed in some of the earliest sediments of the great Flood, trilobites discovered in rolled-up positions demonstrate that many were buried while still alive. However, their sudden appearance in strata is not a mystery when viewed in a biblical context—it confirms that the Flood quickly inundated the earth, encapsulating many animals in mud in the process. Science continues to find evidence that confirms the Bible, even in these little rolled-up treasures.

References

  1. Prothero, D. R. 1998. Bringing Fossils to Life: An Introduction to Paleobiology. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 247-258.
  2. Fortey, R. A. 1997. Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 14, 103.
  3. Ortega-Hernandez, J., J. Esteve, and N. J. Butterfield. 2013. Humble origins for a successful strategy: complete enrolment in early Cambrian olenellid trilobites. Biology Letters. 9 (5): 20130679.

* Dr. Clarey is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and received his Ph.D. in geology from Western Michigan University.

Cite this article: Tim Clarey, Ph.D. 2014. Trilobites: Sudden Appearance and Rapid Burial. Acts & Facts. 43 (2).

The Latest
NEWS
Inside December 2021 Acts & Facts
How can we understand Christ’s role as our mediator from a scientific perspective? Why was ICR's first dinosaur excavation significant for...

APOLOGETICS
Christ’s Providence Is Clearly Seen in Bird Migrations
Just as monkeys can’t accidently type Shakespeare texts, birds can’t migrate by evolutionary luck, despite imagined eons of time for “lucky”...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Snowflakes
by Christy Hardy and Susan Windsor* You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with...

ACTS & FACTS
The Gift of God Himself
Each Christmas we remember how deeply God loves us. His wondrous plan of salvation—first set in motion in the Garden of Eden—was miraculously...

ACTS & FACTS
Early Land Plant Evolution?
In a recent Science article, two evolutionists consider land plants (embryophytes) to have evolved from stoneworts (charophyte algae).1 A...

ACTS & FACTS
Biblical Creation and Intellectual Foolishness
In a recent interview discussing his new book In Quest of the Historical Adam, philosopher and Christian apologist William Lane Craig acknowledged his...

ACTS & FACTS
Are Birds “Cousins” to Reptiles?
Are today’s birds genealogical “cousins” to today’s reptiles due to a shared evolutionary ancestry? No. However, birds and...

ACTS & FACTS
Haleakala National Park: One of Many Young-Looking Volcanoes
You can start the day atop the cold peak of Mt. Haleakala and end it on a warm beach on Maui. The sprawling volcanic mountain rises 10,000 feet above...

ACTS & FACTS
The Oceans Point to a Young Earth
by Jeffrey P. Tomkins, Ph.D., and Tim Clarey, Ph.D.* Over 70% of Earth's surface is covered by water, most of which is marine and contained in...

ACTS & FACTS
Jesus Christ Is Our Perfect Mediator
We’ll never get bored throughout eternity. There is always something wonderfully new to learn about our precious Lord Jesus, the uplifting Holy...