Posted by: paulgarner | April 3, 2009

The Brymbo ‘fossil forest’: remains of an extinct pre-Flood ecosystem

Lepidodendron-with-hairs-brymbo-fossil-forest

A specimen of Lepidodendron from the Brymbo 'fossil forest'

In chapter fourteen of The New Creationism (pp.199-203), I described the way in which many creationists interpret the sequence of fossils in the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic sediments in terms of the ecological distribution of organisms before the global flood, rather than evolution over long ages.

In accordance with this theory, many of the extinct plants and animals of the Palaeozoic have been reconstructed by Kurt Wise (2003) as inhabitants of a continent-sized ‘floating forest’ community that existed before the flood. Last year, Answers magazine published a very helpful article by Kurt (now available online) that explains more about how he came to develop the theory and the evidence that supports it (Wise 2008).

Branching <em>Lepidodendron</em> stem from Brymbo

Branching Lepidodendron stem from the Brymbo 'fossil forest'

I was thinking about such things recently during a visit to North Wales. In 2006, a ‘fossil forest’ was discovered in Carboniferous sediments between two coal seams at the Brymbo steelworks near Wrexham (Anon, 2006). Early in 2009, some of the specimens from Brymbo were included in an exhibition of fossil plants at the Wrexham County Museum. In February my wife and I were visiting friends in nearby Coedpoeth, which gave me the opportunity to visit the museum and photograph some of the fossils that were on display. I thought you might like to see some of them here. If Kurt’s theory is right, these plants were living in the central part of the floating forest before it was broken up and buried during the global flood.

Calamites stem from the Brymbo 'fossil forest'

Calamites stem from the Brymbo 'fossil forest'

References

Anon. 2006. Fossil forest found at steelworks. BBC News Online.

Wise K. P. 2003. The pre-Flood floating forest: a study in paleontological pattern recognition, in: Ivey R. L. Jr. (editor), Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, pp.371-381.

Wise K. P. 2008. Sinking a floating forest. Answers 3(4):40-45.

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Responses

  1. I scanned through Wise’s article but think it breaks down when one looks at cyclothems, as opposed to just one isolated set of layers.

    In the Carboniferous/Pennsylvanian coal beds, one doesn’t just have to explain one sequence of marine-coal-terrestrial sediments (a cyclothem, see diagram on p. 42 of Wise), but numerous stacked cyclothems. Wise makes it look like this happened once; it had to happen dozens to hundreds of times in the same place, this being on top of thousands of meters of previously-deposited sediments. It just doesn’t work.

    Respectfully,
    Kevin N (Christian geologist)

  2. I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I express grounds for optimism concerning the ability of the ‘floating forest’ model to explain cyclothems!

    There are some brief, though relevant, comments on this in the conclusion to Kurt’s ICC paper. He writes (p.377): “The blowing of floating forest remnants across North American and European continents during the Flood may also provide a useful model for the generation of Carboniferous cyclothems. The possibility needs to be investigated that microorganisms in or beneath the mat may have been responsible for the generation of the limestones, the organic limestones, and the black shales of the cyclothems along with common Carboniferous mineral deposits (e.g. elemental sulphur, pyrite, siderite) and rapid fossilization (e.g. the Mazon Creek fossils). Given the role methane gas plays in buoyancy of modern mats [refs omitted], gas retention, production, and release should be examined for what potential role it might have had in both the buoyancy of the pre-Flood forest and in the sinking of mat material during the Flood to produce the coal deposits (rather than to have to beach them as proposed by Scheven).”


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