Commentary by Roger Oakland
Understand The Times International: Roger Oakland Ministries


Fossils are preserved life forms that lived in the past. But how do we know how long ago in the past these plants or animals were preserved? From time to time, we hear about a new fossil discovery that has become newsworthy because it was older than any other fossil of its kind that had ever been found. But what is the scientific basis? Or is there a scientific basis at all.                     

The layers of our planet contain billions of fossils. Because there are so many fossils over the world, discovering one is really not an “earth-shattering” event. But once in a while, a fossil discovery makes the news. When this happens, it is usually because someone has found a fossil older than any other of the same type ever found before.

Usually the names of the scientists associated with the find are publicized widely by the media; and another claim further enshrines the theory of evolution. The scientist or group of scientists associated with the find will be awarded a large sum of money in the form of a research grant. Then more papers are published that promote the fossil as the oldest and the best ever discovered.

Recently, newspapers and magazines around the world reported another one of these fossil sensations. A Newsweek article reported the discovery the following way:

Paleontologists working at a hot fossil site know to bring their wallets: farmers in north-east China happily dig up specimens and sell them for a few hundred dollars. Last year researchers from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology definitely got their money’s worth. They bought a plant fossil whose two spindly twigs were festooned with pods, a trait of flowering pants.[1]

According to the Newsweek article, this was a very significant discovery. The paleontologists who had purchased the fossils from the farmers had “really got their moneys worth.” The scientists declared that the fossils were 140 million years old, 25 million years older than the oldest specimen of this particular type previously found in Australia. The paleontologists in charge of the find in China, because of their estimated age, had possession of the oldest flowering plant ever found.

I find this and other “oldest and best” fossil discovery idea somewhat humorous and questionable. However, this find could prove to be even more interesting than some of the others. While the estimated age of the flowering plant is supposed to be 140 million years based upon evolutionary theory, the seeds found in the stony pods are still organic – that means they contain carbon and therefore could be carbon-dated. But scientists know that carbon dating can only be used to date the age of death of a specimen in the range of just a few thousand years. A date in that range would definitely not be acceptable to confirm the authenticity of the “oldest flowering plant ever found.”

Maybe an article that shows that evolutionists are biased would be newsworthy. What do you think?




[1] Sharon Begley, Let A 1000 Flowers Bloom, Newsweek, December 7, 1998, p. 58