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Going to the Bathroom in the Global Flood

Copyright 2003 G.R. Morton  This can be freely distributed so long as no changes are made and no charges are made.

One of the things which disproves the global flood are the minor normal activities of life and living which are abundantly clear in the fossil record. Today we will discuss coprolites or fossilized feces.

Coprolites comes from the Greek word, kopros, meaning dung. We find lots of dung in the fossil record and it says many things about the global flood and its impossibility. First, it says that the world could not be flooded by water all the time, because the animals would not be able to find food and after about 5 days, most animals would not have anything left in their digestive tracks. This means that as the flood went on, from the time when the Cambrian strata were deposited, on up to the Permian (half way through the flood) and into the Cretaceous and Tertiary (late in the flood deposition), there should be no vertebrate dung because the world had been flooded for more than 6 months by then. To find coprolites in the later sediments of the flood, means that the animal ate within 5 days of when he eliminated.

Modern examples of the speed of digestion are many. Take a cow. His digestion time takes 5 days (120 hours) ( Humans can move food through the system in 12-72 hours depending on the food. In smaller animals, like mice, birds etc. the need for large inputs of food energy means short times in the digestive tract and thus there are shorter times between eating and excreting. The reason I am discussing how long it takes to move food through the digestive tracts is to time the last meal by the animals who left coprolites in the fossil record. Clearly, it is a matter of days between the last meal and the time when excretion of the dung became necessary.

Creationists have ignored this aspect of coprolite formation. They have tried to claim that if not for rapid burial, the coprolites would not be preserved. Daniel Woolley, in �Fish preservation, fish coprolites and the Green River Formation� TJ 15(1):105�11, 2001 said:

�Finally, the models cannot account for why large numbers of fish suffocated quickly, or how fish coprolites were preserved in abundance. Coprolites are statistically the most significantly factor correlated with fossil fish preservation in the Green River Formation. New experimental evidence on the faeces of modern fish show that faeces must be buried in less than 24 hours if they are to be preserved as coprolites in the fossil record. �

He then goes on to claim that experiments with fish dung in an oxygenated aquarium proves that no fish dung can be preserved under any conditions. Given that his experiment doesn�t match natural conditions, it is irrelevant. We will come back to the issue of how dung is fossilized. It just takes the correct conditions.

Other creationist writers have dealt inconsistently with coprolites in the fossil record. Sarfatti claims that dino coprolites prove that carnivory was present at the time of Noah�s flood but inconsistently doesn�t give a single thought to the fact that dinosaur dung means that the animal ate within a few days of letting loose with that big one. He writes:

�Fossils of dinosaur bones with tooth marks and dinosaur coprolites (fossilized dung) with the ground-up bones of other dinosaurs are good evidence that carnivory was well established by Noah�s Flood.�

The criticism above is true because dinosaurs don�t appear in the fossil record in the Triassic around 230-240 million years ago. This is after the deposition of several thousand feet of Paleozoic strata. The Texas Gulf coast has numerous Mesozoic dinosaur tracks and they rest on at least 15,000 feet of sediment from the Paleozoic, where no dinos are to be found. And no dino coprolites are to be found. One must ask if the dinosaurs were constipated for the first six months of the flood.

Donald DeYoung does the same thing Sarfatti does. He too says things about dinosaur coprolites but then ignores the implication to the flood. DeYoung writes:

�For herbivores, the dinosaur dung is usually a rounded mass and varies from pebble-to
basketball-sized. Herbivore droppings with broken-up pieces of conifers have been found at a site in Montana called the Two Medicine Formation. These particular remains are honeycombed with burrows made by dung beetles that scavenged the droppings while they were still fresh. The dinosaur-era beetles conflict with the usual evolutionary story, in which dung-eating beetles evolved long after dinosaur extinction. Coprolites from carnivorous or omnivorous dinosaurs are rarely found. A fossilized dropping found in Canada in 1997 contained 200 small bone fragments from other dinosaurs." Donald B. DeYoung, "Dinosaurs and Creation," (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2000), p. 93-94

The almost laughable thing about this quotation is that it takes some time for the dung-beetles to find the dung and then make burrows into it. Dung beetles also don�t work underwater so this was a subaerial excavation project on their part. This data, presented by DeYoung with a straight face, proves conclusively that the area of this dung was above water during this time. But this time is supposedly when the global flood was taking place and all the earth was covered with water to at least 15 cubits.

But the idea that there was a global flood takes an even bigger hit when one considers that tiny animals like ophiomorpha line their burrows with fecal pellets. They eat as they burrow through the sediment so the time between ingestion and excretion is short. This is a common practice.

"Typical dwelling traces include: Skolithos (a simple, unpaired pipe), Ophiomorpha (lined with faecal pellets - which determine a nodular outer surface to the burrow - usually associated with crustaceans), Teredolites (bivalve borings cut into driftwood),
and Gastrochaenolites (bivalve borings cut into firm or rock substrates)."
accessed 9-21-02

Here is a picture of an ophiomorpha burrow.

The rough texture of the walls of this burrow are where the fecal pellets used to be.
The animal can�t do this instantly. The sand had to have been deposited and then the animal burrowed (he can�t burrow before the sand is deposited) and while burrowing must excrete numerous fecal pellets and this can�t be instantaneous either.

One can see the fecal deposits better on this orphiomorpha burrow from the North Sea. It is from Martin, M. A., and J. E. Pollard, 1996. "The Role of Trace Fossil (Ichnofabric) analysis in the Development of Depositional Models for the Upper Jurassic Fulmar Formation of the Kittiwake Field (Quadrant 21 UKCS)," in Andrew Hurst et al, editors, Geology of the Humber Group: Central Graben and Moray Firth, UKCS, Geological Society Special Publication No. 114, (London: The Geological Society), Fig 6d, p. 176

Fecal pellets also are found in the burrows of larger animals. In the Triassic of South Africa, there are burrows made by therapsids which are on the line to mammals. Groenewald et al write:

�The burrow system described above from Locality 1 is totally devoid of fossil material. In contrast, a very similar but more poorly preserved burrow complex at Locality 2 contains partial or complete articulated skeletons of 20 individuals of the therapsids Trirachodon (cf. NMQR 3278-3296). Articulated skeletons, typically found encased in calcareous nodules, are partly curled-up in the terminal chambers, with the skulls facing toward the burrow tunnels.� Gideon H. Groenewald, Johann Welman, James A. MacEachern, �Vertebrate Burrow Complexes from the Early Triassic Cynognathus Zone (Driekoppen Formation, Beaufort Group) of the Karoo Basin, South Africa,� ,� Palaios, 16(2001):148-160, p. 153

We know three things about these burrows. The therapsids couldn�t burrow until after the sediment was deposited and two, they were above water because the animals are airbreathing. We also know that several thousand feet of sediment exists below these. There is at least 2000 feet of Dwyka tillites, 6500 feet of Ecca Series sediments which have lots of coal, and then comes the Beaufort Group where the burrows are found.(Haughton,1963. Stratigraphic History of Africa South of the Sahara, p. 200-204) Thus these fossils must be late in the flood or at least in the middle. Yet there they are, burrowing in sediments above the water line and they were pooping in their burrows:

�Coprolites occur within some of the casts.� Gideon H. Groenewald, Johann Welman, James A. MacEachern, �Vertebrate Burrow Complexes from the Early Triassic Cynognathus Zone (Driekoppen Formation, Beaufort Group) of the Karoo Basin, South Africa,� ,� Palaios, 16(2001):148-160, p. 154

All of that takes time.

And consider a fossil from my personal collection, a turtle coprolite from the Eocene of Madagascar.
Consider the turtle coprolite shown below which is from Betsiboka, Madagascar.

This coprolite, from my personal fossil collection, was deposited by a turtle in Eocene rocks. Geology says these rocks are 38-55 million years old. The coprolite today is rock-hard and has no smell. It is the mineralized poop from an Eocene turtle. How do we know it is turtle poop? Because even today, in Betsiboka, Madagascar where this was found, turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, they leave such deposits (only a wee-bit fresher) than what you see above.
Now, how do we know that this feces was not deposited during a global flood? Any guesses from the young-earth creationists? It is easy. The coprolite, which today is petrified rock, dried out prior to when it was fossilized. You can see the cracks which formed in the soft poop when it dried out. One can see this phenomenon occasionally in dog feces as they dry but not when the feces are fresh.

Now, the real question for the young-earth creationists is, what were turtles doing coming ashore during the global flood, when there wasn't supposed to be any land? If the feces were deposited in the ocean, it would not have the desiccation cracks in it because it couldn't have dried out. The turbulence of the flood waters would most likely have distorted or even dissolved the feces as it was swept against rocks and other objects by the flood currents. The fact that this feces simply dried out and was then petrified argues strongly against the global flood being responsible for these rocks.
For these turtle-fouled Eocene rocks and younger rocks which lie above them, these facts require that they are at least post flood. One can follow the Eocene rocks from Madagascar around Africa and Eurasia and across to India. In the Ocean the link is unbroken. The thickness of the rocks equal in age or younger (Post Paleocene) offshore India reaches 15 kilometers in thickness (see Curiale et al, AAPG86(2002):4:636). Thus the young-earth creationist, if he/she decides that the sediments I am speaking of are post-flood, must then account for 15 kilometers of post flood sediments offshore India. This is 50,000 feet of sediment. The young-earth creationist must ask himself how it is possible to non-catastrophically erode and deposit that much sediment within the past few thousand years. Clearly this is a difficulty. On the other hand if the young-earth creationist thinks that the sediments are flood sediments, they must explain how the turtles found dry land in the middle of the flood, so that lots of feces could be deposited and then have the time to dry out.
When looking at the next example consider whether or not the termites were constipated for 6-9 months because the sediments we find their feces in are high up and late in the geologic column. The Wealden is early Cretaceous. Collinson writes:

"One interesting example is provided by small hexagonally
faceted cylinders which occur in the Early Tertiary of
southern England (Palaeocene and Eocene). These are
indistinguishable from faecal pellets of modern termites which utilize a gut flora to digest wood. Such coprolites occur from the Wealden onwards consistent with the known megafossil record of the group." ~ Margaret E. Collinson, "Plant Evolution and Ecology During the Early Cainozoic Diversification," Advances in Botanical Research, 17(1990):1- 98, p. 68

Tiny rod-shaped fecal pellets are found 2600 feet down in an oil well. The picture below shows them.

This is Silurian in age and the concentration of fecal pellets says that lots of time was spent producing them. Even though this was early in the flood, it still was many days after the world was supposedly covered with water.

In late Silurian times, as land plants evolved, we find fecal pellets which contain the spoors of land plants:

"Late Silurian deposits (about 415 million years ago) on the
Baltic Sea island of Gotland, Sweden, indicative of animals
life. Small enigmatic pellets have been found in shale deposits
that also contain the spores of land plants. The nature of the
pellets was obscure until we realized that they are composed of
microscopic fungal filaments (hyphae). It turns out that some
modern soil-dwelling arthropods, living on a diet of fungus,
produce fecal matter that is similar to the fossil pellets.
Perhaps an ancient relative of a modern arthropod was feeding on
a similar diet in the Late Silurian."~Jane Gray and William
Shear, "Early Life on Land", American Scientist, 80, 1992, p.

Why there were not land plants or spores in the waters of the flood prior to this time is a mystery which YECs have no explanation for.

Other evidence of animals eating lots of plants in the middle of the globally flooded world can be seen in the coprolites found in Wales:

"A few remarkable finds document the colonization of land by animals and plants in the mid-Palaeozoic, but much rarer is unequivocal evidence for plant-animal interaction. Here we announce the discovery of coprolites (fossil faeces) in Upper Silurian (412 Myr) and Lower Devonian (390 Myr) rocks from the Welsh Borderland that pre-date examples of similar composition in the Carboniferous by about 90 million years. The majority consist predominantly of undigested land-plant spores with varying proportions of cuticles, tubes and less readily identifiable (presumably plant) material." ~ Dianne Edwards, et al, "Coprolites as evidence for Plant-Animal Interaction in Siluro-Devonian Terrestrial Ecosystems," Nature, Sept. 28, 1995, p. 329

Since the globe was covered with water, were these animals swimming for 5 months?

We have already seen in previous posts about the bird droppings in the Green River Formation. Once again, these birds had to eat just hours before the excreta, and yet we find the droppings on layer after layer.

"Modern flamingos are primarily filter feeders, and the main diet
consists of algae and microorganisms obtained from the diet
consists of algae and microorganisms obtained from the water and
bottom muds. Occasionally, however, flamingos will take a
variety of small mollusks, crustaceans, worms and small fish.
Stomach contents usually include an abundance of organic muds.
There is suggestive evidence that the Green River Birds had
somewhat similar habits. Within the matrix of the bird quarry,
and mixed among the bones were hundreds of small clay pellets.
At first these were thought to be coprolites left by small
carnivores. Their abundance and composition, however, seemed
contrary to that interpretation. The mystery may have been
partially solved when we discovered almost identical pellets on
the shores of east African Lakes where hundreds of thousands of
flamingos concentrated. Paul O. McGraw and Alan Feduccia "A Preliminary Report on a
Nesting Colony of Eocene Birds" 25th Field Conference Wyoming
Geological Association Guidebook 1973.p. 163-164

All the chalk of the world has been through the gut of animals. Chalk is formed from the remains of tiny microscopic organisms which could not sink to the ocean floor alone. But, below is how they get to the ocean floor to form the 2000 feet of chalk buried under Louisiana, which I once drilled:

"However, many components in pelagic sediments are much
smaller than foraminifera and radiolaria. These include the
calcareous nanofossils (average size 10 [micro]m), diatoms (average
size about 50 [micro]m), and windblown sediments and volcanic material
(less than 5-10 [micro]m). Such small particles sink very slowly.
From sinking rate experiments in the laboratory, the average
coccolith should take about 100 years to sink to the deep-ocean
floor. In fact, typical ocean turbulence should theoretically
prevent individual particles of this size from sinking much at
all. However, the fact that fin-grained sediment has formed
large accumulations on the ocean floor clearly demonstrates that
these particles do sink by some process. A process for sinking
was first suggested by Lohmann[1902]; sinking may be accelerated
by fine particles combining into small bundles derived from small
zooplankton, called fecal pellets. Fecal pellets are small (50-
250 [micro]m) aggregations of fecal material covered by a pellicle,
which protects the enclosed material. They contain large numbers
of empty phytoplankton skeletons, which evidently survive
ingestion by the zooplankton. A single pellet may contain
10^5coccoliths, or approximately 1 microgram of calcium carbonate." James Kennett, Marine
Geology, (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1982), p. 483-484

Thus Dallas, Texas, and Dover England are built on a dung piles.

China also gives evidence that eating was taking place during the middle of the flooded earth. I guess this means that the mammals doing the eating were accomplished swimmers, being able to swim for several months and then eating after months of not doing so. And since it is clear that the speed of the digestive system means that these animals ate during the very latest part of the flood, one must ask him or herself how this occurred when the world was covered with water.

"Evidence of hair from several extinct mammals has been
recovered from a rich accumulation of fossil excrement from
the Late Paleocene beds of Inner Mongolia, China. The highly
unusual and previously undocumented depositional occurrence
consists of hundreds of mammalian carnivore coprolites (fossil
faeces) and a lesser number of probably raptorial bird
regurgitalites (fossil pellets). The fossil hair occurs as
impressions and natural casts in the extremely fine-grained,
calcareous matrix that cements the skeletal remains within
these faecal structures and preserves even the cutiular scale
pattern on individual hair. Hair from at least four mammalian
taxa, most notably the multituberculate lambdopsalis bulla,
has been identified." Jin Meng and Andre
R. Wyss, "Multituberculate and other Mammal Hair Recovered
From Palaeogene Excreta," Nature, 385(Feb. 20, 1997):, p. 712

Coming back to the Green River Catfish coprolites, Woolley fails to mention to his readers that Buchheim and Surdam believe that the evidence supports the idea that the fish were a resident population of a lake, not of a global flood.

"Abundant apatitic fish coprolites (commonly 100 to 350/ m3) are
associated with the fossil catfish. These abundant fish
coprolites, ranging from a few millimetres to 2.5 cm and
averaging about 1 cm in length, further suggest a resident fish
population during deposition of the oil shale units." H. Paul
Buchheim and Ronald C. Surdam, "Fossil Catfish and the
Depositional Environment of the Green River Formation, Wyoming,"
Geology 5(1977):4:196-198, p. 198

How are coprolites fossilized? By bacteria:

"The fossilization of herbivore feces in terrestrial environments is a rare event. They are composed of organic constituents that can be metabolized by a variety of small organisms, contain high levels of microorganisms at the outset, and lack the high concentrations of calcium phosphate often found in carnivore feces. How, then, might herbivorous feces become fossilized? Numerous studies demonstrate that bacteria can facilitate the rapid authigenic deposition of calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate under mildly alkaline anaerobic conditions with suitable sources and concentrations of calcium, phosphate, and bicarbonate. The basis of this phenomenon is apparently the general ability of bacteria to modify critical chemical gradients over small distances and, thereby, create local regions in which calcium carbonate or calcium phosphate can become saturated and crystallize from solution. Thus, it is plausible that mineralization of the xylem capillaries in the dinosaur feces was catalyzed by bacteria that had colonized the capillaries and began soon after deposition when bacterial metabolism was still active. It is believed that the present study may be relevant particularly to taphonomic sequence and mechanism in the fossilization of herbivore feces, inasmuch as it suggests a means to initiate mineralization rapidly and to create a structural scaffold sufficiently robust to preserve some details of plant structure and histology." Thomas C. Hollocher, Karen Chin, Kurt T. Hollocher and Michael A. Kruge, "Bacterial Residues in Coprolite of Herbivorous Dinosaurs: Role of Bacteria in Mineralization of Feces," Palaios 16(2001):547-565, p. 561

Woolley, of course, doesn�t mention any of this to his readers, letting them think there is no explanation. That is a typical YEC approach.

Let me end this by citing a 19th century preacher who would be appalled at Sarfatti and DeYoung�s acceptance of the existence of coprolites. This 19th century fellow would think that they were entirely too liberal in their views:

"And in maintaining his hypothesis that most fossils are mere archetypes--mere plans or models--of existences to be the archetypal dung proves rather a stumbling-block, and the English clergyman waxes exceedingly wroth against the geologists. 'We cannot,' he says, 'believe in such things as coprolites. They are only a curious form of matter commanded by Him who has made the flower to assume all shapes as well as all hues. He who would not allow so much as a tool to be lifted up on the stones that composed his altar, would certainly not allow the work of animals to compose his creation, much less, then, their dung. The geological assertion that the Creator of this world formed it in some parts of coprolites savors very much of Satan or Beelzebub, the god of dung. Geologists could scarcely have made a more unfortunate self-refuting assertion than this.' Hugh Miller, Testimony of the Rocks,(New York: Hurst and Company, 1857) p. 399

I suspect that YECs won�t deal with this anymore than they have dealt with anything else I have posted. And while some can claim that it is because they don�t have interest in these things, they can�t claim YEC is a superior model until they respond to data like the above. Any explanation from the YECs? If there is , I will be surprised.

One gentleman tried to say that the cracks on the turtle dung above were not due to drying out. He said that they came out that way and cited a post where he photo'd his dog's dung.  His original post can be found at:
Here is what I replied:
What you have is not the same type of 'cracks' as is shown in the Turtle coprolite. On the turtle coprolite the cracks are angular
  _   _
/   \/   \

This is a clear sign of the top part of the squarish crack having shrunk in length compared with the interior. This is a characteristic of the outer layer drying out in relation to the inner part of the dung. In your dog's example (a very fine example it is), the cracks go clear around the dung and are probably due to the compressions of the intestines and the compression of different parts of the feces together. In other words, joints, not desiccation cracks.

Also note that the cracks in the turtle dung are irregular, yours are very smooth and regular. That is a significant difference.

Your cracks do not seem to affect only the outer layer of the dung. In the turtle dung you can clearly see that the crack doesn't cut deep into the feces.

For these reasons, I will stand by the desiccation view. One sees the same pyramidal type structure in lake bottoms when they dry out and produce deep desiccation cracks. The cracks get smaller as one goes deeper because the top of the lake bottom has shrunk in relation to the wet (expanded) mud deeper. So, what I see on the Turtle coprolite fits what one sees in a dried out lake bottom. V-shaped irregular cracks which affect only the outer layers. With your dog, those joints seem to go all the way through the dung.
To further verify what I said about the cracks on the turtle coprolite being due to drying out (desiccation), I scanned the edge of the fossil to highlight one of the cracks. You can clearly see (especially at the A point) the v-shaped nature of the crack. This is a classic desiccation crack meaning that the dung partially dried out prior to fossilization. And that takes time. Why would the very wet, very deep global flood dry turtle dung out?

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