The Fossilized Human Finger Print E-mail

The Creation Evidence Museum acquired a fossilized human finger in the mid 1980s. It was found by a landowner where road gravel was being quarried from the Cretaceous Walnut Formation of the Commanche Peak limestone. Recent advances in C.T. scanning techniques have yielded some astounding pictures of the interior of this fossil. These pictures and other studies show that this is indeed the finger of someone who was rapidly buried in a catastrophic event long ago.

The photograph above is a startling picture that instantly starts a struggle in the mind: One part says "that's a finger!", and another part says "that's fake!". The reason for this struggle is not hard to understand. It obviously looks like a finger, but we've been preconditioned by popular media and "educated" to believe that (a) soft tissue does not fossilize, and that (b) man was nowhere to be found when Cretaceous rocks were forming.

We'll begin with part (a) of the dilemma. Soft tissue is fossilized and preserved with remarkable detail when the organism is rapidly buried soon after or before death. Evidence for this can be seen in the well-preserved worm fossils that can be found in Somervel county, and shown in the photograph below.

Under rapid-burial conditions, the individual cells in an organism can mineralize and harden individually, preserving microscopic details of the original plant or animal.

So how can we look at the inside of a fossil? There are two methods.

The first, called sectioning, is to use a fine diamond saw to cut through the fossil in the area we wish to study, then polish the surfaces of the cut so that the differences in texture and color show up. This is how the large photograph was made. When done properly, this method uncovers fine interior detail. Unfortunately, this 'uses up' the artifact and creates problems for other types of testing.

The second, less-destructive method is to use some form of radiation, such as X-rays, to penetrate the rock and record on film the variations in interior densities. Simple X-ray techniques cannot clearly show differences between bone and stone, which tend to have similar densities. The C.T. scan is an improvement that overcomes these limitations by focusing on a thin slice of the sample. This was the method used to give us interior pictures of the fossil.

The hand is a wonderful collection of levers (bones), ropes (tendons), and hinges and pulleys (joints). It enables a pitcher to throw a precisely-placed curve ball or enables a violinist to play a Paganini concerto. Some of this machinery is visible in the C.T scans of the fossil finger shown here.

The side view shows dark areas that are interpreted as the interior parts of the bones and bone marrow. These areas have less density than the surrounding stones, and therefore more easily pass X-rays, causing darkening of the image. Also visible in both pictures are nearly-black areas caused by the sectioning.

The top view clearly shows the fingernail and cuticle area, including the thin arc where the nail is under the skin of the cuticle.

But what about part (b) of our mental struggle? This fossil is obviously human in its appearance, both inside and out. But it was found in Cretaceous rock, which according to tradition was laid down about a hundred-million years ago. This forces us to one of three conclusions. Either dinosaurs had humanlike fingers, or a prehistoric shellfish developed internal and external structures identical with a human finger, or humans were present during Cretaceous times.

Copyright 1995, David Lines

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