Monkey Teeth, Monkey Business

What can you learn from monkey teeth? Well, that depends on where you find them.  Recently, researchers from USC published an article in the journal Science which talked about the find of monkey teeth dated somewhere between 34 and 23 million years old found in South America. According to the scientists, the teeth are those of an extinct type of monkey previously only known from Africa.  The researchers speculated that the monkeys may have reached the South American continent from Africa by means of a floating mass of vegetation.

The monkey teeth, from an extinct monkey group known as the parapithecids, are believed to be from a smaller type of monkey similar to a marmoset.  They are not the first type of organism believed to have made the trip to South America by means of a floating mass of vegetation. A type of rodents and a different type of monkeys have previously been postulated to have done it as well. This has some very interesting implications for a creationist view of history.

As all Biblical creationists accept, there was a global flood in the days of Noah, which wiped the entire face of the earth clean. All the original geography was eliminated and replaced with the topography we see today, either during the flood itself, or in the run-off stages. The vast majority of the rock layers were laid down as a result of this catastrophe. However, the youngest rock layers, specifically the ones where these teeth were found, are largely believed to have been laid down post-flood.  That said, this teeth discovery and its implications actually support a creationist view of earth history.

Decades ago, Dr. Steve Austin proposed a floating log mat in the post-flood world. His model was to explain coal seams. The idea was, as the logs and other floating plant material floated, it would jostle together, producing loose bark and other debris. These would sink to the sea floor and be covered over in layers, eventually being compressed into coal seams.  This model, however, was quickly co-opted by other creationists to account for biogeography.

Biogeography is the study of where animals live and how they reached their current habitats. In creationist circles, the questions asked are generally about attempting to explain how creatures reached the Americas and remote islands. Often the answer is two-fold. In part, it is due to the post-flood Ice Age which drastically lowered sea levels, potentially making many offshore islands accessible. It may also have lowered water levels in the Bering Strait to a point where travel between Russia and Alaska could have happened on foot.  However, for areas like Tasmania where the water in the strait separating it from Australia is very deep, the Ice Age is not the solution.

Since the Ice Age lowering the water level is not the solution to everything related to biogeography, the floating log mat model of Dr. Austin is frequently brought into the fold. The idea of this model is that animals may have become trapped on these huge log mats. Because there was plenty of food in the form of insects, smaller animals, and plant material, it would have been easy for organisms to make it across the nine hundred miles between Africa and South America for example.  Certainly some animals would not have survived the trip and the mats may have been broken up by storms at times, but some of them would have made it between continents.  This would have allowed the migration of animals between continents much more quickly than a conventional land-based migration.

This brings us back to the monkey teeth.  The researchers themselves are proposing a floating mass of vegetation to explain how the monkeys got to South America. Given that the fossilized teeth are post-flood, if we accept that the identification of these teeth is accurate, this would seem to help confirm the floating log mat model. The evolutionary community as a whole seems to be coming around to this view of biogeography. Last year the pop-sci magazine New Scientist ran an article that made very similar claims about a floating mass of vegetation.  Perhaps evolutionists should recognize what creationists have known for decades: biogeography is best explained by a floating log mat that resulted from the flood in the days of Noah.

Do you know what’s going to happen when you die? Are you completely sure? If you aren’t, please read this or listen to this. You can know where you will spend eternity. If you have questions, please feel free to contact us, we’d love to talk to you.

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