The Cumberland Bone Cave is an intriguing fossil graveyard in Maryland. Why is it intriguing, you ask? It’s just a creepy cave filled with creepy old bones. Well, actually, it’s been thoroughly excavated by now and hardly has anything left in it. But when it was found in 1912, it was filled with giant bones belonging to such extinct creatures as the Cave Bear and the Sabertooth Cat, as well as other, still living, creatures such as fish. It was a great discovery.
But the most intriguing thing about it is how scientists must explain how all those fossils got in there, in that ONE spot. If you’re not familiar with how fossilization and petrifaction works, here’s a few explanations. I’ll try to make them brief, but this is a very interesting subject to me 😀
The most common means by which a dead plant or animal can be preserved is by the formation of a mold and and the making of a cast. This means not that the animal itself is preserved, but that rocks are formed in the image of the animal. Suppose, for example, a seashell gets buried in sediment (sand, gravel, etc.). As time goes on, the sediment hardens and becomes rock, and the shell is now encased in rock. Eventually, water will seep inside the little crevice that the shell exists in and will weather the rock and shell. If the shell weathers away before the rock does, in its place there is a rock with the imprint of a shell.
Petrifaction is the result of a creature’s remains being exposed to water that has a large amount of minerals. As the mineral-rich water swirls around the creature’s remains, the organic materials begin to decompose and are replaced with by minerals that are deposited into the remains. If this process is allowed to complete, eventually the remains can be entirely replaced and the result is a stony substance that is a replica of the creature.
Those are two pretty basic ways of fossilization. Now, to move on, you must understand catastrophism and uniformitarianism. These are the two major scientific views. Catastrophism is the view that most of the earth’s geological formations are the result of major catastrophe’s in earth’s past (to sum it up ever so briefly). Catastrophists mostly rely on the Biblical account of the Worldwide Flood as a major landmark in history that literally changed the face of the earth. Uniformitarianism is the view that most of the earth’s geological formations were the result of slow processes that occurred over the span of millions of years. Uniformitarians like to rely on the Theory of Evolution. I sincerely hope you know what that is, but if you don;t, here’s a brief definition: The Theory of Evolution is a theory which states that all life on this earth has a single, common ancestor that existed a long, long time ago.
Now, if you have all of that information down-pat ?(I hope you do), let’s look again at the Cumberland Bone Cave. Wouldn’t it seem awfully odd if many, many different kinds of animals all crowded into one cave and died there together? Seems hokey to me. But Uniformitarians seem to think that. They can’t think of a logical explanation for it. But Catastrophists have an easy answer. Once again, they use God’s Flood as backup. They tell us that during the Flood, creatures were swept away and carried perhaps miles away from where they died. Perhaps many of them ended up in the Bone Cave, where the mineral-rich flood water replaced their bodies’ organic materials with stone. Perhaps some got buried in the sediment of the cave and the water weathered them away, resulting in molds and casts of the creatures. There are a few other kinds of fossilization that I’m sure was discovered. But the kicker to this story, the part that I find amazing, is how the Catastrophists, who mostly rely on the Bible as backup for their beliefs, were the ones who could explain fossil graveyards. Uniformitarians, the people who believe that the universe was created out of a strange burst of Nothingness, could not.