A Mediterranean Island Petrified Forest: Another Monument to an Ancient Earth.
On the Greek Island of Lesvos there is a World Heritage Site which includes hundreds of petrified trees and countless other fossils. Many of these petrified trees are found standing upright with root systems intact. A variety of tree species have been identified including a species similar to the giant sequoia trees found today in California. Of the many large petrified trees identified on Lesvos one has a stump with a circumference of 45 feet and many others are more than 20 feet in circumference. Some of these trees were likely more than 300 feet tall when alive. We see here the preservation of a very impressive subtropical forest on what today is an island that is characterized mostly by desert and scrub-land habitats.
I only recently learned of this fossil forest from an advertisement looking for a student to continue work on reconstructing the biota of the region from new fossil collections. What caused me to look a bit further at this fossil forest was the observation that there are successive layers of forests and their associated ecosystems preserved on this island. This reminded me of another famous site at Yellowstone National Park – specimen ridge – where successive forests are preserved stacked on top of each other.
These preserved fossil forests stand as clear beacons of a time long ago when forests filled with plant and animals formed an ecosystem that was destroyed by catastrophic events. But these catastrophes were not the global flood as young-earth creationists (YECS) wish to believe. Rather they were destroyed by volcanic eruptions.
Petrified Forest Yellowstone National Park. Showing ancient fossilized tree trunks with the Lamary Valley in the background.
YECs have struggled to explain how the presence of ash-preserved standing trees in Yellowstone within their young-earth timeline, but nonetheless assert these forests must have been preserved in a global-flood.
The Lesvos island petrified trees present the same challenges to the YEC timeline but it struck me that these fossils give us an even clearly example of the emptiness of the YEC flood geology model to explain the abundant evidence of Earth’s ancient history. This small island is composed almost solely of volcanic material including sediments derived from eroded volcanic material. That volcanic history included many successive pyroclastic flows and explosive ashfall event as evident in the layers of ash and debris flow sediments found in vertical profiles across the island.
The evidence found in the rocks on this island tell us that between volcanic episodes weathered ash layers supported the growth of large forest ecosystems including very large sequoia trees. Several times these forests grew on the sides of, or in valleys among, volcanoes and were subsequently covered by large ashfall or pyroclastic flows. All of the petrified trees are found in thick layers of volcanic material which is an excellent preserver of organic material.
Here are the three important observations that every YEC needs to know about and account for:
- The fossilized trees and entire preserved ecosystems are found only in volcanic material not in sediments from a watery flood
- The trees and other plants preserved here are similar to species that exist today and thus are a relatively modern ecosystem which YECs generally consider to be the result of speciation after the Flood and hence should be considered by YECs a post-flood ecosystem.
- The largest sequoia-like trees could have been more than 1000 years old when they died and there are large trees in multiple preserved layers which means trees of this age grew and died at different times.
This island is not covered by any discernible global flood sedimentary deposits but rather protrudes out of thousands of feet of sedimentary rock in the Mediterranean basin. In the YEC model of Earth’s history such geological formations were formed after the vast majority of the sedimentary rock was deposited and the lack of non-volcanic sedimentary rock suggests that the layers of volcanic material were formed above the water’s surface and hence in a post-flood world.
A large petrified tree on the Greek island of Lesvos which has been dug out of hardened volcanic ash deposits.
But if this is the case these forests must have grown and been preserved by events following a global flood which is said to have occurred only 4350 years ago. The massive size of some of the trees suggests a thousand years or more to develop the forest before it was destroyed by a volcanic eruption. And then another forest with very old trees grew once again before being destroyed.
The climate today could not support the types of plants that are found petrified on this island. Consider that Theophrastus first described fossil trees here around 300 BC and the island at the time was much as it is now with a dry Mediterranean climate.
How can the YEC squeeze the origin and life of these fossil forests into their compressed timeline? There is no historical records of volcanic activity on this island and so all volcanism must have ceased prior to the advent of written historical records. These forests had to have grown in a subtropical climate very different from today, been destroyed, grown and destroyed again and the trees has to be permineralized into petrified wood all before 300 BC.
And don’t even get me started by the presumably post-Flood elephants and other animals preserved on this island in the same volcanic rocks in which these trees are found. All of these organisms had to migrate to the island, become part of a developed ecosystem and been wiped out prior to any modern record keeping.
The point is that everywhere we look we find abundant evidence for which simple straightforward interpretations leads us to the conclusion that the earth we live on has a deep history. To interpret these observations within the constraints of the short YEC timeline requires highly improbable and usually impossible propositions.
Cambodia set to permanently ban commercial surrogacy
Bangkok: Cambodia is set to permanently ban commercial surrogacy, ending hopes of Australian parents intending to enter into any arrangements with surrogate mothers in the impoverished country.
A draft law imposing the ban is likely to be passed by Cambodia's parliament early next year.
Australian nurse jailed in Cambodia over surrogacy clinic.
Tammy Davis-Charles and two Cambodian assistants were found guilty of running an illegal surrogacy operation.
Surrogacy operators had been confident the government in Phnom Penh would allow commercial surrogacy under strict supervision, legalising what was a booming industry until it was shut down during a crackdown late last year.
But Phon Puthborey, a spokesman for the Women's Affair Ministry, told the Cambodia Daily the "main content of the law is that we absolutely ban commercial surrogacy and any actions that get benefit or profit from surrogacy [are] completely banned".
Cambodia became the Asian hub for surrogacy after clinics and surrogacy operators were chased out of India, Nepal and Thailand.
More than 70 Australian couples entered into surrogacy agreements in Cambodia before the crackdown, leaving them facing difficulties in obtaining travel documents so they could take their babies out of the country.
The crackdown sent hundreds of surrogate mothers into hiding, fearing arrest, where many were not able to receive medication and treatment.
Earlier this month Melbourne nurse Tammy Davis-Charles was sentenced to 18 months' jail in a Phnom Penh court for paying Cambodian women to have surrogate babies for Australian couples.
Witnesses told the court she had charged $US50,000 ($63,000) to broker the birth of each of 23 babies, mostly for Australian couples, through her company Fertility Solutions PDG.
The verdict shocked Davis-Charles, a 49-year-old mother of six, who had pleaded for leniency, saying she had lost everything and is suffering from eye cancer.
She and two of her employees are the only people who have faced surrogacy charges in the country.
Stephen Page, a Brisbane-based lawyer who specialises in surrogacy, told the Daily the ban had "long been predicted".
Pattaramon Chanbua, 21, with her son Gammy in 2014. The Baby Gammy scandal led to Thailand closing surrogacy clinics across the nation and driving clients to Cambodia. Photo: AP.
"The ban was entirely inevitable because of the failure of the government to properly regulate surrogacy in the first place," he said.
"If the government had not allowed the wild west to operate, we wouldn't be discussing it now."
Nurse Tammy Davis-Charles after her arrest last year. Photo: Cambodian National Police.
Sam Everingham, global director of the Australian consultancy Families Through Surrogacy, said last year that Cambodia's surrogacy infrastructure was a hastily built rollercoaster with a high-risk of collateral damage when it inevitably crashed.
Recruiting illiterate surrogates in a country with high levels of corruption to carry – in many cases – twin pregnancies for foreigners is not a humane, sustainable business model," he said.
A senate inquiry has found that "many Australians are pursuing offshore commercial surrogacy because of the difficulties of negotiating altruistic arrangements in Australia". (Altruistic arrangements don't involve payment.)
But Attorney-General George Brandis has not acted on recommendations for Australia to allow well-managed domestic surrogacy, so fewer Australians will go overseas to enter into surrogacy arrangements.