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    Jarnak's Avatar
    Jarnak Posts: 2, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Jan 22, 2010, 08:29 AM
    How to determine the reason why an animal has died, by a fossil
    This will be a complex thing, so if there is any paleontology expert out there please respond.

    My father always hollering with me when I talk about scientific subject. He believes in the "brute force" method, which means whoever able to shout louder is right, and he believes in common sense (like we cannot measure the distances between our Sun and other stars because they are to far away, he knows nothing about Leavitt). He hates scientists and outrageously sure that nobody on Earth can show him evidence.

    I am incapable to convince him him, that with some modern processes we can determine the reason why an animal has died, by the fossil of that animal. I have read lots of book about this topic, but I am not an expert, that is why I cannot talk convincingly to him. He said to me to look on the Internet for evidence, and that I will find nothing.

    His prime argument is, that the fossils are authentic, because during millions of year water flows through everything, so they are damaged. I told him about radiocarbon dating, but his only argument was: Don't believe everything to those **** scientists.

    The whole quarrel was because I said, that some prehistoric animals died because of poison-gas like Methane. He said that we cannot know that, it is impossible.

    Please somebody help me, to provide some authentic literature to convince him, he don't believes to forumers or wikipedia. It causes me great grief to see him like this, not believing in foundational scientific theories.

    Thank you for your help
    tickle's Avatar
    tickle Posts: 23,800, Reputation: 2674

    Jan 22, 2010, 09:01 AM

    Your father is partially correct. Hard to determine the death knell for any prehistoric animals. There are many theories but one never pinpointed: cllimate change (which is feasible) emergence of humans on the landscape, giant meteor (which is okay, that would explain th climate change).

    Carbon dating is authentic and used worldwide to determine age of organic matter only: wood, bones, etc. You can prove this to him by printing off written evidence from Google.

    We can't really determine how ancient fossils reached their demise unless we find many of the same species in a tar pit, etc.

    Your theory regarding methane is incorrect, it was more likely carbon dioxide poisoning at some point but only for some.

    Jarnak's Avatar
    Jarnak Posts: 2, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Jan 22, 2010, 09:07 AM

    Well okay, but he need authentic works, like a name or a book he can look for or read. And the emphasis is not on the kind of the gas, but the method to detect it.
    ebaines's Avatar
    ebaines Posts: 12,132, Reputation: 1307

    Jan 25, 2010, 09:42 AM

    There seems to be some confusion here - are you asking whether it's possible to determine the cause of death of a particular individual animal that became fossilized? It MAY be possible - it all depends on what that particular fossil shows. For example - if you find a clutch of dinosaur eggs all in a single nest one probable theory is that they were covered in some sort of land slide that enabled them to become fossilized and prevented scavengers from eating them. But as for whether it's possible to ascertain that a particular animal died from methane poisoning, or CO2 poisoning 65 million years ago - I don't see how that could be done.

    As for radiocarbon dating - that method in particular is used only for dating organic material that is less than about 50,000 years old. It does not work on dinosaur fossils. Other techniques are used to date such old fossils - typically by looking at the relative amounts of various isotopes of elements such as potasium and uranium in the surrounding rocks. Some of these methods are discussed here: Radiometric dating - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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