Thursday, 11 March 2021

Predatory behaviour in the fossil record

 The fossil record is replete [1-3] with examples of predation that predate the appearance of humans on Earth, so there is little need to appeal to further fossil discoveries to establish what is patently clear; death and predation have existed well before the appearance of humans on this planet, falsifying any literal reading of the Bible which insists that death and predation only appeared after Adam's sin. Having said that, a recent paper is worth noting simply because of how impressive the example of predatory behaviour demonstrated by the fossil discovery is.

The 2020 paper [4] by Jiang et al describes a fossilised 5 metre ichthyosaur that contains within it the remains of a 4 meter thalattosaur. The graphical abstract says everything:

At approximately 240 million years, the fossil as the authors note likely represents the oldest example of megafaunal predation by a marine animal. 

Stomach contents of the fossilised ichthyosaur.

As an example of predation this fossil is certainly impressive and serves as an eloquent refutation of fundamentalist misinterpretations of the Bible that assert death and predation were unknown prior to Adam's sin.


1. Michal Kowalewski ; Alfréd Dulai ; Franz T. Fürsich A fossil record full of holes: The Phanerozoic history of drilling predation  Geology (1998) 26 (12): 1091–1094.
2. Adiël A. Klompmakera et al  Predation in the marine fossil record: Studies, data, recognition, environmental factors, and behavior Earth-Science Reviews (2019) 194:  472-520
3. Alexander R.R., Dietl G.P. (2003) The Fossil Record of Shell-Breaking Predation on Marine Bivalves and Gastropods. In: Kelley P.H., Kowalewski M., Hansen T.A. (eds) Predator—Prey Interactions in the Fossil Record. Topics in Geobiology, vol 20. Springer, Boston, MA.