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By Joseph Hubbard

The Green River Formation in Wyoming, USA, is one of the best places in the world to find exquisitely preserved fossils of fish, birds and mammals, as well as reptiles, insects, and even plants. The formation is part of a sequence of rocks that we classify as Eocene, and according to the popular belief of evolution, was formed between 53.5 and 48.5 million years ago(1) (approx 5 million years). The formation holds the fossilised remains of over 60 vertebrate taxa, including some unusual fossils of bats, snakes, birds, and armadillos.(2)

According to scientists who accept the philosophies of both  evolution and millions of years, this formation supposedly accumulated slowly on the bottom of a vast lake. It contains many layers of sediment, or strata which supposedly resulted from seasonal deposition, resulting in dark organic rich summer layer and a lighter winter layer or two layers per year, and form what are  known as varves. The average size of a varve is 0.18mm.( 3)

The formation is claimed to have taken around 5 million years to form, during which time the fishes and other animals sometimes got caught up with the depositing sediment, and were fossilised.

Our nearby Colchester UK Natural History Museum shows a widely accepted view of how such fish fossils form. This hypothesis [idea] is accepted by many geologists, but  there are major problems with it. We will examine them now, and see that the evidence is in favour of the formation being deposited quickly by catastrophic flooding rather than slow deposits in a large lake.

One particular area of the Green River Formation, known as “Fossil Butte National Monument”, holds huge numbers of fossil fish with most in excellent state of preservation. Several fossils from this area are housed in the Genesis Museum of Creation, in Norfolk, UK.  

Consider first the problem of  how the fish got into the strata in the first place. The sign in the Colchester Natural History Museum says this. “…The fish dies, and sinks to the bottom of the lake”.(5) The problem comes when you think about what happens when fish die. Even the little child at pre-school can tell you that when the vast majority of fish die they float due to their swim bladder inflating. Most are then eaten by scavengers (gulls, other fishes etc), and never make it to the lake bed. Any that do get to the bottom are likewsise eaten by scavagers . There are rare diseases that affect the fish bladder so they sink, but all observation show such fish are soon disposed of by the same tiype of bottom scaveners .

Because of this problem, some scientists have suggested there were unusual conditions at the Lake that caused the fish to sink. One idea is that fish died in very cold water, so their swim bladder couldn’t inflate. However this doesn’t fit with the ecology of the other animals fossilised there, such as crocodiles, which need warm tempratures for living, and bats and palm branches and birds all of which indicate a catastrophism that took out many creatures from a wide range of environments.  

 Then there is the serious issue of any  fish that did make it to the lake bed without being scavenged still needed to be buried. At a rate of 0.18mm per year, this means that it would take several hundred years to just cover a medium sized fish, let alone fossilise it.(6) Such observations indicate a rapid flood burial, rather than the evolutionary interpretation of long slow burial in a large lake.

Lastly let us think about the predictable results of  rapid flood burial which would include:

  1. Most fossil creatures being well preserved
  2.  Fish in action positions showing burial while they were alive.
  3.  Evidence of sediment weight squashing with fossil vomit, lots of expelled fish droppings unconsumed by detritus feeders.
  4. Some showing evidence of current flow direction. ..(4) 
  5. Mixed environment fossils land sea and air.

This scenario is very similar to what is actually found and  is consistent only with  rapid deposition causing conditions that do not occur under normalconditions, to wash the fish in with sediment, and deposit them suddenly,  not slowly buried over millions of years.

In conclusion, we have seen that the long slow evolutionary/millions of years interpretation of the Green River Formation is inconsistent with observations made at the formation. Instead, the data is consistent with rapid deposition of both sediment and organisms and their fine preservation. The concept that vast time is shown in these rocks is false!

Many fossils, including those from the Green River Formation could never have formed unless they were buried rapidly,  so why do so many people believe the lie that fossils require vast ages before fosilisation? For many, it is to escape the Truth that God is coming to judge the earth – and we don’t have much time before we face the Judge. Just as the Bible teaches short ages at the beginning of the Bible, ie. the Earth’s history, it also teaches short ages for planet earths future, and a final judgement of man by our Creator which there is only one way to escape. The Bible says “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). And how do we get this gift? The Bible tells us clearly. “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved!” (Joel 2:32). Believe on the Lord Jesus, and repent of your sins today!

For more information on the formation of fossil fish see the question: AGE: If the earth is young, why do the Green River Shales in Wyoming show rocks take vast ages to form? Answer by John Mackay here.


(1.) Smith, M. E., Singer, B., & Carroll, A. (2003). 40Ar/39Ar geochronology of the Eocene Green River Formation, Wyoming. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 115(5), 549-565.
(2, 3.) 
(4.) Gary and Mary Parker; “The Fossil Book” (Master Books [2005]) pg 50. 
(5.) “How Fossils Formed” plaque, Colchester Natural History Museum.
(6.) The case for Flood deposition of the Green River Formation, M. Oard JOURNAL OF CREATION 20(1) 2006, pg 52