How Did Dinosaur Bones Turn Into Fossils?

Author: John Woodmorappe
Subject: Dinosaurs

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Ramifications for Young-Earth Flood Geology

If fossilization was simply replacement of bone with stone, fossil and living bones wouldn’t be as chemically similar as they are, and the intricate details found in fossilized dinosaur bones would not have survived [1]. Even more intriguing is the fact that some of the proteins in bone have survived the fossilization process, in dinosaurs and “older” fossils [2], a fact very consistent with a young earth.

Fossilization is essentially a process of denaturing bone, similar to the denaturing of animal skin in leather manufacturing. The mineral that makes the live bone hard, apatite, combines with fluorine (in groundwater) to form fluorapatite [3]. The living tissue in bone (mostly proteins such as collagen) largely decay away, and the resulting void spaces get filled with mostly quartz minerals.

Fossilization takes place when the following steps, which nicely fit a young-earth flood-geology context, occur [4].

  1. Rapid burial to prevent immediate disintegration.
  2. Rapid fluoridation andquartzificationto spare the bone from bacterial decay and percolating fluids while buried in the sediment. Depending on the mineral content of the groundwater (“the fountains of the great deep” which “burst forth,” [Gen. 7:11]) this could have occurred very rapidly. Experiments on buried shrimp show that even soft tissue can be preserved in a matter of weeks under the right conditions [5].

III. Survival of the bone through chemical change over time (“eons” of survival required, of course, for evolutionists and long-age creationists).


[1]. Gillette, D.D. 1994. Seismosaurus the Earth Shaker. NY: Columbia University Press, pp. 136,137.

[2]. Gurley, L.R. et al. 1991. Proteins in the Fossil Bone of the Dinosaur, Seismosaurus. Journal of Protein Chemistry, 10(1), pp. 87-89.

[3]. Chipera, S.J., and D.L. Bish. 1991. Applications of X- ray Diffraction Crystallite Size/Strain Analysis to Seismosaurus dinosaur bone. Advance in X-Ray Analysis 34, pp. 481,482.

[4]. Gillette, p. 157

[5]. Briggs, D.E.G. and A.J. Kear. 1993. Fossilization of Soft Tissue in the Laboratory. Science 259, pp. 1439-1442.

Topics: dinosaur bone fossilization, mysteries of science, dinosaur young, puzzling facts about dinosaurs, weird but true, dinosaur juveniles, fossilization process, misconceptions about dinosaurs corrected, taphonomy, dinosaur riddles, scientific mysteries solved, taphonomic processes, Jurassic Park revisited, dinosaur mysteries explained, secrets of prehistoric life.