RSR's List of the Kinds of Polystrate Fossils

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Many have heard about polystrate tree fossils, the many, many tree trunks found standing upright through multiple rock layers, some of which that were allegedly deposited over hundreds of thousands or even millions of years. Typically, these fossilized trees, which would have taken eons to be buried, show no greater erosion at the top than the base.

* Old-Earth Explanations of Polystrate: Arguments given by old-earthers include:
- these particular layers were not deposited over the long periods implied 
- regardless of how long it took for sediments to bury it, of course the tree stood that long
- the fossilized tree was later implanted vertically through the rock layers; or, there are almost no actual polystrate fossils and this phenomenon is just exaggerated by 

to explain a single polystrate that they are looking at (as compared to the millions of polystrate fossils in existence) typically come nowhere near to being even remotely plausible for a single polystrate, let alone all the many kinds of polystrates and all the millions of instances of their fossilization.

* Kinds of Polystrate Fossils: But upright fossilized trees form only one kind of polystrate fossil. The other kinds include:
- polystrate schools of jellyfish
- three-dimensional trilobites in limestone
- delicate radiating spine polystrates
- 171 (awfully persistent dead) tadpoles in diatoms
- fossilized end-to-end leaves standing on their sides
- a fossilized whale buried in diatoms
- a fossilized school of whales buried across four strata
- etc. (every fossil that crosses strata boundaries)

Now how about those LEAVES! Leaves? Yes, leaves! There are two leaves, buried vertically, as though standing on edge for thousands of years, while buried by the super-slow deposition of diatomaceous rock! Ha! Leaves. And there’s a mesosaur (and countless other 3D fossils; 3D, in other words, not flatten like a piece of paper, but having significant thickness), a mesosaur buried in multiple “varve” layers, which are claimed to be annual depositions, yet these fossils typically show no erosional patterns that would indicate gradual burial.
Then there’s that whale skeleton in a California quarry, uplifted, with its rib cage and other bones buried by diatoms, again, which diatomaceous earth is said to be deposited incredibly slowly!
And speaking of whales, how about the 40 whales! buried in Chile (and several hundred more, undiscovered)! Looks like a mass stranding. But these whale fossils surprised a Smithsonian evolutionist, Dr. Nick Pyenson. Why? Because, he says: “It happened four times." Why's that? Because "the fossil site has at least four layers", to which Real Science Radio's Bob Enyart replies: "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha", with RSR co-host Fred Williams thoughtfully adding, "Ha ha!"

Photo of jellyfish, an organism which Darwin wrongly claimed would not fossilize (he misunderstood the rapidity with which most fossils formed)
No bones about it.

* Polystrates like Spines and Rare Schools of Fossilized Jellyfish: Previously, seven sedimentary layers in Wisconsin had been described as taking a million years to form. And because jellyfish have no skeleton, as Charles Darwin pointed out, it is rare to find them among fossils. But now, reported in the journal Geology, a school of jellyfish fossils have been found throughout those same seven layers. So, polystrate fossils that condense the time of strata deposition from eons to hours or months, include:
Jellyfish in central Wisconsin were not deposited and fossilized over a million years but during a single event quick enough to trap a whole school. (This fossil school, therefore, taken as a unit forms a polystrate fossil.) Examples are everywhere that falsify the claims of strata deposition over millions of years.

This page began as a segment on
RSR's classic List of Not So Old Things

- Countless trilobites buried in astounding three dimensionality around the world are meticulously recovered from limestone, much of which is claimed to have been deposited very slowly. Contrariwise, because these specimens were buried rapidly in quickly laid down sediments, they show no evidence of greater erosion on their upper parts as compared to their lower parts.
photo of polystrate radiating spines- The delicacy of radiating spine polystrates, like tadpole and jellyfish fossils, especially clearly demonstrate the rapidity of such strata deposition.
- A second school of jellyfish, even though they rarely fossilized, exists in another locale with jellyfish fossils in multiple layers, in Australia's Brockman Iron Formation, constraining there too the rate of strata deposition. By the way, jellyfish are an example of evolution's big squeeze. Like galaxies evolving too quicklygalaxy clusters, and even human feet (which, like Mummy DNA, challenge the Out of Africa paradigm), jellyfish have gotten into the act squeezing evolution's timeline, here by 200 million years when they were found in strata allegedly a half-a-billion years old. Other examples, ironically referred to as Medusoid Problematica, are even found in pre-Cambrian strata.
171 tadpoles of the same species buried in diatoms.
Leaves buried vertically through single-celled diatoms powerfully refute the claimed super-slow deposition of diatomaceous rock.
- Many fossils, including a Mesosaur, have been buried in multiple "varve" layers, which are claimed to be annual depositions, yet they show no erosional patterns that would indicate gradual burial.
- A single whale skeleton preserved in California in dozens of layers of diatom deposits thus forming a polystrate fossil.
40 whales buried in the desert in Chile. "What's really interesting is that this didn't just happen once," said Smithsonian evolutionist Dr. Nick Pyenson. It happened four times." Why's that? Because "the fossil site has at least four layers", to which Real Science Radio's Bob Enyart replies: "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha", with RSR co-host Fred Williams thoughtfully adding, "Ha ha!"

photo of a polystrate tree* Polystrate Trees: Examples abound around the world of polystrate trees
Yellowstone's petrified polystrate forest (with the NPS exhibit sign removed; see below) with successive layers of rootless trees demonstrating the rapid deposition of fifty layers of strata.
- A similarly formed polystrate fossil forest in France demonstrating the rapid deposition of a dozen strata.
- In a thousand locations including famously the Fossil Cliffs of Joggins, Nova Scotia, polystrate fossils such as trees span many strata.
- These trees lack erosion: Not only should such fossils, generally speaking, not even exist, but polystrates including trees typically show no evidence of erosion increasing with height. All of this powerfully disproves the claim that the layers were deposited slowly over thousands or millions of years. In the experience of your RSR radio hosts, evolutionists commonly respond to this hard evidence with mocking. See CRSQ June 2006ICR Impact #316, and RSR 8-11-06 at


David Coppedge took these photographs in 1983 in Yellowstone National Park and confirmed to RSR after his 2015 trip that today there are no such signs at Specimen Ridge. Instead, wildlife, etc., exhibits are currently on display there. And near Roosevelt Junction at the fenced-in petrified tree site the park service presents a sign attributing these tree remains to catastrophic mudflow, which explanation is much closer to reality than their old "successive forests" story. The old, incorrect "Fossil Forest" exhibit claimed that dozens of layers of petrified trees were still standing "where they grew". As explained on Real Science Radio's List of Not So Old Things program, these trees have no root system and were hydraulically transported to their current location. See [The second photo below is an RSR composite.] 

1983 photo of Yellowstone Specimen Ridge exhibit sign








After Bob Enyart's Trading Genesis theistic evolution presentation (see it below) in May 2015 in Malibu, California on the Pepperdine University campus, David Coppedge wrote to Bob Enyart at Real Science Radio:

"The book Roadside Geology of the Yellowstone Country by [geology professor] William J. Fritz (1985, 6th printing 1994), on pp 25-26, also talks about the change. He says, 'When I visited the Mount St. Helens area shortly after the eruption, it was just like Yellowstone!.... Both the mudflows and the appearance of the trees is identical.' (p. 25). On page 26, though, he points out differences between the two sites. Nice to meet you in person today [Bob]."

Close-up of 1983 Specimen Ridge exhibit sign

Close-up of 1983 Specimen Ridge exhibit sign


* 1897 Drawing of Similar Polystrate Trees in France: From Hermann Credner's text Elemente der Geologie, page 479. (Click image to enlarge.)

Polystrate trees in France likely formed by the same model of those at Yellowstone, as revealed by Mt. Saint Helens...








Photo of two of Yellowstone's approx. 5k-year-old petrified trees.

* These Trees Did Not Grow Here: The old-earth biased National Park Service cannot be trusted when it contradicts biblical chronology. For example, creationists worked to correct the NPS' false claim that Yellowstone's petrified trees grew in up to 50 successive forests, each leaving behind one or more individual trees which became petrified, all of this at Specimen Ridge (and Creek).

* Collectively, they form a Polystrate Fossil Forest: Creationists have worked hard to correct the historical record. Yellowstone's petrified trees lack root systems. So, they do not stand where they grew. Instead, they were all deposited during a catastrophic event that was rapidly laying down a wet sediments (which lithified into today's strata). These trees, after getting waterlogged and sinking vertically (upright floaters), settled onto what was, at their moment of settling, the topmost layer. They were then soon buried (in days to months; not millennia) by subsequently deposited sediments, and joined by other trees vertically sinking and settling into the successive layers of sediments that were burying the trees that had sunk just days and weeks previously. Thus, the entire system of the fossil forest forms a single polystrate fossil that compresses the formation event from allegedly tens of thousands of years down to mere months. See this also in RSR's 3-minute YouTube video:

* Bob Enyart's Argument Against Theistic Evolution: as filmed on the Pepperdine University campus at Malibu...

* Example of Polystrate Radiating Spines: These fossils too, like all polystrates, collapse the possible deposition times of various strata, from alleged hundreds or thousands of years or more down to typically minutes and hours. Have you ever wondered how far polystrate-time-compressed strata extend? (If you haven't, you're either new to geology or your lack of curiosity exposes your hesitancy to allow hard scientific data to challenge your belief system.) One way to find out how far such rapidly-deposited strata extend is to implement RSR's Geo Earth Explorer tool using the APIs in Google Maps as described at and on National Geographic's website and in the CRS Quarterly.

Photo of slender, polystrate radiating spines






* Example of Limestone Encased Trilobites: This specimen, meticulously restored by FOSSILERA, like countless trilobites around the world, was buried in limestone, much of which is said to be deposited very slowly.

Photo of one of countless 3D trilobite fossils excavated from allegedly slowly-deposited limestone

Yet thousands of trilobites from countless locations are buried three-dimensionally. After having viewed perhaps thousands of trilobites from museum collections, private collections, fossil stores, and over the Internet, it appears that there is no evidence of greater erosion of their upper parts as compared to their lower parts. These creatures, regardless of how many layers of fine particles cover their bodies, were buried in a single depositional event, and not gradually. (See for another enormously widespread example of this observation.)

* Example Polystrate Fossil (this one of a Mesosaur): Here's an example of a polystrate fossil from the collection of the Creation Guy John Mackay. Fossils like this one, buried in multiple "varve" layers, which are claimed to be annual depositions, show no erosional patterns that would indicate a gradual burial. The image to the right, and also from John Mackay (used by permission) is of a bone of an extinct vertebrate squid-like creature, a Belemnite. It's a polystrate fossil because like the countless trilobites, nautiloids, and other creatures, it was buried in limestone, much of which was allegedly super slowly deposited.

Photo of a polystrate mesosaur fossil transgressing multiple varves.
Polystrate research and pictures from John Mackay.

Photo of belemnite bone excavated from allegedly slowly deposited limestone











* Leaves Buried Vertically in Diatomaceous Rock: Allegedly, diatomaceous earth is evidence of the passage of enormous lengths of time because of its formation from single-cellular diatoms. However, this photo of delicate polystrate leaves (not unlike an indelicate whale similarly buried), demonstrates that diatomaceous sediments can be deposited rapidly.

photo of polystrate leaves buried in diatomaceous earth
Polystrate research and pictures
from John Mackay.












* Examples of Typical Timeline Collapsing Polystrate Trees:

photo of polystrate tree
   recent photo of polystrate treephoto of polystrate tree   photo of polystrate tree













Video of Similar Polystrate Trees in Tennessee: By RSR friend David Rives. (Click image to enlarge, and check this out too.)