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It is rather hard to say how many species fail to be fossilized
because it depends on many factors: the species (soft body vs a shell or
bones), how easily the organism is recycled into the environment and preservation
of the rock formation (to name a few considerations).
One way or another, in order to have a fossil to look at, it
needs to have been taken out of the recycling process for long enough.
First, you need conditions where other animals don’t have
any chance to carry off any edible parts; microorganisms don’t have a chance to
break down whatever is there, and UV doesn’t eventually destroy the remains. The easiest way for that to happen is
that the remains are buried under an avalanche of fine sand and preserved in an
anaerobic environment. The
ocean is more likely to provide ideal conditions compared to land. So first of all, you need rare conditions
that produce fossils.
Second, there may be many fossils "out there”, but most of
them are unreachable because they are buried in unexposed rock formations. You can only find fossils where you can
reach them. Moreover, these rock
formations must be exposed enough that you can get at them without a lot of
effort, but not so exposed that they come in contact with the elements for any
significant length of time. Eventually, even these rocks are
eroded away, or melted away in subduction zones, or the fossil is distorted
beyond recognition in metamorphic rocks, etc. So second of
all, you need to be lucky enough to find these things.
Consider how many people have artifacts from their family dating
from 100 years ago. How about 1000
years ago? How many artifacts do we have that are
5000 years old in general? How
many documents and books were written in the ancient world that still exist
today? The materials we have the
most data on are ones preserved on stone tablets. Many of those were lost in wars, though sometimes, like in
the case of Assyria, they were so hated, that, ironically, the library was
preserved because it was flattened.
Without that, we would have
very few records from that era. If
every decade after a person has passed away, 20% of his/her artifacts are lost
each decade, after 100 years, only 10% of those items remain; a chest of
drawers, some necklaces, etc. After 1000 years, we’re talking parts per billion. That means you need to leave a lot of
stuff behind to have one artifact survive.
Hence, it is rather hard to say what exactly is preserved or
not when we really cannot say a lot about what was there and what was not. Nevertheless, considering the odds of
anything being preserved even a millennium (with willful human effort to boot),
it seems like a reasonable claim to say that 90% of the species are never
fossilized (a matter left entirely up to chance).
by Grace we proceed,
Sorry for the delay in this posting. I have just come upon this forum topic.
I hold that the biological species concept is most pertinent in this context in that it is functional in the dynamics of nature. I also hold that the Genesis accounts (chapters one vs two) refer to separate events. If one accepts the ekpyrotic universe model of Steirnhardt and Turok, (Google the topic if unfamiliar) then, I suggest, the Garden of Eden was and still exists in what I call the "heaven brane". Note that in Genesis one, humans are "created" (I hold by God's natural process involving survival of the favored--see Psalm 104), but there is here no restriction to an original pair. It is in the Genesis 2 account that Adam is designated and named. God places him in the Garden of Eden. I hold that this involves the transferal of "one" (Eve?) into the heaven brane. Here the fall occurs. Eve and Adam eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Did this result in genetic mutations? In any event, they have now achieved sufficient sentience to willfully dishonor God by disobedience so that God now must banish them back into the "earth brane" where their offspring interbreed with the earthly population of H. spapiens which subsequent population becomes fully human in sentience. So we see that biologically our species always had a sizable population, but Adam and Eve were, as a single pair the original sentient (with understanding sufficient to allow willful obedience/disobedience to God's will) beings.
Perhaps this is not the context to further expand on this perspective. My book "Why the Universe Bothers to Exist, Theistic Determinism, Evidences and Implications" should be at press before the year is out. Here this issue and several others such as "why is a new heaven (as well as earth") needed? What is wrong with heaven as it now exists? are dealt with.
David V. McCorkle