Monday, May 11, 2009

Dinosaur Mummy?

I found an interesting article over the weekend while doing some light dinosaur research for my daughter's 4th birthday party. I wasn't aware of this, but apparently back in 2000 a very well-preserved, mummified dinosaur was found in Montana… skin included. Now I don't care who you are, that's pretty cool. But it raises some interesting questions:

This story can be compared with another story from 2003 or so, when the fozzilized remains of a Tyrannosaurus Rex were found, also in Montana. No skin on this specimen, though, just rockified bones. But something interesting happened… the paleontologists handling the fossil broke the T-Rex's femur, and discovered that there were soft tissues inside those fossilized bones.

The mummified specimen was a Brachylophosaurus, and is said to have roamed free about 77 million years ago. The T-Rex supposedly had its reign about 65 million years ago. Apparently Brachylophosaurus and Tyrannosaurus never met. But do these finds not call into question the alleged ages of these dinosaurs? And note my wording there… "call into question" doesn't mean absolute denial. Healthy skepticism doesn't require out-and-out denial… it just means asking critical questions that must be asked, and SHOULD be answered. And perhaps there are good answers… I'm open to that. But it seems to me that we ought to be asking some critical questions about the ages associated with these finds. Take the T-Rex for example:

With the T-rex femur, there was an expression of disbelief that soft tissues could remain after 65 million years. But there was never any hint whatsoever that maybe the presence of soft tissues might mean that the fossil isn't nearly that old. No, they wouldn't dare call that dogma into question, would they? No, the fossil simply IS 65 million years old, and therefore we now know that soft tissue CAN survive for that long. See what I mean? Now maybe T-Rex's really did live 65 million years ago and maybe soft tissue really CAN survive that long. I'm not claiming to know that such a thing isn't possible, but I must admit it seems like a stretch to me.

In the case of the Brachylophosaurus, which they named "Leonard", it does seem that finding a dino this well preserved was quite a surprise. These guys are looking for fossils, not flesh, but flesh is what they found. What does that tell you? That nobody expects dinosaur remains to be preserved for 77 million years tells me that prior to this finding, nobody believed remains COULD be preserved for that long. Obviously, with this find, that thinking has changed. But again, the thinking that this species is 77 million years old hasn't changed. That is "carved in stone" as it were.

The question is, how can a person demonstrate that dinosaur remains can survive the elements for 77 million years? Can you just point to the remains and say "We know this animal lived 77 million years ago and therefore we know that remains can survive that time period?" Of course not, that's circular. You still haven't proven that the animal is that old. Maybe it's NOT possible for remains to resist the elements for that long. Maybe the existence of these mummified remains and soft tissues demonstrate that these animals aren't anywhere near that old. Is that impossible?

Another interesting thing comes out of this find. Consider this exerpt from the article:

"Leonardo's last meal consisted largely of leaves, which included ferns, magnolias and conifers. Additional analysis has confirmed at least 40 different types of prehistoric plant pollen preserved in his stomach."

Yes, this dino was so well-preserved that his stomach contents were available for examination. That is incredible. But look at the contents… this dino ate magnolias. Really? Do they mean to tell me that the plant we call "magnolia" existed and was recognizable as a "magnolia" when you rewind the evolutionary clock by 77 million years? Does that seem hard to believe to anyone else? But again… evolution is simply a fact, so I guess the answer is "yes."

These two ideas… the age of the Earth and Darwinian evolution are inexorably linked. Everybody knows, even the Darwinists, that their theory cannot work in a young Earth. They need DEEP time (in reality, even deep time isn't enough) If it were ever discovered that "deep time" was not available, the theory would self-destruct. So the long estimates of fossil ages persist and any evidence that might challenge those estimates is simply re-interpreted in the interest of preserving deep time. Same with Darwinism… here we have a snapshot 77 million years back in time (supposedly) and we still have something called a "magnolia." Somehow evolution hasn't touched the magnolia… it's immune.

Interesting, is it not?

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