Dinosaur Sex and Other Tales
How much do we really know about dinosaurs? How much can be inferred from their bones? Two recent stories illustrate conflicting themes: much of what we thought we knew was wrong, but that doesn’t stop evolutionary paleontologists from speaking with confidence.
- Walking with dino ancestors: Paleontologists used to think that the alleged precursors of dinosaurs were quickly supplanted by their more successful progeny. That assumption was called into question by findings in New Mexico reported by National Geographic. Now, they think the dinosaurs and their precursors lived side by side for up to 20 million years. This was based on a paper in Science.1 The finding was not limited to one locale; the authors said, “Our investigations have found the same co-occurrences in several other Chinle Formation and Dockum Group localities in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.” In summary, they said, “The appearance of the first dinosaurs in the Ischigualasto assemblage, along with the late occurrences of basal dinosauromorphs from the HQ assemblage, extends the transition time from assemblages of dinosaur precursors to assemblages exclusively of dinosaurs and indicates that models of rapid competitive or fortuitous replacement are not correct.” They were contemporaries for a long time, in other words.
- Teen sex: Another story in National Geographic claims that dinosaurs had teen sex. This contradicts previous assumptions that, as ancestors of birds, dinosaurs must have behaved like them and waited till adulthood. Now, they believe that they behaved more like promiscuous crocodiles. Studies of bone maturation rates gave this idea to a paleontologist at University of Florida. It was “a surprise because most scientists believe birds are akin to modern dinosaurs.”
Does this upset the evolutionary apple cart, then? Not at all; another paleontologist remarked that it is “a nice illustration that birds aren’t all dinosaur.” They must have learned abstinence on their own. The adolescent dinos, though, had good reasons: by mating early, they were “really holding on to their ancestry, rather than jumping into the modern-bird style of reproduction.” Don’t tell that to the junior high class.
Incidentally, another Coelacanth was caught off Indonesia in May, National Geographic reported. This is the famous “living fossil” from the age of dinosaurs that was found in swimmingly good health in 1938 – after scientists had assumed it had gone extinct with the dinosaurs over 60 million years ago. This means that no fossils of this unusual fish were found in any strata above that of dinosaurs, yet it certainly was prospering and thriving all the way to the present.
1 Irmis, Nesbit, Padian et al, “A Late Triassic Dinosauromorph Assemblage from New Mexico and the Rise of Dinosaurs,” Science, 20 July 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5836, pp. 358-361, DOI: 10.1126/science.1143325.
The dates and claims are all poppycock, you realize, because they have been falsified with the soft tissue (04/12/2007) and protein (11/26/2006) found in that T. rex bone (11/11/2006). We already know that dinosaur bones cannot be as old as claimed. The evolutionary paleontologists are living in Fantasyland to deny it. Alan Boyle, bless his low-rating MSNBC heart, wrote in his column today about “dinosaur’s soft spots” and said soft tissue has been turning up in specimens as far apart as Madagascar and Montana. Looking inside the bones for soft tissue remains opens up a whole new book of information on dinosaurs, he said, and tells how the soft tissue, once exposed to the air, rapidly decays – yet he still fails to question the ages! He repeats the dates without any twinge of conscience: “Seventy million years ago, a killing drought was followed by torrential rains, which sent waves of mud and wet sand to cover up dead and dying dinosaurs,” he said, like an actor rehearsing the lines of a fictional play. And these are the people you trust to tell us about dinosaur sex lives?
To understand what’s really going on in evolution reporting, you have to realize that the Darwinists must balance two conflicting priorities. One is to sound dogmatic enough to persuade the naive that they know what they are talking about. The other is to discover surprises occasionally to convey the message that there is still enough mystery out there to keep the funds flowing (04/17/2007).