Carbon-14 Found in Dinosaur Bone
Seek and ye shall find: creationists boldly go where no evolutionists have gone before.
With the recent announcement of soft tissue in off-the-shelf dinosaur bones (6/09/15, 6/10/15), complete with enriched carbon, the obvious question is: does any of it contain carbon-14? Because of the isotope’s short half-life (5,730 years), no C14 should be detectable after about 100,000 years. Finding measurable C14 in the bones would therefore invalidate the consensus belief that dinosaurs lived and died over 65 million years ago.
Secular paleontologists consider it a waste of time to test for C14 in dinosaur bone. There shouldn’t be any. Bones millions of years old, including those of all dinosaurs, should be “radiocarbon dead.” But like Mary Schweitzer said about soft tissue in general, “If you don’t look, you won’t find. But if you do, you never know.”
The Creation Research Society (CRS), an organization of Biblical creation scientists since 1963, went looking. In the spring 2015 issue of their peer-reviewed CRS Quarterly (51:4), they published a special report with results of their iDINO project: an investigation into soft tissue remains in dinosaur bones. (This issue was prepared and printed before the announcement in Nature Communications.) The bombshell announcement is that measurable C14 has been found in dinosaur bones. Brian Thomas and Vance Nelson report:
Measurable amounts of radiocarbon have been consistently detected within carbonaceous materials across Phanerozoic strata. Under uniformitarian assumptions, these should no longer contain measurable amounts of radiocarbon. Secularists have asserted that these challenging finds originate from systematic contamination, but the hypothesis of endogenous radiocarbon should be considered. Assuming these strata were largely deposited by the Noahic Flood occurring within the time range of radiocarbon’s detectability with modern equipment under uniformitarian assumptions, we hypothesized that fossils from all three erathems, including dinosaur fossils, should also contain measurable amounts of radiocarbon. Consistent with this hypothesis, we report detectable amounts of radiocarbon in all 16 of our samples. Attempts to falsify our hypothesis failed, including a comparison of our data with previously published carbon-dated fossils. We conclude that fossils and other carbonaceous materials found throughout Phanerozoic strata contain measurable amounts of radiocarbon that is most probably endogenous.
Thomas and Nelson began by predicting radiocarbon in dinosaur bone based on long-standing published reports of measurable radiocarbon in coal, diamonds, and other materials assumed by evolutionary geologists to be millions of years old. They gathered 16 samples from 14 fossil specimens of fish, wood, plants, and animals from throughout the geologic column, Miocene to Permian, from all three eras: Cenozoic, Mesozoic and Paleozoic. Samples came from a variety of locales around the globe, including Canada, Germany and Australia. About half were from dinosaur bones (7 specimens). All samples were prepared by standard processes to eliminate contamination, then were submitted to a lab for atomic mass spectrometry (AMS).
Unexpectedly, all 16 samples submitted for measurement contained C-14. We found measurable amounts of 14C in all 14 of our dinosaur and other fossils. Moreover, we found surprising consistency in these data, which range from approximately 17,850 to 49,470 radiocarbon years as indicated in Figure 1.
It should be understood that “radiocarbon years” do not necessarily indicate true ages of specimens, because calibration depends on assumptions about atmospheric conditions prior to dates that can be cross-checked against archaeological records (cf. radiocarbon dating of an Iron Age pottery inscription, 6/16/15). It was not the goal of the project to date the specimens, but just to see if any radiocarbon remained.
In the paper, they consider whether it was a bad day at the lab that did the testing, leading to uniformly biased results. That is highly unlikely to be the case, they argue, since four other labs have published radiocarbon presence in specimens thought to be millions of years old. Those reports compare favorably to the new results, yielding radiocarbon ages in the same finite range. Strikingly, it doesn’t matter if the specimens are labeled Cenozoic, Mesozoic or Paleozoic: each era spans the range of radiocarbon “ages” resulting from the tests.
They also considered whether groundwater might have leached carbon-14 into the samples. If so, one would expect samples from drier conditions to differ from those in wetter locales, or portions taken from the interior of a bone to differ from those closer to the exterior. No such trend was found; moreover, the dates obtained were consistent with an earlier published result from a fossil 3,000 feet below the surface, well below the water table.
Since the radiocarbon ages are orders of magnitude younger than believed, and consistent in upper and lower limits regardless of locale of assumed era, the authors conclude that all the geologic strata with their fossils must have been laid down in a short period, as described in the Genesis flood account.
The other five papers in the CRS Quarterly augment this major new empirical test of fossil ages.
- Brian Thomas surveyed reports of original biomaterial in fossils.
- Mark Armitage presented his results of finding soft tissue in a Triceratops horn from the Hell Creek Formation in Montana. (This is an update for a creationist journal of his earlier paper that cost him his job at Cal State Northridge; see 11/05/14.)
- Kevin Anderson critiqued the theory that the soft tissue is not primordial, but merely a cast made by bacterial biofilms.
- John M. DeMassa and Edward Boudreaux investigated processes that lead to peptide degradation.
- Timothy Clarey, a geologist with ICR, described the temporal and geological characteristics of the Hell Creek Formation.
Thomas and Nelson took pains to try to falsify their own results, but some evolutionists will undoubtedly remain unsatisfied with any paper published in a creationary journal. Now that the world’s leading secular science journal Nature has reported that soft tissue in dinosaur bones appears to be common, the race is on to find more of it. Eventually, non-creationists are bound to run their own C-14 tests to remove all doubt.
In the opening editorial, Dr. Danny Faulkner says that “it is appropriate that creationists take the lead in the study of soft tissue in fossils” given that the scientific world only “begrudgingly has come to accept” the soft tissue evidence. More work remains for the iDINO project (investigation of Dinosaur Intact Natural Osteo-tissue), he says, and preliminary filming for a video has begun. The CRS project is entirely funded by private donations.
Update 7/30/15: In the August issue of ICR’s Acts & Facts Magazine, Brian Thomas writes about how he and Nelson guarded against contamination of the samples they tested. “We also compared radiocarbon results acquired at five different laboratories, ruling out lab-induced contamination,” he says. Lab technicians know the procedures to remove contaminating carbon. The fact that radiocarbon showed up in samples from all over the world argues against localized contamination. ICR will continue analyzing all possible sources of contamination, and will continue searching for radiocarbon in more samples.
Creation scientists take the lead! What will old-earth creationists and evolutionists do now? These findings basically collapse the entire geologic column, and destroy the evolutionary narrative of millions of years. Down go the national park signs, Hollywood movies and descriptions on museum gift shop dinosaur toys. Because so much is at stake, we can expect some evolutionists to react like GMO velociraptors. No need to respond in kind; just hold up the results and say, “Here’s the scientific data; do you have a better theory?”
If an old-earther responds, “Yeah, but the dates don’t fit your Biblical timeline either,” stick to the point. Do the results falsify millions of years; yes or no? If the answer is yes, then the question has changed. It’s no longer about whether dinosaur bones are young, but just how young they are. That’s an interesting and worthwhile question, but with everything from Cambrian fossils to Lucy collapsed into a timeline that is orders of magnitude younger than we have all been taught, it’s a whole new ball game now, with Charlie no longer umpiring.