Will the Dinosaur Paradigm Be Next to Fall?
“Cold dinosaur” fossils have paleontologists questioning everything they thought they knew about dinosaur physiology. What else is up for grabs?
How did dinosaurs survive far north in Alaska? That’s what researchers are asking about dinosaur bones excavated along the Colville River. The 30-foot hadrosaur is the northernmost dinosaur skeleton discovered so far. Science Daily quotes one of the researchers:
“The finding of dinosaurs this far north challenges everything we thought about a dinosaur’s physiology,” said FSU Professor of Biological Science Greg Erickson. “It creates this natural question. How did they survive up here?“
The Prince Creek Formation is said to be 69 million years old. Even though it lived in a “Lost World” with a more temperate climate than now, the beast likely “endured months of winter darkness and probably experienced snow.”
Even more intriguing is the way they apparently died.
The majority of the bones of the Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis were collected from a single layer of rock called the Liscomb Bonebed. The layer, about 2 to 3 feet thick, contains thousands of bones of primarily this one species of dinosaur.
In this particular area, most of the skeletons were from younger or juvenile dinosaurs, about 9 feet long and three feet tall at the hip.
Researchers believe a herd of juveniles was killed suddenly to create this deposit of remains.
The species was named in honor of local native tribes. The article also points out that “there are at least 13 different species of dinosaur present based on teeth and other remains, plus birds, small mammals and some fish.” That’s quite a menagerie to be compacted into a layer a yard thick or less. Reports of unfossilized dinosaur bones have come from the Colville River area (10/31/07), as well as long trackways (9/21/13).
Origin Dilemma Down Under
A species of dinosaur found in Australia had claws as long as kitchen knives, Science Daily also reported recently. The claws, 10 inches long (25 cm), won this species of megaraptorid the nickname “lightning claw.” A subsection of the article is subtitled, “origin dilemma”—
Researchers have found other remains of megaraptorids in South America and Australia.
However, they are unsure where megaraptorids sit in the theropod family tree. Some researchers suspect the group belongs to the tyrannosaur branch (the dinosaurs that evolved into birds), and others say it’s more closely related to primitive theropods, such as Allosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus, the researchers said.
The authors didn’t use lightning claw to help solve the mystery because “there’s only so much you can answer at one time,” Bell said. “The issue of where megaraptorids sit in the great family tree of theropoda is a much bigger problem than trying to identify a single species, for example.”
Other megaraptorid bones are found in Argentina. Did the dinosaur originate there, or in Australia? They don’t know. They liken the bones to one tile in a “large mosaic of our knowledge of the history of life on earth.” But in putting together a mosaic, one has to know in advance the overall picture.
Another curious fossil is a pareiasaur skeleton from Niger. Science Daily calls it a “pre-reptile” as large as a cow, with spines running along its back. Evolutionary paleontologists say it is 260 million years old. Unlike other pareiasaurs, this one gives indication its legs moved under its body, like dinosaurs, rather than splaying out to the side like lizards and other reptiles. This provided fodder for a just-so story:
Way back when, Niger was an arid place (like some of it is today) where plants and water sources might well have been few and far between. Scientists have associated walking upright on all fours with a more energy efficient posture than sprawling. For the long journeys between meals, Turner said, the upright posture might have been necessary for survival.
This story is problematic on several levels. Saying that something is necessary for survival does not account for chance mutations that would have to occur and be naturally selected to reorganize all the joints, muscles and nerves (and associated behaviors) to allow this creature to move more efficiently. It also begs the question of why lizards still survive so well in arid places today. They scamper along pretty fast in deserts and in a wide variety of habitats.
Other facts about this creature cause problems for evolutionary theory: namely, sudden appearance and convergent evolution—
The significance of such an early example of the upright posture is that Bunostegos dates very far back on the evolutionary tree, pushing back the clock on when this posture shows up in evolution.
But Turner said she wouldn’t be surprised if other animals of the time are eventually also found to have similarities to this posture, which evolved independently in reptiles and mammals several times over the eras.
Turner switches instantly between confidence and ignorance. In one breath she says the evolution of locomotion is a “gradient of forms” In the next breath she says, “The anatomy of Bunostegos is unexpected, illuminating, and tells us we still have much to learn.”
Could that “much to learn” include an unexpected turn back toward creation? Could it include dramatic redating of this creature into more recent times? The paleontological community has been strangely silent about the soft tissues found in dinosaur bones this past June (6/10/15) and other ancient tissue remains that are revolutionizing historical science (8/12/15).
Original Biomaterial Again
Speaking of soft tissue, another report confirms that original biological material has been found, this time “the reddish brown color of two extinct species of bat from fossils dating back about 50 million years, marking the first time the colors of extinct mammals have been described through fossil analysis” (Science Daily). But then the article says that “The techniques can be used to determine color from well-preserved animal fossils that are up to 300 million years old,” specifically from melanosomes, the cell bodies that contain melanin. Many examples are now known.
“We have now studied the tissues from fish, frogs, and tadpoles, hair from mammals, feathers from birds, and ink from octopus and squids,” said Caitlin Colleary, a doctoral student of geosciences in the College of Science at Virginia Tech and lead author of the study. “They all preserve melanin, so it’s safe to say that melanin is really all over the place in the fossil record. Now we can confidently fill in some of the original color patterns of these ancient animals.”
The research team that established these to be genuine melanosomes included Roger Summons of MIT. He was also “part of a research team that studied fossils of squid to show that ink from the Jurassic period was chemically indistinguishable from modern cuttlefish ink” (see 5/21/12). That calls to mind the story 13 years ago when British scientists found the ink sac of a fossil squid, with ink still in it so soft the scientists used it to draw a picture of a squid (8/20/02).
Individual tiles can often fit into very different large mosaics. These stories show potential for radically changing the dinosaur mosaic of slow and gradual evolution over millions of years. So far, the researchers are still trying to piece these tiles into the old Darwinian mosaic.
The Evolutionary Web of Belief has taken so many blows lately, if it were like any other scientific theory it should have stretched beyond the breaking point. But evolutionists lubricate its strands with Darwin Flubber to keep it from snapping. Darwin Flubber is a magical elastic substance made of a secret blend of Emergence, Convergence and Submergence. Emergence allows creatures to arise further back in time than previously thought by supplying googols of beneficial mutations on demand. Convergence allows the web to reshape itself with new connections when similar fossils appear out of order. And Submergence is a cloaking substance that allows the keepers of the web to hide vulnerable parts of the web from the public.
There is one blow the Evolutionary Web of Belief cannot stand, and that is young ages. If dinosaur soft tissue cannot be millions of years old, the web melts over its lubricators, catching them in their own trap.