January 13, 2017 | David F. Coppedge

Mammals Ate Dinosaurs

Fossil shows a mammal with a big bite could have munched on small dinosaurs for lunch.

Marsupials were supposed to have originated in South America, Live Science says. But Didelphodon vorax was found in Montana’s Hell Creek formation, a hotbed of dinosaurs. And it was well-equipped for attack as well as defense:

An ancient mammal the size of a badger may have used its bone-crushing canines and powerful bite to take down little dinosaurs, researchers have found. In fact, the little guy could chomp down with more force, pound for pound, than any other mammal on record.

Reporter Laura Geggel points out that this species, reconstructed from four fragmentary fossils, is a game-changer:

“What I love about Didelphodon vorax is that it crushes the classic mold of Mesozoic mammals,” the study’s lead researcher Gregory Wilson, an adjunct curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Burke Museum in Seattle, and an associate professor of biology at the University of Washington, said in a statement. “Instead of a shrew-like mammal meekly scurrying into the shadows of dinosaurs, this badger-sized mammal would’ve been a fearsome predator on the Late Cretaceous landscape — even for some dinosaurs.

The animal, estimated to weigh between 5 and 12 pounds, said to be “the largest metatherian to live during the Cretaceous,” was not some primitive mammal prototype, scurrying under dinosaur’s feet trying to come up with an evolutionary strategy to survive. It was a “seriously tough mammal” that had powerful teeth and “the strongest bite of any mammal, alive or extinct.”

Moreover, D. vorax‘s canines are similar to those of living felines and hyenas, indicating that these ancient creatures could probably bite into bone while hunting prey, the researchers found. Its extraordinary bite force, when combined with its canines, shearing molars and big, rounded premolars, suggest that it could have crunched on shells and even small dinosaurs, they added.

Geggel assumes the asteroid-impact theory for the demise of the dinosaurs, but has to admit all the dinosaurs perished in the event while mammals survived. Somehow, “marsupials managed to live on, diversifying and evolving in their new South American home.” In another Live Science post, Geggel uncritically spells out the latest speculation about dinosaur extinction: their eggs took too long to hatch (see open-access paper in PNAS).

The paper about D. vorax in Nature Communications claims that “stem metatherians” (marsupial relatives) appeared and evolved between 252 and 66 million Darwin years ago. That’s an awful long time that mammals and dinosaurs roamed the earth together. Creation investigator Dr. Carl Werner, an expert on living fossils, has traveled the world checking museum displays. He finds it very misleading that museums in their “world of the dinosaurs” exhibits often do not include mammals. In a Creation Magazine article from 2011, he relates the findings from his travels:

“At the dinosaur dig sites, scientists have found many unusual extinct mammal forms such as the multituberculates but they have also found fossilized mammals that look like squirrels, possums, Tasmanian devils, hedgehogs, shrews, beavers, primates, and duck-billed platypus. I don’t know how close these mammals are to the modern forms because I was not able to see most of these, even after going to so many museums.”

“Few are aware of the great number of mammal species found with dinosaurs. Paleontologists have found 432 mammal species in the dinosaur layers; almost as many as the number of dinosaur species. These include nearly 100 complete mammal skeletons. But where are these fossils? We visited 60 museums but did not see a single complete mammal skeleton from the dinosaur layers displayed at any of these museums. This is amazing. Also, we saw only a few dozen incomplete skeletons/single bones of the 432 mammal species found so far. Why don’t the museums display these mammal fossils and also the bird fossils?”

Part of the reason may be that museums have a narrative of evolutionary progress they wish to promulgate to an unsuspecting public (for example, Science Daily‘s simplistic statement that the dinosaur extinction “made space for the rise of the mammals“). Another reason may be that evolutionary fossil hunters have blinders on. Calvin Smith borrows a quote from Carl Werner’s book about a paleontologist in another 2011 Creation Magazine. This paleontologist says that he finds mammals on almost all his dinosaur digs, but they were not noticed years ago. “We have about 20,000 pounds of bentonite clay that has mammal fossils that we are trying to give away to some researcher,” this paleontologist said. “It’s not that they are not important, it’s just that you only live once and I specialized in something other than mammals. I specialize in reptiles and dinosaurs.” Whether he ever found “some researcher” to take the samples and analyze them is not known. The narrative about the “age of dinosaurs” may be, therefore, an artifact of selective investigation.

On a related note, David Catchpoole wrote in 2014 at Creation.com that evolutionists are divided about the coexistence of placental mammals with dinosaurs. Today, placentals outnumber marsupials, but that was not the case when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Catchpoole cites a 2014 Nature article by Ewen Callaway that indicates the evidence is not decisive that placentals evolved only after the dinosaur extinction. Callaway, in turn, cites noted dinosaur hunter Phil Donoghue’s opinion that “it is likely that animals existed before that, but were not preserved as fossils or their remains have yet to be discovered.”

The discovery of dinosaur soft tissue has already falsified the moyboys’ narrative with its millions of Darwin years, so in one sense, the game is over. Creationists can use this evidence to support their view that the fossil record was formed in a unique cataclysm—the Flood—not in a gradual record over long ages. But I was concerned by Carl Werner’s admission that no large mammals have been found with dinosaurs. Why don’t we ever find a mammoth next to a duckbill dinosaur? or a buffalo next to a triceratops? Thinking over this, I decided to compare a photo I took of some fairly large living mammals—American bison—with aerial photos of where they were photographed, Custer State Park in South Dakota.

Three perspectives on a large mammal habitat

Three perspectives on a large mammal habitat

As you can see, from just 5,000 feet up, the bison would appear as specks if you could even find them. They would disappear entirely from 30,000 feet up. The earth is a large place. The largest animals today, elephants and giraffes, would similarly vanish from these perspectives. Now replace the bison with T. rex or Triceratops. They would appear as tiny specks scattered over a vast area. Considering that most animals die without fossilizing at all, what’s the probability a large animal will be found in the fossil record?

Consider other reasons why large mammals have not been found with dinosaurs. For one thing, large mammals are less plentiful than small ones. What’s the ratio of mice to rhinos, or raccoons to giraffes? We would expect to find many more small mammal fossils than large ones. Another reason is that large mammals might have inhabited different ecosystems than dinosaurs, or avoided the dinosaurs that ate the same food. Then consider that 95% of fossils discovered represent marine invertebrates, like seashells. Fossils of large mammals are extremely rare. If the probability is low a large animal will fossilize in the first place, it is doubly improbable that different large animals would be found in the same location unless they inhabited the same ecosystem.

Add to that the blindness of evolutionary paleontologists described above; they only see what they expect to see. Who knows? A mastodon bone might exist in the 20,000 pounds of bentonite clay that the evolutionist tossed out, because he specializes in dinosaurs and that’s what his mind is focused on. When they find dinosaurs, they automatically label the soil Jurassic or Cretaceous and assign it ages in the tens of millions of years. When they find mastodons or mammoths, they automatically label the soil Pleistocene and assign it more recent ages. The evolutionary bias, therefore, is built in, even if Cretaceous and Pleistocene strata are found in close proximity (vertically or horizontally). Maybe you can think of other reasons.

Scientists like to quote the proverb, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” We do have dinosaur soft tissue, and we do have hundreds of small mammals found in dinosaur strata. Those are sufficient to falsify Darwinism and its long ages. Now, let’s send a bunch of home-schooled teens on dinosaur digs with Darwin blinders off, and see what they turn up.

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  • mjazz says:

    I wish I could remember his name. An amateur paleontologist has even been accused of carving the footprints that were anomalies. He has found bird tracks when they were not supposed to have evolved yet, and even what appear to be bear tracks, in very early strata. I believe this was Arizona.

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