June 7, 2017 | David F. Coppedge

New Dinosaur Fossils Shake Up the Consensus

Fossils of ancient reptiles from different continents are changing long-accepted views.

T rex was scaly, not feathered. The pendulum is swinging back to old views about the mighty tyrannosaurs. In recent years, evolutionists have played games with phylogenetic charts, resulting in imaginary feathers being put on some of the mightiest dinosaurs. Now, the BBC News reports, “Study casts doubt on the idea of ‘big fluffy T. rex’.” Helen Briggs writes, “Researchers say the huge predator had scales much like modern reptiles rather than feathers or fluff.” Of course, the true believers can rescue the feathers by proposing that “the dinosaur may have ditched its feathers because it no longer needed insulation when it reached gigantic proportions.” And that’s exactly what some of them are saying. Stephen Brusatte, for instance, is still holding out for imaginary feathers. “Just because we don’t see them doesn’t mean they weren’t there.” Try that argument on gnomes, fairies, and leprechauns.

Japanese duckbill drowned in the sea. The largest dinosaur ever found in Japan was located in marine sediments. Duckbilled dinosaurs are known from all over the world, including North and South America, Eurasia, and even Antarctica. But Science Daily comments, “it is extremely rare for a complete skeleton of a land dinosaur to be discovered in a marine stratum.” Something amazing happened to bury an eight-meter-long beast in the sea. Normally, a carcass would rot or be eaten by worms before it could be covered by slowly-accumulating sediments.

More soft tissue found, this time in a plesiosaur. A press release from Paleowire announces a new paper in The Science of Nature about a fossil of a long-necked marine reptile—a plesiosaur—found in Germany. The discoverers believe dark stains represent collagen proteins.

The post-cranial skeleton preserves very likely soft tissues composed of buff-coloured and dark-coloured structures around the vertebral column and hindlimb of the animal. A network of buff-coloured fibres located posterior to the hindlimb most likely represents phosphatised collagen fibres as already found in some ichthyosaur specimens, confirming that wing area in plesiosaurians was much larger than that suggested by skeletal remains alone. The specimen also contains gastroliths (sand-sized grains mainly composed of quartz) in the stomach cavity suggesting the animal spent at least some of its time in shallow coastal waters, tens or hundreds of kilometres from the final place of burial.

If the stains are phosphatized or otherwise mineralized, they would not consist of original proteinaceous material. Not wanting to harm the specimen, the paleontologists did not run chemical analysis on the stains, so some doubt remains about the nature of the soft tissue impressions.

Not all plesiosaurs had long necks. Speaking of plesiosaurs, what do you call a short-necked plesiosaur? A pliosaur. That’s the terminology Current Biology uses about a “new unusual pliosaur marine reptile” found in Russia that they claim illustrates “Plasticity and Convergence in the Evolution of Short-Necked Plesiosaurs.” Whenever you see the word “convergence” or “convergent evolution” in a paper, you know the evolutionists are mixing up some Darwin Flubber for their storytelling. Here, they mix in a lot: “Profound convergence characterizes the evolution of short-necked plesiosaurs,” they say, confabulating with Jargonwocky to claim that “Pliosaurs repeatedly evolved longirostrine piscivorous [fish-eating] forms.” Maybe no one will notice the flubber in the flurry of jargon:

This underscores the ecological diversity of derived pliosaurids and reveals a more complex evolutionary history than their iconic representation as gigantic apex predators of Mesozoic marine ecosystems suggests. Collectively, these data demonstrate an even higher degree of morphological plasticity and convergence in the evolution of plesiosaurs than previously thought and suggest the existence of an optimal ecomorphology for short-necked piscivorous plesiosaurs through time and across phylogeny.

This says, in simple English, that plesiosaurs evolved to look alike, except when they didn’t. The Darwin Flubber is seen in the word “plasticity.” Flubber is flexible, like Silly Putty. But rather than admit that they mixed the Flubber in by intelligent design to save Darwin, they “suggest” that the environment did it. When reptiles eat fish in the sea, they “suggest,” the “eco” (in ecomorphology) of the environment creates an optimal “morphology” (in ecomorphology), or neck shape. If this were a law of nature “through time and across phylogeny” as they seem to think, then wouldn’t all fish-eating sea creatures converge on short necks? What seems to be “plastic” here is not the shape of the marine reptiles, but the evolutionary explanations for them.

Profound convergence characterizes the evolution of short-necked plesiosaurs

In Live Science, Laura Geggel took the Darwin Flubber and bounced it like a superball toy. “Convergent evolution happens when two species with similar lifestyles evolve to have similar adaptations, such as a long snout,” she spouts confidently, with the authors of the paper giving her a fist bump. “In this case, the finding shows that plesiosaurs had more convergence than previously thought, Fischer said.” Then Geggel went on to report for Live Science that atheists tend to be smarter than religious people.

Was a small pond an allosaur graveyard? Observation: “The Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry is the densest collection of Jurassic dinosaur fossils,” Science Daily says. “Unlike typical Jurassic bone beds, it is dominated by the famous predatory dinosaur Allosaurus.” Explanation: the beasts died in droughts, but their carcasses washed into a small pond over and over “in flood periods” and rotted, such that pond creatures and other dinosaurs didn’t want to eat them. Is that credible? Look at the problem:

Since its discovery in the 1920s, numerous hypotheses have been proposed to explain the origin of the quarry. Were the dinosaurs poisoned? Did they die due to drought? Were they trapped in thick mud?

Other observations call for explanation. There are no gnaw marks on the bones, suggesting the animals were not fighting or preyed upon by other dinosaurs after they died. If the site was a small pond, there is an “unusual lack of typical pond fossils at the site.” Also found are “calcite and barite concretions found on bones excavated from the quarry.” It doesn’t sound like this latest story is any better than the previous “numerous hypotheses” that were proposed. Maybe it’s time to think outside the box and let some creation paleontologists have their say.

Critic has doubts about dinosaur protein preservation. Reading between the lines of an article on Phys.org, it appears that Dr. Mike Buckley at the University of Manchester is still uneasy about Mary Schweitzer’s evidence of original protein found in dinosaur bones. He claims he “was not intending to debunk the previous studies” when he took another look at the reported dinosaur collagen and found it remarkably similar to ostrich and alligator collagen; but he says, “we soon realised that our results were pulling the rug from beneath the paradigm that collagen might survive the ravages of deep time.” Buckley thinks the reported findings must be due to contamination, because “the survival of collagen sequences beyond 3.5 million years old has not been achieved and validated by any other team.”

The trouble is, it’s not just collagen, but blood vessels, osteocytes, and medullary bone that have been identified by Schweitzer and others. No doubt she will have a response to this new challenge. In the meantime, Buckley’s statements confirm that (1) evolutionary scientists did not expect soft tissue to survive in dinosaur bones and that (2) they believe original protein should not remain after a few million years. Radio host Bob Enyart remembers on his dinosaur soft tissue page that in 2008 Buckley “strongly opposed Schweitzer’s discovery, as of 2011 has become an advocate for the validity of the soft tissue finds.” Maybe he is having second thoughts now. But if carbon-14 has been found in dinosaur bones, as Enyart documents, evolutionists are out of options. Due to carbon-14’s short half-life of 5,730 years, dinosaur bones could not even be one million years old before all of it would have decayed. Soft tissue suggests they are much younger than that.

These findings are putting the squeeze on the Darwin Party. We’ve seen that dinosaurs and marine reptiles died in floods, and were buried rapidly, and that even land dinosaurs can be found in marine layers. We’ve seen that dinosaurs don’t fit a simple evolutionary ancestry, requiring Darwinians to come up with ad-hoc rescue devices like convergence to keep their story from being falsified. We’ve seen soft tissue preservation that should not exist.

Darwinians are in retreat. Remember that without their precious millions of years, Darwinism is dead. There would have to be a creation explanation. So theistic evolutionists: stop leaning on this broken reed of Darwinism and millions of years. Get ahead of the trend that’s coming, the realization that Darwin was wrong, and long ages are wrong, too. Is Genesis history? Watch the film again, and be reminded of the amazing “convergence” of multiple independent lines of evidence that shows the Bible was right after all.

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