Dinosaur DNA Provokes Disbelief
Evolutionists are experiencing cognitive dissonance about claims of dinosaur DNA.
“The trouble with dinosaur bones,” writes Jacinda Bowler in Science Alert, is that some of them appear to contain DNA, which is impossible in the consensus evolutionary timescale. DNA degrades too fast for any to remain for a million years, let alone tens of millions. Dinosaurs are thought to have gone extinct 66 million years ago.
There’s just one problem – trapped in amber or not, DNA doesn’t like to stick around. Even in the best conditions, scientists estimate that readable DNA completely degrades in 1.5 million years, tops.
So what are evolutionary paleontologists to think about “Evidence of proteins, chromosomes and chemical markers of DNA in exceptionally preserved dinosaur cartilage” reported last year by Alida Bailleul et al. in National Science Review? The authors, including John Horner and Mary Schweitzer, ruled out contamination; they believe that the fragments of DNA in a late Cretaceous dinosaur fossil (evolutionarily dated to 75 million Darwin Years) are really there. Two different stains for DNA support the claim, and cartilage, not made by bacteria, also support the conclusion they observed original dinosaur tissue. Bowler relates the lead author’s contention:
While analyzing a baby dinosaur called Hypacrosaurus from the late Cretaceous period, they found incredibly well-preserved cartilage. Inside the cartilage, they discovered cell-like structures that included material resembling DNA in the tests conducted.
“We isolated some cells of the dinosaur and we stained them with DNA stains,” Bailleul says.
“Inside the dinosaur cells, it looks like there’s still some material that’s reacting with the DNA stain.”
Bowler explains that it simply cannot be. She knows and lists other fossils that have put extreme upper limits on DNA preservation. She quotes a 2012 paper from the Proceedings of the Royal Society B that says the half-life* of DNA in bone is 512 years. The per nucleotide fragmentation rate, they say, is about 5.5 millionths per year. It doesn’t take too many half-lives for the degradation to render any remaining fragments unreadable within tens or hundreds of thousands of years maximum – far short of the assumed dinosaur extinction date.
*Note: half-life is usually calculated for radioactive decay, not for biological decay. The latter will depend on temperature, chemistry, pH and other factors. The authors of the Royal Society paper realize these factors and therefore report their DNA decay curve, which resembles radioactive and other decay curves, with these factors included.
Bowler includes photos from the Bailleul paper of intact cells and “chromosome-like structures” that were found in the dinosaur bone. The top row shows the dinosaur tissues; the bottom row compares the structures to those of an emu.
The reactions of evolutionists include disbelief and counter-claims that the DNA must be from recent contamination. Before long, Bowler has changed the subject. She says that proteins can last longer:
Right now, the techniques we have available for analyzing proteins are expected to push the age of the oldest genetic sequencing back a few million extra years, although it remains to be seen whether this will extend all the way back to the reign of the dinosaurs.
Sally Wasef, an Australian scientist, says that dates for DNA claimed to be older than a million years cannot be trusted. But then she leaves open some room for impossibilities to become possible:
“When people ask me, ‘Is it impossible to get ancient DNA from dinosaurs?’, I say yes,” Wasef explains.
“But when I started doing ancient DNA in 2009, what we’re doing now was considered impossible.“
A statement by George Wald in another context about the origin of life decades ago seems to describe the dilemma facing evolutionists. “Given so much time, the impossible becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One only has to wait; time itself performs the miracles.”
Secularists feel that the Biblical time frame is too short to fit all the geological and paleontological observations. Actually, the shoe is on the other foot. Millions of years is too long a time to fit all the evidences of youth.