March 20, 2023 | David F. Coppedge

Life Is Devolving from a Past World of Giants

Almost every type of organism was larger in the past.
Why is the world impoverished of giants today?


There are impressive plants and animals today: giant sequoias, blue whales, giant squid, mighty elephants, tall giraffes and California condors. Live Science showed a photo of a cane toad so large they dubbed it “Toadzilla.” But no matter the category, most plants and animals had larger counterparts in the past, and today’s giants, like the giant tortoises of the Galapagos, are often endangered species, found in isolated refugia. Fossils show larger fish, larger birds, larger insects, larger mammals and, of course, larger reptiles: the mighty dinosaurs—so gigantic they almost reached a limit of what was physically possible for a walking animal. Why is that?

Size is not the sole measure of fitness, but evolutionists must wonder why Darwinian theory produced so many giants in the past and relatively few today. Let’s look at some recent examples reported in the media.

The sauropod Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum towered above other dinosaurs with a 15-metre-long neck. Image © Júlia d’Oliveira.

Longest ever necked dinosaur discovered in China (Natural History Museum, 15 March 2023). Take a moment to marvel at the neck of this sauropod dinosaur in the artwork above. The caption says, “The sauropod Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum towered above other dinosaurs with a 15-metre-long neck.” And yet it was not the biggest dinosaur, this article points out. Why did any animal need a neck that big? And how could it evolve? Let us ask an expert evolutionary scientist, Paul Barrett at London’s famous Natural History Museum.

‘It could have also been to do with sexual display or used for neck-butting contests between males fighting over mates and territory, similar to how giraffes behave today. But we can’t say for sure. At this point, it’s pure speculation as to why they evolved necks of this length.’

New Scientist says this sauropod’s neck was six times longer than the neck of a giraffe. Live Science says it stretched farther than a school bus at 49 feet. Dinosaurs and giant size are often considered together, but there are many other examples of gigantism in the fossil record.

Australia’s extinct giant eagle was big enough to snatch koalas from trees  (The Conversation, 15 March 2023). Eagle bones found in a cave show that Dynatoaetus gaffae was twice the size of living Australian eagles. It was the third largest eagle known of giant eagles ranging from New Zealand to Cuba. Both of those are also extinct. Live Science recalls images of the giant eagles that came to the rescue of Frodo and Sam in Lord of the Rings. Reporter Harry Baker remarks that the extinct eagle had a 10-foot wingspan and “probably could have carried a hobbit.”

‘Giant’ ant fossil raises questions about ancient Arctic migrations (Simon Fraser University, 6 March 2023). Good thing these ants aren’t around to spoil your picnic. Talk about a gi-ant: this one was as big as a hummingbird. “Researchers say it is the first Canadian specimen of the extinct ant Titanomyrma, whose biggest species was surprisingly gigantic, with the body mass of a wren and a wingspan of half a foot.” Evolutionists can’t figure out how this species crossed the Arctic (the only land bridge existing when they lived), because “these ancient insects traveled between continents to appear on both sides of the Atlantic at nearly the same time.”

Molecular exploration of fossil eggshell uncovers hidden lineage of giant extinct bird (Nature, 28 Feb 2023). The giant flightless birds of Madagascar, known as elephant birds, are leaving evolutionists puzzled by recently-found fossil evidence from eggshells. They’re having to imagine “evolution of extreme gigantism over shorts [sic] timescales.” A press release about these elephant birds from the University of Colorado on 28 Feb points out that the birds were Madagascar’s largest land animals, “9 feet tall, weighing more than 1,500 pounds each, and outfitted with a pointy beak and deadly foot talons”; they were much larger than any bird on the island today. A photo in the press release shows a woman holding a model of what the giant egg would have looked like.

Giant meat-eating dinosaur footprint is largest found in Yorkshire (University of Manchester, 15 Feb 2023). For kids who like scary monster stories at bedtime, here’s a report of a giant meat-eating dinosaur. Its footprint was almost a meter long—about a yard. “I couldn’t believe what I was looking at, I had to do a double take,” remarked Marie Woods when she found the print in April 2021. “I have seen a few smaller prints when out with friends, but nothing like this.” It was a mega-big reptile.

Local geologist, Hudson, said: “This important discovery adds further evidence that meat-eating giants once roamed this area during the Jurassic. The type of footprint, combined with its age, suggests that it was made by a ferocious Megalosaurus-like dinosaur, with a possible hip height between 2.5 and 3 metres.” Megalosaurus was the first dinosaur to be formally described, in 1824.

New discovery: fossilised giant zebra tracks found in South Africa  (The Conversation, 16 March 2023). Our zebras were shrimps compared to extinct ones living in the past. The Giant Cape Zebra could have kicked sand in the eyes of living zebras.

The Giant Cape Zebra (Equus capensis) weighed an estimated 450 kg. Its extant relatives in southern Africa are far smaller: the plains zebra weighs between 250 and 300 kg and the Cape mountain zebra is the smallest of all zebra species, with a mass of between 230 and 260 kg.

Giant ancient fish that likely preyed on humans’ ancestors unearthed in South Africa (Live Science, 25 Feb 2023). Here’s the description of this big fish. For a fish dated 383 Darwin Years ago, it was huge.

“Picture a huge predatory fish, easily topping 2 meters [6.5 feet] in length and looking somewhat like a modern alligator gar but with a shorter face like the front end of a torpedo,” study co-author Per Ahlberg (opens in new tab), a professor in the Department of Organismal Biology at Uppsala University in Sweden, told Live Science. “The mouth contained rows of small teeth, but also pairs of large fangs which could probably reach 5 centimeters [2 inches] in the largest individuals.”

The Giant Armadillo Glyptodon and the Abrupt Origin of Xenarthrans (Evolution News, 22 Dec 2022). As part of his “Fossil Friday” series, paleontologist Günter Bechly wrote about the giant armadillo Glyptodon, which could grow as big as a car, unlike the roadkill-sized armadillos of today. He mentions other giant mammals within the order like the giant ground sloth, also much bigger than today’s sloths. The fossil evidence for these giants, he says, shows abrupt appearance that defies evolution.

Fossil Hyraxes and the Abrupt Origin of Hyracoidea (Evolution News, 13 Jan 2023). In another Fossil Friday episode, Bechly mentions an extinct fossil hyrax as big as a rhinoceros. Today’s hyrax species are about the size of marmots. Last year, Bechly showed a fossil shark tooth from Megalodon (“big tooth”) that was almost as big across as two hands. That’s one tooth.

Update 27 March 2023: Beaver fossil named after Buc-ee’s (University of Texas at Austin, 27 March 2023). Though 30% larger than modern beavers, this one was still a shrimp.

A. buceei lived in Texas about 15 million years ago. To the casual observer, it probably wouldn’t have looked much different from beavers living in Texas today, according to study co-author Matthew Brown, the director of the Jackson School’s vertebrate paleontology collections. However, one key difference is size. A. buceei was bigger – about 30% larger than modern beavers – though still much smaller than the bear-size beavers that lived in North America during the last Ice Age.

Can Evolution Explain Giants?

What do evolutionists say to these facts? Live Science on March 12 says that giant dinosaurs and pterosaurs grew large because they had hollow bones. That’s interesting, but it is not a Darwinian explanation. So how did hollow bones come about? “Convergent evolution,” quipped Sascha Pare, as if that explains anything. Are two miracles better than one? How about three?

Air sacs sandwiched inside the bones of the largest dinosaurs and pterosaurs to roam the Earth were so advantageous that these pockets might have evolved independently at least three times in different lineages, a new study finds.

This example of cognitive dissonance was repeated by Sally Reynolds at The Conversation on 17 March 2023. She marveled at the ingenious design of hollow bones for providing high strength with low mass, but attributed the solution to convergence, saying “aerated bones evolved in three separate lineages”—appearing in all three major groups of land reptiles: the pterosaurs, the theropods and the sauropods. She wins Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week for her simplistic personification of natural selection:

Every time an animal reproduces, evolution throws up random variants in genetic code. Some of these variants are passed on to offspring and develop over time.

Charles Darwin believed evolution created “endless forms most beautiful”. But some adaptations emerge spontaneously time and time again, a bit like getting the same hand of cards on multiple occasions. When the same hand keeps cropping up, it’s a sign that evolution has hit upon an important and effective solution.

Speaking of pterosaurs, there is no fossil evidence for their evolution. As in the world of academia in the West, however, Darwinism is the only explanatory toolkit available in China. Two Chinese paleontologists, writing 27 Feb for Current Biology, were stuck with saying that the story of pterosaur evolution is “complex.” Should science be satisfied with this finding? “Multiple factors affect pterosaur macroevolution, but in different ways.” That’s merely a restatement of the Stuff Happens Law, contrived to force the fossil evidence into a prior belief in macroevolution.

Günter Bechly, a well-published paleontologist who spent most of his career as a Darwinist before he read books about intelligent design and found the arguments compelling, wrote this about pterosaurs in Evolution News on 28 Oct 2022:

Outside of Darwinian fantasy land, we indeed lack any transitional fossils that would document an assumed gradual evolutionary development of characteristic pterosaur wings. In my view this strongly suggests that the transition happened very quickly as an abrupt saltation rather than mediated by hundreds of transitional species, for which there is not a shred of empirical evidence. Such saltations could not be explained by an unguided neo-Darwinian mechanism of natural selection acting on random mutations, but would require a massive infusion of new genetic and epigenetic information from outside the system. Therefore, the abrupt origin of pterosaurs clearly points to intelligent design as the best explanation.

As we reported 14 March, the same abrupt appearance is also seen in the fossil record of ichthyosaurs, marine reptiles that lived contemporaneously with sauropods, theropods and pterosaurs.

Giant dragonflies with wingspans 75 cm across, giant plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs, giant dinosaurs, giant mammals, giant penguins, giant birds that put today’s ratites (emus, cassowaries, ostriches) to shame, giant insects—these all flourished in the past but are not found today. Why is that, if evolution is true? Is Darwin’s Stuff Happens Law on a miniaturization kick these days? Evolutionists cannot explain this. They resort to storytelling in “Darwinian fantasy land,” copping out with escape tactics like climate change, excuses like “it’s complex,” and resorting to miracle plots like “convergent evolution.”

Our created planet was made for a rich, abundant biosphere. Genesis portrays the seas, the air, and the land filled with creatures of all types and sizes. The biosphere glorified God’s design and creativity with displays of artistic engineering in every habitat. Even humans could have been larger in past times (consider Goliath and whatever the Nephilim represented). We live in a relatively impoverished world today after the Flood, with the record of giant creatures in the rocks bearing silent testimony of a richer time. However, our present world remains abundantly filled with evidence of God’s power and wisdom (Psalm 104). We still have responsibility to be good stewards of all that is left.

Recommended Resource: Genesis Apologetics has a large number of free videos and articles supporting Biblical creation. Check this article about “Behemoth” mentioned in the Book of Job and how the description fits a sauropod dinosaur like Mamenchisaurus pictured above. The hollow bones are also described, showing how they allowed sauropods to grow as large as the fossil record shows.



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