Dinosaur Bones and the Age of the Earth

Dinosaur Bones and Age of the Earth

by Edward T. Babinski

A dinosaur bone was recently discovered that contains soft tissue inside. As of March 28, 2005, the University of Montana scientists have not completed their chemical analyses of the soft tissues, so they admit they donʼt know what they have yet.

Young Earth Creationists at “Answers in Genesis” are claiming this new discovery proves their view is correct and the age of the earth is very young.

Until the chemical analysis is complete concerning the latest discovery, I can only recount a few earlier dinosaur bone discoveries and the ways creationists have attempted to cite them as evidence of a young earth, and the rebuttals that further scientific analysis provided.

Earlier Discovery Of Evidence Of Biological Molecules Inside Dinosaur Bones

A previous discovery in the news suggested prematurely that “dinosaur blood cells” might have been found, but the subsequent chemical analysis did not demonstrate that red blood cells had been found, neither were they able to discover the presence of hemoglobin molecules. What they found was “heme,” which is not a complete hemoglobin molecule, but a part of a broken down hemoglobin molecule, the part that the iron atom attaches to. There are four heme sites in each hemoglobin molecule where the iron attaches to the molecule. Heme is “an iron-porphyrin compound that occurs as a prosthetic group in hemoproteins.”

Look at this diagram “heme

And compare “heme” with what a full “hemoglobin molecule” looks like.

Here is a picture of just one of the four separate chains of the above “hemoglobin molecule,” showing more specifically where “heme” is located inside one chain

A single “red blood cell” consists of a vast number of “hemoglobin molecules” as well as still vaster numbers of other kinds of molecules. No dinosaur “red blood cells” was found, no dinosaur “hemoglobin” was found, only remnants of “heme.” The DNA was also broken down.

Dino-blood and the Young Earth. Answers in Genesis claims that paleontologist Mary Schweitzer found “obvious, fresh-looking blood cells” and traces of blood protein hemoglobin in a Tyrannosaurus rex bone. It further claims that this demonstrates that the dinosaur could not have lived millions of years ago. AiGʼs claims are not the result of rigorous analysis, but the result of selective quoting and misrepresentation of popular science articles.

Do Dinosaur Bones Exist that are “Too Little Mineralized” to be “So Old?”

Creationist: Dinosaur fossils found in Alaska in 1961 were so little mineralized that they could not possibly be at least 65 million years old.

Edʼs Reply: On fossilization rates, see the United States Department of the Interiorʼs website.

North Slope Dinosaur Fossils

While we might presume that remains more than 65 million years old would have turned to “solid rock” long ago, thatʼs not true for all dinosaur bones found in northern Alaska. So far, all recovered bones are highly mineralized and discolored by iron oxide, but they still have differences. Some are relatively light and porous while others are heavy and dense. The differences relate to the amounts of minerals, notably silica, which have replaced what was once living cell matter while additionally filling in bone pores. In some specimens, bone cells and pores have been mostly replaced or filled in by minerals. In others, just cell walls and little else have been mineralized leaving many open pores. Thus, bones with less mineral replacement are light and more porous than bones with lots of mineral replacement.

DNA Studies and North Slope Dinosaur Bones

So far, no DNA has been found in dinosaur bones of the North Slope. When they were first discovered in the 1980s, and before they were studied, the relatively light weight of several bones caused speculation that they might contain a lot of the original bone tissue from the once-living dinosaur. Since then, the result of studies have not supported this idea. Instead, they have shown that the bones are highly mineralized with none yet proven to contain recoverable dinosaur DNA or anything else from the living dinosaur. So is that the end of the story? Not quite …. Though not yet well-studied and certainly unproven so far, among the best candidates for containing recoverable bio molecular material (maybe even DNA), are dinosaur bones with lots of silica mineralization. In those, there is a possibility that silica could have encapsulated and thus helped protect some original cell matter. But whether such ancient material, if it exists, could be viable or extractable is also unknown. Thus, future DNA hunters may indeed wish to continue studying North Slope dinosaur bones. And their findings could surprise us all!

“Diagenetic alteration of dinosaur bone”
Referring to fossil bones from the Liscomb Bone Bed, it states: “Concentrations of many of these elements are at least an order of magnitude higher than those in modern reptilian and mammalian bones. Such data indicate that significant diagentic alteration may have occurred in the dinosaur bones.”

Evidence of Fossilization in so-called “Unfossilized” Dinosaur Bones Evidence for Postmortem Enrichment in Late Cretaceous Dinosaur Bone Using Microbeam

PIXE GOODWIN, Mark B., Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA; and Graham Bench and Patrick Grant, Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA, USA
The effects of diagenesis on the geochemistry of fossils are poorly understood. The alteration of stable isotopes by fossilization creates uncertainty about the preservation of original biogenic isotope values. The use of stable oxygen isotopes from dinosaur bones and teeth to reconstruct dinosaur thermophysiology remains controversial due to potential overprinting by diagenesis. Studies using stable isotopes for dietary or physiological reconstructions are commonly based on the assumption that postmortem alteration of the fossil did not occur or that its effects are negligible. Successful isotope analysis of fossil bone for the purposes of determining paleophysiology depends upon the retention of original isotope atoms in the bone phosphate. If the chemical composition of dinosaur bone is affected by dissolution, recrystallization, or mineral substitution from the burial environment, the measured oxygen isotope ratio may reflect groundwater temperature, not dinosaur body temperature. PIXE, coupled with microsampling and mass spectrometry, is a potent analytical tool to assess diagenesis in fossils. Nuclear microscopy using Proton Induced X-ray Emission (or microbeam PIXE) provides accurate quantitative values, multi-element detection, sub-micron spatial resolution to ppm or mg/g sensitivity, and elemental maps of micron regions of bone. A thin section from an exceptionally well preserved Late Cretaceous hadrosaur femur (UCMP 179501) from Alaskaʼs North Slope was subject to PIXE analysis. This fossil does not show typical signs of alteration at a macro and micron scale, but is highly altered nonetheless. PIXE analysis reveals enrichment of Fe (180,000 ppm) and Mn (13,000 ppm) in the lamellae surrounding Haversian canals and neighboring tissue of several magnitudes higher than levels known in modern bone. A corresponding depletion of Ca and P also occurs. This enrichment is most likely due to diagenesis from the burial environment since Fe and Mn are present in modern bone in only minute amounts. PIXE analysis of a modern Caiman and Rhea confirm this.
Goodwin (2001), above, refuted the alleged unlatered (“fresh”) nature of dinosaur bones found along the Colville River in Alaska. The abstract for this paper can be found in Re: Colville River, North Slope Alaska, Dinosaur Fossils Questions

Further information of interest in the debate over evolution and creation. Creationist statements and websites related to the question of human evolution

Two quotations from creationists:

“I was surprised to find that instead of enough fossils barely to fit into a coffin, as one evolutionist once stated [in 1982], there were over 4,000 hominid fossils as of 1976. Over 200 specimens have been classified as Neandertal and about one hundred as Homo erectus. More of these fossils have been found since 1976.”
—Michael J. Oard [creationist], in his review of the book, Bones of Contention — A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils, in the Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 30, March 1994, p. 222

“The current figures [circa 1994] are even more impressive: over 220 Homo erectus fossil individuals discovered to date, possibly as many as 80 archaic Homo sapiens fossil individuals discovered to date, and well over 300 Neandertal fossil individuals discovered to date.”
—Marvin L. Lubenow [creationist], author of Bones of Contention
— A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils, in a letter to the editor of the Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 31, Sept. 1994, p. 70

Christian Evolutionists

In a court case in Cob country, Georgia in which the school board lost their battle to insert “Evolution is only a theory” stickers inside a biology text, the “offending” book in question was written by a Christian, Dr. Kenneth Miller. How ironic. Besides having authored a widely used biology textbook, Miller is also the author of Finding Darwinʼs God: A Scientistʼs Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution.

Another noted Christian and evolution is Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project. Collins has stated: “I am unaware of any irreconcilable conflict between scientific knowledge about evolution and the idea of a creator God; why couldnʼt God have used the mechanism of evolution to create?…In my field, biology, because of the creationists the standard assumption is that anyone who has faith has gone soft in the head. When scientists like me admit they are believers, the reaction from colleagues is ‘How did this guy get tenure?’” (Gregg Easterbrook, “Science and God: A Warming Trend?” Science, Vol. 277, No. 5328, Aug. 15 1997, p. 890-893)

Books By Christian Evolutionists

Random Designer: Created From Chaos To Connect With Creator by Dr. Colling (fundamentalist Christian and chair of Biology at a fundamentalist Christian college). According to Dr. Colling, “It pains me to suggest that my religious brothers are telling falsehoods” when they say evolutionary theory is “in crisis” and claim that there is widespread skepticism about it among scientists. “Such statements are blatantly untrue,” he argues. “Evolution has stood the test of time and considerable scrutiny… What the designer designed is the random-design process,” or Darwinian evolution, Colling says. “God devised these natural laws, and uses evolution to accomplish his goals.” [“Teaching Evolution at Christian College” by Sharon Begley, The Wall Street Journal (December 31, 2004)]

Perspectives on an Evolving Creation, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003) Edited by Dr. Keith B. Miller (professor of geology at Kansas State Univ), not to be confused with Dr. Kenneth Miller. Keithʼs book includes essays by the following Christians:

  • Terry Gray (Colorado State)
  • James Hurd (Bethel College)
  • Ted Davis (Messiah College)
  • Robin Collins (Messiah College)
  • David Wilcox (Eastern College)
  • Mark Noll (Wheaton College)
  • Jeff Greenberg (Wheaton College)
  • Laurie Braaten (Judson College)
  • John Munday, Jr. (Regent Univ.)
  • Loren Haarsma (Calvin College)
  • Howard Van Till (Calvin College)
  • Deborah Haarsma (Calvin College)
  • Warren Brown (Fuller Theological)
  • David Campbell (University of Alabama)
  • Jennifer Wiseman (Johns Hopkins Univ.)
  • Conrad Hyers (Gustavus Adolphus College)
  • George Murphy (Trinity Lutheran Seminary)
  • Bob Russell (Center for Theology and Natural Sciences)

God and Evolution (Nov. 2004)
by David L. Wilcox (Ph.D. in Population Genetics, Professor of Biology, Eastern College, St. Davidʼs, PA.)

Darwinism Defeated? A debate between Phillip E. Johnson (I.D.ist) and Denis O. Lamoureux Ph.D. (biologist/evolutionist and Evangelical Christian
Apparently Johnson does not offer copies of this debate book for sale at his website, or didnʼt, last I looked.

God Created the Heavens and The Earth
by Donald Nield (Professor of Engineering Science at Auckland University)

A Seamless Web: Science and Faith
Evolving Creation
Godʼs Books: Genetics and Genesis
by Graeme Finlay (Cell Biologist who lectures in General Pathology in the
Department of Molecular Medicine and Pathology at Auckland University)

The God of Evolution: A Trinitarian Theology (New York: Paulist, 1999)
Jesus and the Cosmos (New York: Paulist, 1991)
by Denis Edwards

Deeper Than Darwin: The Prospect for Religion in the Age of Evolution
(Boulder, CO: Westview, 2003)

God After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2000)
by John F. Haught

Darwinʼs Forgotten Defenders: The Encounter between Evangelical Theology and Evolutionary Thought (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987)by David N. Livingstone

The Fourth Day: What the Bible and the Heavens Are Telling Us about the Creation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1986)
“The Creation: Intelligently Designed or Optimally Equipped?” Theology Today 55 (1998): 344-364
by Dr. Howard J. Van Till (astronomer, Calvin College)

Quarks, Chaos, and Christianity: Questions to Science and Christianity
(New York: Crossroad, 1994)
Science and Theology: An Introduction (London: SPCK, 1998)
The Work of Love: Creation as Kenosis (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001) A book of essays by assorted theistic evolutionists that explores the Biblical concept of kenosis (self-emptying) and the doctrine of creation in light of evolutionary thought.
by John Polkinghorne (Ordained Anglican priest, former Cambridge professor of theoretical physics, and prolific author, Polkinghorne is perhaps the worldʼs leading advocate for a serious, constructive dialogue between modern science and Christian theology)

Cosmos and Creator (Scottish Academic Press, l979; Regnery Gateway, 1980),
An analysis of the bearing of modern cosmological theories on the Christian dogma of the creation of the universe, followed by the history of that dogma, its philosophical presuppositions, and its relation to evolutionary theories of man.
Genesis 1 Through the Ages (London: Thomas More Press, 1992) with illustrations. A history of the interpretations of Genesis 1 from biblical times to the present day, with an emphasis on the ever-present lures of concordism. Eight lectures delivered April 25- May 9, 1992, in New York on behalf of Wethersfield Institute.
Bible and Science (Front Royal, VA: Christendom Press, 1996) An analysis of the biblical world view and basic Biblical propositions insofar as they relate to science and to its history.
by Stanley L. Jaki (Benedictine priest, doctorates in both theology and physics)

Websites Of Christian Evolutionists

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