Rethinking the Time of the Dinosaurs - A Nonfiction Piece

This is something I wrote earlier this month.  It is a work of nonfiction, in case you were wondering.  :)

Most people agree that dinosaurs existed sometime in history.  However, there is controversy about when dinosaurs walked the earth.  Did they live over 65 million years ago or alongside man, only a few thousand years ago?  A discovery that was made in 2005 may help put this dispute to rest.  Soft tissue found inside a dinosaur fossil provides evidence that dinosaurs and the earth are not as old as some scientists believe.
     The majority of scientists believe that dinosaurs first appeared on earth around 230 million years ago and went extinct about 65 million years ago (Harmon).  Scientists use several methods to determine the age of fossils.  One such method is stratigraphy.  This uses rock layers to determine the age.  The fossils found in lower layers are older than those found in higher layers of strata.  The layers of rock, called strata, are dated by the fossils found in it.  There are certain fossils that are assumed to represent a certain time period.  These are called index fossils (Wile 185).  If one of these fossils is found in a certain layer, then that layer must be from that time period.  For example, before 1994, when a living version of this tree was found, if a Wollemi pine was in a layer of strata, it was assumed that that layer was from the Jurassic period as were all of the other fossils in that layer (Wile 204).
    In 2005, something was found that would be virtually impossible if the fossils were as old as most scientists believe.  In a supposed 80 million year old Tyrannosaurus rex fossil (Wile 203), soft tissue was discovered by Dr. Mary Schweitzer and her colleagues.  The tissue found inside of the fossil was found when the thigh bone had to be broken for transport. Scientists were shocked, and so they studied the tissue. 
    The fossil was petrified, but not all of the way through (Wile 203).  When something is petrified, it means that the organic material is converted into rock (Wile 162).  Water has to be present and flow over the pores of the creature.  The minerals inside of the water would fill those tiny openings.  When the water evaporates, the minerals are left behind.  When the creature decomposes, the minerals are left in the exact form of the dead animal that was in its spot (Wile 162-163).   
    Pieces of DNA were found in the fossil.  DNA breaks down overtime.  Sure, the environment does aid in preserving it, but even if it was frozen in extreme temperatures, it would not have lasted more than 7 million years (Smith).  Dr. Schweitzer actually said in 2010, "When you think about it, the laws of chemistry and biology and everything else that we know say that it should be gone, it should be degraded completely" (Smith).  Some may question if the soft tissue could last even several thousand years.  Egyptian mummies, which are a few thousand years old, show the preservation of DNA and other organic material, similar to what Dr. Schweitzer noted in the T-rex fossil (Snelling).
    Dr. Schweitzer tried to explain this phenomena recently, saying that the iron helped preserve the soft tissue much like formaldehyde (Smith).  According to her idea, the iron worked to preserve the soft tissue, stable proteins, and cross-link proteins.  Iron cannot form covalent cross-links directly; formaldehyde can (Smith).  Even formaldehyde cannot preserve soft tissue for very long.  Many embalmers of human corpses say that formaldehyde is used to only slow down the process of decomposition, not to prevent it.  Dr. Schweitzer performed experiments to test her idea that didn't represent the conditions in which the dinosaur was actually preserved (Smith).  Pure hemoglobin was used in her experiments (Smith).  This would not be the case in the natural world.  Besides, it would have to have been extremely concentrated to have worked to preserve the tissue for a long period of time.  If the hemoglobin were diluted, it would have done nothing.  
Since the 2005 discovery, some fossils much older than the T-rex fossil have been found to have soft tissue as well. Some of these other fossils date back to the Jurassic Period.
    The discovery of this soft tissue in a fossil that was determined to be 80 million years old could lead to some questioning about the dating techniques used.  The rate of decay of the element Carbon-14 is something widely used to date once living things.  According to the decay rate of this element, there should be none in an ancient fossil.  For example, a piece of fossilized wood dated to be 22-250 million years in age should contain no Carbon-14.  But it does.  And according to the amount of this element present, it should be 20,700 to 44,700 years old (Snelling).  Radiocarbon has been round in diamonds that are estimated to be millions of years old. According to the amount of Carbon-14 they have in them, they are really less than 55,000 years old (Snelling).
    There are other evidences that the earth is much younger than many scientists say, which would mean that dinosaurs did not live millions of years ago.  Given the rate of decay of animals and the slow rate most scientists think that fossils form, there should be fewer fossils than there are (Wile 203) because organisms would decay before their fossils would have formed.  However, it is possible for fossils to form quickly.  A waterwheel that was built about 75 years ago is now almost completely petrified.  This happened because there was so much water that was rich in minerals flowing over it (Wile 202).
    The salinity of the ocean is another evidence that the earth is young.  The amount of salt in the ocean increases every year.  The basis for uniformitarianism is "the present is the key to the past" (Wile 174).  If the amount of salt increased at the same rate for millions of years as uniformitarians believe it did, the salinity would be much higher than it is now at 3.5 percent ("The Sea Does Not Have Enough Minerals").
    According to most scientists, geological formations take millions of years to form.  But they can form very quickly by a catastrophe.  Engineers Canyon near Mount Saint 
Helens formed in only a few hours.  When the volcano erupted, the rock was cut out to form 140 foot high cliffs.  The river in the bottom of the canyon formed after the canyon was actually carved out (Wile 196-197).  This shows that there are other possibilities than millions of years.
    Though the idea that dinosaurs are millions of years old is popular among scientists, the evidence points toward more recent dinosaurs, and in essence, a younger earth.  The recent discovery of soft tissue in the fossil of a T-rex continued the young earth movement which finds flaws in dating techniques and searches for other evidence of a young earth.  And they don't have to look far.  Dr. David Menton said it best when he said, "We conclude that the preservation of vessels, cells, and complex molecules in dinosaurs is entirely consistent with a young-earth creationist perspective but is highly implausible with the evolutionist's perspective about dinosaurs that died off millions of years ago" (Menton).

Works Cited
"Dating Dinosaurs and Other Fossils." Australian Museum. 3 Dec. 2009. Web. 3 May 2015.
Ghose, Tia. "Mesozoic Era: Age of the Dinosaurs." LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 7 Jan. 2015. Web. 5 May 2015.
Harmon, Katherine. "A Brief History of Dinosaurs." LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 6 Dec. 2012. Web. 3 May 2015.
Smith, Calvin.  "Dinosaur Soft Tissue."  Creation.com.  Creation Ministries International, 28 Jan. 2014.  Web.  3 May 2015.
Snelling, Dr. Andrew A.  "Carbon-14 in Fossils and Diamonds."  Answers in Genesis.  8 Dec. 2010.  Web.  3 May 2015.
Menton, Dr. David.  "#3 Soft Tissue in Fossils." Answers in Genesis.  1 Oct. 2012.  Web.  3 May 2015.
"The Sea Does Not Have Enough Minerals." Institute for Creation Research. Web. 3 May 2015.
Wile, Jay L. Exploring Creation with General Science. 2nd ed. Anderson, Ind.: Apologia
Educational Ministries, 2000. 162, 163, 174, 185, 196, 197, 202, 203, 204. Print.


I hope you enjoyed it!  Please, please, please do not post this anywhere else and say that you wrote it as I worked extremely hard on this.  Thank you!  And a special thanks to Katie Grace for coming up with the title.  :D You are awesome!

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