Creationist arguments never die, they just keep getting recycled. Consider the old clunker about dinosaur fossils being found with juicy red meat still clinging to their bones. We’ve written about that one a couple of times before — see Creationism: A Perverted Time Warp, and also Creationists Defend the Indefensible.
The creationist fantasy that paleontologists keep digging up fresh dinosaur carcasses is all based on the work of Mary Schweitzer who, while still a graduate student, began to research “heme-containing compounds and/or hemoglobin breakdown products in extracts of trabecular tissues of the large theropod dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex.” That’s from the abstract of one of her papers from 1997: Heme compounds in dinosaur trabecular bone.
Schweitzer’s work is fine, but the creationists keep distorting it. There’s even a rebuttal at the TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims. But the beat goes on.
The latest assault on reason can be found at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of young-earth creationist wisdom. AIG is the online creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia.
Their article is Soft Tissue in Fossils It’s the third in a ridiculous series they call “10 Best Evidences From Science That Confirm a Young Earth.” Here we go, with bold font added by us and their links and scripture references omitted:
Ask the average layperson how he or she knows that the earth is millions or billions of years old, and that person will probably mention the dinosaurs, which nearly everybody “knows” died off 65 million years ago. A recent discovery by Dr. Mary Schweitzer, however, has given reason for all but committed evolutionists to question this assumption.
Then AIG proceeds to distort Schweitzer’s findings. Observe:
Bone slices from the fossilized thigh bone (femur) of a Tyrannosaurus rex found in the Hell Creek formation of Montana were studied under the microscope by Schweitzer. … Amazingly, the bone marrow contained what appeared to be flexible tissue.
After more distortion, AIG says:
But if creationists are right, dinosaurs died off only 3,000–4,000 years ago. So would we expect the preservation of vessels, cells, and complex molecules of the type that Schweitzer reports for biological tissues historically known to be 3,000–4,000 years old?
The answer is yes. Many studies of Egyptian mummies and other humans of this old age (confirmed by historical evidence) show all the sorts of detail Schweitzer reported … .
Aha! Those dinosaurs are no older than Egyptian mummies! They end with this:
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.
While the creationists are drooling and slobbering all over themselves, Schweitzer has a new paper in Bone (subscription needed), Molecular analyses of dinosaur osteocytes support the presence of endogenous molecules, which describes her discovery of “soft, transparent microstructures in dinosaur bone” and which explains how such DNA evidence (but not red meat, of course) has been preserved for so long.
Nature also has an article about Schweitzer’s latest work: Molecular analysis supports controversial claim for dinosaur cells.
So there you are. Schweitzer’s work appears to be holding up well, and the creationists are — as usual — running amok. Some things never change.
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