AIG: Chicken Necks, Dinosaurs, & the Flood

This is bizarre, but that’s what you come here for, isn’t it? A story in Discover magazine, Chickens Help Scientists Study Dinosaur Death Pose tells of a modest research project:

Many dinosaur fossils appear in the same pose, not so much “terrible lizard” as “terrible limbo accident.” Their tails are stretched out and their necks thrown back grotesquely. But it’s not clear why this is. Researchers from the University of Calgary in Canada got a fresh take on the puzzle — or, at least, a recently killed and frozen take — by using dead chickens.

“Chickens are living dinosaurs, as are all birds,” says biologist Anthony Russell. Evolutionarily speaking, a chicken is closer to an extinct dinosaur than a crocodile is. So Russell and his student Adam Bentley, an undergraduate at the time, purchased 15 frozen whole chickens from a local grocery store. After thawing out the birds, the researchers put them to work.

[…]

Russell notes that some scientists have tried to replicate the death pose with living birds, but calls these attempts “rather haphazard.” His study shows that a chicken’s anatomy lets it assume the death pose easily. But this doesn’t tell us why all those fossilized animals did it.

Today’s mammals and birds can take on a similar spasming posture, called opisthotonus, during certain kinds of illness or poisoning. Some paleontologists have suggested that the same thing happened to prehistoric dinosaurs: their dramatic fossils capture their death throes. Others have attributed the pose to shrinking neck ligaments after death, or (not very convincingly) to water currents twisting the bodies around.

“Our study showed that the posture, of itself, cannot reveal anything about cause,” Russell says. There may have been multiple ways for dying or dead dinosaurs to end up in the death pose, given how easily their descendants can replicate it.

There’s not much to it, but it’s enough to excite the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo). They just posted Dead Chickens Tell No Tales, Though Journalists Might. The author is Frost Smith , about whom we know nothing. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

If these scientists [link to the article in Discover] shopped at a typical grocery store, they couldn’t do their experiments. Apparently, they looked for chickens with their necks where they should be, and even with their heads still attached, and took pictures of them after pushing their necks around to various stages. Sound a bit macabre? To be fair, they were taking x-rays, not normal pictures, and they were then measuring the angles of the vertebrae connections at the various positions. Why, you ask?

Clever writing, huh? Let’s read on:

Because they think chickens are living (well, dead for the experiments) dinosaurs. They were hoping for insight into why so many fossilized dinosaurs are buried in rock appearing to be in what’s been called the “throes of death” — called the opisthotonic posture — with the long neck extended unnaturally toward the animal’s back.

Stupid scientists — they think birds are related to dinosaurs! The AIG article continues:

But this isn’t the first time scientists have dabbled in dead dinosaurs, er, chickens. Back in 2011, Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell [the the creationist gynecologist who writes for AIG] talked about a similar study where dead chickens were dunked in freshwater and observed to have the trademark neck recoil, apparently in response to the immersion. This has been observed in other studies as well. Of course this makes sense with a biblical Flood burial. But the action of the violent floodwaters, we would argue, is probably more the culprit.

Yes, the Flood is the likeliest reason. Here’s more:

The study being reported on talked primarily about how bird anatomy facilitated the pose, not so much other processes such as water currents that could also be involved. In fact, the study states that the posture “can, in chickens at least, be facilitated simply through the limpness associated with death combined with the imposition of a relatively modest displacing force.” They continue, saying, “it is likely that the various configurations are related to the enormous diversity of causes of death coupled with the circumstances experienced immediately upon death, and relatively shortly thereafter” (emphases added). Water deposition wasn’t exactly ruled out by these scientists!

Aha! — the scientists didn’t rule out the Flood! Moving along:

The only issue we’d have is these scientists assuming (because of their evolutionary beliefs) that chickens are related to dinosaurs. Creationists believe birds (chickens) weren’t even created on the same day as dinosaurs, according to Genesis. Birds were created on Day Five and land animals on Day Six. And from a biblical model of origins, birds came before dinosaurs, not afterwards as evolutionists teach.

So there you are. As we said at the beginning, the research wasn’t much, but AIG managed to put it to good use.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “AIG: Chicken Necks, Dinosaurs, & the Flood

  1. But if the birds cannot fly – how are they birds and not land animals?

  2. Charles Deetz ;)

    Frozen chickens and an x-ray machine … a cheap investment to prove water deaths and The Flood. But AIG is building an Ark that doesn’t float, or hold animals, or does much. Dopes.

  3. Birds were created on Day Five and land animals on Day Six.

    But, since chickens are essentially flightless, don’t they count as “land animals”? I’m confused. Thank heavens there’s a Frost Smith to gui . . . er, maybe not.

  4. Derek Freyberg

    It is a rather weak study – surely they could have bought freshly dead chickens instead of frozen ones (granted, chickens the way we used to kill them when I was a child, with a hatchet, would not be helpful, no head – but as a commenter on the article points out, carbon dioxide smothered would be fine).
    But the commentary by Frost Smith (hey, at least it’s not “Buddy Love”) is priceless. Why exactly are those floodwaters violent? – it can hardly be water rushing through narrow spaces, since the whole world was covered.
    Meanwhile, back in reality-land, it’s time to move on.

  5. What about caterpillars and butterflies? Butterflies fly, therefore were created on Day5; caterpillars cannot fly, therefore were created on Day 6. Tadpoles are water creatures created on Day 5; frogs on Day 6.
    But what finally got to me is how superficial, to the point of self-contradictory and incoherent, is the whole YEC. And then I wondered, for I have not spent much time on other – er, “unconventional challenges” to be polite – is this typical for them?

  6. If the Flood had really happened, its waters would have completely pulverized, and then dissolved, any fossil remains, so we shouldn’t ever have found any. After all, we’re supposedly talking about a deluge that drowned the world under five miles of water in forty days. (Such a flood would also have obliterated the Ark and all its contents, human and animal alike–but never mind.)

  7. Derek Freyberg

    @Eric Lipps:
    Thank you for mentioning that.
    5 miles of water is 26,400 feet deep – significantly more than the average ocean depth, though less than the maximum by quite a bit.
    @Charles Deetz:
    The authors of the article, unlike the DiscoTute commentators, were simply trying to figure out why dinosaurs died with arched necks – they had no intention of proving Genesis (or anything else, for what that matters). I don’t think they did a great job, but at least they tried.

  8. The intellectual vacuum at AIG is astonishing. The study starts with an observation: dinos appear to have a simiilar death pose. Builds upon known science: dinos are related to birds. An experiment is performed. And no conclusion is reached. That’s some cool science, even though it just proves there is nothing special can be ascertained about how dinos died from their death pose.
    AIG comes along NEVER does a study, NEVER works in the existing scientific framework, and yet comes to the conclusion “the flood did it!”

  9. Ceteris Paribus

    When I was a kid, our Sunday School teacher could swivel her head a full 180 degrees from front to back, looking for slackers whenever she was playing a hymn at the piano. Never missed a note. Come to think of it, in several ways she did quite resemble some kind of bird. Maybe the folks at AIG could do some useful research around that phenomenon.

  10. Ceteris Paribus recalls: “When I was a kid, our Sunday School teacher could swivel her head a full 180 degrees from front to back”

    Yeah, but 360 degrees would be a much more intelligent design.

  11. News flash — South Carolina is petitioning Ken Ham to move his ark to their state. Details at eleven!

  12. On cervical rotation, our Curmudgeon proposes:

    360 degrees would be a much more intelligent design

    Gadzooks, did you never see The Exorcist? Such a rotational feat isn’t a mark of Intelligent Design, it’s an irrefutable marker of Demonic Possession!!!

    …Or is your advocacy of the same here an irrefutable marker of your Darwinistic Conspiracy to Promote Satanism?