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.
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