Friday, March 27, 2015

The Case of the Missing Links

I can't believe that this Sunday is Palm Sunday, and the Sunday after that is Easter! How exciting! Our drama, Victory at the Cross is also this Friday. That should be pretty cool too.

Days till:
It is: 2 days till Palm Sunday
It is: 7 days till Victory at the Cross
It is: 9 days till Easter Sunday

In the Spotlight:
Not much to share today, but the final Lego Jurassic World set has just been revealed, and it is called Raptor Escape. Check it out!

From this, we know Omar Sy's character's name is "Barry".

What do you think is happening in this scene?

Topic of the Week by Christian Ryan
This photo from 1880 portrays an Archaeopteryx fossil, preserved with feathers. Is this a piece of the "mountains of evidence" for evolution?
“...99% of scientists accept evolution.”
Dr. Brian Alters

“...paleontologists have uncovered numerous dinosaurs with everything from bristles and fuzz to full-flight feathers—which document the evolution of plumage...creationists deny the clear fossil record...The mountain of evidence that birds are living dinosaurs...are among the most gorgeous examples of evolutionary change yet found.”
Brian Switek (emphasis mine)

“...[Tiktaalik's] discovery sheds light on a pivotal point in the history of life on earth...”
author of: “”

“I think Australopithecus sediba is best seen as a compelling example of the highly experimental nature of evolution...around the time of the origin of Homo.”
Rick Potts

“...impenetrable roadblocks [concerning whale evolution] exist only for those that insist upon blinding themselves to the ever-mounting evidence [for it].”
– author of “Creationist Mindblocks to Whale Evolution

We hear the same thing repeated over and over again: “Creationists are stupid science-deniers because we have rejected and blinded ourselves to the overwhelming evidence for evolution. Evolution has been proven true, foolish anti-science lovers!” Yeah, I've heard it time and time again. But is the “mountain of evidence” for evolution really a mountain...or just the mirage of a mountain? Since, according to evolutionists, evolution happens far too slow us to see it in action today, evidence for evolution must come from the past, and as we can't directly observe what happened in the past, we can't apply the scientific method (true science) to the theory of evolution. Therefore evolutionists are forced to look at the fossil record, where we can see the long-dead remains of organisms that once lived on this planet.

Evolutionists, such as Brian Switek, insist that creationists deny what can “clearly” be seen in the fossil record. They regard creationists as ignoring the fossil evidence. How much of that is actually true? Has evolution been proven by the fossil record? The ultimate “proof” evolutionists like using to lend evidence to their case is to talk about transitional forms (otherwise known as the “missing links”). What exactly is a transitional form, or fossil? Well, according to the website Understanding Evolution, transitional forms are:
“Fossils or organisms that show intermediate states between an ancestral form and that of its descendants...There are numerous examples of transitional forms in the fossil record, providing an abundance of evidence for change over time.”
Really? How true is that statement? Well, over the years, several transitional fossils have been brought forth as the “overwhelming evidence” for evolution. Today, we are going to look at a few of the most popular and see just how well evolutionary thinking really stands up to the fossil evidence. Resources will be provided at the end of this post so that you may dig into deeper research.


Tiktaalik is supposed to be the missing link between fish and amphibians.
While far from being the first transitional form ever proposed, I figured this was the best place to start because this creature is one of the “oldest” transitional fossils in the fossil record. Tiktaalik roseae was a fish that we can find fossilized in the Devonian rock layers, usually dated about 375 million years ago. Growing three to nine feet long, it was discovered in Canada in 2006 and is believed by evolutionists to be the missing link between fish and amphibians.

This is where Tiktaalik was discovered.
What is their basis for this? Well, according to the evolutionary scientists, Tiktaalik had several adaptations for becoming the world's first “fish out of water”. The evidence for this that is presented is its had strong front fins, allegedly used haul itself out of the water and support its weight on land. To many atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, Tiktaalik was the transitional fossil they'd been looking for that was wonderfully in-between fish and amphibians. In fact, this fish has become so popular that you will often see the “walking fish” symbol on the bumpers of cars, on shirts and other places; there's even a popular song about it! Is all this evolutionary-hype really based on fossil evidence, or is this claim of “Tiktaalik, the walking fish” having a hard time standing up-and-out of the water under pressure? (Pun intended).

Was Tiktaalik really the "walking fish", or should that idea just walk right back into the water? (Pun intended)
What truths can we glean from the fossils of this extraordinary fish? Firstly, Tiktaalik's famous fins are not connected to the main skeleton. So how could it possibly hope to support its body on land? It couldn't! Evolutionists have tried to side-step this glaring problem by claiming that it instead used its fin for propping its body up as it moved across the water bottom. This is a nice story, but it also brings to mind what evolutionists were hoping would be the case in another type of fish called the coelocanth. This idea was based upon only mere fossils of coelocanth. But after the coelocanth was discovered in 1938, scientists found out the truth: coelocanths actually use their fins for steering as they swim and have never been observed using them to walk, even underwater!

The coelocanth was also once thought to use its fins for walking until the discovery of the living creature in 1938.
As if this wasn't enough, there's an even larger problem for calling Tiktaalik a transitional fossil. The problem concerns a fossil discovery made in 2010 of a clearly-quadrupedal amphibian trackway. Now, if this trackway had been found in rocks dated, say, 370 million years old, evolutionists would declare it to be magnificent evidence of evolution in action. But that's not the alleged age assigned to those tracks. The actual age is around 384 million years, nine million years before Tiktaalik came into existence! This means an amphibian was walking about on land before Tiktaalik (the transitional form between fish and amphibians) came on the scene. Few evolutionists seem to realize this fact. Since you can't be your grandfather's father, one must wonder why Tiktaalik is still considered proof of evolution.

The supposed evolution of fish to amphibians.
When looking at the actual fossil evidence, it looks like Tiktaalik just stopped (walking), dropped and rolled back into the water, where it was really designed to live. If Tiktaalik is considered one of the best proofs of evolution...what can be said for the other “proofs”?

Archaeopteryx and other “Dino-Birds”

Archaeopteryx has long been the poster boy for transitional forms.
It wasn't long after the discovery of the feathered bird Archaeopteryx in Germany, 1863, that biologists, including Thomas Huxley brought forth the idea that theropod (specifically maniraptoran) dinosaurs evolved into birds. Now I've already discussed the tremendous problems with the theory in this article, so I will only briefly discuss some of the issues here.

What is the evidence evolutionists use to insist such a claim? Most of this evidence has come from northeast China. As “evidence”, most evolutionists point to the similarities between maniraptoran dinosaurs and birds. The bird Archaeopteryx, and the “feathered dinosaurs” such as Microraptor and Anchiornis all have characteristics of birds, including feathered wings (Microraptor had a wing on each limb), and hollow bones, as well as characteristics generally associated with reptiles, such as teeth, fingered wings, bony tails, and no keel. There seems to be two genres of “feathered dinosaurs” that have been discoveries: dinosaurs preserved with what evolutionists call “protofeathers” and creatures with actual feathers, like the ones discussed above. Evolutionists seem to believe the debate upon whether theropods evolved into birds has already been settled; Brian Switek insists, “The mountain of evidence that birds are living dinosaurs...are among the most gorgeous examples of evolutionary change yet found”. But is this claim really just another feathery flight of fantasy?

Microraptor is allegedly a feathered dinosaur from China.
Despite all the hype about evidence for “feathered dinosaurs”, there is good reason to consider this claim based more upon wishful-thinking rather than on fossil evidence. For example, several scientists actually disagree with the common deduction that several “feathered” dinosaurs were actually feathered. Ornithologist (and evolutionist) Alan Feduccia deduces that the “protofeathers” on dinosaurs like Sinosauropteryx are nothing more than decayed parts of the dinosaur's skin called collagen fibres. Similar structures to the ones on Sinosauropteryx and other dinosaurs have been discovered on fossils of pterosaurs, ichthyosaurs, dinosaurs held to be unrelated to birds (e.g. Tianyulong confuciusi) and even a dead dolphin! So in summary, dinosaurs with “protofeathers” have most likely just been preserved with frayed collagen fibres.

This Sinosauropteryx is a close relative to Compsognathus, a small dinosaur found in Europe.
What about creatures with actual feathers (e.g. Microraptor, Archaeopteryx and Caudipteryx)? Some creationists have suggested these are dinosaurs with collagen fibres, but the structures seen on these animals are quite different from the alleged “protofeathers” seen on dinosaurs like Sinornithosaurus. Instead, these are clearly actual feathers. Many evolutionists consider Caudipteryx, Microraptor, and fairly recently, Archaeopteryx, nothing more than feathered dinosaurs. Is there a problem with this belief? You bet there is! After conducting a sophisticated analysis of such creatures, scientists such as Alan Feduccia (among others), concluded that “dinosaurs” with actual feathers are actually birds and not related to reptiles in the slightest. The bird-like characteristics clearly indicate they are birds; one such characteristic is the teeth of both Microraptor and Anchiornis which were bird teeth, not dinosaur teeth.

Caudipteryx and other feathered "dinosaurs" were actually birds. Caudipteryx itself was likely flightless.
Another large problem is the order of the fossils in the fossil record. If dinosaurs evolved into birds, one should expect to find a transition, like the alleged ones we often see depicting Australopithecus-to-man or Hyracotherium-to-Equus. But let's look at this a little more closely, shall we? Creatures like Archaeopteryx (which, until recently, was thee transitional form between dinosaur and birds), with fully-functional modern-like feathers, has been found in rock layers usually dated 150-148 million years old. So in layers below and therefore older than the ones possessing Archaeopteryx fossils, we should expect to find feathered dinosaurs, and in layers above and younger we should find more modern birds...right? That's not what we find in the fossil record! One of the deepest-buried creature with confirmed feathers we've found so far is Pedopenna, said to have lived 164 million years ago. This is an astounding 14 million years before Archaeopteryx! This also means, according to the theory of evolution, that feathers would had to have already evolved prior to 164 million years ago, and to date, most dinosaurs with “protofeathers” have been discovered in lower Cretaceous sediments, several tens of millions of years after feathers had evolved.

Thanks to findings of fossilized color pigments, we have evidence that Microraptor was at least partially black in color.
As I discussed in my previous article about dinosaur-to-bird evolution, the evidence for this claim is all but lacking.

Hyracotherium and the Equus

Horse evolution is clearly seen in the fossil record...or is it?
The evolution of the horse is one of the classic examples of “proof” for evolution. Several extinct species of horses have been discovered over the past century or so and evolutionists have used them to create a lineage. The tiny, dog-sized Hyracotherium, a creature not actually related to the horse, is at the beginning of the evolutionary line. Evolutionists believe horse evolution was driven primarily of the habitat change – as the climate became less forested, drier and more open/plains-like, the horse evolved larger, lost its original number of toes and over a period of millions of years, it evolved into Equus: the modern horse.

Hyracotherium is supposed to be the first phase of horse evolution.
Once again, I will demonstrate the glaring problems with this idea. Firstly, evolutionists believe horses lost their toes as they evolved larger and more adapted to life on the open plains: Hyracotherium and other early horses (the “slightly more evolved” Eohippus) had four toes in the front and three toes in the back. Equus has only one toe on each foot. So, evolutionists present us with the evolutionary lineage of the horse: Hyracotherium, Eohippus, Orohippus, Epihippus, Mesohippus, Miohippus, Parahippus, Merychippus, Pliohippus and finally Equus. Is this evolution in action? Or were the scientists who originally proposed this theory unknowingly horsing around?

This is the skull of Pliohippus.
Unfortunately for evolutionary thinkers, the problems with this evolutionary line are as alarming as a herd of galloping horses. If the horse sequence were correct, you would expect Hyracotherium to be found beneath rock layers containing Eohippus, which would be beneath Orohippus, which is underneath Epihippus...etc. In other words, you would except to see these horses getting larger and loosing toes the higher you go up the geologic rock layers. This is anything but the case. In fact, many of these horses are actually seen to be living at the same time (according to the evolutionists'!). For example, Hyracotherium, Eohippus and Orohippus  lived at the same time as Epihippus! Mesohippus and Miohippus appear in the fossil record as the same time as Merychippus and Parahipus. It is interesting to note that, save a few exceptions, most of the other horses I mentioned (Parahippus, Merychippus, Pliohippus, Equus and possibly Miohippus) all coexisted at same time! To make matters worse, Hyracotherium fossils have been discovered in Pliocene rock layers, when most of their fossils are found in those of the Eocene. These Pliocene Hyracotherium fossils are usually considered to have been uncovered and reburied in Pliocene sediments by evolutionists, even though there is no sign of them being redeposited.

Hyracotherium wasn't even a species of horse!


Whale evolution is commonly regarded as the best evidence for evolution.
Up until fairly recently, creationists pointed out that evolutionists had no answer for the question of how whales evolved. Over the past few decades, fossil discoveries have allowed evolutionists to (attempt) to fight back. In fact, the evolution of the whales is claimed to be one of the best examples of evolution in action. Evolutionists believe whales evolved from land mammals such as the Pakicetus. Over a period of around 9-15 million years, it evolved into a semi-aquatic creature and eventually into a fully-aquatic one that we call the whale. The lineage of land mammal to whale, according to this website, goes something like this: Pakicetus (land mammal), Ambulocetus (semi-aquatic mammal), Kutchicetus (semi-aquatic), Rodhocetus (semi-aquatic) and Dorudon and Basilosaurus (both fully-aquatic).

Did whales like Basilosaurus really evolve from small, furry, land mammals?
Have evolutionists really proven their case against creationists? Is the theory of whale evolution really as clear-cut at evolutionists want us to think? Or is this another whale-of-a-tale? Well, let's use some logic. In order for a land mammal like Pakicetus to evolve thrive as an aquatic mammal like Basilosaurus, several changes would have to occur. Whales have:

  • Enormous lungs that can hold their breath for a very long time
  • A powerful, horizontal tail fluke
  • Eyes that can see with great clarity underwater and can withstand high pressure
  • Ears for hearing underwater and with an eardrum protected from high pressure
  • Nostrils on top of the head

Now, evolution is propelled forward by chance-random processes – primarily gene mutations and natural selection. Therefore, whale evolution is depending upon new genetic information for tail flukes, a blowhole and other aquatic-adaptations to come about by pure accident. This Creation Ministries International's article sums up the problems with this idea pretty well:

“One thing to note [about whale evolution] is the lack of time for the vast number of changes to occur by mutation and [natural] selection. If mutation results in a new gene, for this new gene to replace the old gene in a population, the individuals carrying the old gene must be eliminated, and this take time. Population genetics calculations suggest that in 5 million years (one million years longer than the alleged time between Ambulocetus and Rodhocetus), animals with generation lines of about ten years (typical of whales) could substitute no more than 1,700 mutations. This is not nearly enough to generate new information that whales need for aquatic life, even assuming that all the hypothetical information-adding mutations required for this could somehow arise.”

Pakicetus was a small wolf-like animal.
So what about the whale evolution sequence itself? Let's start at the best place to start – the beginning. Even though initially thought to be semi-aquatic, Pakicetus shows no adaptations to living a semi-aquatic lifestyle. In fact, it is clearly terrestrial and the only feature that associates it to whales is mainly the structure of a bone called the auditory bulla. Ambulocetus, the next creature in the sequence. The skeleton of this beautifully-designed mammal was rather incomplete, so many of those so-called whale-like features claimed as evidence that Ambulocetus was a whale-ancestor have not been found, including the hip bones. It has been claimed that it had an inner ear structure much like that of a modern whale, but this is really not the case; they are quite different in design. In addition to this, Ambulocetus fossils have been found in rock layers above actual, undisputed aquatic whales.

Ambulocetus might have been semi-aquatic, but it was no whale-in-the-making!
Problems don't stop here – Rodhocetus has often been portrayed as a semi-aquatic creature, complete with flippered-feeth and a tail fluke – a creature evolving into a marine mammal. But as with Ambulocetus, Rodhocetus remains that have been found are far from complete. In fact, no tail fossils were found; thus, there is no evidence for a tail fluke. Now foot bones have been found since the initial discovery, but when asked about how it is known Rodhocetus had flippered feet, this animal's discoverer, Dr. Philip Gingerich is quoted for saying, “Since then we have found the forelimbs, the hands, and the front arms of Rodhocetus, and we understand that it doesn't have the kind of arms that can spread out like flippers on whales”. So in summary, Rodhocetus lacked the two features that “proved” it was evolving into an aquatic beast were not present. Finally, we reach fully-aquatic creatures like Dorodon and Basilosaurus. These animals are considered to be whale ancestors mainly because they possess tiny rear leg bones. Evolutionists believe that this is because these creatures were slowly “evolving away” these features. But these legs were so small that they were useless for walking; instead, they were probably used to clasp onto the other sexual partner during copulation.

Rodhocetus is an early whale...I'm totally convinced! Yeah, right.
In summary, evidence for whale evolution has been formed primarily upon incomplete fossil discoveries and lots of speculation. Hm...if this is the best-yet evidence for evolution, evolutionists might want to consider re-thinking their theory.

Basilosaurus and other whales were designed for life in the ocean.
Australopithecus and Mankind

Australopithecus is supposed to be the missing link between ape and mankind.
No compilation of alleged transitional forms would be complete without bringing up the so-called evidence for evolution of man from apes. To clear up any confusion, evolutionists do not believe humans evolved from chimpanzees (so using the “if we evolved from chimps, why are there still chimps today?” argument is a bad idea). Evolutionists actually believed we evolved from apes that lived roughly 3 million years ago in Africa called Australopithecus, that swung down from the trees, the ancestral home of primates and evolved the ability to walk upright; later, apes increased brain size and developed a taste for meat. As with the whale evolution sequence, there is also claimed to be a clear-cut sequence from apes to humans that goes something like this: Ardipithecus, Australopithecus, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Homo antecessor, Homo heidelbergensis and Homo sapiens, our own species. (contrary to popular belief, neanderthals are considered to be a sister or cousin species of Homo sapiens, by both evolutionists and creationists, not an ancestor).

Evolutionists often emphasize human features on fossil apes to make them more human, ignoring the loads of ape-like features.
How does the story stack up to the evidence? Well, much of this evolutionary story hinges the belief that apes such as Australopithecus could walk upright, like humans. As we can't observe an Australopithecus take a bipedal stroll, we must look at the fossil evidence. One of the initial “evidences” evolutionists used to “prove” Australopithecus walked upright was the knee joint, supposedly human-like in structure. However, there is much evidence to suggest that Australopithecus is really just a knuckle-walking ape. After conducting scientific studies on Australopithecus fossils, several scientists have noticed that much of its skeleton was very ape-like, especially its long, curved fingers and toes (they were even more long and curved than a chimpanzee, a very arboreal ape) and the skull, which lacks the bony ridge found in the human nose, but not in apes. Even the hand and fingers themselves were very much like a knuckle-walking ape. Granted, there are several differences from Australopithecus and most modern knuckle-walking apes, but it appears that this species was merely a unique species of ape designed for a unique lifestyle. Also, there is evidence for bipedal walking in species allegedly more human-like and that lived earlier than Australopithecus, such as Orrorin tugenensis.

The Laetoli footprints were made by a human being living at the same time as Australopithecus.
What about other members of the Homo genus, such as Homo erectus? Are these “ape-men” in the process of evolving? Not at all! Despite initial beliefs, the members of the Homo genus (e.g. erectus, neanderthals and Cro-magnon) I mentioned two paragraphs ago are just humans. Just like us, they were capable of making fire, hunting and butchering tools, and quite likely even seafaring vessels. They also buried their dead. No primitive “ape-man” brute can do all that! Not only that, but despite the fact that there are similarities present, ape fossils and human fossils are quite easy to tell apart in the fossil record.

Neanderthals, cro-magnon and Homo erectus were just ancient people!

This article doesn't cover nearly a quarter of the information proposed in evolutionary internet articles, books and other sources. Evolutionist claims will continue to pop up on a regular basis. However, as creationists, I urge you to take them all with a  pinch of salt, because they are never as solid as they seem on the outside. As I continue to research more and more about these “transitional forms”, I realize a pattern emerges: most transitional forms are proclaimed loud and clear as the latest evidence for evolution based upon fragmentary and speculative evidence. Then, after the hype dies down, a few years pass until 1) new fossil discoveries reveal this “transitional fossil” can't really be what it was originally claimed to be or 2) another fossil of a transitional form will override the previous discovery. It happens almost every single time! If proof of evolution in the fossil record is so apparent, why must they keep switching out transitional fossils for other, “better” ones? Is it possible that they don't exist at all?

Of course, in light of several of the issues with “transitional fossils” I've displayed, some evolutionists will argue that the fossil record is incomplete, so we shouldn't expect to find every fossil in the right sequence. That's true, but compared to all the “complete” creatures we've discovered, the number of “transitionals”, all of which are controversial, even among evolutionists. If evolution were true, we should expect even more transitional fossils than we do complete ones!

So what of these creatures with features that are usually used as “proof” that they are transitional? Don't these similarities mean they are related to each other? Not at all! Think about the duck-billed platypus, a mammal that lays eggs and has a beak like a duck and webbed feet and flattened tail like a beaver. It has features of several different kinds of animals, just like Archaeopteryx, Tiktaalik, Australopithecus and Ambulocetus. But no one suggests the platypus is related to ducks or beavers. The best way to describe such creatures is to refer to them as “mosaics”. This is exactly what we expect to find in light of Genesis 1:21 and Genesis 1:25:
“So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:21.
“God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:25.
As you can see, God created all the different “kinds” (usually referring to the “family” level of classification rather than “species” or “genus”) of creatures to reproduce after their own kind; in other words, all other creatures that descended from these “created kinds” were of the same “kind” of animal. Animals were not supposed to change from one kind into a completely different kind, and this is just what we see today and in the fossil record. Therefore, creatures with features similar to other kinds of animals don't show evolution, but rather, the creativity of God, our Creator.

Archaeopteryx and other "transitional fossils" were really just mosaics rather than transitional.

Disclaimer: Many (or in some cases all) of the photographs and images above are not mine. If you own one or more of them and would like them to be removed, politely let me know via my email address.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Rerun Article: Coloring the Terrible Lizards!

Not much happened this past week. However, I will say that I am shocked by just how much time has passed this year already. It's mid-March for crying out loud! Not only that, but today is the first day of spring. Where did January, February and most of March go already? Looks like we better get started before the day gets away from us!

Days till:
It is: SPRINGTIME!!! (though it's hot like summer-time here in Utah!)
It is: 9 days till Palm Sunday
It is: 12 days till April Fool's Day
It is: 16 days till Easter Sunday

In the Spotlight:
Not much to say on Jurassic World today. I will draw your attention to the fact that the Lego Jurassic World game's trailer however was just released a few days ago. It's a pretty cool game! Not only does it focus on the plots of Jurassic Park 1, 2, and 3, but also on the fourth film! Here is the trailer below:

In other Jurassic World news, there is a rumor floating around the internet that the next Jurassic World trailer will be released sometime today. Others think it will merely be the Super Bowl TV spot redubbed in German. I guess we'll have to wait and see!

Earlier this week, actress Cozi Zuehlsdorff (Dolphin Tale, Dolphin Tale 2), who, if you know me well, is my favorite actor, could be heard on a newly released song from Hellburg, called "The Girl". Cozi co-wrote and performed the song for the soundtrack! Her voice is awesome! Check out the song below:

Topic of the Week by Christian Ryan
Dinosaurs are some of the most awe-inspiring creatures ever to walk the earth. You've probably seen hundreds of them in books, television, toy shops, museums and theme parks. You might think you know what they look like. But did you know that just about every dinosaur you've ever seen is a work of fiction? I mean, we don't even know what color these animals were. For years, the trail was cold. Why? Well because first of all, while we have a lot of dinosaur fossils – stone copies of long dead bones – dinosaur fossilized skin isn't that common. And when it's found, the coloration is gone. So scientists have had to guess.

So what factors would possibly determine what color dinosaurs were? Knowing what habitat they lived in definitely helps. Maybe a dinosaur living in a forest would have spots for camouflage or a predatory dinosaur might have stripes like a tiger to conceal itself from its prey until the attack. But that's all scientists used to be able to do – guess! They had no sure way of knowing what color the dinosaurs were. Scientists were sure that the color of the dinosaurs would never be revealed. I mean, it can't right, considering the coloration of the skin is gone . . . right? Not anymore!

In 2010, a paleontologist named Fucheng Zhang and his colleagues completed their studies of a little dinosaur called Sinornithosaurus. What they discovered would totally change the way we view these animals. Pigment in hair, fur and feathers comes from microscopic cells called melanosomes. What color you are depends on the shape of the melanosomes in the skin/feathers/fur. Zhang believed that if these structures appeared in the cells of the  extinct animals when they were alive, they should also appear in the fossils. He was correct! By comparing the melanosomes in Sinosauropteryx with living animals, he was able to determine the color of this dinosaur when it was alive! For the first time in thousands of years, dinosaurs can be depicted in their real colors, so what color was Sinosauropteryx? Well, based on this study Sinosauropteryx is believed to have been reddish-brown with ginger-colored bands on its tail.

Sinosauropteryx - by comparing the melanosomes genes found in the fossils of this dinosaur with modern animals, scientists were able to learn the true color of this animal.
What could these have been used for? Well, perhaps these striped tails could be used to signal to other Sinosauropteryx or to attract mates. We may never know, but we can always guess. In recent years, scientists have begun to look at other extinct dinosaurs and birds to see what colors they were. Let's look at a few of these creatures that have just been given a touch of true coloration!

Sinornithosaurus is probably a member of the dromaeosaur family (this group contains animals such as Deinonychus and the ever-popular Velociraptor). This dinosaur's coloration was revealed at the same time as Sinosauropteryx's was, and the study revealed that Sinornithosaurus was probably a mixture of browns, yellows, reds and blacks – perfect coloration for a life hunting in the ancient, pre-flood forests of China. This dinosaur has another deadly secret – a recent study not only suggests this was a colorful and dangerous predator, but also a venomous one at that! Stay clear of this dinosaur!

Sinornithosaurus - God designed this possibly venomous animal with the perfect  body colors to help it blend into the forests it lived in. (Please note that we have no evidence for feathers on this dinosaur)
The skeleton of Sinornithosaurus
Dinosaurs aren't the only ones getting colored up. Prehistoric birds are getting a make-over too.   Anchiornis was the prehistoric version of a roadrunner – it had long legs that were perfect for running and, despite being a bird, it had a sickle-shaped claw on each foot like a dromaeosaur. Most of this bird's feathers were black and gray, but the Mohawk-like feathers on its head were a rusty, orange-reddish color.

Anchiornis - the prehistoric version of a road-runner. With a pair of sickle-shaped claws on its feet, black and white body feathers and rusty-colored Mohawk-like feathers on its head, this bird was built to impress!
At about the size of a raven, the bird known as Archaeopteryx, is perhaps one of the most famous of the extinct birds (next to the Dodo bird). After looking at the microscopic melanosomes in 2011, graduate student Ryan Carney and his colleagues discovered it was mostly black. While the study doesn't prove that it was 100% black, it still makes the older paintings of Archaeopteryx as a colorful creature obsolete.

Archaeopteryx - this bird was created on Day 5 of the Creation week 6,000 years ago with stunning black feathers. Black feathers suggests this bird was diurnal.
This painting of an Archaeopteryx is inaccurate because this bird is now known to have been at least partially/mostly black.
Discovered in 2000, Microraptor (like Archaeopteryx and Anchiornis) is considered by most evolutionists to be a dinosaur that is evolving into a bird. However, creationists (like myself, even though I don't have a PhD, so I guess you could call me an “amateur, unofficial scientist”) and know that this animal is in fact a prehistoric bird, with clawed hands, a sickle-shaped claw on each foot and a tooth-filled jaw. Like ArchaeopteryxMicroraptor has often been depicted as a colorful animal, but in 2012, Dr. Quanguo Li and his team uncovered the truth: Microraptor was probably a black, iridescent color, much like the modern blackbird. Perhaps this bird used its feathers for communication or sexual display, like modern iridescent birds.

Microraptor - this bird is now known to be black in color
Up until 2013, extinct animal coloration studies were done on small animals that had either feathers, in the case of MicroraptorAnchiornis and Archaeopteryx, or collagen fibers (not feathers), in the case of Sinosauropteryx and Sinornithosaurus. But scientists finally found out that they might be able to know about the coloration of other, larger, more familiar dinosaurs. Recently, a piece of Cretaceous fossilized hadrosaur (duck-billed dinosaur) skin was found in Alberta, Canada. This find is amazing only because it's rare, but also because it's three-dimensional – many other “skin” specimens are just skin imprints. Many scientists are hoping that those little melanosomes are still in this piece of skin so they will be able to tell what color this dinosaur might have been. Physicist Mauricio Barbie is quoted for saying, “As we excavated the fossil, I thought that we were looking at a skin impression. Then I noticed a piece came off and I realized this is not ordinary-this is real skin.”

As I said earlier, learning the color pigments of prehistoric birds and dinosaurs is nothing new, but this is the very first time it will be done with actual dinosaur skin (remember, the study on Sinornithosaurus and Sinosauropteryx . . .). This hadrosaur is not the only dinosaur being tested for melanosomes however, a Tyrannosaurus rex nicknamed “Scotty” is also being a analyzed. Wouldn't it be great to know the real color of the most famous dinosaur of all time?

Evolutionists are always puzzled when new discoveries are made dealing with fossils that have been so inquisitively preserved, from the intricate feathers of a Microraptor to the 3D piece of hadrosaur skin, because they would have needed to have been buried very quickly to be preserved so well. These scientists date these animals based on which fossil layers they've been found in and are often dated to being millions of years old; within biblical, Flood-model geology however, “many of the fossil-containing rock layers can be best understood to reflect the order of burial during the global Flood, which”* that occurred less than 4,500 (probably closer to 4,350) years ago. So the supposed date assigned to the fossils we mentioned today (e.g. the hadrosaur skin specimen is dated around 70 million years old in the secular worldview) are mere flights of fantasy.

A possible coloration for the hadrosaur known at Edmontosaurus

A possible coloration for Tyrannosaurus rex
I sure hope that  melanosomes have survived in hadrosaur and tyrannosaurus specimens. Wouldn't it be great to know what color these animals might have been when they once lived on this earth? I'll be sure to keep you posted on the latest news of this amazing find as we delve deeper and deeper into the literal Planet of the Dinosaurs!

Wow! Who knew fossils could give us so much information about these extinct animals, now we have even begun to unravel their colors! What color do YOU think Tyrannosaurus and hadrosaurs were? Please come back next week where we can learn more about the wonderful world God has created for us to live in. Bye for now!

Disclaimer: Many (or in some cases all) of the photographs and images above are not mine. If you own one or more of them and would like them to be removed, politely let me know via my email address,

Friday, March 13, 2015

Sauropods - Giants Among Saurians

Brrr! I'm still shivering from yesterday. What did I do yesterday? Well, you might recall that my family is heading up the next drama called Victory at the Cross that will be playing in the Dixie Center in St. George, Utah, and it is about Jesus Christ's death, burial and resurrection and how these important events are still changing the lives of sinners worldwide today. The drama will feature three real-life testimonies acted out by three different actors, as well as a portrayal of Jesus' death and resurrection. The only thing that will not be live is the portrayal of Jesus' death. That's because it was filmed on site in Arizona and will be shown on a big screen from a monitor. As usual, my Dad portrayed Jesus, and I was the thief that repented on the cross. Let me tell you, being without a shirt, bloodied up with make-up and in the Arizonan desert in middle March on a windy day was ridiculously cold! Brrr! Not to mention all that make-up used to create my wounds was a pain to take off. But I did it all for the love of Christ, who suffered way more than I did yesterday.

Days till:
It is: 4 days till St. Patrick's Day
It is: 7 days till Springtime begins
It is: 19 days till April Fool's Day

In the Spotlight:
Remember when it was originally reported that actor Omar Sy was cast in Jurassic World as a friend of Owen Grady (Chris Pratt)? Well, it's been several months since that report and we've heard nothing more about Sy's role in the film...until last week. In a recent interview, Colin Trevorrow, the director, revealed a deeper description of the role he will play in the film:
"I wrote the role especially for Omar, I'm a huge fan, I spent a lot of time in France, my wife is French. He has a bigger role than you think - he works for Chris Pratt and is also a Raptor tamer. When Chris, who's in charge, is done with training the Velociraptors, Omar brings them to their cage and takes care of them, checking their teeth, these kind of things. He has a very special relationship with them. There's a great scene with Vincent D'Onofrio when Omar speaks French to the Raptors and Vincent pretends to understand what he's saying. I have not tried to Americanize him - he is French and has a great action scene. Everything he does results in a close relationship with the Velociraptors." - Colin Trevorrow

So now we know that Owen Grady is not the only one "training" the raptors! Now keep in mind, when they say that they are "training" and "taming" the Velociraptors, Trevorrow has already confirmed that they won't be doing things like playing fetch or jumping through hoops. It isn't that type of training or taming. Instead, they are being worked with to better understand the dangerous relationship between raptors and man to better understand how they work and think. I just wanted to point that out. Anyway, digressing Omar Sy appears in the Super Bowl trailer. I completely missed him before, but here is a screenshot below:

In additional news, Bryce Dallas Howard, who portrays Claire Dearing in the film, has spoken positively about her experience filming Jurassic World:

"That trailer is extremely fun. Everything about doing Jurassic World was a dream come true. I did an ADR session the other day and it’s looking sensational!" - Bryce Dallas Howard

"I would have played a tree in the background if they asked me to! It's hard to choose the biggest highlight because it was my first movie back after having my daughter and I was just pinching myself the whole time because I couldn't believe how lucky I was. Jurassic Park is so iconic and getting to be a part of that in any way is astonishing." - Bryce Dallas Howard

"My scariest moment is hard without giving too much of the plot away, but I will say this: relaunching an iconic franchise is terrifying for all involved. There's just so much to live up to. If you get it right though, it's thrilling." - Bryce Dallas Howard

All this makes me very excited about seeing Bryce Dallas Howard and the other characters in Jurassic World in 89 days!!!

In even more additional news, the sequel to Frozen, Frozen Fever, is coming out in theaters today!

Topic of the Week by Christian Ryan

The skeleton of an Apatosaurus.
Dinosaurs – when we think of the word, reptiles of monstrous proportions usually come to our mind. While most dinosaurs were no larger than a bison, several of them grew to massive sizes. The largest of them all are called “sauropods”, or “lizard-footed”. Often simply referred to as “long-necks”, these amazing creatures are not only the largest dinosaurs, but also the largest terrestrial animals God ever created! There's a lot more to the herbivorous sauropods than what meets the eye, so let's delve into this world of these Jurassic (and Cretaceous) giants to learn more!

The size of these great sauropods was incredible. Some of the most well-known species include Apatosaurus, Diplodocus and the even larger Brachiosaurus. However, Argentinosaurus is believed to have been the largest (or at least one of the largest), at anywhere between 75-130 feet long and weighing about 100 tons. As land-dwelling animals, we know God created these behemoths the same day He created other dinosaurs, on Day 6 of the Creation week. Our all-knowing Creator knew to make sauropods specially designed for large size because they would need special features and behaviors to enable them to grow so large.

Sauropods were the largest animals ever to walk the earth. Here are the largest known species ( the size estimates of Amphicoelias are extremely controversial; however, it was not likely as large as shown in this picture.)
Let's start at the head. Sauropods have relatively small heads with equally small brains (you don't need to be particularly smart when you spend your days consuming plants) small peg-like teeth at the front – they had no chewing teeth. Connected to the head was a long neck. Diplodocus had a neck around 20 feet long! Because they were so large, sauropods need strong legs to hold their bodies up, almost elephant-like in their design. To top it all off, they also have a long tail; in many species such as Apatosaurus, the tail was whip-like and over 30 feet long. Most sauropods were constructed rather like a suspension bridge; the tail helped to counterbalance the weight of the long neck and vise versa.

Diplodocus is one of the longest sauropods, stretching 112 feet in length!
Sauropods came in all shapes and sizes. Here is a short list of several species:

Apatosaurus primarily fed upon low-growing ferns and cycads.
Apatosaurus is one of the most well-known of sauropods. It lived in western Pre-Flood North America and its fossils have been discovered in the Morrison Formation. On average, these dinosaurs grew 75 feet long or so and weighed around 18 tons (but recent discoveries have revealed Apatosaurus might have grown up to 90 feet long and weighed anywhere between 30-80 tons!). It is a member of the diplodocid family and a close relative of Diplodocus. This dinosaur was once known as the ever-popular Brontosaurus. Unfortunately for fans of Brontosaurus, it never existed, as its fossil remains were actually comprised of both Apatosaurus and Camarasaurus.

Camarasaurus was the most common species of sauropod found in the Morrison Formation.
Camarasaurus is the most common sauropod species in the Morrison Formation (Apatosaurus being the second) and lived alongside giants such as Apatosaurus, Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus. It was a relative of Brachiosaurus, but at 75 feet long and 51 tons, it was slightly smaller. Its head was much more boxy than that of diplodocids.

Brachiosaurus was one of the largest dinosaurs, weighing up to 62 tons! It could browse upon tree-leaves few others could reach.
Famous for its appearance in Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III, Brachiosaurus is one of the largest dinosaurs in North America. Its fossils have been discovered in the Morrison Formation. A full-grown Brachiosaurus weighed 62 tons, was about 85 feet long and stood 40-50 feet tall! Its immense height enabled it to eat from trees no other animals in its ecosystem could reach. Unusual for sauropods, Brachiosaurus and its relatives have longer front legs than back legs – this is obviously a feature that better enables them to reach their long 20+-foot necks into the tree tops.

Saltasaurus was covered in bony armor to protect itself from predators.
At 39 feet long and eight tons, Saltasaurus was far from being the largest member of the sauropod group. It is likely that you noticed Saltasaurus' several rows of bony scutes on its back. These were to help protect the animal if it were ever attacked by predators, like the ferocious Carnotaurus. Saltasaurus is native to pre-Flood Cretaceous South America.

Mamenchisaurus' neck was over 30 feet long!
Sauropods are famous for having long necks, but the Chinese Mamenchisaurus had an extremely lengthy neck in proportion to the rest of its body, even by sauropod standards! Out of its 60-foot length, half of that was in fact its neck! This dinosaur lived in a Jurassic pre-Flood habitat.

Dreadnoughtus is the largest dinosaur that we have a relatively complete skeleton of. IMAGE CREDITS
Dreadnoughtus is the most recently discovered sauropod in this list, as it was only scientifically described last year! Upon its discovery, it was announced as the largest dinosaur ever found from a relatively complete skeleton. It was 85 feet long and weighed up to 65 tons! Straight from South America, this dinosaur's name means “fearing nothing”; a perfect name for an animal that, as a healthy adult, had no natural predators.

Argentinosaurus is the largest dinosaurs we know of. It weighed almost 100 tons!
Argentinosaurus is estimated to be far larger than Dreadnoughtus, but the fossil remains of this dinosaur discovered so far are not nearly as complete. It and Dreadnoughtus were relations to Saltasaurus, and all three species made their home in pre-Flood South America. Argentinosaurus stretched 75-115 feet from nose to tail and it weighed up to 100 tons or so.

Magyrasaurus was one of the smallest sauropods, only the size of a pony.
Even though this sauropod was a close relative to Argentinosaurus, Dreadnoughtus and Saltasaurus, it was far smaller. In fact, Magyrasaurus was only 20 feet long from nose to tail and 1 ton in weight – the size of a pony! This means it was at least 75 times smaller than Argentinosaurus. This sauropod was discovered in Romania, in Europe and was dug up from Cretaceous sediments. Several other species of dinosaurs from this region had smaller size than their close relatives, including Rhabdodon (an ornithopod) and Struthiosaurus (a nodosaur). Preying upon these creatures included predators such as Tarascasaurus (an abeliasaur), Balaur (a double-sickle-clawed relation to Velociraptor) and the gigantic pterosaur (flying reptile) Hatzegopteryx.

Magyrasaurus lived in a world of dwarfs.
Fossils of sauropods have been discovered on every continent (including Antarctica) and are found throughout Jurassic and, to a lesser extent, Cretaceous rock layers that were deposited in the Genesis Flood. When the first sauropod fossils were discovered, scientists believed they were too large to support themselves on land. Therefore, they must have lived in aquatic habitats, like the hippopotamus. In the 19th and early 20th century, sauropods were portrayed as sluggish, lazy beasts that slugged through mucky swamps. This idea was also supported by the belief that sauropods like Brachiosaurus had nostrils on the tops of their heads so they could remain completely submerged, save the tops of their skulls, just like many largely aquatic animals today (like crocodiles and hippos). But this all changed in the 1950's when paleontologists discovered that if Brachiosaurus (which could grow 40-50 feet tall) and other sauropods submerged themselves in water that deep, their lungs and airway would have collapsed under the immense pressure. In addition to this, scientists have also found that most of the bones in a sauropods body were hollow, meaning they would have been too buoyant to submerge themselves in the water. Also, scientists have realized that sauropods likely did not have nostril openings high on the skull, but rather they were more toward the end of the snout.

It was once thought that sauropods had to wallow in swamps because they couldn't support themselves on land. This has been disproven.
During the Dinosaur Renaissance scientists further studied the fossils of sauropods and found out that they were very incapable of an aquatic lifestyle. Even their very legs were designed to support their girth on land. However, sauropods were still able to swim. We know this because some fossil footprints have been discovered to preserve only the forefoot impressions.

Sauropod footprints were large, some being the size of truck tires!
One problem posed by the sauropods' great size was finding enough food to eat with their diminutive-sized head. How did they eat enough to sustain themselves with a head so small? Well, first we have to know how much sauropods would have needed to eat (the exact amount would have varied between species and individuals of different sizes). Scientists calculations suggest that a 77-ton Brachiosaurus would have needed to consume 260 lbs of plant matter a day. Behemoths such as Argentinosaurus  were even larger and probably needed more food! Of course, long before paleontologists came around, God already had the the solution: eliminate the need to chew. These dinosaurs, as I mentioned before, lacked chewing teeth and only possessed peg-like teeth at the front of the jaws. The shape and wear on the teeth indicate that sauropods stripped vegetation off of plants and swallowed. Stones, called gastroliths, were swallowed by the sauropods that ground up the food in their gut.

Sauropods stripped vegetation with their peg-like teeth. The plant matter was then ground up in their gut by gastroliths they had swallowed earlier.

Specifically what did sauropods eat anyway? There is no one answer to this question, because different species of sauropods dined on different types of plants. Some, like Brachiosaurus probably ate from the tallest of trees using their upward-angled necks. Diplodocids such as Apatosaurus and Diplodocus itself seemed to have been incapable of reaching high into tall trees and likely stuck to dining on low-growing ferns and cycads. Relatively recently, fossilized sauropod dung was discovered containing grass. None of these foods were particularly nutritious, which was why sauropods probably spent most of their lives eating.

Some macronarian sauropods, such as Brachiosaurus and the pair of Euhelopus portrayed above, were browsers, eating vegetation from tall trees.
Scientists are unsure why the sauropods grew so large. Some believe that it was so their size alone could fend off nasty predatory dinosaurs. While it was true that their size did keep them safe from most carnivores, several were probably more than happy to try to attack one of these awesome giants. One such predator that we know at least fed on sauropods is the Allosaurus (fossil bite marks of Allosaurus have been discovered embracing Apatosaurus bones). It's likely that even the largest of sauropods, like Argentinosaurus would have been in danger of predators like Giganotosaurus and Mapusaurus when young, injured or old. How did sauropods defend themselves from such attackers? Well, they could certainly squash a predator underneath their huge feet. They also had long tails. Scientists looked at the tails of diplodocids like Apatosaurus have noticed they are incredibly whip-like. While not likely often used to physically harm an attacker, paleontologists believe that a diplodocid could swish its tail through the air to create a whip-like cracking sound. The sound is believed to have been as loud as 200 decibels – that's about the same produced by a firing cannon! A noise like this would definitely have scared many carnivores away.

Apatosaurus could likely create a whip-lashing noise to scare off predators.
For a long time, the reproductive habits of sauropods were virtually unknown. This all changed in the late 1990's when paleontologists in Argentina discovered a vast nesting ground filled with the fossilized nests, eggs and even embryos. The embryos were still encased in their tough egg shells and even possessed fossilized skin. These nests were probably made sometime during the Genesis Flood and were eventually covered in sediment before the babies hatched and later fossilized. Other fossil egg clutches that have been found don't seem to have been laid in a nest. In fact, it seems as if the eggs were laid as the mother sauropod was walking! It is likely that the mother was desperately trying to escape the rising Flood waters, but was unable to hold her eggs within her body any longer. She quickly laid them and they were covered with water and sediment.

Here, you can see the fossils of a baby titanosaur sauropod still inside of its egg.
Despite their size as adults, sauropods hatched from rather small eggs – only a bit larger than a football. After hatching, microscopic studies of the bones of these animals indicates they were fast growers! Apatosaurus are believed to reach a near-adult size of 18-30 tons in only about 10 years! And from a measly 11 pounds, baby Argentinosaurus put on 75 tons in weight by the time they reached the age of 40. This massive influx of growth is similar to a teenage growth spurt in humans. At the peak of their growth, Argentinosaurus put on 88 pounds every day! In order to fuel this growth, the sauropods needed to feed. Fossils reveal sauropods are born complete with a set of teeth so that upon hatching, they could start their lifetime of eating.

Baby Apatosaurus reached an adult size of 18-30 tons in only about 10 years!
Several fossil trackways suggest that sauropods lived in herds consisting of both adults and their young (usually juveniles one-third of the adult size). Living in herds would have helped keep these animals safe from predators.

Sauropods were some of the largest and most beautiful creatures in God's creation. They are unique in their design. What else could we expect to see in creatures created by our amazing, unique Jehovah God?
Sauropods are one of God's grandest achievements!


Disclaimer: Many (or in some cases all) of the photographs and images above are not mine. If you own one or more of them and would like them to be removed, politely let me know via my email address.