Was There Really a “Land before Time”?

What else is buried alongside dinosaurs?

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“Once upon this same earth, beneath this same sun, long before you, before the ape and the elephant, as well; before the wolf, the bison, the whale, before the mammoth and the mastodon, in the time of the dinosaurs.”

So started the introduction of The Land Before Time, the very popular 1988 animated children’s movie that featured a cast of cute, juvenile dinosaurs lead by “Littlefoot” (an adolescent Brontosaurus), who venture out on a long journey and must overcome several obstacles and challenges, including the vicious Tyrannosaurus rex called “Sharptooth”!

It became quite popular and spawned a whole series of interconnected movies, a TV series, video games, soundtracks, and all sorts of toys, T-shirts, and other merchandising. Like most depictions of dinosaurs for children, it captured then, and still does now, the imaginations of many young minds and promotes and reinforces popular evolutionary concepts like “deep time” and a progression of life.

From its opening sequence, it begins. As the authoritative-sounding narrator says; “Same earth, but ‘long before you’” . . . (establish long ages). Next creature mentioned? “Before the ape” . . . (reinforce the ape to man concept). Then mention a group of other mammals, and insert the dinosaurs before that (progression of life).

As if the so-called scientific textbooks I’d perused as a child had somehow been animated into a simple plotline, this classic evolutionary portrait of dinosaurs is exactly what had been taught in our state schools here in Canada long before this series of movies appeared. The books I read as a kid usually had pictures depicting a group of dinosaurs sitting in the backdrop of an exotic, tropical forest, with a volcano spewing lava in the background. Usually there were various flying reptiles hovering around, but there would almost always be no mammals in sight.

Little did I realize how this would later shape my metaphysical outlook on life or the theological implications of accepting a story where a creator was not required.

I was enraptured with this idea of there being a world long ago when dinosaurs ruled the earth! Little did I realize how this would later shape my metaphysical outlook on life or the theological implications of accepting a story where a creator was not required. I just dove into the rabbit hole of evolutionary thought full on, wanting to discover what the “experts” had discovered about the past.

As my reading material became more sophisticated, I repeatedly came across charts showing the geologic column, displaying the supposed order and timing of when Earth’s life forms appeared all within that framework of the so-called ages of earth’s geologic history.

Primitive and “simple” organisms were shown at the bottom, and more complex ones were towards the top. The pictures were arranged in a general sequence with marine animals first, amphibians next, reptiles after that, dinosaurs appearing, then small mammals, larger mammals like bears and horses, then apes, and finally humans at the top.

Can You Mix Genesis and Evolution Effectively?

Contrary to the reasoning of my Christian friends who use the popular canard that “Genesis doesn’t have to be taken as plainly written because God only wrote it that way for the Israelites, who were too simple to comprehend the ‘scientific sophistication’ of evolution,” this was all very easy for an average child like myself to grasp. If God had used evolution to create, it would have been easy for him to convey. Imagine the following:

Long ago, before there was man, God created the first living thing, and that first thing slowly changed, and its descendants changed, and eventually they turned into every living thing that has ever lived on earth. And eventually came mankind! (1st Evolutionians, Chapter 1 (Made-Up Version))
Explaining the idea of evolution in Genesis would have been extremely easy to do should God have wanted to. The fact is, he didn’t.

Explaining the idea of evolution in Genesis would have been extremely easy to do should God have wanted to. The fact is, he didn’t. Compromising the plain reading in one area of scripture (Genesis) and then telling people they should take another as plainly written (the gospels) is arbitrary, illogical, and inconsistent. Far from cerebral, it seems like special pleading and mentally incohesive. And for linear-thinking individuals like myself, it provides little intellectual satisfaction whatsoever.

The Allure of “Science and Facts”

However, for me growing up, books showing cool pictures of scientists digging up dinosaur bones, collecting fossils, holding them in their hands, and explaining how they would have moved ergonomically fired my imagination. There were charts and graphs and dates, and it all seemed so logical and “scientific,” which was very much unlike any “religious” TV programming I saw (which with my family background was my only introduction to anything church-related). This idea that the fossil record was tidy and that this fossil lineage was always found this way with no “out of place” fossils was strong evidence for evolution in my mind.

It was all so crystal clear, just like how famous atheist Richard Dawkins has put it:

All the fossils that we have ever found have always been found in the appropriate place in the time sequence. There are no fossils in the wrong place.1

Separated in Time, or in Mind?

For many, just like myself, breaking these paradigms is important for them to be willing to even entertain a biblical worldview. Most people think that the remains of dinosaurian creatures always appear in the older part of the fossil record, while mammalian types appear in “younger” rocks (with supposed millions of years of time separating the various animal groups shown on these charts). Many conclude then that mammals and dinosaurs never coexisted, or if they did, it was only for a short, overlapping period when small, shrew-like mammals first evolved.

However, the facts show otherwise as more and more evidence is discovered that is consistent with what we know from the Bible, namely that there was a gigantic catastrophe in the form of a watery deluge (Noah’s flood) that destroyed and likely buried representatives of many of the kinds of creatures that were living together, dinosaurs among them, all at the same time.

As Dr. Carl Werner pointed out with the release of his 2012 book, Living Fossils—Evolution: The Grand Experiment, Vol. 2, at that time over 432 mammal species had already been identified in “dinosaur-era rock,” including nearly 100 complete mammal skeletons. He also points out that despite this, in his travels to over 60 museums around the world, he’d only seen a few dozen of these featured in displays, and not one displaying a complete skeleton. However, as the evidence piled up, even popular-level science articles began showing the often disharmonious nature (according to evolution) of the fossil record.

When Is a Duck Not a Duck?

I’m a big believer in what’s known as “farmer logic.” It’s the type of common sense that declares if something looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and acts like a duck, it’s probably a duck!

But when a supposedly 110-million-year-old creature called Gansus was found years ago, one of the reporters commenting on it in a New York Times article titled “Duck Look-Alike Reveals Birds’ Evolution” said,

It looked like a duck. It swam like a duck. It is not known if it quacked like a duck. But it definitely was not a duck.2

And why was it not considered a duck (even though the article said it “looked remarkably like a small modern-day waterfowl.”)? Likely it was largely because it didn’t fit the evolutionary timeline. But this isn’t the only time evolutionists have admitted duck-like creatures lived alongside dinosaurs.

A 2006 National Geographic article commenting on this discovery, titled “Dinosaur-Era Birds Surprisingly Ducklike, Fossils Suggest,” (now removed from the internet) said,

Gansus shares many skeletal features with modern birds . . . knobby knees characteristic of underwater swimmers like loons . . the preserved skin of the webbed feet shows the same microscopic structure seen in aquatic birds today.3

Also, a BBC article, titled “Cretaceous duck ruffles feathers,” discussed and featured a picture of a duck-billed type dinosaur on a beach with two birds that looked like geese and had a subtitle that said,

Ducks may have been paddling about in primeval swamps when T. rex was king of the dinosaurs, scientists have announced in the journal Nature.4

Let’s face it, when is the last time you saw a depiction of dinosaurs stomping around, snarling at one another, as a duck flew overhead? It would seem strange to most because we have been conditioned to view dinosaurs as living quite separately from “modern” animal kinds, which reinforces the whole “Land Before Time” paradigm. Most people have been told dinosaurs evolved into birds, so they don’t picture a T. rex walking along with a duck flying overhead, but that’s what the fossils evolutionists have found show: dinosaurs and birds lived contemporaneously.

While the average person believes in an “Age of Dinosaurs,” modern evolutionary paleontologist have admitted the following:

In a sense, “The Age of Dinosaurs” . . . is a misnomer . . . Mammals are just one such important group that lived with the dinosaurs, coexisted with the dinosaurs, and survived the dinosaurs.5

But Wait, There’s More!

Picture if you will, turning on an evolutionary program that showed dinosaurs wandering around a pine forest along with bees buzzing, squirrels6 running around, frogs, platypus7 and beavers8 playing in a pond, while a badger9 hunted and ate a baby Psittacosaurus nearby. Does that fit with how you’ve seen dinosaurs depicted?

Most people are surprised to hear that evolutionists have reported all of these mammals having been found in rock layers they perceive as being “dinosaur-era,” wondering why they’ve never heard it before. Here is one explanation from a modern evolutionist from Dr. Werner’s book mentioned previously:

We find mammals in almost all of our [dinosaur dig] sites. These were not noticed years ago . . . We have about 20,000 pounds of bentonite clay that has mammal fossils that we are trying to give away to some researcher. It’s not that they are not important, it’s just that you only live once and I specialized in something other than mammals. I specialize in reptiles and dinosaurs.
The fact is, there is a great likelihood of finding even more representatives of the same kinds as modern-day mammals in the fossil layers all around the world.

That’s interesting isn’t it? One wonders how many more fossil mammals in “dinosaur-era rock” are still ignored or considered less important than their dinosaur counterparts. The fact is, there is a great likelihood of finding even more representatives of the same kinds as modern-day mammals in fossil layers all around the world. As one evolutionist (Dr. John Wible, former mammal curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History) admitted after finding the remains of what he considered a supposed 53-million-year-old rabbit,

I would not be surprised if I went out to the field tomorrow and I found a Cretaceous rabbit that was 80 million years old . . .10

Wouldn’t it be fantastic to see a “next generation” of bible-believing scientists that had the right worldview lenses on: that would get out into the field and show even more of what is buried together in the fossil record to demonstrate the truth of God’s Word?

But They Weren’t REALLY What You Creationists Say They Were!

Having presented on this previously, I once had an evolutionist write to me to complain that I was misrepresenting what had been reported. His argument was that I referenced a beaver, for example, that wasn’t a true “modern” beaver, and that what I called a badger was actually a Repenomamus robustus. And all of these extinct orders are said to have died out tens of millions of years ago with no modern representatives. So he believed it was dishonest to say that it has been proven that dinosaurs walked alongside modern mammals and birds.

When I asked him if he would be contacting National Geographic, ABC News, Nature journals, the BBC, Science magazine, etc. to inform them that they were wrong for using titles like “Jurassic beaver swims into view,” “Fossil suggests platypus lived in dinosaur times,” or “Cretaceous duck ruffles feathers,” he never got back to me.

We See Various Kinds of Creatures Buried Together

The fact is biblical creationists don’t believe what was buried with dinosaurs are modern versions of those creatures either. We believe they were earlier variations of the representative kinds of creatures (beavers, waterfowl, platypus, etc.) that existed before the speciation that occurred since the dispersion of the creatures that got off of the ark and later spread around the world.

Tigers and tabby cats don’t look the same, and if you found them fossilized, having never seen them alive, scientists may conclude they were perhaps related, but not the same kind.

Tigers and tabby cats don’t look the same, and if you found them fossilized, having never seen them alive, scientists may conclude they were perhaps related, but not the same kind. But all of our modern house cats have been bred from bigger cats in the past and are the same kind of animal.

We don’t believe Great Danes got off the ark. Nor do we think polar bears, poodles, and Persian kitty cats sauntered off the gangplank. We do believe that representative dog, bear, and cat kinds got off of the ark along with all of the other kinds God had sent to Noah, including the dinosaur kinds. We also believe that after they departed they multiplied and diversified through mechanisms like natural selection, which is an in-built means that allows creatures to utilize different combinations of pre-existing genetic information to adapt to new environments.

The takeaway point is this: the more we dig, the more we find that billions of dead things were living together and got buried together simultaneously, over a very short time, not millions of years ago. This adds even more support to the biblical creation model, such as the fact there are carvings,11 pictographs, and engravings12 of creatures a typical seven-year-old would identify as dinosaurs found from cultures dating long before books showing their reconstruction from fossils around the world. Why would they exist if no human had ever seen a live dinosaur?

Another question of an evolutionary worldview would be, “If there were a ‘Land before time,’ how come un-fossilized soft tissue has been found several times now if dinosaurs are supposed to have lived 60 million years ago?”13

What Caused Their Extinction?

The fact that we now know from the fossil record that many creatures were living alongside dinosaurs undermines many popular evolutionary icons. For example, if you ask the average person to guess what wiped out the dinosaurs, I venture most would say the “giant asteroid theory” as (even though there are several dinosaur extinction models out there and some evolutionists argue against the asteroid impact idea), it is still the most commonly depicted in popular culture.

If all of these creatures were living together, why would an asteroid impact event only wipe out the dinosaurs and not the ducks, squirrels, and beaver kinds, etc. that coexisted with them?

But if all of these creatures were living together, why would an asteroid impact event only wipe out the dinosaurs and not the ducks, squirrels, and beaver kinds, etc. that coexisted with them—not to mention their supposed evolutionary close cousins, the lizards and crocodiles? Not one single event has ever been proposed by evolutionists that can completely explain dinosaur extinction, which is why there are several more extinction theories out there the average person is usually unaware of.

A Biblical Explanation for Dinosaur Extinction

Of course, most biblical creationists believe that any dinosaurs living at the time of Noah’s flood (but not on board the ark), died and that many were buried in the deluge. That explains the fossils, but what happened to them after the flood? Well, the Bible says the various kinds of animals preserved on the ark dispersed from one central point on the mountains of Ararat. And with their numbers greatly reduced following the flood, all animals would be subject to many environmental pressures and varying climates and would have been more vulnerable to extinction.

Some may have had a unique physiology that made them less able to adapt as rapidly to the many different environments after the flood. For example, evolutionists have suggested that dinosaurs may not have been warm-blooded or cold-blooded, but something completely different from either. They may have had a unique type of metabolism, unlike any living animals today. For those looking for a unique or specific reason, one could conjecture that perhaps this may have contributed to them becoming extinct quicker than some of the other animals. But ultimately, they likely perished for the very same general reasons animals become extinct today (genetic load, being hunted, diseases, habitat changes, climatic changes, etc.).

No Land Before Time

When you put all of the evidence together, there is no “huge mystery” about the existence and extinction of dinosaurs when viewed from the perspective of God’s Word. Despite the evolutionary community’s insistence, there was no “Land before time.” God created time, space, and matter together in Genesis 1:1.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

We can know exactly how God created when we start with his Word:

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. (Exodus 20:11)

And we can learn how to better live by faith when we trust it with all of our hearts:

By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)

Start from Scripture

When we start with the Bible, and then look around the world at the evidence, the scripture provides a far better explanation of it than the evolutionary story does. It is quite easy to explain dinosaurs in a Christian worldview. God made them, along with the rest of His creation, around 6,000 years ago. We find their fossilized bones alongside those of other animals because of Noah’s flood around 4,500 years ago. They lived after the flood but gradually died out (like so many other species have).

Footnotes

  1. Ed Stoddard, “Richard Dawkins Makes Case for Evolution in New Book,” Reuters, October 5, 2009, accessed August 2, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-books-author-dawkins-idUSTRE59432120091005.
  2. Kenneth Chang, “Duck Look-Alike Reveals Birds' Evolution,” New York Times, June 16, 2006, https://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/16/science/16fossil.html.
  3. Scott Norrisfor, “Dinosaur-Era Birds Surprisingly Ducklike, Fossils Suggest,” National Geographic, June 15, 2006, https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/06/060615-dinosaurs_2.html (no longer online).
  4. “Cretaceous duck ruffles feathers,” BBC News, January 20, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4187287.stm.
  5. Interview with Dr. Zhe-Xi Luo, curator of vertebrate paleontology and associate director of research and collections at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, by Dr. Carl Werner, May 17, 2004, in Living Fossils—Evolution: The Grand Experiment, Vol. 2, (Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Press, 2009), 173.
  6. Jin Meng, Yaoming Hu, Yuanqing Wang, Xiaolin Wang & Chuankui Li, “Mesozoic gliding mammal from northeastern China,” Nature 444 (2006): 889–893.
  7. Barbara Miller, “Fossil suggests platypus lived in dinosaur times,” ABC News, January 21, 2008, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-01-22/fossil-suggests-platypus-lived-in-dinosaur-times/1019588.
  8. Michael Hopkin, “Jurassic beaver swims into view,” Nature.com, February 23, 2006, https://www.nature.com/news/2006/060220/full/news060220-16.html.
  9. Jeff Hecht, “Large mammals once dined on dinosaurs,” New Scientist, January 12, 2005, https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn6874-large-mammals-once-dined-on-dinosaurs/.
  10. The original National Geographic article, “Easter Surprise; World’s oldest Rabbit Bones Found,” has been removed. The original reference is, Brian Handwerk, National Geographic News March 21, 2008, news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/03/080321-rabbit-bones.html. This is a link to a similar National Geographic story that references the original: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/3/110323-giant-rabbit-minorca-biggest-bunny-science-nuralagus-rex-largest/. Dr. Wible is also quoted in this article: https://www.post-gazette.com/science/2007/06/20/65-million-year-old-ancestor-discovered/stories/200706200296.
  11. Kenneth E. Cole, “Evidence of Dinosaurs at Angkor,” https://answersingenesis.org/dinosaurs/humans/evidence-of-dinosaurs-at-angkor/.
  12. Bodie Hodge, “Dragon Legends—Truths Behind the Tales,” Answers 6, no. 4: 64–65, https://answersingenesis.org/dinosaurs/dragon-legends/dragon-legends-truths-behind-the-tales/.
  13. Brian Thomas, “Solid Answers on Soft Tissue,” Answers 10, no. 1: 36–39, https://answersingenesis.org/dinosaurs/when-did-dinosaurs-live/solid-answers-soft-tissue/.
  14. Laura Geggel, “Were Dinosaurs warm blooded? New study fuels debate,” Live Science, June 10, 2015, https://www.livescience.com/51162-dinosaurs-warm-blooded-growth-rates.html.

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