Did Dinosaurs Actually Exist?

Answers to common objections to the existence of real dinosaurs: supposedly fabricated bones, scientific concerns, and theological issues

by Troy Lacey on August 3, 2021
Share:

We occasionally hear from people who claim that dinosaurs never existed. In this article, we will examine many of the various reasons they give.

Fabricated Dinosaur Bones?

Some Christians claim that they have heard or read that dinosaur bones have been completely fabricated. Another postulation is that other large animal bones from whales, elephants, hippos, and so forth have been put together into dinosaur skeleton displays by taking those bones and creatively piecing them into the dinosaur skeletons seen in museums. Ironically, many of the same people who make these claims accept the validity of other extinct animals such as mammoths, mastodons, ground sloths, and wooly rhinos, and they might even believe that dinosaur skeletons have been made from the bones of these other creatures.

But let’s think about this for a moment. There is no way to make a T. rex femur (one of the largest single bones of all animals) from any other bone and it not be readily apparent as a forgery even by amateurs, let alone expert paleontologists. Whales don’t have femurs, and an elephant’s femur is on average smaller than a T. rex’s, which is quite a bit smaller than the femurs of the largest sauropods. The femur length of most adult African elephants ranges from 102 cm (3 ft., 4 in.) to 114 cm (3 ft., 7 in.), with one mature adult male specimen having a 127 cm femur (4 ft., 2 in.). A recent find in South Dakota yielded a T. rex femur of 130 cm (4 ft., 3 in.), and specimens with a 133 cm (4 ft., 4 in.) have been found. To get a feel for the T. rex femur size, see the image here. In 2019 a 6.5-ft. (198 cm), 1,100-pound sauropod femur was unearthed in France. That’s near twice the length of an average elephant’s femur.

Of course, there have been frauds in the field of paleontology. The 1999 Archaeoraptor incident at National Geographic and other fossil frauds from Liaoning Province in China have made people aware that some fossils have been faked and initially yet mistakenly accepted as real fossils by scientists. This history may play into some people’s thoughts about many other fossils, which may lead them to suspect that all dinosaur bones are forgeries as well.

The 1999 Archaeoraptor incident at National Geographic and other fossil frauds from Liaoning Province in China have made people aware that some fossils have been faked and initially, yet mistakenly, accepted as real fossils by scientists.

Taking Satire Too Seriously

But some of this reluctance to accept dinosaurs as real but presumably extinct creatures has been fueled by some satirical websites, which are likely mocking Christianity. One such group is Christians Against Dinosaurs (CAD), which has been around since at least 2015. They have produced numerous blogs and videos and have been interviewed by several newspapers and news websites trying to cash in on the sensationalism of the topic. CAD was even in the news recently after they have targeted a McDonald’s in Tucson, Arizona, which has a large T. rex statue outside its store, encouraging people to call the restaurant to demand its removal. CAD (which is neither Christian nor really against dinosaurs) has been busted as a satirical site, yet they continue to add followers on their website and Facebook pages. But CAD is not the only site putting forth this claim. There have been others, even more subtly satirical, that make the same claims, albeit not appealing to Christian audiences.

Another site, which typically has reviews of the latest technologies, also has a blog. Since the usual audience consists of tech consumers interested in topics such as cell phones, drones, and computers, the casual reader is not expecting an out-of-nowhere satirical piece. But the same writer, John Watson, who covered Google’s acquisition of Fitbit in 2021, also wrote a piece, “Top Ten Scientific Flaws in the Theory of Prehistoric Dinosaurs,” back in 2015. In the article, he brings up a few good points that add to the credibility of the article, namely that the K-Pg asteroid extinction-event theory seems to have been too “selective” in what it wiped out (for example, all major Cretaceous mammalian lineages survived the K–Pg extinction event as well as most if not all toothless birds). He also points out that “Evolutionary Theory and the Big Bang Theory, has become more of a religion, an orthodoxy, than a science.”

But if the article was meant to be serious and meant to disprove evolutionary arguments, then it is weakly argued and contains a number of problems. For example, he talks about radiocarbon dating, which has at most (with current AMS technology) about an 80,000–90,000 year (not 40,000 as was the case twenty years ago) detectable range, so that would never be used on dinosaurs that paleontologists consider to be over 66 million years old. We have called out evolutionists for automatically ruling out radiocarbon dating when it could be used as evidence that something is not millions of years old. However, we wouldn’t make it seem as if paleontologists don’t have alternative radiometric dating methods, even though dates obtained from those options also include multiple assumptions.

We are aware of several complete or nearly complete dinosaur skeletons.

Watson’s largest possible animal size is way off. In actuality, the maximum size for a terrestrial animal can be determined through equations and is at 1,000,000 kg (2,204,622 pounds). He calls marine reptiles “dinosaurs,” and we would not. The same can be said for practically every scientist familiar with the subject. Dinosaur is a term which is defined as a terrestrial reptile with one of two possible hip structures. His “no dinosaur skeleton has ever been found” is completely erroneous. We have an over 50% complete Allosaurus skeleton in our Creation Museum, dug out of the ground in northwestern Colorado. Plus, we are aware of several complete or nearly complete dinosaur skeletons in other museums which have documented evidence of their provenance (where they were dug up) and what bones were found. Watson’s obvious gaffes and the author’s own bio on the same site make it almost certain that this was a satirical piece.

Theological Issues with Dinosaurs

But some of the most mentioned reasons for people not believing dinosaurs ever existed are loosely described as “theological” or “biblical.” The most common reason is that dinosaurs aren’t mentioned in the Bible. But that word wasn’t invented when Scripture was written or even when many of the earliest English translations were completed. The creature called Behemoth in Job 40 fits the description of a dinosaur. But the fallacy of this supposedly biblical denial of dinosaurs can be clearly seen when you realize that several living animals are never mentioned in Scripture (like platypus, racoons, koalas, gila monsters, and hundreds of others). Yet we know they exist because we can see them now.

Other “theological” reasons listed are from two opposite ends of the spectrum. The first is the odd belief that dinosaurs never actually existed, but Satan (or God) put dinosaur bones into the ground to deceive people, who would find them thousands of years later (or millions for theistic evolutionists), presumably to accept evolution. But this belief is not based on anything found in Scripture. Indeed, if Behemoth was a sauropod dinosaur, this argument contradicts Scripture (Job 40:15). Plus, this view seems to give almost God-like knowledge and power to Satan. Although he is intelligent and powerful, he is still a created being.

What terrible theology that goes against the character of God, who hates deceit, cannot lie, and is the truth.

A similar view is that God never created dinosaurs but put them in the ground to test people’s faith. A recent article in the Jerusalem Post recounted the author’s hearing this explanation from a tour guide: “God put those fossils in the earth so you would think the world is billions of years old. . . . There were never actually dinosaurs. God simply wanted to supply us with a believable ecosystem.” There are some Christians who believe this and even pastors who preach it from their pulpits. This line of thought turns God into a deceiver who plants “evidence” and wants people to believe a lie. What terrible theology that goes against the character of God, who hates deceit, cannot lie, and is the truth (Proverbs 12:22; John 14:6; Titus 1:2).

Dinosaurs Existed, but All Died in the Flood?

This last line of argumentation is a bit different. There are Christians who believe that dinosaurs existed but were killed off in the flood. They do not believe that God created dinosaurs but that they came about through satanic/demonic influence and mechanisms. Much of this belief system inevitably results from placing apocryphal or pseudepigraphal writings on par with (or above) Scripture. They argue that fallen angels mated with animals or genetically modified animals so that the end result was dinosaurs “created” in the years before the flood.

Although none of these extrabiblical books specifically mention dinosaurs, 1 Enoch 7:1–5 and Jubilees 5:1–3 mention fallen angels corrupting creation in some manner, and many mention giants (nephilim) as a result of their union with women and animals. As we have stated before, we do not take a particular position on the identity of the sons of God in Genesis 6:1–4, a passage that also mentions the nephilim (giants). But even if a person believes that this passage speaks of fallen angels having relations with women and producing giants, the passage never states that the fallen angels mated with animals and created gigantic animals like dinosaurs. The passage in 1 Enoch does mention giants sinning against the animals, but the context makes it clear that they sinned against animals by eating them. Jubilees also implies this idea. Neither of them implies that the angels mated with animals.

The hybridization/genetic engineering hypothesis assumes that fallen angels have almost God-like powers.

The hybridization/genetic engineering hypothesis has only gained a bit of traction in the last 25 years or so. It also assumes that fallen angels have almost God-like powers, being able to manipulate the DNA of animals at will, presumably without the aid of advanced technology. Nothing of this is mentioned in Scripture, and nowhere do we read that angels or fallen angels developed any technologies or manufactured any machinery. Holy angels are described as God’s ministers (Psalm 103:21, 104:4) and emissaries (Hebrews 2:2). Fallen angels, evil spirits, and demons can cause physical harm to men (Mark 5:2–5) and even animals (Mark 5:12–13), deceive, and inflicting mental anguish on humans (Matthew 12:22; Mark 9:17–26; Luke 11:24–26; 2 Corinthians 11:14–15), yet no passage even hints at demons being able to hybridize animals or possessing the means to do so.

What Does Scripture Say About Dinosaurs?

As established before, the Bible never specifically names dinosaurs, but it never mentions wooly mammoths either, yet there are some well-preserved mammoth remains in Siberia. Although the word dinosaur did not exist when Scripture was written, Scripture does describe the creation of land animals, which would include dinosaurs, not to mention a detailed description of a Behemoth in Job 40. And in verse 15, God specifically says that he made Behemoth, and Job lived after the flood.

As we have mentioned in several articles on our website, God created all terrestrial land animals on day six of creation week and later commanded Noah to bring representatives of all air-breathing land animals onto the ark. Since dinosaurs were unclean animals, there would have been two of each kind on board. Genesis 8:17–19 makes it clear that all the animals brought onto the ark also made it off the ark and were commanded to be fruitful and multiply. Those who claim that all dinosaurs died in the flood are contradicting God’s Word. All the land animals outside the ark did die in the flood, which was God’s judgment on all flesh, but the eight people and the representatives of every kind of land-dependent animal, including two of every kind of dinosaur, made it to the post-flood world as a testimony to God’s grace.

Dinosaurs were real but are now extinct creatures. Many died in the flood, but some survived on the ark and likely gave rise to many of the dragon legends documented in oral and written tales, petroglyphs, pictographs, and carvings around the world.

Dinosaurs were real but are now extinct creatures. Many died in the flood, but some survived on the ark and likely gave rise to many of the dragon legends around the world. Rather than trying to explain them away or “fit” false ideas about them into the Bible, we should trust the history described in Scripture. When we do, it becomes easy to explain dinosaurs. Ken Ham made this plain when he stated the following:

When one understands that land animals (including dinosaurs) were made on the sixth day of creation—that there was no death (of animals or man) or disease (there are dinosaur bones that show evidence of diseases like cancer) before sin—that all the land animal kinds (including dinosaurs) were on the ark—and that many animal groups (including dinosaurs) have died out since the flood (because sin, the curse, and the flood affected the world)—then it’s easy to explain the history of dinosaurs.5

Footnotes

  1. Melaku Tefera, “Kinematics and Comparative Anatomy of Some Limb Bones of the African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) and Large Domestic Animals,” Journal of Veterinary Anatomy 5, no. 2 (October 2012): 28.
  2. Malie M.S. Smuts and A.J. Bezuidenhout, “Osteology of the pelvic limb of the African elephant (Loxodonta africana),” Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research 61 (1994): 53
  3. http://www.miketaylor.org.uk/dino/hokkanen/Size-Hokkanen.html
  4. Some people cite the so-called Book of Jasher as support for this notion as well. But the “Book of Jasher” that is available to people today is not the Book of Jasher mentioned in Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18. It is a forgery from the past few centuries. The Book of Jasher mentioned in the Bible is apparently no longer extant.
  5. Ken Ham, “You Don’t ‘Fit’ Dinosaurs with the Bible!”, Answers in Genesis, Last modified on April 14, 2000, https://answersingenesis.org/dinosaurs/you-dont-fit-dinosaurs-with-the-bible/.

Newsletter

Get the latest answers emailed to you.

I agree to the current Privacy Policy.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA, and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390