Dinos in the Dark

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Big dinosaur eyes evolved because of the ecologically driven need to hunt food at night . . . so say researchers in a study from UC–Davis.

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A bony ring limiting eye size is present in most lizards, dinosaurs, and birds. After measuring this ring in 33 dinosaur and flying reptile fossils, researchers concluded that animals equipped with larger eyes are more likely to be nocturnal. “Big eyes let in more light allowing animals to see in the dark.”1

Since many dinosaurs thought to be carnivorous had large eye rings, they concluded these carnivores hunted at night. The long-necked diplodocus, believed herbivorous, had small eyes more suitable to daytime activity.

The researchers’ conclusions challenge the evolutionary belief that nocturnal mammals evolved because carnivorous dinosaurs ruled the day.

The study made guesses about the behavior of extinct animals using “modern animals as a guide to see activity patterns.” Measurements were compared to those of modern birds. However, while structural features may suggest abilities a creature may have had—such as good night vision—conclusions about the animals’ behavior may still be wrong. For instance, large sharp teeth do not imply an animal is a carnivore. See “Distorting for Darwin?” And even if an animal became carnivorous in the post-Fall world, we know from Genesis 1:30 that it was originally herbivorous and later was able to adapt to a different diet.

The researchers concluded that the need to hunt at night caused carnivores to evolve large eyes. We, starting from the Bible’s eyewitness account in Genesis, conclude that God created animals with a variety of features which enabled them to cope with various environments. Those animals reproduced after their kind and did not change into different kinds of animals.

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  1. David Perlman, “UC Davis Dinosaur Eye Bone Study Offers New View,” SFGate, April 17, 2011, http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/UC-Davis-dinosaur-eye-bone-study-offers-new-view-2374638.php.


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