- NewScientist: “Watery secret of the dinosaur death pose”
Dinosaur fossils—the complete ones, that is—typically are found with heads thrown back and tails arched upward. This position is so common in both large and small dinosaurs it has a name: the opisthotonic death posture. In an effort to explain what made these dinosaurs assume such a position, Alicia Cutler and colleagues at Brigham Young University devised an avian simulation.
Fresh and frozen chicken carcasses were laid out on dry sand for three months to see if muscle contractions would reproduce the posture. What Cutler got was some rotten chickens, but no contortions. However, dunking the dead birds in cool, fresh water caused immediate arching of the necks. Immersion for up to a month only slightly increased the arch, most of the contortion having occurred within seconds.
Cutler’s results, which she presented at the Las Vegas meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, contrast with a 2007 study that did not find any neck contortion in dead quails dunked in salt water. Those researchers suggested the opisthotonic posture resulted from dinosaur death throes.
Cutler comments, “Although the roads to the opisthotonic death pose are many, immersion in water is the simplest explanation.”
Cutler is correct in her assertion that immersion is the key to the mystery. While the jury remains out on whether a sudden dip of the dead and dying dinosaurs triggered opisthotonus or whether drowning death throes or yet some other mechanism was involved, the bulk of the fossil record resulted from the global Flood. Rapid burial required to achieve fossilization of creatures large and small was readily achieved due to the upheavals of water and sediment produced as the fountains of the great deep (Genesis 8:2) opened up. As dinosaurs were overwhelmed, like other creatures, many were buried rapidly and preserved as fossils. The Genesis record of the Flood explains how these dinosaurs came to be so suddenly and catastrophically immersed in water.
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