Most Reliable Evidences
Bishop Bell’s Tomb, Carlisle Cathedral, United Kingdom
Bishop Richard Bell died in 1496 and, as was the custom at the time, was buried under the floor of the church in Carlisle, England. His tomb was a brass vault set into the stone floor, and what immediately stands out is that there are several engravings of animals carved into the narrow brass fillet that runs at the outer edges of the tomb.
Right alongside these other well-known and living then (and now) animals are a pair of creatures which look remarkably like two sauropods.
There are several easily recognizable and still-living animals such as an eel, three dogs (or two dogs and a weasel—one image is badly eroded), a bird, pig, bat, fox, dolphin, bear, and four fish (see images 2–4 below for three of these depictions). And right alongside these other well-known and living then (and now) animals are a pair of creatures which look remarkably like two sauropods. Their necks are intertwined, which could represent fighting among males or even a courtship ritual between a male and female sauropod. One of the sauropods has a weirdly shaped tail (either clubbed or appearing to end in a cleft) with what appear to be spikes on the end. Skeptics dismiss these as mythological creatures because, in their naturalistic religious view, mankind and dinosaurs are separated by more than 65 million years. And the weird tail only made that all the more implausible . . . or did it?
A sauropod dinosaur Shunosaurus lii, was described and named by Dong Zhiming, Zhou Shiwu, and Zhang Yihong in 1983. Then in late 1987 a clubbed tail was discovered on another specimen of the newly discovered Shunosaurus (the journal paper was published in 1989).1 In 1988 Zhang Yihong published a paper on another then-recent Shunosaurus find and included a description and drawing of dermal tail spines on the clubbed tail.2 Then in 2009, Spinophorosaurus, a sauropod with spikes on the end of its non-clubbed tail, was discovered.3 When viewed from the side, the two tail spikes (when the tail is flexed into an s-shaped striking position) would very closely resemble a cleft tail with spikes. So the engraving on Bishop Bell’s tomb not only looks like two sauropods but also included accurate anatomical information that was not known to science for another 500 years. The other dinosaur in the engraving does not have a spiked or clubbed tail. But both are long-necked, easily distinguished as sauropods and may very well represent two males fighting for mating dominance. The people of northern England in the late 1400s obviously were acquainted with living sauropod dinosaurs, perhaps the last remnants of a surviving post-flood herd.
Kachina Bridge Sauropod Petroglyph, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah, USA
There have been attempts to rationalize away the petroglyph as being a composite depiction with mud stains and therefore originally a depiction of a snake.
In Natural Bridges National Monument, located in southeast Utah, there are several Native American petroglyphs (rock carvings and etchings) and pictographs (paintings on rock) on the sandstone canyon walls. Most were done by the Anasazi people from about 1 AD to 1300 AD. At one location (Kachina Bridge) there are several handprints, carvings of geometric shapes, animals, such as a bighorn sheep, a turtle, and what appears to be an obvious sauropod dinosaur.
There have been attempts to rationalize away the petroglyph as being a composite depiction with mud stains and therefore originally a depiction of a snake. But the pecking and divots of the petroglyph clearly extend down to the legs making this “debunking” of the petroglyph spurious. The Anasazi people clearly saw living sauropods.
Dragon Petroglyph, Wupatki National Park, Arizona, USA
In Wupatki National Park near Flagstaff, Arizona, there are numerous petroglyphs carved into the desert varnish-covered sandstone. Many are of animals the Sinagua, Kayenta, and later Pueblo cultural peoples hunted or domesticated, including sheep, goats, ducks, and several other different kinds of birds. In the Middle Mesa area, there is one carving that is unmistakably a depiction of a fire-breathing dragon. Local park rangers have dubbed it “Puff the magic dragon,” named after the popular folk-rock song. Although believed to be merely a mythological zoomorphic representation by secularists, the carving is thought to belong to the Puebloan period of 1150–1300 AD.4
But why would the native tribes depict everyday animals they saw and hunted all over the canyon walls and large rocks on the ground in every other case, yet toss in a “mythological creature” right alongside what appears to be a (very faded) horse? And a fire-breathing dragon is one that just happens to be alluded to in Scripture (as a fiery flying serpent in Isaiah 30:6) and depicted in most other cultures worldwide, which from an evolutionary anthropology view is mystifying coming from a pre-Columbian North American culture.
Carved Dragon Petroglyph near Embden, Maine, USA
On the west bank of the Kennebec River at the Hodgdon site near Embden, Maine, is a carving of a horned, long, serpentine, arrow-tailed dragon.
On the west bank of the Kennebec River at the Hodgdon site near Embden, Maine, is a carving of a horned, long, serpentine, arrow-tailed dragon. It is believed to be from the Late Ceramic period ca. 900–1200 CE. The large shale outcropping that has the dragon depiction also has over 100 other petroglyphs, including ducks, moose, beaver, dogs, people, and several geometric figures. But why the depiction of a supposedly “mythological creature” alongside other animals the Algonquian peoples (most likely the Ojibwe) hunted and/or domesticated? Some anthropologists have characterized this as a depiction of an Algonquian myth of the warrior Glooscap killing a river dragon. But a dragon (especially one with such typical European representation) seems out of place in 1,000-year-old Native American folklore, and the supposed myth probably came from a real encounter with some type of creature that became legendized over time. The likeliest explanation is that the Ojibwe peoples encountered and killed some type of dragon, whether a dinosaur or large marine/freshwater reptile.
Carved Sea Dragon Petroglyphs, Vancouver Island, and Gabriola Island, BC, Canada
Like the biblical Leviathan, this sea serpent/sea dragon also appears to have flames coming out of its mouth.
At Petroglyph Provincial Park, southeast of Vancouver Island, is the city of Nanaimo, where the Nanaimo River empties into Northumberland Channel. There are several native Snuneymuxw First Nation people carvings of various sea monsters, dated to about 1,000 AD. Some are called “sea wolves” as they have serpentine bodies and wolfish-looking heads, their folklore name being either Sisiutl or Wasgo. But some are more fish- or serpent-like with large teeth, and often their limbs end in flippers (perhaps resembling a plesiosaur). There is one that can only be described as a sea dragon. Like the biblical Leviathan, this sea serpent/sea dragon also appears to have flames coming out of its mouth. There is a very similar petroglyph on Gabriola Island, just across the channel from Vancouver Island. Both appear to be semi-aquatic animals, again, like the biblical Leviathan, as they appear to have feet, not flippers. But there are several petroglyphs of everyday animals like seals, orcas, fish, turtles, and birds in the area on both islands. The only allegedly “mythological” depictions are of sea wolves. While the sea wolves may be shamanistic representations or totem animals, the different sea serpents and the sea dragons are not stylized zoomorphs like the sea wolves but appear to be representations of creatures which the First Nations people saw and with which they may have had dangerous encounters.
Leonardo Da Vinci’s Dragon, Royal Collection, London, England
Late in his life, c. 1517–18 AD, Leonardo Davinci sketched a study of the movement of cats (mostly domestic but also a lion) and also, in the middle of the sketch, a dragon (Figure 7 below). Over the course of his lifetime, DaVinci sketched (and painted) some Greek/Roman mythological scenarios, including obvious mythological animals (for example, Neptune and his chariot being pulled by sea horses). But he also sketched several studies of animal movements, including horses, birds, dogs, cattle, bears, and even a crab. Unlike the obvious mythology artistry, all of these “studies” were based on detailed observation of the anatomy and/or movements of domestic or captive animals. Why would the dragon be the sole exception to this rule?
Evidences That Still Need More Confirmation/Verification
Stegosaur Depiction at Angkor Wat, Cambodia
One of the carvings strongly resembles a stegosaurid dinosaur, if the plates on the back are actually on the animal and not a decorative flourish.
The temple complex of Ta Prohm in Angkor Wat, Cambodia, was built by the ancient Khmer people somewhere between AD 800 and the mid AD 1400s. It contains numerous plant and animal carvings reliefs and inlays. One of the carvings strongly resembles a stegosaurid dinosaur, if the plates on the back are actually on the animal and not a decorative flourish. The plates appear to be attached to the animal in the relief as they follow the contour of the back of the animal, distinguishing them from the background. There has been much debate on this topic and also on “missing” tail spikes that, along with back plates, are diagnostic for most stegasaurids. Author David Woetzel, who personally examined and performed in-depth measurements on the engraving, came up with some good data and an interesting hypothesis. Comparing the relief of decorative flourishes on other engravings against the relief of the stegosaur plates, the difference of three-times greater relief depth on the stegosaur strongly reinforced the stegosaur with plates interpretation. Woetzel also postulated that the dinosaur had been domesticated and that it was wearing a muzzle or harness on its head and possibly had its tail spikes removed as part of the domestication process. It may be a simple as the image simply doesn’t show tail spikes due to space considerations. Another possibility is that the tail spikes, which can vary in size among stegosaurids, were smaller and pointing backward, leaving the appearance of a lack of tail spikes as its normal walking position. The final obvious possibility is that it is a juvenile that may not have grown its tail spikes yet. The discovery of a second, albeit faded, stegosaur lends credence to his hypotheses. But even if it can be shown the back plates are decorative flourishes, does this invalidate that the ancient Cambodians saw a living dinosaur? No, while it may make the stegosaur interpretation invalid, it may open up the possibility of the depiction being of a ceratopsian-like Arrhinoceratops, Diceratops, Eotriceratops, Ojoceratops, Wendiceratops, or Zuniceratops. All of these are two-horned ceratopsians (as opposed to the more famous three-horned Triceratops) can just as easily be used to explain the two horns and the neck frill on the head. If using this evidence in an apologetics argument, be upfront and state that there is dissenting opinion on the specific creature, even among creationists.
Dragon Petroglyph, Near Myton, Utah, USA
In 1978, researcher Kenneth B. Castleton published a two-volume series on Native American petroglyphs in Utah for the Utah Museum of Natural History. In volume one he included a drawing of a petroglyph that strongly resembles a fire-breathing dragon. The sketch is dated to 1971 and 1972, and the date of the petroglyph is assumed to be the late Fremont period (1000–1200 AD). But the location of that particular petroglyph is arguably the vaguest such one in the book. While that may be admirable from a conservation perspective, it greatly inhibits research. Castleton described the location as Wood’s Cave, but no such location is mentioned in any other literature. There is a badly weathered and eroded petroglyph that may be the same one (located in Little Brush Creek Cave, the same region which Castleton mentioned), but only the “distressed man” and the faint edges of the outline of the possible dragon are still visible. The inability to definitively identify this petroglyph makes this a conditional evidence at best.
Black Dragon Canyon “Pterosaur” Pictogram, Emery County, Utah
The people doing the study have a clear religious bias against biblical creation—and they have been up front about it.
Since 2015, the pterosaur interpretation of the pictogram has been seriously challenged and has even been disavowed by a few smaller creationist groups. However, we’re not convinced that this new interpretation is correct. The people doing the study have a clear religious bias against biblical creation—and they have been up front about it. The “new” images that are formed by their analysis through computer technology similar to Photoshop are completely ridiculous looking (e.g., a bug-eyed oddly elongated person with a strange face/head, a snake that doesn’t look like a snake, another person with what looks like “fairy wings” on his back, etc.), so we are skeptical. We are not convinced that the argument against the pterosaur interpretation is accurate. Those arguing against the pterosaur interpretation have a vested interest in “disproving” pterosaurs coexisted with mankind.
But one thing the authors of the paper fail to address is the appearance of “teeth” in the image of the pterosaur’s beak. If this is a man holding his arms out, why are there “spikes” on his arms? In the linked article above, they also point out that the right side “fish monster” was artificially joined (by a chalk line) to the body of the pterosaur, but then they allow those same chalk lines to join parts of the “human figure” on the left side of the pterosaur without any comment. The point is that their analysis is full of inconsistencies.
Evidences That Are Questionable and Should Be Cautiously Mentioned or Avoided
The Ica stones of Peru are a collection of over 16,000 engraved stones discovered starting in the 1930s. Many of these stones came from graves or other ancient archaeological sites. Many are housed in the Ica Stones Museum in Ica, Peru. The engraved pictures contain depictions of simple insects to llamas to elaborate fishing scenes, and some are what appear to be dinosaurs and pterosaurs. Some even depict humans fighting or riding these beasts.
When a farmer realized that people would buy rocks with dinosaurs on them for an extravagant price, forgeries began to appear.
When a farmer realized that people would buy rocks with dinosaurs on them for an extravagant price, forgeries began to appear. As a result, there have been some known forgeries beginning in the 1960s, and the provenance of many of the stones is unknown without careful analysis. Old stones can be identified by the desert varnish or oxidation layering the stone. The new ones do not have that varnish where the rock had been cut or etched. Sometimes it is easy to spot an errant depiction of a dinosaur that was made in the 1960s or ’70s that is a tip off (e.g., a fully erect T. rex dragging its tail). Some stones had been documented in the museum collection for years prior to the beginning of forgeries, which validates them as authentic stones.
The sheer number of stones found scattered across several locales in the Peruvian desert means that one farmer could not have produced the stones in such a short time. Most were excavated by local farmers from Ica, Nazca, and Paracas native burial sites, and Peruvian law has strict penalties against amateur archaeologists disturbing these sites, so the finders have refused to reveal the locales where many were found. Some have been found by professional archaeologists, but these have typically not been ones with dinosaur or pterosaur depictions, although there has been one such documented case in 2001. So there are likely thousands of authentic stones, and a few hundred (at most) forgeries. The key is figuring out which are which. So be discerning when referring to these. More research, collaboration, and documentation with archaeologists need to be done with these stones in order for them to be good evidences of dinosaur-and-man coexistence.
Clay pieces, even sturdy ones (like jars and pots) are rarely found intact, and 33,000 intricately fashioned, thin pieces argue against them surviving in that condition for any amount of time.
Discovered in July of 1944 (or 1945, accounts vary) in the city of Acámbaro, Mexico, some of these 33,000+ figurines depict known living reptiles, while others appear to be dinosaurs, mostly sauropods. Attempts at dating the figures have proven to be controversial with some yielding dates of 4,000 years and others no date (meaning they are modern pieces). American archaeologist Charles Di Peso examined the figurines in 1952, and largely due to the fact that they were fragile ceramic pieces and yet most were completely intact, believed their preservation to defy archaeological reality. Clay pieces, even sturdy ones (like jars and pots), are rarely found intact, and 33,000 intricately fashioned and thin pieces argue against them surviving in that condition for any amount of time. However, the sheer number of figurines seemed to make the possibility of a hoax remote, unless an entire crew of villagers was involved in producing them. And subsequent findings (before and after 1952) have shown that there were many broken figurines. Even so, more rigorous testing and peer review would need to be performed on these figures to make them stronger and usable evidences.
Evidences to Be Avoided
Paluxy River Tracks
These consist of a variety of postulated trace “evidences” as opposed to an engraved or painted evidence. Creation scientists from various organizations have investigated the Paluxy River fossils. Given the ambiguity of the evidence and the fact that much of what may have once been present is no longer available for study, we do not believe those claims of coexisting human and dinosaur prints are wholly supportable. Some of the allegedly human tracks may be artifacts of the erosion obscuring the claw marks of dinosaur tracks and making them superficially resemble human footprints. There would need to be properly documented research on the tracks before we would use them to argue the coexistence of humans and dinosaurs.
As more finds emerge from the site, some creationists are fully convinced of the new finds while other creationists remain skeptical. Any new finds need to be battled out in the peer-review process—especially considering the nature of what has happened previously at this site (i.e., jumping onto evidences before they were properly vetted). At this stage, we advise caution, but we also encourage researchers to publish documented findings in reputable peer-reviewed journals such as ARJ, CRSQ, etc.
Plesiosaur Caught by Japanese Fishing Boat
While the animal superficially resembled a plesiosaur, it was clearly dead and seriously decomposing.
Although not a depiction of a dinosaur made by man, this “evidence” is often used of living dinosaurs and so obviously fits into the question, “Did man live alongside dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and marine reptiles?” In April 1977, the Japanese fishing trawler Zuiyo-maru, operating off the coast of New Zealand, snagged a large carcass at a depth of about 1,000 feet. The carcass was brought to the surface and onto the ship. People onboard took pictures of it and tissue samples of it. The dead creature was about 33 feet long and weighed about 4,000 pounds. While the animal superficially resembled a plesiosaur, it was clearly dead and seriously decomposing. Later analysis of tissue taken from the creature before it was dumped back overboard showed that it was elastoidin, likely from a basking shark. Subsequent investigations into this matter (based on subsequent washed-ashore carcasses) have shown that the “plesiosaur” carcass was very similar in appearance to the rotting corpse of basking sharks. Therefore this “evidence” should be avoided.
Scripture Is Our Authority! But Evidences Can Corroborate Scripture
We also know from Scripture that dinosaurs and pterosaurs were taken onboard Noah’s ark (marine reptiles were not), and consequently we can boldly state that mankind lived with dinosaurs and pterosaurs after the flood.
We must reiterate that the reason we believe man lived with dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and marine reptiles is not because of the above or other evidences but because Scripture says so. Mankind was created on day six, one day after sea creatures and flying things, and the same day as all land animals. Therefore, dinosaurs lived with man. We also know from Scripture that dinosaurs and pterosaurs were taken onboard Noah’s ark (marine reptiles were not), and consequently we can boldly state that mankind lived with dinosaurs and pterosaurs after the flood. We know that at least some marine reptiles (Leviathan) survived the flood and lived in Job’s time, David and Asaph’s time, all the way up to the time of Isaiah (c.700 BC). They may have lived even later (and some may still be living today in deep lakes or the deep sea).
Evidence must be interpreted and therefore can be misinterpreted, turn out to be faulty, or even be a hoax. The Bible, however, IS truth and the basis for truth.
Evidences can be very helpful to point out to people the accuracy of the historicity of Scripture. But evidences must be interpreted and therefore can be misinterpreted. They can turn out to be faulty or even hoaxes. The Bible, however, IS truth and the basis for truth. When God speaks, we can trust it is the truth—it is impossible for God to lie (e.g., Hebrews 6:18 and Titus 1:2). Evidences are not a magic bullet but rather a road sign that confirms that you are on the right path to the destination: the truth found only in Scripture. And Scripture points us to Jesus Christ, the only Savior of men.
Kenneth B. Castleton, M.D., Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Utah, Volume One: The East and Northeast, Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah Museum of Natural History, 1984), 66 (Fig. 2.96).
Daniel Leen, A Gallery of Northwest Petroglyphs: Shamanic Art of the Pacific Northwest, https://www.danielleen.org/petroglyphs.html.
Edward J. Lenik, “Mythic Creatures: Serpents, Dragons, and Sea Monsters in Northeastern Rock Art,” Archaeology of Eastern North America 38 (2010): 23.
Palmer McMath, Colorado Archaeological Society, Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/1425711501080053/permalink/2103790413272155. Originally posted on Archaeological cultures - culturas arqueologicas Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/596541100504892/permalink/1114005818758415/.