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A mummified dinosaur reminds us that evolutionary ages are often only superficially accurate.
The fossilized Edmontosaurus dinosaur, which has been dubbed Dakota, was originally discovered in 1999 by a Yale University paleontology student in his uncle’s Badlands ranch. The actual unearthing of the fossil didn’t begin until 2004, and a team in the basement of North Dakota Heritage Center is now chiseling away at the rock that still surrounds Dakota.
What makes this story of a dinosaur fossil different than most, though, is the incredible preservation of Dakota. The AP reports that the duckbilled dinosaur fossil includes fossilized skin that is “as hard as iron.” It thus joins only four other such mummified dinosaurs “of any significance” in the world, according to project consultant Stephen Begin.
Begin added, “It may turn out to be one of the best mummies, because of the quality of the skin that we’re finding and the extent of the skin that’s on the specimen.” He explained that most dinosaur mummies lack sufficient skin to be useful for research or education.
The team used a CT scanner to examine the dinosaur, which is still partially hidden in nearly five tons of sandstone. Though the creature’s skeleton is somewhat curled up, its original length would be around 30 ft (9m).
Toeing the line of evolutionary timetables, Dakota was assumed to have fossilized some 65 million years ago. The researchers, according to the Associated Press, “say Dakota must have been buried rapidly and in just the right environment for the texture of the skin to be preserved,” since animal tissue otherwise decomposes shortly after death (the tissue that isn’t consumed by scavengers, that is). Manchester University paleontologist Phillip Manning, a team member, explained what happened concisely: “The process of decay was overtaken by that of fossilization, preserving many of the soft-tissue structures.” He continued:
“This is the closest many people will ever get to seeing what large parts of a dinosaur actually looked like, in the flesh. . . . This is not the usual disjointed sentence or fragment of a word that the fossil records offer up as evidence of past life. This is a full chapter.”
It will take a year or more, according to North Dakota Geological Survey paleontologist John Hoganson, to fully extract the carcass, after which it will be displayed in the Heritage Center and may eventually go on tour. Nevertheless, the fossil has already inspired two books (one for children) and National Geographic television programs.
So why the date of 65 (or 67) million years?2 Hoganson explained, “[The Badlands are] one of the few places in the world where you can actually see the boundary line where the dinosaurs became extinct, the time boundary. In the Badlands, this layer is exposed in certain places.” Hoganson is referring to the K–T extinction boundary, which allegedly divides the Cretaceous Period from the Tertiary Period in the fossil record and marks the extinction of the dinosaurs. Thus, the team must date the find as at least 65 million years old—despite any evidence otherwise—just so it lines up with evolutionary theory and the uniformitarian understanding of the fossil record.
That said, we find a few flaws in assigning this date to Dakota—and it’s important to remember that that’s what scientists do: assign dates based on circumstantial evidence. Fossils don’t come stamped with exact dates!3
The scientists explain how Dakota must have been “buried rapidly.”The scientists explain how Dakota must have been “buried rapidly.” That is exactly the explanation creation scientists give, but we have a clear, global explanation for the millions of fossils we have, which are time and time again shown to have been buried rapidly and catastrophically: the Flood of Noah’s day, which unleashed catastrophes worldwide and covered the world in water for a year. Starting from this viewpoint, we can make sense of these many fossils buried rapidly and recently—just a few thousand years ago.
Ultimately, this news shows us once again that science is beholden to one’s worldview. In this case, as in many, the old ages required by the fossil record—which are in turn required by the time line evolutionary theory needs—dictate the dating of the fossil. Starting from Scripture, we have the answers that explain why we find millions of fossils laid down catastrophically in rock layers all over the earth: the global Flood that the Bible describes.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.