12 December 2012
Fossil Finds Contradict the Bible?
Europeans had been digging up strange-looking bones along lakebeds and riverbanks for hundreds of years before the 18th century (Strauss). Many of the finds confused the Europeans since they could not wrap their heads around where the bones were coming from. The intact skeleton of the marine reptile, Mosasaurus, was incredibly important as naturalist Georges Cuvier identified it as belonging to an extinct species (Strauss). From this point on, rational scientists realized they were dealing with creatures that lived and died millions of years before humans appeared on earth (Strauss). This lead to many scientists trying to answer questions about these ancient creatures, especially when they actually lived. Even still, less open-minded people stuck to a strict creationist viewpoint. Although there have been many fossil finds that would contradict what the Bible says about when they lived, God has already answered the questions for us with His word directly.
In 1676, a partial femur of a Megalosaurus was discovered in England. This bone was massive and unfortunately, 17th century theologists couldn’t fathom a huge, reptile like animal from a time before theirs (Strauss). A professor from Oxford University identified it as the femur of a human giant but in 1824, William Buckland gave this genus its distinctive name. It took another twenty years for the famous paleontologist, Richard Owen, to convincingly identify the Megalosaurus as a dinosaur (Strauss). In 1820, the Iguanodon, which was first investigated by Gideon Mantell, was identified as the second dinosaur to have a formal genus name. Its numerous fossils stirred up a debate about whether or not these extinct reptiles actually existed (Strauss). Georges Cuvier and William Buckland made a joke out of the situation exclaiming that the bones belonged to a fish or rhinoceros. Richard Owen had another perspective that basically hit the bulls-eye on the Cretaceous (Strauss). This began to spark the idea that the control of dinosaurs on land near the end of the Triassic period was then seen to have been as accidental as the replacement by therian mammals at the end of the Cretaceous (Sereno).
The first near-complete dinosaur fossil to be dug up in the United States was the Hadrosaurus (Strauss). For this reason, it is more historically important than in the paleontological field. It was discovered in New Jersey and it is now the state dinosaur, as there have been very few fossil finds discovered on the east coast. It was soon found to be linked to a huge family of duck-billed dinosaurs and was named by the American paleontologist, Joseph Leidy. Yet, it had still been debated by experts on whether or not the original fossil qualifies its own genus as two years later, Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, which shocked the world as it explained theories on evolution. Evidently, the next few years were good to Germany as they found a series of profound discoveries in limestone deposits of Solnhofen. This is where they found the beautifully preserved fossil of the Archaeopteryx, which lead people to believe it as the missing link between birds and dinosaurs as it was only a pigeon sized dinosaur (Strauss).
In the late 18th, early 19th century, most of the dinosaur fossils that were being discovered belonged to small ornithopods or marginally larger theropods (Strauss). The Diplodocus paved the way for the age of the giant sauropods when it was discovered in western North America in 1877. This age caught the attention of the public’s imagination much more than the prosaic age of the Megalosaurus and Iguanodon (Strauss). A few years after Diplodocus was found, paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope found another early theropod that he named Coelophysis. Although, it didn’t make a significant impact on society until he found countless Coelophysis skeletons mixed together at a fossil...