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Tyrannosaurus tissues from bone (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Tyrannosaurus tissues from bone (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CC371.1:

Soft, flexible tissue, complete blood vessels, and apparently intact cells were found when a Tyrannosaurus bone was broken open. Such preservation indicates that the bones are only a few thousand years old, not millions of years.


CreationWiki response: (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. The reports of the soft tissue, though remarkable, have been sensationalized further. The tissues were not soft and pliable originally. The tissues were rehydrated in the process of removing the surrounding mineral components of the bone.

So what? The same processed is used to retrieve blood vessels from fresh bone producing the same results. Fresh dehydrated blood vessels encrusted with bone are not soft and pliable either. The simple fact is that these tissues behaved much like fresh tissue would have.

Moreover, it is unknown whether the soft tissues are original tissues. Fossil flexible tissues and nucleated cells have been found before in which the original material was not preserved.

It is interesting that Talk Origins refers to a side article, while ignoring the main scientific report later in the same issue of Science. If they had bothered to go a few more pages they would have seen that the report shows evidence that points to it being original material. They not only found protein fragments with properties expected from original material, but they also showed that the tissues had a similar chemical composition to those of an ostrich. They are not identical, but close enough to suggest that they are original material.

Furthermore, Talk Origins is totally ignoring the presence of red blood cells. This time the evidence is too well documented to dismiss. There are several pictures of this soft tissue clearly showing red blood cells. This time it is not necessary to rely on descriptions since there are pictures, clearly showing red blood cells.

2. The age of fossils is not determined by how well they are preserved, because preservation depends far more on factors other than age.

While this is true, the state of preservation can set an upper limit to that age of a fossil. In this case, we have evidence of soft tissue and blood cells so well preserved that that it clearly limits the fossils to thousands of years, not millions.

The age of this particular bone was determined from the age of the rocks it was found in, namely, the Hell Creek Formation. This formation has been reliably dated by several independent methods.

None of the methods used to date such rocks are truly independent Dating methods, they are all calibrated to each other and the Geological column. Furthermore, evidence for accelerated decay shows how these rocks could be much younger than claimed.

3. DNA has never been recovered from any dinosaurs nor from anything as old as them, and researchers do not expect to find DNA from these soft tissues (though they can still hope). DNA has been recovered, however, from samples much more than 10,000 years old, even more than 300,000 years old. If dinosaur fossils were as young as creationists claim, finding soft tissues in them would not be news, and recovering DNA from them should be easy enough that it would have been done by now.

  1. Potential gaDNA (geologically ancient DNA) has been recovered from three magnolia leaves [1] [2], a tree, a plant, a bee (that has been replicated), two termites [3] [4], a weevil and a dinosaur eggshell--all much older than the maximum estimated time that DNA could survive, 1 million years. Since most of these experiments are old, not many of them used proper controls, making it quite possible that none of the experiments amplified and sequenced endogenous DNA. However, even if all of these experiments were contaminated, to say that DNA has never been recovered from any dinosaurs or anything as old as them is patently false.
  2. Due to the nature of Noah's Flood, creationists should neither expect nor be surprised by uncontaminated DNA from ancient fossils. If Noah's Flood occurred, all organisms would be subjected to boiling hot water, perfect conditions for destroying DNA very quickly. DNA can only survive hundreds or thousands of years if it is rapidly dehydrated, placed in an environment with lots of salt or frozen. This will prevent cellular enzymes and microorganisms from decaying the DNA; these processes normally destroy DNA before a few thousand years have passed (see this paper). This makes DNA from the time of Noah's flood rather rare. In addition, since we don't know the conditions of Noah's flood, like the temperature of the water, we don't know how quickly the DNA would have broken up into small sequences. If the water was hot enough, it is possible that no DNA has survived since the time of Noah's flood.
  3. This is Circular Reasoning since it presupposes that the other fossils are actually 10's of thousands to 300,000 years old. The fact is that if fossils are less than 10,000 years old then so are these fossils.