Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Feyerabend and Creationism
Friday, September 22, 2006
A Creationist looks at the Royal Tyrell museum
Report from the Royal Tyrell museum, Drumheller, Alberta
Visited there today, spent about two hours touring the facility. In a word, WOW. It is without question a world-class dinosaur museum. It brings a whole raft of pertinent information to the dinosaur bed studies, and to creation and the flood! Hope you enjoy this report:
The Big Bird:
Right outside the door are several beautifully made and positioned dinosaur sculptures. I couldn't help but notice how bird-like they were made to appear; in particular the eyes. I simply mention this in passing, because anyone seeing these would immediately recognize the bird-like characteristics that the ARTISTS have put into the sculptures. The evolutionary propaganda has begun, and with a very subtle tack.
The "Death pose":
The first thing you are met with is an in-situ dinosaur cast showing the "death pose" that I have been studying for the past year or so. It appears that numerous dinosaurs here in Alberta are still articulated (the bones in the skeleton are still joined together) which is excellent for the study of this "death pose."
Before today, I had the opportunity to study about six different animals and dinosaurs exhibiting this pose; archaeopteryx was the first one drawn to my attention. For those not familiar with this, long necked, articulated animals in the fossil record commonly have their heads arched back as far as they can possibly go.
As was pointed out at this first dinosaur that meets you at the door, nobody really knows why, but the conventional thinking is that they laid out and dried up, the tendons on the back of the neck shriveled as it dried up, thus pulling the head back.
This has numerous problems with it:
- ALL dinosaur beds I have examined and read about to date are attributed to flash floods. There's a contradiction here: flash floods, meandering river beds, yet they "dry out in a desert", in the river bed they simultaneously never claimed dried up. At dinosaur monument for example, CLAMS are the most common fossil, not dinosaurs. Clams only live in continuous water, not streams or shallow rivers.
- the other major tendons in the body (with the exception of the tail, more on this in a second) are NOT contracted - any size, any strength. If it was the result of the neck tendon drying out, why didn't they ALL dry out and shrivel up? Especially the back leg tendons which are as strong or stronger than the neck tendons
I have claimed that the heads are arched back due to suffocation: The last thing to go underwater when drowning is the head. Furthermore, while some of the animals exhibiting this death pose have their mouths open, others do not. In either case, even humans that are suffocating arch their heads back. I used to have asthma, that's how I know.
What I'm suggesting is that they were buried alive, and the stress of this event is exhibited in their taphonomy in burial.
At the Tyrell they had Archaeopteryx, compsagnathus, and at least EIGHT dinosaurs all exhibiting the death pose. Of those, NONE had tensed legs or arms. Some have the tails arched back as well, which could also be a reaction to being buried alive, or Joe Taylor also suggested defication.
They cheerily display the dinosaurs eating each other, yet this is NEVER seen in the fossils themselves. One dinosaur had healed bite marks on its jaw.
Lots of various hadrosaurs - the duck billed dinosaurs.
The Polystrate Worms of the Burgess Shale:
This blew me away - I HAD to go ask for more info. They had a very nice model of not one, not two, but THREE worms, buried and preserved in a POLYSTRATE POSITION. This was in the Burgess Shale section, and the model showed them cutting through dozens of extremely fine shale layers. It seems odd to me that it never seemed to dawn on them to ask the question "WHY????"
This caught my attention because about two years ago, some of you may recall a "unistrate" fossil earthworm was dug up in the overburden limestone at the Paluxy river dinosaur trackway excavations. It was pretty obvious this earth worm was trapped in the rapidly hardened limestone - and was preserved in its burrow! However, it did not cut through any strata.
I went back and asked around, the curator wasn't around for questions, but they did have one chap in the lab section who was clearly quite knowledgeable on the Burgess Shale. While he didn't know specifics, he did agree that if that is what is represented by the model, that is the way it would've been found. He did seem to know a little bit about that particular find though, as he was fairly certain that the worms were preserved pretty good. He seemed to think they cut through about 20 centimetres of shale or so, which agreed with the interpretive plaque which said they were about 24 centimetres long.
This is the first compsagnathus I've ever had the opportunity to see. Before I read the plaque, I saw it from a distance away and the first thought that went through my head was "What is that - an archaeopteryx?" Once I found out it was compsagnathus, I took many pictures. Conveniently, they had it placed immediately beside the Eichstatt archaeopteryx cast.
For those not familiar with the debate, Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasigne had studied the lithographica Archaeopteryx years ago and had concluded that it was a FRAUD. That someone had put feather impressions on a compsagnathus skeleton. Some creationists and some evolutionists believe that to be true, others disagree and say it's legit. I'll admit I'm sitting on the fence on that debate - I've heard good arguments either way and actually have a cast of the wishbone from lithographica specifically because of that debate. I'm happy either way, but I just found it very funny that my first, immediate reaction was that what I saw was archaeopteryx, showing just how similar the two are!
The fossil scorpian tracks:
This was hilarious; and VERY subtle. Upstairs they had a nice display of various fossil trackways, including one they concluded looked identical to large, modern day scorpian tracks. Very nice fossil. One would miss the clincher of the deal if they didn't read the fine print.
Where did it come from?
Ellesmere Island, Nunavut! For those whose Canadian Geography is as lousy as my world geography, let me enlighten you. That's in the uh... ARCTIC. What on earth are fossil SCORPIAN tracks doing in the arctic???
The "PreCambrian" section was nothing less than fantastic. Many fine tax dollars indeed were spent on this room! Glass floor with large trilobites swimming around underneath your feet (well, staying still cause they're plastic, but you know what I mean), beatifully modeled sea life galore with incredible attention to detail. They've set the bar pretty high for us creationists.
Dinosaur skin impressions:
Several very nice dinosaur skin impressions were on display, including a fantastic, very large dinosaur track infill slab. The track itself must've been pushing thirty inches long, a theropod, and the pads and their texture were very clearly visible in the surprisingly coarse sandstone. It had to have been VERY watery mud to preserve such detail with such coarse grained sand.
These were the first fossil "burrows" from elsewhere in the world that I've gotten to see for myself. Down in my fossil stomping grounds in the Ottawa valley, I can get tons of these supposed "burrows" that evo's claim clearly represent long periods of time. I don't know what they are - but they're NOT burrows. They have dendritic branching patters and are clearly infilled with some kind of strange, fibrous material. They are definitely NOT burrows.
So these ones at drumheller caught my interest, because in pondering the debate I see the argument from burrows come up fairly regularly, yet no one ever provides photographs.
This blew me away as well because it was exactly like the "fossil raindrops" at Joggins, Nova Scotia. These are commonly cited by the skeptics as evidence for at least some period of time. Through a lot of hard, dangerous detective work last fall, I found one of the layers at Joggins that was covered in these "raindrop impressions." To sum it up, they were UPSIDE DOWN! i.e., they were BUMPS, not CRATERS. This even surprised Don, the owner of the Joggins fossil center, who's been collecting fossils at Joggins for 60 years!
Well, these worm "burrows" are along the same lines, and very difficult to describe. Yes, they look like burrows, but they're not HOLES or TUNNELS - they are bunches of sandstone cylinders bent in various directions! I don't know what they are, but they're NOT burrows! They may be the result of some kind of liquefaction or the like, but they're definitely not burrows.
Bioturbation and raised dinosaur tracks:
For those not familiar with the technical term, bioturbation is sediments that were disturbed by biology - i.e., a burrow. There was a very large, very nice slab with raised dinosaur tracks on it that had numerous burrows throughout it. Mike Oard has proposed that burrows are not necessarily an indication of a long time, but perhaps simply bugs or animals that were buried alive during the flood and were trying to burrow their way out - to escape.
I didn't look too long, but it looked to me as though ALL the burrows were coming from below and continuing up. In other words, there didn't seem to be any that went down and then up.
The raised dinosaur tracks are a bit of mystery, and I've seen this several times. The Paluxy, the coal creek trackway by Arches, and in a couple of displays at the Tyrell. I would propose that perhaps the dinosaur packed down the wet mud, making it more resistant to erosion, so that when the next layer of mud came in, it washed away a bit of the previous layer - leaving a RAISED dinosaur track. However, this particular slab would seem to refute my theory, as there seems to be no truncation or damage to the very, very clear burrows all throughout the rock.
But hey, let's not let evidence get in the road of such a beautiful theory!
Mass Burial Grave Sites:
Mass burials are the norm in the fossil record, not the exception. They made an excellent point at one of the displays of a mass burial site. They had a photograph of dozens of caribou in a river bed of Northern Manitoba during the Red River floods a few years back. These caribou had all drowned and wound up collecting in eddies and bays, making a "mass grave site."
It was an excellent point, and I'll mention several things here by first agreeing and then disagreeing.
I agree: What an excellent example of a mass burial site! Now, let's apply this to the dinosaur beds as they suggest. Let's take a quick look at some of these "mass burial sites" in the fossil record, shall we?
The Morrison formation is the one I'm most familiar with. It starts in New Mexico and Oklahoma, cuts through Utah and Colorado, up into Wyoming and North Dakota, and yes - right up here into Alberta.
In fact, really We have a mass burial site that begins in Alaska, follows the Rocky Mountain range all the way down to South America. Many of these areas have 3 to 30 bones per square metre.
Quick guess, we're talking TENS OF MILLIONS of dinosaurs.
Boy that's a big flood.
So let's disagree: The mass burial they show does not even remotely resemble the disarticulated MESS that make up the majority of the dinosaur beds. The bodies - even though they were being scavenged, are staying articulated. When they do decay and disintegrate, they do not retain the partial articulation we see in the dinosaur beds, such as at dinosaur monument.
The animals are not flattened by overburden as we see in the fossil record, and we need an awful lot of scavenging to disarticulate the fossils as we see them in the fossil record! It has to happen with essentially NO evidence of scavenging too! Though that was only a few years ago, there is no evidence of that mass grave left in Manitobe today. So how do we get mass dinosaur graves preserved when we do not see it happening today?
The Horse series:
Yup. Did I mention they have the Horse series on display?
Friday, September 08, 2006
The Design Matrix Blog
Monday, September 04, 2006
OT: Big Idea on TV!
If anyone has never seen VeggieTales before, I suggest you start out with Dave and the Giant Pickle. The recent Larry Boy and the Bad Apple is good, too. And, actually, the best one is probably their feature film, Jonah, which is fun for all ages.
If you know nothing about VeggieTales, I suggest a quick viewing of The Pirates who Don't Do Anything on YouTube. It's fun. Loosen up.