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Answers Magazine

Dinosaur Killer

Volume 3, Issue 1 (Jan-Mar 2008)


Review by Greg Neyman

© Old Earth Ministries


     Paul Taylor of Answers in Genesis addresses the issue of the dinosaur extinction in an Answers Magazine article titled "Dinosaur Killer."1   Scientists have proposed that the dinosaurs became extinct about 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous Period.  A majority of scientists now believe the most likely cause of the dinosaurs' extinction to be a massive impact from space, from a comet or asteroid.


The K-T Boundary


     The evidence for the dinosaur extinction is based upon the K-T Boundary.  This is a thin layer of rock found around the world, which contains a high level of the chemical element Iridium.  Iridium is very rare on the earth's surface.  However, chondritic meteorites and asteroids contain a much higher level of iridium.  The idea that an impact caused the extinction was proposed by the Alverez family, along with two chemists.  It is known as the Alvarez HypothesisAll dinosaur fossils found to date are located below the K-T Boundary.   The idea was first proposed in 1980.  All they needed was the identification of an impact crater.


The Chicxulub Crater


     In 1990, a previously discovered crater was identified as the one causing the K-T Boundary.  This crater is known as the Chicxulub Crater, and it is located in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.  The estimated size of the meteorite was about 6 miles in diameter.  This impact caused a crater that is more than 110 miles in diameter.


Taylor's Problems


     Paul Taylor mentions three problems that he sees with this event causing the extinction of the dinosaurs.  First, he states "some extremely light-sensitive species in the ocean did survive."  He is right, but scientists already know this.  The impact had the effect of reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the surface of the earth by 10-20 percent.  There was a large impact upon photosynthetic life forms, which included plankton.  However, some survived.  No scientists see this as a 'problem' for the extinction theory. 

     Unfortunately, Taylor does not give his sources, nor provide any information such as the species he is referring to, so a detailed rebuttal is impossible.  (For a detailed article on the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction Event, click here.)

      The second problem he mentions is "the cloud would cause a long period of extreme cold, somewhat like the so-called “nuclear winter” that might follow the dropping of nuclear weapons."  The period of decreased sunlight lasted at most only 10 years.2  This so-called winter is the main reason that many species went extinct.  Obviously, if there were no decreased sunlight, there would have been no extinction event at all.  Using the cause of the extinction event as an argument against the extinction event is nonsense.

     His final problem is "there is too much iridium to fit with the theory. Although asteroids do have iridium in them, they do not normally spread out the iridium upon impact. (In other words, areas around impacts are not iridium-enriched.) In at least one case, the iridium would have taken half a million years to cover the earth, by evolutionary counting."  This argument is too general and contains no sources to verify his claims.

     Do meteorites spread out their iridium upon contact?  This is a topic of study that has only recently been investigated (last 30 years).  The evidence that they do comes from the K-T Boundary, and also from the Triassic-Jurassic Extinction event (although no suspect impact crater has been identified).  I'm not aware of any studies about this topic, and Taylor gives us no sources to investigate.

     Since we cannot examine his sources, let's do a little research on our own.  Do volcanoes contain sufficient iridium to support Taylor's claim that the iridium in the K-T Boundary came from volcanoes?  A recent study of volcanic ashes revealed concentrations that were a maximum of 610 ppt (parts per trillion).3  Translated, that comes out to 0.61 parts per billion.  Iridium concentrations in the K-T Boundary are 455 parts per billion.  The K-T Boundary contains 745 times the amount of iridium as volcanic ash.  I'm not sure how Taylor thinks that iridium from volcanoes could account for the K-T boundary, when volcanic ash contains so little iridium compared to the boundary.  Obviously, he didn't do the math.

     By contrast, the Willamette meteorite, the largest found in the United States, has an iridium content of 4,700 parts per billion, which is 7,704 times the concentration of iridium that is in volcanic ash.  It is clear that volcanic ash does not contain enough iridium to account for the K-T Boundary.  It is also clear that a meteorite is a much better source for iridium.  The source of the iridium in the K-T boundary must be from a meteorite.


Taylor's Solution


     Noah's Flood is mentioned as the cause of most of the dinosaur extinction.  However, this ignores the evidence that clearly indicates the dinosaurs did not die from Noah's Flood.  Rather than repeat it here, I've linked one article that contains some arguments against the Noah's Flood extinction theory.  




     Taylor gives no sources, and the three problems that he cites turn out to be nonsense.  He obviously did not do the math on the iridium concentrations for volcanoes vs. meteorites.  Taylor's arguments against the impact extinction theory are totally impotent.

     The meteor-impact theory has no impact upon old earth creationism.  You can accept the modern scientific theories concerning dinosaur extinction, and accept that God created the world 4.5 billion years ago.


1  Dinosaur Killer, by Paul Taylor.  Answers Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 1, January-March 2008.  pp. 64-66.


2  Ocampo, A, Vajda, V & Buffetaut, E (2006). Unravelling the Cretaceous–Paleogene (KT) Turnover, Evidence from Flora, Fauna and Geology in Biological Processes Associated with Impact Events (Cockell, C, Gilmour, I & Koeberl, C, editors). SpringerLink, 197–219.


3  Iridium geochemistry of volcanic ash layers from the early Eocene rifting of the northeastern North Atlantic and some other Phanerozoic events, B. Schmitz, and F. Asaro, Geological Society of America Bulletin, April 1996.  pp. 489-504 


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