By Greg Neyman
© 2008, Old Earth Ministries
First Published on the Old Earth Ministries Website
The Institute for Creation Research's news article titled "The Dinosaur Mummy", by Brian Thomas, shows a common leap that most young earth believers (and young earth scientists) make concerning evidence.1 Thomas tells the story of the dinosaur Leonardo, which was found in 2000 in Montana. The dinosaur was found to be mummified, with 90 percent of its body covered by skin. His stomach even had magnolia, fern, and conifer vegetation, revealing Leonardo's last meal.
Thomas and other young earth creationists take this to mean that the dinosaur was buried rapidly, and they are probably correct in this assumption. Due to the dinosaur's preserved nature, they also presume that it had to have happened recently, during the Flood of Noah, which young earth creationists claim happened a little over 4,000 years ago. Thomas claims that Leonardo mystifies those who believe in an old earth, but the dinosaur fits well with the young earth model.
There are several problems with this interpretation. First, the "common leap" that young earth creationists are guilty of is this...since this one dinosaur is mummified, then it must be a recent burial, some thousands of years ago. This leap ignores the thousands upon thousands of other dinosaur fossils, which shows no evidence of mummification and recent burial. If the worldwide flood did kill Leonardo, then we would expect many other fossil dinosaurs to be in a similar state of preservation. However, they are not. Preserved soft tissue parts have been found on less than one tenth of one percent of all dinosaurs found, or one out of a thousand.2 In fact, only three other so-called "mummy" dinosaurs have ever been found. Clearly, the numbers of mummified dinosaurs do not support the young earth claim that Noah's Flood killed them 4,000 years ago.
Again, we have a case where one single piece of evidence seems to point to a young age, so young earthers assume that all dinosaurs are young. It's like having a container with 100,000 M&M's, and finding one of them that is white, and then you assume that they are all white. They ignore the color of the rest of the M&M's. (You can read more about this young earth method of selectivity in the article Morton's Demon.)
One other thing which the author does not mention. Here is the truth about Leonardo:
His fossilized skeleton is covered in soft tissue—skin, scales, muscle, foot pads—and even his last meal is in his stomach. The actual tissue has decayed over the millennia, and has been replaced by minerals. What's left for scientists to study is a fossil of a dinosaur mummy.2
Although Leonardo is called a mummy, he in no way resembles the level of preservation of Egyptian mummies. In a typical mummy, the actual skin and flesh have been preserved.3 In Leonardo, the soft tissue has decayed and been replaced by minerals, known as permineralization.4 Scientists can study the soft tissue of Leonardo because the actual structure of the tissue has been preserved by minerals which have replaced the tissue, and retained the original form of the tissue. The original tissue, however, is long gone. Leonardo is nothing more than a fossil.
Leonardo is not much different than other dinosaurs, in that no actual soft tissue has been preserved. Young earth arguments based on the preservation of soft tissue have no basis in fact. They have focused on the use of the word "mummy," and make assumptions based solely on this word. This dinosaur does not support young earth creationism in any way.
2 "Mummified" Dinosaur Discovered in Montana, National Geographic
3 Mummy, Wikipedia
4 Permineralization, from Wikipedia
If you are not a Christian, and you have been holding out on making a decision for Christ because the Church always preached a message that was contrary to what you saw in the scientific world, then rest assured that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and you can believe in Christ and receive salvation, while still believing in an old earth. Click here for more.
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understanding how to merge science and the Bible. To learn more
about old earth creationism, see
Old Earth Belief,
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Can You Be A
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