Dinosaurs, day care and diluvium


The seemingly bottomless pit of fossil discoveries from the Liaoning Province in north-eastern China has produced another surprise: dinosaurs (psittacosaurs) allegedly displaying communal parenting.


34 juvenile psittacosaurs were buried suddenly with one adult individual who is believed to have acted as a ‘day care supervisor’.  As for the way they were buried, National Geographic says, ‘Nobody knows what buried them so quickly.  Their den might have collapsed or flooded, or drifts of volcanic ash could have suffocated them.’ (Emphasis mine.)  Such an admitted ignorance is a little disconcerting coming from a respected (and massively supported) source!  To start with, the possible causes of death listed are mutually exclusive: if they were killed by a flood they could have not been suffocated by volcanic ash—and vice versa.  Also, flood sediments and volcanic ash are quite different and relatively easy to distinguish. 

In any case, here is yet another example in which even a staunchly evolutionary source does not rule out flooding as a possible cause of fossilization.  We have many times pointed out that many of the fossil dinosaurs strongly support the Noahic Flood.  (See: Did a meteor wipe out the dinosaurs?, Paleocene dinosaurs and the reinforcement syndrome, In the footsteps of giants).  Even the largest of these amazing creatures were not spared the effects of God’s wrath and punishment on mankind.

The discoverers of the psittacosaurs claim that so many juveniles would be most unlikely to have been from a single brood and therefore the adult buried with them may have been the ‘day care supervisor’.  The psittacosaurs were small dinosaurs (not bigger than 2 m or 6.5 ft as adults) and in this case they seemed to have been using a den.  Many speculations about these animals’ behaviour can be made but the words of Dr. Lawrence Witmer of the Ohio University are worth recalling :

‘Imagine an upside-down pyramid with, at the pointed bottom, the word “bones”.  Bones are the known commodity, the solid evidence.  They are aged; they may be broken, cracked, ambiguous.  But you can at least hold them in your hand.  Above bones on the inverted pyramid are soft tissues.  There aren’t many of those because they rarely fossilize.  Above that—so very far from the hard evidence of bones—is behavior.  Above that is environmental interaction.  The dream would be to know the behaviors of many different dinosaurs and to be able to put them in context so you’d know what dinosaurs ate and where they slept and what they feared and how they prowled the landscape.  And at the very top of the inverted pyramid, as far from science as you can get, is … well, probably the purple dinosaur known as Barney.’

Of course, the modern media ignores such specialists’ opinions.   Documentaries like Discovery Channel’s ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’ and Hollywood’s series ‘Jurassic Park’ are almost obsessive in their depiction of exactly this great  unknown of dinosaurstheir behavior (ethology).  We live in a time of powerful visual icons and unfortunately most young people learn mostly ‘visually’.  So whatever such motion pictures depict automatically becomes ’standard knowledge’, no matter how hypothetical or outright erroneous!  Bible-believing creationists are ruthlessly criticized and dragged into courts for using and promoting much more scientifically-solid information—but nobody has ever sued Discovery Channel or Hollywood for the wishful thinking and just-so stories masquerading as solid, evidence-based science that are extensively used in public schools!

  1. Fossils: Did Dinosaurs Have Day Care? National Geographic, June 2006, p.33.
  2. Achenbach, J., Flesh & Bone, National Geographic, March 2003, p.18.
Published: 26 July 2006