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Creation 42(4):15, October 2020

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DNA detected in duckbilled dino

Science Photo Library / Alamy Stock Photoduckbilled-dino


“I couldn’t believe it, my heart almost stopped beating.” This was one of the research team’s reactions when they found evidence of proteins, chromosomes, and chemical markers of dinosaur DNA in the remains of a duckbilled dinosaur (Hypacrosaurus stebingeri).1

Dozens of disarticulated baby dinosaurs were discovered in the 1980s at Two Medicine Formation in northern Montana. A recent detailed examination of one of the skulls led the team to identify cartilage cells, with internal structures resembling nuclei and chromosomes.

The team applied to the cells two chemical stains that each react to DNA. These were DAPI (shown in blue) and PI, which unlike DAPI only does so in dead cells (shown in red).

The results shown mean that double-stranded DNA with a minimum length of six base pairs (BP) is present in these cells. The paper concluded, “The identification of chemical markers of DNA in Hypacrosaurus suggest[s] it may preserve much longer than originally proposed.”

Of course, not everyone is happy with this find.2 The dinosaur is ‘dated’ at 75 million years old, but precise calculations based on the laws of science demand that DNA should be totally disintegrated long before that.

One paper calculated that DNA should be totally fragmented to one BP in about 6.8 million years even if frozen to –5°C. This is less than a tenth of the claimed age of the dino fossil. But at 15°C and 10,000 years, the average length of DNA would be about 13 BP.3

The Bible is clear that these dinosaur remains cannot be millions of years old. They were likely buried in sediment as a result of the global Noahic Flood around 4,500 years ago. The calculated figures from real chemistry are clearly consistent with this—and totally inconsistent with millions of years.

Credit – National Science Review 7(4), Apr 2020DNA-Detected-diagram

References and notes

  1. Bailleul, A.M. and 5 others, Evidence of proteins, chromosomes, and chemical markers of DNA in exceptionally preserved dinosaur cartilage, National Science Review 7(4):815–822, Apr 2020. Return to text.
  2. Dvorsky, G., Paleontologists are sceptical about baby dinosaur cells supposedly found in fossil, gizmodo.com, 3 Feb 2020. Return to text.
  3. Allentoft, M.E. and 13 others, The half-life of DNA in bone: measuring decay kinetics in 158 dated fossils, Proc. Royal Society B 279(1748):4724–4733, 7 Dec 2012; Table 1. See also creation.com/dino-dna. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments

Thomas R.
Is it just me, or does it sound like a logical contradiction when long agers use neutron bombardment theory to suggest that ¹⁴C is replenished in situ in the earth (at a sufficient enough rate to overcome most of the half-life decay), but ignore that energy source as a possible contributing agent in breaking down DNA over long periods of time?
Jonathan Sarfati
Yes, and when they say radiometric dating is reliable, except when neutron bombardment (or contamination) means that they don’t give approved dates. Or for that matter, if neutrons really are turning ¹⁴N into ¹⁴C, why the dates don’t heavily depend on nitrogen concentration. See for example or why ¹⁴C-dates don't depend on nitrogen contamination at other times. See for example the section Objections (technical) and answers in Diamonds: a creationist’s best friend and Radioactive dating methods: Ways they make conflicting results tell the same story.
Bruce M.
Thank you for this insightful article. I once believed in Evolution—not as a theory, but fact. I spent years looking for solid evidence to back up the theory to show my Christian friends how foolish they were to believe that some God created everything. I could never find solid data to demonstrate anything more than microevolution.
When I myself became a Believer in the authority of the Bible, there were few scientists who offered concrete proof for Creation. Now we have an abundance of scientific data pointing towards a Creator.
[Hyperlinks added—Ed.]
Dave K.
Thanks for the update on these findings. To cling to the 75 million year dating of this dinosaur is a denial of science.
Harvey S.
The idea that DNA shouldn’t be able to last millions of years has been referenced many times on this site. I don't disagree with that statement but I would be interested in a more detailed explanation of why that is the case. If I remember correctly the explanation has to do with thermodynamics but that is all I remember.
Jonathan Sarfati
Everything has to with thermodynamics, but when it comes to DNA breakdown, the issue is reaction kinetics. Ref. 3 of the article is a kinetic study of DNA breakdown. The instability of DNA was a discovery important enough to win the 2015 Nobel Prize for Chemistry (see the last two related articles).
Brian T.
Is the DNA able to prove that Dinosaurs are not related to Birds?
Jonathan Sarfati
Unfortunately there is not enough DNA to show that.

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