Colossal evidence of Creation and the Flood
The word ‘dreadnought’ evokes the idea of a seemingly invincible and titanic war machine and literally means ‘fearing nothing’ (from ‘dread’ plus ‘nought’). In recent history, it was the name given to a particular battleship HMS Dreadnought commissioned in 1906. With its steam turbines and all–big-gun armaments, it was so much faster and more powerful than the previous generation of battleships that they became obsolete—‘pre-dreadnoughts’. This new ship gave its name to a whole new class of battleships.
So Dreadnoughtus schrani seems a fitting name for a newly found dinosaur (found in Southern Patagonia, Argentina) that would surely have inspired dread in any creature near it. (Dreadnoughtus is the genus name; schrani is the species, after Adam Schran, Founder/CEO of software company Ascentive, who financially supported the research.)
The most complete fossilized sauropod dinosaur skeleton yet discovered belonged to an immense creature estimated to be around 25 metres (85 feet) long, to weigh 60 tonnes (65 tons), and as tall as a two-storey building just at the shoulder. And it was apparently not even fully mature at the time of death, as shown by the incomplete fusion of shoulder bones and young-looking bone-growing cells.1
Obviously impressed with the imagined potency of the herbivorous1 creature, discoverer Ken Lacovara (PhD, Associate Professor, Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science, College of Arts and Sciences, Drexel University) describes Dreadnoughtus this way:
“ … everything about this dinosaur is giant, the femur [the longest, thickest leg bone] is 6 feet tall…the tailbones are gargantuan with huge muscle scars that show us it essentially had a weaponized tail that was 30 feet long … this incredibly large and muscled individual that would have feared nothing in its landscape … this is an incredibly bulky, massively muscled tail, everything about this speaks to its power … a dinosaur in this mass range, 65 tons, is really pushing the limit of what is physiologically possible…”2
And the nature.com paper reporting the new discovery says, “… genus name alludes to the gigantic body size of the taxon (which presumably rendered healthy adult individuals nearly impervious to attack) …”1
One of the main items stressed in the reports is the quantity and quality of Dreadnoughtus’ remains. More than 45% of its bones were found, and 70% of the types of bone, while the second best comparable Titanosaur sauropod candidate (Futalognkosaurus) only had approximately 15% recovered (and about 27% of the types of bone)1. Other candidates for the largest dinosaurs are known from much fewer remains, such as Argentinosaurus (maybe 82 tonnes [90 tons], but only 5% of the skeleton found), or Amphicoelias fragillimus (claimed at 40–60 metres [130–200 feet] long and 122 tonnes [134 tons], but known only from one incomplete vertebra). Dreadnoughtus is much bigger than other gigantic dinosaurs known from relatively complete skeletons, such as Giraffititan brancai (formerly Brachiosaurus brancai, 34 tonnes [37 tons]). As for possible predators, even one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus rex (e.g. ‘Sue’), was a puny 6.5–9.5 tonnes (7–10 tons).
And one article hinted at the possibility of this fossil yielding soft tissue findings, to add to the growing list of discoveries, when it said,
Other work with Mary Schweitzer at North Carolina State University aims to recover ancient cells and soft tissue from the animal to understand its biological makeup.3
Regardless of whether soft tissues are present, how would such a massive beast (as well as another smaller titanosaur3 along with fragments of other dinosaurs as well3) be preserved so completely? Here are some suggestions from two different articles:
The dinosaur died after the ground on which it stood turned to quicksand in the wake of a flood, based on sedimentary deposits found at the site, researchers suggest. “The rapid and deep burial of the Dreadnoughtus type specimen accounts for its extraordinary completeness”.4
In the late Cretaceous period, the site was a mixed forest of conifers and broad-leafed trees cut through by meandering waterways. The rivers were prone to flooding, and the sudden surge of water would have turned surrounding flood plains into sinking sand. The Dreadnoughtus was apparently in the wrong place at the wrong time. “Shortly after these individuals died, or as they died, they were buried quickly and deeply in what was essentially quicksand. That led to the high number of bones and the exquisite preservation,” Lacovara said. 3
And a third posited:
The Patagonian rocks from which it was pulled suggest that the young animal’s life was cut short in a catastrophic flood.5
Evidence for evolution?
Now many will believe this is yet more proof of an evolutionary history, but consider what has actually been found. An enormous, extremely powerful herbivore with gigantic legs and a massive tail, was buried in sedimentary rock caused in flood-like conditions. And the amazing preservation of the animal shows all of this (preservation and rock formation) happened very quickly or the animal would have disarticulated and rotted away.
So even though the majority of the popular articles put all of the facts regarding Dreadnoughtus into an evolutionary framework, what has been found fits perfectly with the Genesis account of a recent creation followed by a global flood. This would have generated massive amounts of mineral-rich sediment that would have buried animals and hardened very quickly. Even the depiction of the creature fits beautifully with the description of one of the ‘chief creations’ that God made given in the book of Job.
Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox.
Behold, his strength in his loins, and his power in the muscles of his belly.
He makes his tail stiff like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are knit together.
His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like bars of iron.
He is the first of the works of God; let him who made him bring near his sword!—Job 40:15–19.
Now compare the description in Job to that given by evolutionary palaeontologist Ken Lacovara earlier in the article and you will see once again that far from the observable ‘facts’ disproving the Bible, they actually fit quite well. Actually there isn’t an observation that an evolutionist or a creationist make on which they do not agree (we are all observing the same things). What we disagree on is the interpretations of the facts observed.
Hence far from Dreadnoughtus being new evidence for evolution, it is actually wonderful support for the truth of God’s Word.
[Update: A later paper claims that the original estimate for the mass of Dreadnoughtus was too large by about a factor of two, although Lacovara disputes this.6]
References and notes
- Lacovara, K.J. et al., A gigantic, exceptionally complete titanosaurian sauropod dinosaur from southern Patagonia, Argentina, Nature Scientific Reports 4(6196), September 2014 | doi:10.1038/srep06196. Return to text.
- Geggel, L., Dreadnoughtus dinosaur weighed whopping 65 tons, feared nothing, 4 September 2014, livescience.com. Return to text.
- Sample, I., Battleship beast: colossal dinosaur skeleton found in southern Patagonia, 4 September 2014, theguardian.com. Return to text.
- Owen, J., Dreadnoughtus schrani: the newly discovered biggest dinosaur ever, 10 September 2014, independent.co.uk. Return to text.
- Amos, J., ‘Dreadnought’ dinosaur yields big bone haul, 4 September 2014, bbc.com Return to text.
- Bates, K.T. et al., Downsizing a giant: re-evaluating Dreadnoughtus body mass, Biology Letters, Royal Society, 10 June 2015 | doi:10.1098/rsbl.2015.0215. Return to text.
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