This article is from
Creation 22(4):18–19, September 2000

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Editor’s note: As Creation magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this. For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones suggested in the Related Articles and Further Reading below.

‘Sue’ the T. rex

Does it show that dinosaurs evolved into birds?


On 17 May 2000, an amazingly complete 12.5-metre (41 foot) long skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex was unveiled at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. This huge creature, named ‘Sue’ after Sue Hendrickson who discovered it in 1990, was four metres (13 feet) tall at the hip, weighed seven tonnes, and had teeth as long as a human forearm.1

Take a close look at the rib-cage and notice the bulges on the front ribs revealing how bones which had broken were healed again. Many instances of injury and disease (including arthritis and cancer) have been found in other dinosaur bones. Since the Bible teaches that death and suffering are the result of sin, diseased animals could therefore not have existed before the Fall.

It also showed amazing design—CAT scans of its skull show that its senses were acute. The Jurassic Park scene in which a T. rex failed to detect a child literally under its nose is mythical. The T. rex could see and hear well, but its sense of smell was amazing. Their olfactory bulbs2 were the size of a grapefruit, and the bundle of olfactory nerves leading to the brain was wider than the spinal cord, judging by the size of the skull openings.1 National Geographic reported that is was also ‘built to move’, with ‘12–14 feet per stride’.3

When did Sue live and die?

The report stated that Sue had a broken rib, a left fibula (lower leg bone) deformed by an infection,3 and teeth marks from other T. rexes.1 The Bible teaches that death and suffering entered the world through the sin of Adam (Gen. 2:17, 3:20; Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21–22). In particular, death, ‘the last enemy’ (1 Cor. 15:26) could not have been part of God’s ‘very good’ creation (Gen. 1:31). Sue’s suffering in life and her death reflect a post-Fall, sin-cursed world. It is just not biblically possible to date her skeleton to millions of years before Adam sinned.

Evidence of blood cells and hemoglobin found in another T. rex bone supports the biblical teaching that they could not be millions of years old, because they would break down after only tens of thousands of years at most.4

The report also stated that Sue was probably ‘washed into this position by a flood’.1 This is consistent with the detailed description in Genesis chapters 6–8 of a global Flood in Noah’s time, which destroyed all land vertebrates and humans not on the Ark. Jesus Himself affirmed the reality of the Flood and Ark (Luke 17:26–27).

Could dinosaurs have evolved into birds

Readers of Creation magazine should be familiar with many reason why dinosaurs could not have evolved into birds, and even many evolutionists agree.5 They include:

  • The bird’s lung has a system of tubes connected to valves and air-sacs, while reptiles have a a bellows-type arrangement.
  • The embryonic thumb structure is different in dinosaurs and birds, so one could not have developed into the other.
  • Dinosaurs have entirely the wrong anatomy for developing flight, with their large tails and hindlimbs, and short forelimbs.
  • Nothing in Genesis says that dinosaurs could not have had feathers, but there is still no evidence for them.
  • Even some evolutionists believe that the claimed ’feathered dinosaurs’ were really flightless birds.6
  • These alleged ‘feathered dinosaurs’are ‘dated’ by evolutionists at millions of years later than undoubted birds.

Does Sue rescue evolution?

However, not for the first time, headlines have proclaimed that new discoveries have proven evolution beyond doubt. On Sue, they found two bones that had never before been found with T. rexes:7

  • A bone that ‘resembles a furcula, or wishbone’,3 supposedly unique to birds.
  • A small ear bone called the stirrup (stapes) that helps transmit sound to the inner ear. This is usually too delicate to be preserved
Dan Thompson WishboneComparison
The small bone shaped like a bent stick between the two shoulder blades is supposed to be a ‘wishbone’. A chicken wishbone is shown below it for comparison.

However, such similarities (allegedly ‘homologies’) are hardly proof that meat-eating dinosaurs evolved into birds. There are several points to consider:

  • None of the above arguments against the dino-to-bird dogma is affected in the slightest.
  • We should beware of evolutionists’ wishful thinking, where small scraps of bone are given an evolutionary slant. In Sue, the two shoulder blades seem to be joined by a very small, slightly curved piece of bone, and this was supposed to suggest that this was a wishbone like a bird’s. But a bird’s wishbone is a highly specialised v-shaped bone, and very springy so it can support wing motion. Sue’s wishbone’ could not function at all like a bird’s real wishbone.
  • Dinosaurs are very different form living reptiles—in particular, dinosaur legs were directly under their bodies, instead of being spread sideways. So it’s not surprising that they had some different bones. The similarities are more likely the result of a Creator who designed dinosaurs with organs they needed, including those that resembled other creatures’, and who wanted to leave the message that there is one designer not many.8
  • There are many similarities that no evolutionist uses to prove an evolutionary relationship; they claim that they evolved independently (‘convergent evolution’). But this shows that creationists can regard similarities as the result of a common designer. Two examples are:
    • Many dinosaurs have a hip bone arrangement that is so similar to that of birds that they are classified in the major group called the ‘bird-hipped dinosaurs’ (ornithischians—Greek ornis/ornitha = bird, ischion = hip). This includes the horned dinosaurs, duckbills, stegosaurs and armoured dinosaurs. ‘But despite this striking similarity there is no obvious close relationship between birds and ornithischians.’9 Rather, those evolutionists who promote the dino-to-bird theory believe that birds evolved from the other major subgroup, the ‘reptile-hipped dinosaurs’ (saurischians—Greek σαῦρος sauros = lizard/reptile), in particular, the small carnivorous ones similar to Velociraptor. Thus the evolutionists believe the bird hip arrangement evolved independently in two different creatures, but creationists can point to a common designer.
    • Although evolutionists believe that feathers evolved from scales, the two have very little in common. Rather, feathers are strikingly similar to hairs in many ways, including coming from follicles in the skin, while scales are just skin folds.5(b) In fact, feathers on flightless birds, which merely need to be heat insulators rather than being amazingly designed aerodynamically, resemble hairs in shape as well. But since evolutionists don’t (at present) believe birds evolved from mammals, they believe instead that these hairs and feathers evolved independently.


  1. The top T. rex makes her entrance, msnbc.com, May 2000. Return to text.
  2. Stemlike projections under the front part of the brain that sort the nerve impulses from the nose and transmit them to the brain for processing. See ‘Sensory Reception: Smell (Olfactory) Sense’, Britannica 97 CD. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 1997. Return to text.
  3. Webster, D., Debut Sue, National Geographic 197(6):24–37, June 2000. Return to text.
  4. Wieland, C., Sensational dinosaur blood report, Creation 19(4):42–43, 1997; cf. Schweitzer, M. and Staedter, I., The Real Jurassic Park, Earth, pp.55–57,. June 1997; Mary Schweitzer, cited on p. 160 of Morell, V., Dino DNA: The hunt and the hype, Science 261(5118):160–162, July 9, 1993. Return to text.
  5. (a) Creation 11(1):31–32, 1998; (b) 16(4):16–19, 1994; (c) 19(2):6, 1997, (d) 20(2):41, 1998; (e) 21(4):14–15, 1999. Return to text.
  6. I’m not referring here to the infamous fraudulent fossil called Archaeoraptor promoted by National Geographic, but to other claims like Caudipteryx. Return to text.
  7. Michael Conlon, Landmark Dinosaur Unveiled, live.altavista.com, May 2000. Return to text.
  8. ReMine, W.J., The Biotic Message, St. Paul Science, St. Paul, MN, USA, 1993. Return to text.
  9. Norman, D., The Prehistoric World of the Dinosaur, Bison Books, London, UK, p.22, 1989. Return to text.