This article is from
Creation 18(2):52, March 1996

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The bigger they are …

by Carl Wieland


People and dinosaurs living at the same time? Surely the creationists can’t be right about that, some people think when confronted with the evidence. After all, they reason, any such people would be helpless prey for huge meat-eaters like Tyrannosaurus rex, wouldn’t they?

In fact, dinosaurs probably had to steer clear of people, not the other way around. Humans may have even helped in killing off the last remaining ones of some kinds of dinosaur. A number of factors need to be taken into account.

First, man’s intelligence and ingenuity—present from the beginning—have always been far more formidable than any animal’s size or strength. People have consistently shown that, especially when they band together, they can outwit, trap, and/or kill even the biggest elephants, whales, or rhinos—or the largest meat-eating cats or bears, even with so-called ‘stone age’ technology. There is no reason to think that the dinosaurs would have been the exception.

In any case, some scientists now believe that T. rex could not have been the ferocious hunter-killer depicted in, for example, the film Jurassic Park. For one thing, its teeth seem to have been too shallow-rooted to chomp into a live Triceratops without risking leaving many of them behind.1 [Ed. note, 2016: this was based on the current paleontological thinking at the time of writing. However, more recent information suggests that the T. rex had an extremely powerful bite, about 50,000 N (6 tons), or 3.5 times stronger than the strongest biter today, the Australian saltwater crocodile. Therefore it would be inadvisable to use this argument today—see Putting the bite on T. rex.]

As if that were not demotion enough from its status as everyone’s favourite fierce monster, dinosaur expert James Farlow, of Indiana-Purdue university, now says that if you were attacked by a charging T.rex, simply tripping it up or getting its feet somehow tangled would have been enough to smash it into a lifeless heap.2

If you were attacked by a charging T. rex, simply tripping it up or getting its feet somehow tangled would have been enough to smash it into a lifeless heap

Farlow and a physicist colleague have calculated that the huge beast was so heavy and high that if it tripped and fell while running, a tumbling tyrannosaur’s torso would have slammed into the ground at a deceleration of 6g (six times the acceleration due to gravity). Its tiny front legs would have been inadequate to substantially break its fall.

This means that in dry soil, its body would have made an impact crater 20 centimetres (eight inches) deep! Its head would have hit with a brain-shattering impact of more than twice as much force.

Farlow states that it is unlikely that a big dinosaur of this type could have run anywhere near as fast as some have assumed, because the danger of a stumble would have been too great. He says a fall at any speed could have been lethal.3

Thus, hunters would only have had to have caused T. rex to trip, stumble, and fall in order to obtain an easy prey.

References and notes

  1. See Focus: T. rex a wimp?, Creation 18(1):9. The item states in part that in a new display the American Museum of Natural History now claims that T. rex was a scavenger, not a ferocious predator. Return to text.
  2. Farlow, J.O., et al., Body Mass, Bone "Strength Indicator," and Cursorial Potential of Tyrannosaurus Rex, J. Vertebrate Paleontology 15(4):713–725 | http://www.jstor.org/stable/4523665. Return to text.
  3. It has been claimed recently that a new dinosaur, very similar to a tyrannosaur but possibly even larger, has been discovered. By Farlow’s assessment, something even taller and heavier would have its brains splattered even more surely by a simple fall. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Dinosaurs by Design
by Duane T Gish
US $16.00
Hard Cover
Stones and Bones
by Carl Wieland
US $3.50
Soft Cover
Guide to Dinosaurs
by Brian Thomas and Tim Clarey
US $17.00
Hard Cover

Readers’ comments

Marjory W.
What about the method Beowolf used to kill Grendel?
Andrew C.
From Marco Polo:
When therefore the animals make their way towards the places they usually haunt, they are wounded by these instruments, and speedily killed. The crows, as soon as they perceive them to be dead, set up to scream; and this serves as a signal to the hunters, who advance the spot, and proceed to separate the skin from the flesh, taking care immediately to secure the gall, which is most highly esteemed in medicine.

In cases of the bite of a mad dog, a penny weight of it, dissolved in wine, is administered. It is also useful in accelerating parturition, when the labor pains of women have come on. A small quantity of it being applied to carbuncles, pustules, or other eruptions on the body, they are presently dispersed; and it is efficacious in many other complaints.

The flesh also of the animal is sold at a dear rate, being thought to have a higher flavor than other kinds of meat, and by all persons it is esteemed a delicacy." (The Travels of Marco Polo, © 1948,Book 2, Chapter XL, pg. 185-186)
Andrew C.
Marco Polo, when visiting China in the 13th century, wrote in his journals:

"Leaving the city of Yachi, and traveling ten days in a westerly direction, you reach the province of Karazan, which is also the name of the chief city....Here are seen huge serpents, ten paces in length (about 30 feet), and ten spans (about 8 feet) girt of the body. At the fore part, near the head, they have two short legs, having three claws like those of a tiger, with eyes larger than a forepenny loaf (pane da quattro denari) and very glaring."

The jaws are wide enough to swallow a man, the teeth are large and sharp, and their whole appearance is so formidable, that neither man, nor any kind of animal can approach them without terror. Others are met with of a smaller size, being eight, six, or 5 paces long; and the following method is used for taking them. In the day-time, by reason of great heat, they lurk in caverns, from whence, at night, they issue to seek their food, and whatever beast they meet with and can lay hold of, whether tiger, wolf, or any other, they devour;

"After which they drag themselves towards some lake, spring of water, or river, in order to drink. By their motion in this way along the shore, and their vast weight, they make a deep impression, as if a heavy beam had been drawn along the sands. Those whose employment is to hunt them observe the track by which they are most frequently accustomed to go, and fix into the ground several pieces of wood, armed with sharp iron spikes, which they cover with sand in such a manner as not to be perceptible.
Mrs. R.
I take responsibility for not pre-reading the article; however, we make a habit of reading aloud at lunchtime the latest creation.com articles delivered by email, and I had read the shallow-rooted teeth argument to my children before seeing the editor's note. Back-pedaling ensued, and while it was a good discussion opportunity, it caused some confusion. Might I suggest correcting the article before disseminating it again? Thank you!
Don Batten
How delightful that you read the articles to your children at lunchtime. Apologies for any embarrassment, but it is a teaching opportunity, that historical science arguments are always open to revision or being overturned. That is the nature of such 'knowledge', and therefore we should not hitch our faith to such a flimsy wagon, but rather to the sure Word of God.
Also, just to explain, we can't change the article, as it is an archive article from a past Creation magazine, as it says in the header (top banner). If we changed the article we could be accused of deceit, so the best we can do is add the editorial note. We only recycle old articles that still have clear value, but sometimes, like with this one, a minor point in the article is out of date, and so we point this out. I must note that I know of no secular website that puts such notes in archived articles to inform readers (e.g. the article in Science that announced, on the basis of a couple of pieces of a skull, Pakicetus as a transitional form between a land mammal and whales, which subsequent discoveries thoroughly discredited; see Not at all like a whale).
Thomas R.
It’s also worth mentioning that very large dinosaurs probably have a limited number of climates that they can thrive in.
I.E. seems unlikely that they would live in deserts, ice and snow, or mountains regions.
People, on the other hand, can adapt to live just about anywhere, if they put their minds to it.
In other words, the supposed problems of human / dino coexistence are mostly imaginary, and based on fictitious movies and bad science.
Douglas W.
A fine article, and a brilliant cartoon - keep it up ....
Thomas .
Anyone who thinks dinosaurs couldn’t coexist with people (due to the “danger” to humans) really doesn’t understand animal behavior at all.

30 hyenas > 1 lion.
2 lions > 30 hyenas.

Some pointy sticks and some fire are more than enough to ward off very large animals.

Animals aren’t like people.

They don’t do what they are theoretically capable of, they do what they are mentally capable of.
Andrew C.
These articles are always a great delight and fascinating study, especially when looking at the real evidence of dinosaurs from a biblical perspective. Evolutionists and/or Secular scientists say that humans couldn't live with dinosaurs because of their immense size, (though most dinosaurs were quite small) therefore dangerous and of course dinosaurs hunting humans for prey. But, the point is what is the difference today and prior to the 21st century living with theses contemporary animals such as elephants, tigers, lions, crocodiles etc. These animals will kill us if we invade their territory. Additionally, if humans hunted dinosaurs to extinction after the flood that is, shouldn't we be seeing some sort of evidence supporting this. Furthermore, Evolutionists and/or secular scientists cannot call dinosaurs "Dinosaurs" going back 65 million years ago, since the word "Dinosaur" did not exist until 1841 by Richard Owen. They do not seem to mention that or hardly at all, let alone question it. Many Thanks Carl for this powerful insight.
Guy S.
Thanks Carl. Very helpful and makes absolute sense. Shows how people's thinking can be so easily warped by media i.e. Jurassic Park. Good articles like this make people think.
Judy S.
Thanks again for helping with the creation evolution problem, but why is geology such a black hole? it feel like the only option is super long ages like plate tectonics verses catastrophic plate tectonics ..CTP seems completely unreasonable and crazy but thats not the only one like you see massive cliffs and other hug things including massive mountains and the only reasonable explanation is billions of years
Don Batten
This comment is rather off topic, but see The earth: how old does it look? and the Related articles and Further reading recommended for that article. Geology is a black hole because of the false presupposition that the earth's history can be explained only using current processes (uniformitarianism). In this view there was never any global cataclysm such as the Flood of Noah. Dr John Baumgardner modelled plate tectonics and found that it could only happen fast; the slow and gradual view just does not work. So the 'millions of years' view is the unreasonable one. Search creation.com for articles on plate tectonics. Please also see: Age of the earth.
Courtney K.
What about the monster in Job, Leviathan? It's said: "Who can penetrate its double layer of armor?" and "The sword that reaches it has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin. Iron it treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood." So how in the world did it die off? It reminds me of St. George and the Dragon, and others legends like it... how it was undefeatable until it was defeated. The only thing I can think of is perhaps that after Job was written, they figured out a way to do it, either that, or it ran out of food somehow...
Don Batten
Note: " Humans may have even helped in killing off the last remaining ones of some kinds of dinosaur." (emphasis added).
For more, see What happened to the dinosaurs? (which is the first article listed under the 'Dinosaurs Q&A' in the Further reading that is recommended)
Philip P.
Not only helpful Carl but very entertaining as well. Many years since we spoke but glad you are still at it.
Don Batten
The article is from 1996 Creation magazine. A good article worth sharing again.
Carl has retired from public life, but I will make sure that he sees your comment.

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