June 17, 2024

Flintstones Archaeology

My presentation to the Humanists of Houston, 2013/02/16, recorded by Steve Jordan and Vic Wang.

YouTube player

Most of my references came from this creationist website: http://www.genesispark.com/

I probably should have mentioned here how there was never any unfossilized original biological material, and certainly no undecomposed blood cells confirmed found in any non-avian dinosaurs.  If anyone wants to contest me on that, here is a link to where Pastor Bob Enyart made those specific claims with several scientific citations.


In that link, I and others carefully examined each of his references and explained to him how none of them actually say what he said they would.

I had hoped that the creationists’ claims about “Carbon14 everywhere” would come up in the Q&A, and it did.  Sadly the audio cut out of both recordings during various parts of that, and I could not include it here.  It’s probably just as well, as I think it ends better this way anyway.

Since I mentioned it in my talk, here is a link to my 19,000-word critique of the 2nd chapter of Dr. Jobe Martin’s book, ‘Evolution of a Creationist’  http://tinyurl.com/3ftk8

12 thoughts on “Flintstones Archaeology

    1. I’m a huge Gurney fan and that’s definitely his work, it’s one of the major two page illustrations in the first Dinotopia book. I’m not sure a BA in anthropology makes someone a scientist but he is certainly as up to date on paleontology and evolution as anyone who isn’t a researcher in those fields can be.

  1. I realize that your time spent blogging on this site is limited by a very busy schedule as well as familial obligations but I would love to see you post more of your lectures here. I normally spend most of my internet time on FTB and rarely hang out on YouTube so I don’t get to see too many of your videos. My loss, you are the only person that I enjoy listening to as much as I enjoy hearing Neil deGrasse Tyson or the late Christopher Hitchens. Keep up the good work. Knowing that the biblical unicorn was probably a rhino is a true gem and I thank you for it.

  2. I wish I could have been there. I set up gigs in an underground performance space in Eastwood and had to work that afternoon and evening. I promise I will be there the next time you come to town .

  3. > …no undecomposed blood cells confirmed found in any non-avian dinosaurs…

    In Jack Horner’s TED talk on Building a Dinosaur from a Chicken (http://www.ted.com/talks/jack_horner_building_a_dinosaur_from_a_chicken.html) from March 2011, at about 5:30, he talks about his associate having found what appear to be red blood cells and, with further testing, having found heme molecules.

    The blood cells and heme were found in a 68 mya T. Rex by Dr. Mary Schweitzer, as described in this article from Smithsonian: Dinosaur Shocker http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/dinosaur.html, in which she also complains about her findings being hijacked by young-earth creationists.

  4. There was no blood cells, muscle tissue, or the like. Read the original paper. All they found was a complete skeleton.

    1. I read the original papers. Apparently, you didn’t. You could have checked out the links I provided above, which clearly state details regarding findings fossilized soft tissues. Those research papers were published in 1997 and 2007. Additional papers have been published since, with findings of other fossilized cells. You could have gone to PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/) to look up the original papers by Schweitzer, et al. You didn’t. Since this appears to be a challenge for you, I provide here very detailed information, including titles, full citations, links and abstracts, and also a figure link. Enjoy.

      Yes. Blood cells, blood vessels, and blood molecules along with other cell types and soft tissues. In 68 mya dinosaur bones.

      The original paper regarding the soft tissues is here:

      “Soft tissue and cellular preservation in vertebrate skeletal elements from the Cretaceous to the present”

      Mary Higby Schweitzer, Jennifer L Wittmeyer, and John R Horner, Proc Biol Sci. 2007 January 22; 274(1607): 183–197., Published online 2006 October 31. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2006.3705, PMCID: PMC1685849

      “Soft tissues and cell-like microstructures derived from skeletal elements of a well-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex (MOR 1125) were represented by four components in fragments of demineralized cortical and/or medullary bone: flexible and fibrous bone matrix; transparent, hollow and pliable blood vessels; intravascular material, including in some cases, structures morphologically reminiscent of vertebrate red blood cells; and osteocytes with intracellular contents and flexible filipodia.”

      Figure 3 from the above article, with 21 images and their descriptions, is here:

      Soft tissue and cells from selected dinosaur specimens. [includes T. rex and Triceratops horridus]


      Image (c) is described as: “(c) Vessel fragment filled with small red microstructures with opaque centres, surrounded by fibrous bone matrix containing osteocytes. Pigmentation is natural.” [T. rex]

      The following is a more recent article, at the web site of Nature magazine, which has validated and extended some of Schweitzer’s 2007 findings, in this case about osteocytes (bone cells).

      Molecular analysis supports controversial claim for dinosaur cells (article about a research paper)


      22 October 2012

      “The latest evidence comes from a molecular analysis of what look to be bone cells, or osteocytes, from T. rex and Brachylophosaurus canadensis. The researchers isolated the possible osteocytes and subjected them to several tests. When they exposed the cell-like structures to an antibody that targets a protein called PHEX found only in bird osteocytes* (birds are descended from dinosaurs), the structures reacted, as would be expected of dinosaur osteocytes. And when the team subjected the supposed dinosaur cells to other antibodies that target DNA, the antibodies bound to material in small, specific regions inside the apparent cell membrane. Furthermore, using a technique called mass spectrometry, the investigators found amino acid sequences of proteins in extracts of the dinosaur bone that matched sequences from proteins called actin, tubulin and histone4 that are present in the cells of all animals.”

      The research paper, described in the above article, from the prestigious Nature magazine, is here:

      Molecular analyses of dinosaur osteocytes support the presence of endogenous molecules

      Schweitzer MH, Zheng W, Cleland TP, Bern M., Bone. 2013 Jan;52(1):414-23. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2012.10.010. Epub 2012 Oct 17. PMID: 23085295, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1685849/

      “The discovery of soft, transparent microstructures in dinosaur bone consistent in morphology with osteocytes was controversial. We hypothesize that, if original, these microstructures will have molecular features in common with extant osteocytes. We present immunological and mass spectrometry evidence for preservation of proteins comprising extant osteocytes (Actin, Tubulin, PHEX, Histone H4) in osteocytes recovered from two non-avian dinosaurs. Furthermore, antibodies to DNA show localized binding to these microstructures, which also react positively with DNA intercalating stains propidium iodide (PI) and 4′,6′-diamidino-2-phenylindole dihydrochloride (DAPI). Each antibody binds dinosaur cells in patterns similar to extant cells. These data are the first to support preservation of multiple proteins and to present multiple lines of evidence for material consistent with DNA in dinosaurs, supporting the hypothesis that these structures were part of the once living animals. We propose mechanisms for preservation of cells and component molecules, and discuss implications for dinosaurian cellular biology.”

      An earlier article from 1997 with Schweitzer as the lead author, reported finding and testing blood-related molecules, including heme, in T. rex bones. The article is here, in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

      Heme compounds in dinosaur trabecular bone.

      Schweitzer MH, Marshall M, Carron K, Bohle DS, Busse SC, Arnold EV, Barnard D, Horner JR, Starkey JR, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Jun 10;94(12):6291-6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9177210/

      “Six independent lines of evidence point to the existence of heme-containing compounds and/or hemoglobin breakdown products in extracts of trabecular tissues of the large theropod dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex. These include signatures from nuclear magnetic resonance and electron spin resonance that indicate the presence of a paramagnetic compound consistent with heme. In addition, UV/visible spectroscopy and high performance liquid chromatography data are consistent with the Soret absorbance characteristic of this molecule. Resonance Raman profiles are also consistent with a modified heme structure. Finally, when dinosaurian tissues were extracted for protein fragments and were used to immunize rats, the resulting antisera reacted positively with purified avian and mammalian hemoglobins. The most parsimonious explanation of this evidence is the presence of blood-derived hemoglobin compounds preserved in the dinosaurian tissues.”

  5. Awesome talk. Darwin (my Savannah monitor) especially liked the bit about dragons. Problem is, he’s been strutting around the house, head held extra high, bragging to everyone that he’s a Savannah dragon now. Add that to the extra swish in his step since he started watching Gator Boys, and I’m thinking of changing his name to Trump! Thanks for adding the don’t keep varanids as pets comment in there. I know it’s ironic that only owners of one monitor species or another are the ones to say this, but these awesome critters are way more work than most would believe. Although, hypocritically, I wouldn’t trade Darwin/Trump for the world. As long as he doesn’t get any cockier!

  6. This is the best one you’ve ever done.

    I once wasted an afternoon watching Hovind’s “Dinosaurs and the Bible,” and I couldn’t stop laughing hysterically at all the claims of living dinosaurs (which didn’t include any birds of course).

    But I died when he brought up the “Lake Erie Monster” taxidermy was was so obviously a contrived taxidermy of a fish, most likely a burbot.

    The best way to blow someone’s mind is to say the following:

    Guess what was not a dinosaur? A plesiosaur. Guess what is? A chicken.

  7. I am really impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one nowadays..

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