Dinosaur Blood and the Age of the Earth

Fazale Rana

Introduction: What's the Issue?

Uses "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" as his organizing image.

p10 Soft tissue from about 80 Myr has been repeatedly found.


  • Capillary-like structures
  • cell remnants
  • protein fragments
  • skin and feather pigments


  • quinones from sea lily, 350 Myr
  • ink within ink sacks of fossil cuttlefish, 160 Myr
  • chitin from cuttlefish 34 Myr
  • sponges 505 Myr
  • shell protein from mollusks, 15 Myr

This raises the possibility of learning about the biology of ancient organisms.

p11 Response of YEC community: there you are! It can't be millions of years! Its from a global flood!

p11 Rana concedes that paleontologists did not expect that soft tissue would remain.

p11 YEC organizations have done some detailed research, iDINO project, fossilized horn of triceratops at 68 Myr, but carbon dated at 40,000yrs.

p12 Rana joins the concerns of Christians about the negative effects on evangelism - persons reject Christianity on the assumption that it teaches a young earth.

p12-13 Preview of book content:

  1. Discovery of widespread soft tissue
  2. Why YECs think its evidence for young earth challenges radiometric dating
  3. Radiometric dating is reliable
  4. How can soft tissue persist?

1. Dinosaur Blood in Fossils: Who Would Believe It?

p15 Dinosaur eggs were found in nests, believed to be Hadrosaurs, China, 1920s. Eggs have been found all over the world, up to 200 Myr. Some dinosaur embryos have been detected by CAT scans and other Xray techniques. In 2015 in Germany, pigments found in dinosaur eggs that they think point to bluegreen eggs.

p16 Introduces Mary Schweitzer in 2005, with a breakthrough with organic matter in fossilized eggshells. Dated 70Myr. In Argentina, ground up pieces of fossilized eggshells and detected egg protein ovalbumin.

p16 Goes back to Schweitzer's discovery in 1992, as a graduate student working with Jack Horner.

p16-17 Mary Schweitzer's story

  • Interrupted education to start a family, then returned to seek a degree in science education
  • Became a substitute teacher, but missed the research
  • Audited class from Jack Horner
  • Volunteered in Horner's lab, Museum of the Rockies
  • Notorious for asking questions, Horner advised graduate studies
  • Thin sections of dinosaur bone, asked help from friend in veterinary studies who was bone expert
  • Friend took slide to professional meeting, pointed out that there were red blood cells in 68Myr fossil
  • Horner angry,then curious, red blood cells with nuclei, mammalian rbc lack nuclei, but those of birds and reptiles have them.
  • Horner's challenge "Prove that they are not red blood cells."

p18 Schweitzer and Horner papers in 97, tried to prove not RBCs, but found amino acids glycine and hydroxylysine, prominent in bone collagen. Mixture of L&D forms, so very old and likely not from contamination. If collagen, then maybe RBCs.

p18 Demonstrated antibodies generated from fossil bone extracts binding to hemoglobin from turkeys and rats. Indication of hemoglobin or fragments in fossilized bones.

p19 Detected heme in fossilized bones.

p19 In 2003 Trex fossil found in Hell Creek Formation, Montana, dated 68Myr. Fragments of the femur were analyzed by dissolving with acid. Found blood vessels - flexible, transparent and hollow. Inside were round microstructures like RBCs. Flexible, fibrous,collagen-containing material was found. Amino acid sequences confirmed collagen. Osteocytes with filopodia were found. Actin, tubulin, PHEX and histone4 evidences.

p20 hadrosaur - 80Myr - tubes found. 2013 protein vestiges in situ found Kunming, China, from early Jurassic period. Fourier Transform IR microspectrometer using synchrotron radiation. Detected embryo bone.

p21 Nine dinosaur specimens, 67-100Myr, mostly Montana, blood vessel vestiges. Also 8 fossil specimens in Natural History Museum of London were examined, found evidence of collagen.

p21 YEC researchers Armitage and Anderson, Hell Creek, MO, found sheets of fossilized triceratops horn. Schweitzer group found feather fossils with beta carotin. Melanosomes in China 150Myr.

p22 Undigested muscle tissue 70-80Myr found in coprolites. Coprolite 2ft long, 1 1/2 ft wide, 3 gallons of "material", suggested that dinosaurs "gulped their food".

p22-24 Examples of pervasiveness of soft tissue in fossilized specimens

  • Protein sheets in shells of gastropod ecphora, intact proteins. Calvert Cliffs Md, 8-18Myr
  • heme in fossilized mosquito, Montana, 46Myr, porphyrin rings.
  • 2011 50Myr fossilized reptile skin - keratin - from Green River Formation, Utah
  • 2012 fossilized cephalopods UK 160Myr, ink in ink sacks, eumelanin.
  • 2013 quinones from sea lily fossils, 340 Myr - crinoids pigments and toxins
  • Chitin 97 UK and Germany, 25Myr fossilized insects
  • Other chitin examples

p25 Schweitzer: "Our findings challenged everything scientists thought they knew about the breakdown of cells and molecules."

p26 Describes careful study to eliminate the possibility that data was from contaminating bacteria.

p27 Reflection on the YEC response.

2. Dinosaur Blood and the Case for a Young Earth

p29 YEC reaction to soft tissue

p30 YEC Brian Thomas complimented for his thoroughness. Study of decay of molecules like collagen which projects short decay time, certainly not millions of years. Also cites Kevin Anderson of the iDINO project.

p31 Paleontologist Thomas Kaye thinks the discovered tissue is modern biofilms, but hard to make blood vessels out of such biofilms.

p31 Collagen makes up 25% of the dry weight of bones. There has been lots of effort toward analyzing the DNA of collagen in discovered tissue, so a major topic of study.

p32 Organic material 30% of dry bone.Inorganic calcium phosphate, particularly hydroxyapatite. Osteoblasts secrete collagen and the enzyme akaline phosphatase to induce deposition of the calcium phosphate.

p32-33 Details of bone chemistry

p34 British studies indicated 200000-700000 yr 99% of collagen decays. They detected and sequenced part of collagen at 1.5Myr.

p34 Good overview of skepticism about long term survival of biomolecules.

p34 Box claims 20-41 kyr for carbon-14 dating of tricerotops horn. In this chapter, Rana plays out the best shots of the YEC.

3. Radiometric Dating and the Age of the Earth

p39 Starts our asserting the reliability of radiometric dating while noting the YEC counterclaims. Mary Schweitzer is characterized as an evangelical Christian and former YEC. Quotes: "The fields of geology,nuclear physics, astronomy,paleontology, genetics, genetics, and evolutionary biology all speak to an ancient earth." "One thing that does bother me though, is that young earth creationists take my research and use it for their own message."

p39 Gives a list of references on radiometric dating:

  • Hugh Ross, "A Matter of Days"
  • Don Stoner, physicist, "A New Look at an Old Earth"
  • David Snoke, physicist, "A Biblical Case for an Old Earth"
  • Carol Hill, et. al, "The Grand Canyon, Monument to an Ancient Earth"
  • G. Brent Dalrymple, "The Age of the Earth"
  • G. Brent Dalrymple, "Ancient Earth, Ancient Skies"
  • G. Brent Dalrymple, "Radiometric Dating Does Work", Reports of the National Center for Science Education 20, May-June 2000,: 14-19.
  • Davis A Young and Ralph Stearly, "The Bible, Rocks and Time"
  • Roger Wiens, "Radiometric Dating, A Christian Perspective" Science in Christian Perspective, revised 2002, http://asa3.org/ASA/resources/Wiens.html (I downloaded the pdf version)

p40 Review of basic radiation physics

p40 Good overview of K-Ar dating

p43 Mt St Helens measurement of 350000 yr age by K-Ar for 10-yr-old lava, box.

p44 Review of the measurement of 36Ar as a check on the amount of trapped 40Ar. Review this for my hph treatment

p45 Discussion of Vesuvius - check for inclusion of treatment in hph. Ar-Ar on 12 samples gave 1925 +/- 94 yr cf the known date of 1918 years at the time of measurement.

p46 Gives Dalrymple as reference for meteorite dating, Age of the Earth

p46 Zircons have been measured at 4.2-4.4 Gyr

p48 Discusses accelerated decay and the RATE project, cites Larry Vardiman

p48-49 Discusses a selection of astronomical objects that would have shown changes if rate accelerated.

p49-50 Talks about carbon-14 sources, debunking of triceratops horn story.

4. How Did Soft Tissues Survive in Dinosaur Fossils?

p56-61 Cites durable chemical structures and gives brief discussions:

  1. Collagen
  2. Keratin
  3. Chitin
  4. Eumelanin
  5. Heme
  6. Quinones
  7. Blood vessels

p62-66 Conditions that might help preserve such structures

  1. Mineral-rich water, mineral entombment
  2. Fluvial and sandstone environment
  3. Dry anhydrous conditions
  4. Sequestering from oxygen
  5. Keep away from enzymes and microorganisms
  6. Iron helps
  7. Temperature
  8. pH
  9. Minerals

p67 Thomas and the thermodynamic vs kinetic control of reactions as part of the discussion of the longevity of molecular species. Rana cites the example of diamond to graphite which is thermodynamically indicated, but kinetically the activation energy is so high it never happens.

p68 Collagen studies and the Arrhenius equation

p69 Some data about T-rex, 5-20 tons, so lots of collagen

p70 Jack Horner quote about Mary Schweitzer's work. Makes the important point that the discoveries are of "structures derived from" things like red blood cells, etc rather than discoveries of the objects themselves.

p70-71 More Mary Schweitzer lore

Conclusion: Should You Believe It or Not?

p73 Continuing his "Ripley's Believe It or Not" organizing frame, tells the interesting story of Ripley's researcher Pearlroth, who spoke 14 languages and pored over material in many languages for 52 years in support of Ripley.

p73 Discussed the paradigm shift about preserving biological materials.

Appendix A: A Biblical Case for an Old Earth

p77 Fuz discusses day-age view which he supports. Gives references:

  • Hugh Ross, "A Matter of Days"
  • Don Stoner, physicist, "A New Look at an Old Earth"
  • David Snoke, physicist, "A Biblical Case for an Old Earth"
  • Rodney Whitefield, Hebrew scholar and physicist, Genesis One and the Age of the Earth

p78 References Job 37-39, Ps 104, Prov 8 and asserts that the day-age view is "just as much a literal reading" of the Genesis creation narrative.

p78-79 Discusses "yom"

p79 Mentions creation of the Garden of Eden by normative means, in which the "plain reading" would lead the reader to more than 24 hours.

p80 YEC leads to conflict between Gen 1 and Gen 2.


Appendix B: The Creation-Evolution Controversy in Jurassic World




Appendix C: Dinosaur Genome Size Estimates: Lagerstatten of Design



Some references that challenge Rana's treatment:

Dino ... Bleeds Out .. by Mark Armitage





Other articles:

Dinosaur Shocker by Helen Fields, Smithsonian Magazine, May 2006 . Contains information about Mary Schweitzer and her research.

Dino-blood and the Young Earth by Gary S. Hurd is very critical of the young earth efforts and gives lots of references. He certainly does not mince words in his criticism.

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