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Death of the Dinosaurs
By Jordan Niednagel, Jonathan Drake
©TrueAuthority.com - 1/05
It is one of the most profound mysteries of our time. Some of the largest, most breath-taking creatures to have ever walked the planet ... for some reason, are no more. The scientific explanations continue to multiply, as do countless conjectures, but as long as evolutionary dogma continues to dominate the world of the dinosaurs, as it does so many other fields of science, hope of solving the "The Great Dinosaur Mystery," we believe, will remain just that ... a hope.
Such a statement may disturb some of our readers, particularly those who believe in an old earth. Surely, scientists are on the brink of knowing how and why and when the dinosaurs went extinct. Some of our readers, in fact, may think that we already do know. As can be seen, however, the theories still remain various.
· A giant meteor, or meteor showers, caused their extinction.
· A nearby supernova bombarded the earth with intense radiation, resulting in fatal mutations.
· Too many offspring were born of one gender.
· The climate of the earth became too cold, warm, dry or wet.
· The earth's oxygen levels dropped, suffocating the dinosaurs.
· A rat-like rodent evolved that consumed dinosaur eggs.
· Dinosaurs were weakened by slipped vertebral discs.
· Weakening eggshells slowly developed.
· Viral infections proliferated the planet.
Granted, some theories are more widely held by scientists, but the very existence of alternative explanations reveal the continuing lack of consensus. These theories, and many more, have been put forth and critiqued time and again, and yet, in some way or another, been found wanting. To this day, the evolutionary community still does not know exactly why the dinosaurs went extinct.
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Because the 124 mile (200km) diameter crater, known as Chicxulub (located on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, and named after a nearby town), is the most popular and widely-excepted "smoking gun" that killed the dinosaurs, it is only necessary that we take the time to examine it.
An asteroid or comet is believed to have formed the crater some 65 million years ago, exactly when the dinosaurs are said to have gone extinct. The impact caused catastrophic destruction of the environment, with wide-spread firestorms, tidal waves, and the severe downpour of acid rain. Soot and smoke from the impact also filled the atmosphere, blocking out the sun, and thus killing many light-sensitive plants along with vast numbers of sea plankton. Herbivorous dinosaurs were left with little to eat, resulting in the collapse of food chains worldwide.
One of the strongest supports that Chicxulub was the instigator of this widespread disaster is, as mentioned before, its time in history. According to one popular Encyclopedia: "Using similar (radiometric dating) techniques to date the dramatic changes in the record of microscopic fossils, they (scientists) have found that the impact and the dinosaur extinction occurred nearly simultaneously." 
Indeed, such a coincidence would be hard to explain away. That is, unless other evidence has shown that the crater was actually not formed during the same time, and even that some of the most sensitive animals were able to survive the "impact."
Her name is Gerta Keller, and her work has pinned Chicxulub with the label of "Innocent Asteroid."
What evidence has Keller provided to warrant such a label? In short, several lines of geological evidence from Chicxulub that make the case for the crater having been formed about 300,000 years before the mass, 65-million-year-old extinction. Perhaps the age difference may not seem as too big of a deal, but according to Spencer Lucas, curator of paleontology and geology at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, "(The smoking gun) can't be even a 100 years older than the K-T boundary. There is room for inquiry here."
According to Keller, layers from the Yaxcopoil 1 borehole are stacked like newspapers and are older as you go down, telling of the Chicxulub impact with the broken "breccia" rocks. On top of the breccia is roughly two feet of gently-laid-down, thinly layered seafloor mud "built up over 300,000 years." Those two feet of post-impact mud have the fossils, carbon isotopes and magnetic signal of the late Cretaceous. What's the problem? That's long before the mass die-off of the dinosaurs. It's two feet higher, or 300,000 years later, until a sharp change in carbon isotopes and changes in microfossils show the massive K-T extinction event.
What's interesting to note is that Keller and her colleagues' purpose in drilling from Yaxcopoil 1 (a significant borehole) was to provide final, irrefutable evidence that Chicxulub was fully responsible. Instead, they found that it wasn't.
German scientist Wolfgang Stinnesbeck, from the Geological Institute of the University of Karlsruhe, has been studying the asteroid theory for years. In 2003, he made a startling discovery.
It was a 55-centimeter thick limestone layer containing evidence of plankton and other life forms that, according to the report, lived for 300,000 years after the infamous asteroid was said to have killed the dinosaurs. Said Stinnesbeck, "This is the proof that life continued after the impact and that, therefore, it could not have killed off the dinosaurs. It might have contributed in the long run to their demise, but was not directly responsible."
It is Stinnesbeck's personal belief that volcanic eruptions altered global temperatures, killing the dinosaurs because they couldn't adapt to the change.
Such evidence poses serious questions regarding the very nature of Chicxulub itself. Is it in fact an impact crater at all? If so, how disastrous was it? Could Chicxulub shed new light on the nature of other craters found around the world as well?
Combining Theories, Changing The Timescale
When we consider the varying theories surrounding the extinction of the dinosaurs, and then compare them to discoveries in not only paleontology, but written history itself, a picture begins to be revealed, piece by piece. It is a picture that, though ignored by the scientific community at large, seems all too clear, and even all too simple. Perhaps a few of the many extinction theories actually do have legitimacy to them, but because of pervading evolutionary, long-age thought, the picture which should be so clear has instead become tragically obscured.
With this in mind, let us examine the evidence.
The Art Of Interpretation
"Paleontology is much like politics: passions run high, and it's easy to draw very different conclusions from the same set of facts."
M.D. Lemonick, "Parenthood, Dino-style," Time, January 8, 1996, p. 48.
This quote is very telling. Fossils don't interpret themselves. Rather, they are interpreted. Like evidence left at a crime scene, a definitive answer of what actually took place cannot always be given. The prosecution can use the same set of evidence to further their case, while the defense can use the same set of evidence to further theirs. To the jury, whichever case seems most probable, with fewer discrepancies, is the case they're going to believe.
And when it comes to fossils, namely the fossil record, the situation is not far different. There is the young-earth creationist interpretation, and there is the old-earth evolutionist interpretation. In this case, you, the reader, are the jury. It is for you to decide which interpretation best appears to match the facts.
Fossils: A Closer Look
Fossils. We find millions of them all around the world. From the highest mountains to the lowest valleys, fossils have been left as remnants of a past age, an age when things were vastly different. There are two important questions that we must ask ourselves. When was this "past age," and exactly how different was it really?
Let us, for a moment, deal with the second question.
Giants. Countless fossils giants have been found and continue to be found on virtually every continent the world over. What is most interesting to note, however, is that many of these giants are close relatives of animals alive today, only bigger. It is one thing to find large dinosaurs, or other large extinct creatures, but to find animals similar to those of today, yet on a larger scale, is nothing short of intriguing.
Consider the Giant Beaver (Castoroides ohioensis), whose fossils range from Florida to Northern Canada. At some eight feet in length and nearly 450 pounds, it wasn't quite unlike its modern day cousin, being well within the speciation level.
Megaceros was an animal that stood over 10 feet (3m) tall and had enormous antlers about 11 feet (3.3m) across. As you guessed from the mention of antlers, this giant was a deer, and one most closely related to the modern day fallow deer. Their fossils have been found in Europe and western Asia.
Believed to be the largest land mammal to have ever lived, the Baluchitherium was a giant rhinoceros, standing at about 18 feet (5.5m) high at the shoulder. Although it was hornless and possessed a longer neck, other features clearly indicate that it was a rhinoceros. Their remains have been found throughout Asia.
For those interested in the study of cryptozoology, Megalania comes as a familiar name. Reaching to a length of about 20 feet (6m), it is the largest-known terrestrial lizard to have ever lived, weighing some 1,300 pounds (600kg). It was a relative of the komodo dragon.
When speaking of giants, the infamous Megalodon (Carcharodon carcharocles) should not be overlooked. It was not a land animal, but a shark, and is believed to have grown to about 60 feet (17m) or more in length. Because sharks do not have bone, but cartilage, Megalodon is primarily known only from fossil teeth. Although debated, it is believed to be most closely related to the Great White.
In August of 2002, The Guardian reported an amazing fossil discovery in Australia of a giant goose which stood as tall as an elephant. "You would instinctively have stayed miles away from them ... Some of the bigger ones could easily have sheared your hand off with a bite," said Peter Murray of the Museum of Central Australia in Alice Springs.
Again unearthed in Australia in 2002 were a plethora of enormous fossils, including giant lions, 10 foot tall kangaroos and "a wombat the size of a Mini." Scientists described the discovery as "the find of the century."
Giants weren't exclusive to the animal kingdom. The largest known insect to have ever lived, in fact, was the Meganeura (Meganeura monyi), or giant dragonfly. It had a wingspan of roughly 2 feet (70cm), the size of a modern day hawk.
Over 8 feet in length (2.6m), the fossil of an enormous centipede was discovered by paleontologists in Thueringen, Germany, in 1999. It was immediately claimed to be the largest land-living insect ever to be found.
Fossil trackways of Giant Millipedes, called Arthropleura, have been found in areas of eastern North America, indicating specimens that reached up to 5 feet in length.
Giant Water Scorpion
It grew to a length of nearly 9 feet (3m), but is believed to have been a "gentle giant," feeding on plankton and plant material. Still, the Giant Water Scorpion (cyrtoctenus wittebergensis) was a monster of an insect, and unlike its modern-day progeny, it didn't have a poison sting. Although normal scorpions are arachnids (invertebrates with 8 legs), water scorpions are true insects, being called "scorpions" because of their vague resemblance.
Also known as the "scale tree" because of the distinctive diamond-shaped leaf scars that covered its outer bark midsection, the Lepidodendron reached gigantic sizes, growing to heights of over 130 feet with supporting trunks measuring up to 6 feet or more in diameter. Its modern descendants are tiny in comparison.
In Illinois, USA, the fossil remains of huge ferns with fronds five to six feet long have been found. The plants grew to a height of more than 50 feet, and were discovered well preserved in large coal beds.
Giant Horse Tails
They are said by evolutionists to have "changed very little over the last 300 million years," except for one aspect. Their size. The ancestors of modern day horse tails were nothing less than enormous, growing to heights of over 30 feet.
Why, When, & How?
Why did these animals, insects and plants of the past grow to such large sizes? When did they live, and how were they able to survive in their environment? The answers to these questions may in turn answer the ultimate question we are searching for in this article.
Higher Oxygen & Air Pressure: The Necessities
Both evolutionists and many creationists believe the earth, at one time, had higher oxygen levels then it does today. Many evolutionists, in fact, propose that low levels of oxygen led to the extinction of the dinosaurs (coupled with other factors). The reasons for this belief are abundant, and some of them we will touch upon.
The timetables for which these environmental altering events occurred, however, are vastly different between the evolutionist and creationist. The former places such changes during the periods of the Triassic, Jurassic, etc., millions of years ago. The latter places the changes during one cataclysmic event, with that event having occurred only some thousands of years ago. The two perspectives are polar opposites, and yet, share a bit of common ground.
For one, both see that higher oxygen levels and great air pressure are necessities. Realize that when we use the word both, we are not speaking of both camps entirely. There are obviously differing views.
Why are such conditions necessities? Here are some reasons.
Higher Oxygen: Evidence & Reasons
Big Bugs & Research At ASU
Evolutionary scientists know full-well that dragonflies as large as hawks and cockroaches big enough to take on house cats thrived during the Paleozoic era (245-570 million years ago, according to their timescale). One physiologist, John Harrison, has been particularly fascinated with such creatures. Harrison is a professor of biology at Arizona State University, and wanted to know why insects of long ago grew to be so large. He and his colleagues believed the answer to be in how insects breathe, and they are busy studying how the respiratory physiology of modern insects affects their body size.
Air breathing animals breathe with lungs. Insects, rather than lungs, breathe with a network of tiny tubes called tracheae. Air enters the tubes through a row of holes along an insect’s abdomen, and then diffuses down the blind-ended tracheae. In terms of the subject at hand, it is here where the rubber meets the road, because the distance oxygen can travel down the tracheae is dependant upon its concentration in the air. Theoretically, then, if atmospheric oxygen is doubled, it will make it twice as far. If an insect has a longer trachea, therefore, one should expect that the insect will need higher oxygen to breathe.
The question is, can all this be tested? In an attempt to do just that, Harrison studied and continues to study some of the larger insects of our day in his ASU laboratory; namely grasshoppers and dragonflies. What he has found is revealing. The insects’ activity is affected by the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, and just as the theory predicts, the effect is more pronounced in the largest specimens. The biggest bugs have the longest trachea, and therefore need the most oxygen.
For the remaining skeptics, there is one last test that should be made ... and has been made. If the theory be true, then smaller insects with shorter trachea should be able to deliver adequate oxygen to the tissues even in a low-oxygen atmosphere, and this difference should be most obvious when the smaller and larger insects are forced to engage in oxygen consuming activity, such as flying or jumping.
Simply put, this is exactly what Harrison has seen in his laboratory, and not with different kinds of insects, but with different sizes of the same kind of insect.
Harrison and graduate student Scott Kirkton tested the aerobic performance of grasshoppers given varying amounts of oxygen, and found that smaller grasshoppers can hop nonstop in atmospheric oxygen levels lower then that of our own (21%). In fact, the smallest grasshoppers didn't even have problems in oxygen as low as 5%.
As for the larger grasshoppers? They were quite the contrast from their smaller brothers and sisters, as they tired out faster and their hopping rates rapidly dropped to zero. When extra doses of oxygen were given, however, they began jumping more, strongly suggesting an oxygen-stimulated boost which increased their performance.
The same was seen with dragonflies. As has been shared, fossil dragonflies the size of hawks have been discovered. A dragonfly of such size calls for a dragonfly with a long trachea, and in experiments where oxygen levels were greatly reduced, the dragonflies, not even half as large as their fossil ancestors, went from effortless flight to desperate exertion. The specimens couldn't even get off the ground at the lowest oxygen levels!
This is because the flight muscle of an insect burns more oxygen than any other animal tissue, and scientists know this well. It is a powerful, beautifully designed machine, depending on oxygen to run akin to a car depending on gas. The fact is this: the amount of oxygen supplied to an insect’s muscles, such as those of a dragonfly, directly depends on the amount of oxygen in the air. Therefore, the results of Harrison's experiments make perfect sense, and shed light on the type of atmosphere insects of such large size, such as dragonflies, grasshoppers, etc., would need in order to survive.
Arguments & Objections
As stated before, many evolutionists believe the earth had higher oxygen levels in the past (millions of years ago), as do many creationists (before the flood, thousands of years ago). Some creationists, however, are reluctant to believe such, citing that the Bible isn't clear on the subject and that other factors could contribute to gigantism in the insect world. True, but the Bible isn't clear on a number of scientific subjects, so it is an empty argument. Also, such creationists who cite the contrary do not provide plausible explanations.
Some espouse that gigantism was a result of purer genes, which consequently mutated after the flood (as a result of bottleneck). This argument, however, holds little weight, as flood-believers know full well that insects were not taken on the ark, and therefore would not have had a bottleneck problem (where a small number of individuals were left to breed. Insects can survive flood scenarios better than animals can).
The second argument is that some insects can increase oxygen delivery by a mechanical pumping action of their bodies, and therefore aren't as dependant on oxygen levels. While this is true of some insects, it doesn't explain all of them. Furthermore, and more importantly, Harrison's experiments strongly refute such an argument. The larger grasshoppers and dragonflies were not able to cope with lower oxygen levels, while the smaller specimens were able to. It is clear, then, that the larger grasshoppers and dragonflies were not able to utilize any type of pumping action to accommodate their altered environment.
The third and final objection is that not all fossil insects are of large proportions. Notice that this argument fails to deal with the ones that are large. Consequently, it is irrelevant.
In short, both evolutionists and creationists who take umbrage against the theory need to provide convincing counter-arguments. The evidence can't be ignored.
Greater Air Pressure: Evidence & Reasons
Quetzalcoatlus & The Problem Of Overheating
Even if we could bring dinosaurs back to life, it wouldn't be enough, says Octave Levenspiel, an emeritus professor of chemical engineering at Abiqua State University. According to him, one thing stands in the way, and that's the earth's present atmosphere, which may be only one-eighth as dense as it was many years ago.
"Today's South American condors - with their 12-foot wingspans and 25-pound weight - are the largest creatures that can support and propel themselves through the air according to basic aerodynamic principles," said Levenspiel. "The pterosaur quetzalcoatlus had a wingspan of more than 45 feet - half that of a Boeing 737 - and weighed more than 150 pounds. Either it couldn't fly - but it did or the atmosphere had to be much denser at the time."
Levenspiel postulates the earth's atmosphere was at least eight times denser "100 million years ago." Much less power is needed to fly at greater atmospheric pressures, so such conditions would have given the largest pterosaurs a much easier time flying.
Not only that, but according to Levenspiel, the giant land-dwelling dinosaurs would overheat today for the same reason. "When creatures become very large, they have more trouble removing heat," he said. "A denser atmosphere removes heat faster. An atmosphere eight times denser would have allowed the giant dinosaurs to survive."
In other words, sticking a large dinosaur in a modern-day theme park wouldn't just be a walk in the park. Your dinosaurs would, sadly again, go extinct.
Arguments & Objections
Some simply think the Quetzalcoatlus could fly in an atmosphere like ours today. Like a hand glider, it would have just needed to pick a suitable spot with enough distance to run and height enough to jump from. Obviously, such a situation would be awkward, and just plain silly. As for large dinosaurs and overheating, it is possible that they possessed some type of internal mechanism for keeping them cool, but evidence of such has not been found.
Greater Air Pressure: Evidence & Reasons
Ancient Amber & Ancient Air
As displayed above, many articles have appeared in recent years discussing the topic of ancient amber and oxygen levels. In short, the evidence seems clear. Earth's atmosphere once contained more oxygen, specifically around 35% (as opposed to today's 21%). Tiny bubbles of ancient air trapped by successive flows of tree resin have been discovered in ancient amber, and analyses of the gases in these bubbles reveal these startling numbers. Lest the skeptic argue insufficient testing, the results were based on more than 300 analyses by USGS scientists. Interestingly, the amber samples were also from different evolutionary periods ... the Cretaceous, Tertiary, etc., and even came from 16 world sites. The oldest sample tested was said to be about 130 million years old.
Arguments & Objections
The only argument given (and a very poor one) is the idea that some amber bubbles don't contain such high levels of oxygen. Notice that this argument is identical to the one in reference to large insects ... that is, "that not all fossil insects are of large proportions." As stated earlier, so we'll state again. This argument fails to deal with the samples that do contain higher oxygen levels. Furthermore, it is easier to make sense of amber bubbles that contain lower oxygen levels, as leakage could have taken place. However, endeavoring to make sense of amber bubbles that contain more oxygen is indeed rather a more difficult task.
To Be Continued...
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