Category Archives: soft tissue dinosaur bones

Fired because of creationist views, university scientist fights back

soft-tissue-dinosaur-bones-and-evolution.pngCSUN scientist Mark Armitage found soft tissue in a dinosaur bone, a discovery that throws significant doubt on evolution. Then, two weeks after publishing his findings, he was fired.

Now California State University at Northridge has paid Armitage a six-figure sum to settle his wrongful termination suit based on religious discrimination. While the university admits no wrongdoing, Armitage’s attorney said they feared losing a protracted lawsuit because of a “smoking gun” email that backed the plaintiff’s case.

mark-armitage-csunThe case of Armitage is the latest to show the mounting hostility Christians face in academics and other public arenas.

“Soft tissue in dinosaur bones destroys ‘deep time.’ Dinosaur bones cannot be old if they’re full of soft tissue,” Armitage said in a YouTube video. “Deep time is the linchpin of evolution. If you don’t have deep time, you don’t have evolution. The whole discussion of evolution ends if you show that the earth is young. You can just erase evolution off the whiteboard because of soft tissue in dinosaur bones.”

Triceratops-Horn-dinosaursArmitage was hired as a microscopist to manage CSUN’s electron and confocal microscope suite in 2010. He had published some 30 articles in scientific journals about his specialty.

A graduate of Liberty University, Armitage adheres to the “young earth” view, against the majority of scientists who say our planet is 5 billion years old. He engaged students in his lab with Socratic dialogue over the issue of the earth’s age based on his and others’ research, he said.

triceratops-skeletonIn May 2012, Armitage went on a dinosaur dig at the famous fossil site of Hell Creek in Montana, where he unearthed the largest triceratops horn ever found there. Back at CSUN, he put the fossil under his microscope and made the startling discovery: unfossilized, undecayed tissue was present.

If the dinosaur were 65 million years old, the soft tissue could not have possibly remained, he says. His findings seconded groundbreaking discoveries by noted molecular paleontologist Mary Schweitzer, who triggered an earthquake in the world of paleontology when she published about soft tissue in dinosaur bones in 2005. (Schweitzer subsequently postulated that iron is responsible for preserving the soft tissue.)

Armitage’s February 2013 study was published in the peer-reviewed Acta Histochemica, a journal of cell and tissue research. Two week later, he found himself without a job.

A biology professor had come into his office and said, “We are not going to tolerate your religion in this department.” Read the rest of the story about soft tissue dinosaur bones CSUN’s Mark Armitage.

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Soft tissue found in dinosaur bones undercuts evolutionary timetable

soft-tissue-dinosaurWhen Mary Schweitzer found soft tissue in dinosaur bone in 2005, her boss got mad.

“Dammit, Mary, the creationists are going to love you,” Jack Horner snapped, according to what she wrote for Biologos.

Indeed, Schweitzer discovery threatened to upset the evolutionary biologists’ timeline for the world because soft tissue decays relatively quickly. If she found soft tissue in bones from a Tyrannosaurus rex perhaps it wasn’t 58 million years old, as the geologists argued. Maybe it was just a few thousand years old – trapped by sediment in a catastrophic worldwide flood and fossilized.

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Mary Schweitzer with Jack Horner at a dig site

Smithsonian called her discovery a “shocker;” LiveScience, “contorversial;” and Discovery magazine, “dangerous.” News show 60 Minutes said it “posed a radical challenge to the existing rules of science.”

Young earth creationists, who argue that earth’s history reaches about 10,000 years, cackled with satisfaction.

“I invite the reader to step back and contemplate the obvious,” wrote Carl Wieland on the Answers in Genesis website. “This discovery gives immensely powerful support to the proposition that dinosaur fossils are not millions of years old at all, but were mostly fossilized under catastrophic conditions a few thousand years ago at most.”

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What are blood cells doing in dino bones?

For its part, Creation praised Schweitzer’s research as “powerful testimony against the whole idea of dinosaurs living millions of years ago. It speaks volumes for the Bible’s account of a recent creation.

Since her initial discovery, Schweitzer, a molecular paleontologist at North Carolina State University, has found red blood cells, blood vessels, bone cells and even hemoglobin and collagen. A supposedly 80-million-year-old duck-billed dinosaur bone has also yielded soft tissue.

CRS-iDino-digging-5The Christian Science Monitor reported this January that scientists found collagen, a protein basic to animal tissue, in an allegedly 195-million-year-old fossil of a Lufengosaurus dinosaur in China.

Proteins are complex molecules which break down quickly and can’t survive for a millennia.
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But Schweitzer, a conservative evangelical Christian who adheres to evolutionary theory, floated the theory in 2013 that iron may have preserved the soft tissue much like formaldehyde. If shown to be true, her theory would take wind out of the sails of the young earth Christians.

Schweitzer got her start in paleontology after studying molecular biology. She audited a course with famed paleontologist Jack Horner, the scientist who is trying to create dinosaurs in modern times from chicken DNA. Horner consulted for the movie Jurassic Park.

Schweitzer was thrilled with the course, worked her way through her doctoral degree and began lab work under Horner.

Through three summers of digging , Horner unearthed a T. Rex skeleton from an escarpment in northeastern Montana known as Hell’s Creek. Because of the remoteness and rugged terrain, the bones had to be helicoptered out but were too heavy, so the team reluctantly broke one of the leg bones into two pieces.

Horner handed some of the resulting fragments to Schweitzer to analyze. The first thing she realized was the dinosaur had been a pregnant mother because of the presence of medullary bone, which is a calcium overproduction to supply the eggs. (Originally, the fossil had been nicknamed “Bob.”)

But the real astonishment came when Schweitzer’s team dissolved some fragments in weak acid, a practice that was never done before because it dissolves bone matter. The lab assistant had only tried to eliminate the outer crust on the bone but wound up disintegrating all the hardened minerals.

When Schweitzer looked at the only remaining chunk under the microscope, she couldn’t believe its elasticity. It took her quite some time to realize that it was soft tissue, which had never before been seen by a scientist. Read the rest of the story about soft tissue dinosaur bones.