Are dinosaurs really millions of years old?

There are many interesting theories regarding the age of the earth based upon various scientific analyses of the fossil record. Even Christians who believe in the creation account in Genesis can differ as to whether they believe in an “old earth” or a “young earth.”

Certainly, the prevailing modern scientific view purports that the fossil record dates dinosaur bones found in the earth to be at least millions of years old and by logical extension that the earth is older than that. Dating methods for fossils include sediment analysis (how deep the bones are found from the surface) along with various radioisotope dating of the igneous rocks found near the bones to estimate the age of the fossilized bones. Modern science claims that it can accurately estimate of the age of a rock by examining the ratios of the remaining radioactive elements (whether Uranium, Potassium or Carbon).

The method that is most familiar to most of us is probably carbon-14 dating. It is interesting to note, however, that the half-life of carbon-14 is 5,568 only years. That means that half of the C-14 decays (into nitrogen-14) in 5,568 years. Half of the remaining C-14 decays in the next 5,568 years, etc. This is too short a half-life to date dinosaurs. Thus, even assuming C-14 dating is accurate, it is typically only useful for dating items up to about 50,000 – 60,000 years ago.

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times may be of interest to those of you who like to think about this stuff.

According to the article, scientists have discovered the microscopic soft tissue of a Tyrannosaurus rex, preserved almost unaltered inside a large femur bone. While the article states that the dinosaur died “70 million years ago” the fact that soft tissue materials were found inside the bone is a complete mystery to science.

As reported in the journal Science, scientists at North Carolina State University and at Montana State University’s Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman found cells, elastic threads of veins and still pliable dabs of red bone marrow in the core of the femur. Apparently, the translucent vessels were still very elastic such that they “snapped back like a rubber band.”

According to the lead research paleontologist at North Carolina State University, Mary H. Schweitzer, “To my knowledge, preservation to this extent has not been noted in dinosaurs before…The tissues are still soft…The microstructures that look like cells are preserved in every way.”

The article goes on to assert that confirmation of this finding by other researchers could force scientists to reconsider how all fossils are formed. Traditionally, scientists have believed that bones fossilized when minerals gradually replaced organic material. Thus, under current theories, organic molecules should not last more than 100,000 years. Accordingly to Schweitzer, “Our [scientific] theories don’t allow for this [type of preservation].”