I love to watch programs that deal with forensics in real life crime cases. It amazes me how much information the lab technicians can get off of a single strand of hair or from the back of a licked stamp. They often are able to get a sufficient DNA profile to eliminate virtually every other person on the face of the earth, and they are often able to determine the sex and ethnic background of the suspect.
However I have also seen numerous cases where the genetic material has degraded over the past 15 or more years to make it impossible to run a sufficient DNA test. On more than one occasion I have heard forensic scientists say how fast many organic structures and compounds decay under normal circumstances. I recall one forensic expert explaining that the very nature of organic substances leads them to break down into inorganic compounds over time. Some break down faster than others and some are more durable and will last longer, but for how long no one really knows. When asked by the interviewer if he thought some organic material like skin, internal organs and bones would last millions of years under normal circumstance, the expert hesitantly said that he highly doubted if they would remain intact that long under normal circumstances. He tried to quantify his answer by saying that after so long the samples would either breakdown or become fossilized which usually meant that the organic material is replaced by elements in the soil such as silica.
So when I read the news report on some fossilized reptile skin I had to wonder just how old this fossil really was for them to find what they did.
Dr. Roy Wogelius, a geochemist from the University of Manchester, UK, and his team have claimed to have been able to map organic compounds in the fossilized skin of a reptile that is supposedly 50 million years old. Using a new technique with special infra-red camera and film, they now have the chemical profile of the skin.
What really caught my attention was this statement in the article:
A team of UK scientists say the sample was so well preserved that it was hard to tell the difference between the fossil and the fresh samples.
It reminds me of a statement Dr. Ralph Molnar, a paleontologist at the Queensland Museum, made concerning the bones of an extinct monitor lizard discovered in Australia. I was watching a program on the Discovery Channel that centered on the fossil remains of a large (15 – 20 foot) monitor lizard called Megalania. From an evolutionary standpoint, Megalania was thought to have gone extinct about 40,000 years ago. The program was investigating several reports of a very large lizard in a remote part of the Outback that some claimed to be a Megalania. During this program, Dr. Molnar held up several white bones and said:
One of the things that we have is a part of the hip bone or pelvis. Now this specimen actually looks like it had come from an animal that looks like it died two or three hundred years ago. All dry, chalky, this sort of thing. Doesn’t actually mean it died two or three hundred years ago. In Montana, I’ve seen dinosaur bones that look like they’ve come from animals that died two or three hundred years ago, and I know very well that they died much longer than that. It gives the suggestion that Megalania may have been alive fairly recently.
Obviously, Dr. Molnar’s presuppositional beliefs in millions of years clouded his scientific interpretation of the evidence before him. Even though the bones had all of the indications of being only a few hundred years old, he was unwilling to accept what the evidence said.
Likewise, they expect us to believe that this reptile skin that so resembled fresh samples was really 50 million years old. Sorry folks, but there is no way that fossil could be that well preserved and that old. It sounds more like this reptile was probably preserved in late or post-Flood sediment and is no more than a few thousand years old, not 50 million years.
Into the Unknown, Discovery Channel, Oct. 21, 1997.
Kinver, Mark, Prehistoric Reptile Skin Secrets Revealed in New Image, BBC News, March 22, 2011.
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