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The name dinosaur is a recent one. It was invented by the 19th century scientist, Sir Richard Owen—derived from Greek words meaning ‘terrible lizards.’ In 1770, quarry workers in Maastricht, The Netherlands, unearthed the first significant fossil, a sizeable jawbone, although bones had been observed in the limestone for hundreds of years before. It now lies in the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. Twenty years later, the professional scientist, Georges Cuvier, declared the bone to be of a big marine reptile, later identified as a mosasaur.
Finds of bones: Dinosaur bones are found all over the world, with many in the central United States of America. In New Zealand, the bones are mostly from the marine reptiles, the mosasaurs and plesiosaurs, found in the sedimentary rocks of the east coasts of the North and South Islands. Since European times, many bones were taken from New Zealand to England. Only recently was evidence found, in the North Island, of a land-inhabiting dinosaur.
When did dinosaurs live?: Scientists committed to the concept of evolution (and that is most scientists) tell us that the dinosaurs lived from 225 million to 65 million years ago in what the geologists call the Mesozoic Era, which is further subdivided into the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods. They also say that dinosaurs died out suddenly, and that mankind did not evolve until some 70 million years later. They have no proof for these conclusions, which are speculation, based on the theoretical (and nowhere found) geological column.
Blood and teeth: Because dinosaurs looked like big lizards, scientists thought that they were cold-blooded, that is, the temperature of their blood depended on the temperature of their surroundings. It is now thought that they had their own distinctive rate of metabolism. The dinosaurs had big, sharp teeth, so many people think that they ate each other and other animals. Others say that the teeth were designed for eating vegetation, and that the teeth of the best-recognnised Tyrannosaurus Rex were so lightly attached to the jaw that they could not tear flesh without breaking off.
Guesswork!: Many types of dinosaur have been discovered, even a flying variety, the pterosaur, but we still don’t really know what they looked like because even though skin has been found, the colours have disappeared. So the popular greens and yellows are guesswork, based on the colours of living reptiles. Recently (April 1998) Italian palaeontologists put on show the remains of a dinosaur complete with fossilised intestines. It was found in southern Italy.
Eggs: As a reptile, dinosaurs laid eggs, and many fossilised eggs have been found, particularly in Central Asia. The eggs fetch a high price, and it is reported that ‘Jurassic Park’ film director Steven Spielberg owns some.
Dinosaurs and birds: The latest scientific theory about dinosaurs is that they evolved into birds, and clever animations have been created to show how it might have happened. But again, there is no evidence for this transition, which is actually impossible because for evolution to take place, a large quantity of new genetic information has to come from somewhere all at once. Evolutionary scientists resort to the fossil archaeopteryx as an example of a transitional type, however, its claws are just like those of birds that perch in branches, and a close look at the fine limestone in which it is embedded reveals feathers. Archaeopteryx is less popular these days as a transitional type. Incidentally, it died in agony, with its neck arched back, like so many other fossilised reptiles.
Sandy’s photo of a replica of the archaeopteryx fossil
They are extinct, right?: Many theories abound for the cause of the dinosaurs’ extinction, from nicotine poisoning to asteroid impact. But doubt remains as to whether they are really extinct. In the past few years fragmentary stories of expeditions to Congo in Africa to check sightings of swamp-dwelling dinosaurs have been published, but without conclusion. See latest news, October 2005. Several photographs and films of an unknown object, which many believe is the famous ‘monster’, taken in Scotland’s Loch Ness, have similarities with the plesiosaur. Similar sightings have been made in Norway, Sweden, Ireland Italy and North America. See the website of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoological Club for details. See also the extensive cryptozoology website http://members.aol.com/mokele
The Bible as history: If we accept the Bible as history, the book of Genesis tells that God created dinosaurs along with all the other animals. On the last day of creation, he created Man. So people and dinosaurs walked the earth together. Human footprints have been discovered in the same rock as dinosaur footprints in the USA (two regions) and Turkmenistan, in South Central Asia (1983). The American prints have been known for sixty years, but in the early 1980s more prints were uncovered in front of the media and declared by astonished scientists to be human. Rock drawings, burial stone carvings, and clay figurines all indicate that humans lived among dinosaurs and recorded what they saw. See latest news May 15, 1999
Dinosaurs saved: The disappearance of the dinosaurs is no mystery if we accept Genesis as history. It tells of a major global catastrophe, a devastating flood that we deduce rearranged the geology in a major way, and changed the atmosphere and climate. The saviour of mankind, Noah, whom God had warned ahead of time, took on board a huge wooden barge seven other humans, his family members, and small numbers of all the distinctive kinds of air-breathing animals, including, presumably, the major kinds of dinosaurs. After the flood, conditions were too harsh for the dinosaurs, and they died out. Legends from around the world describe dinosaur-like animals called dragons being hunted by heroes, including St George and the Danish king, Beowulf. The flood was a judgment from God for sin. Another judgment is coming. This time the Saviour will be the Lord Jesus Christ.