Were Dinosaurs real?

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I was talking to my girl-friend a few days ago and we were talking about the movie Jurassic Park. Then out of the blue, she says to me, “I don’t believe in dinosaurs, the bones in museums are fake.” Now while I of course disagreed with her, I also decided to look this question up. I even read a couple of books that discussed this hypothesis.  I came to find out that not everyone believes in these extinct creatures, in fact a lot of people put them in the same category as aliens. So, this blog isn’t going to give a specific right or wrong answer but what I will do is try to explain why I believe dinosaurs are real. This is going to be based off my own knowledge about dinosaurs along with information I’ve gathered.

So lets start (for all the religious people) from a creationist stand point:

According to some creationist, the Bible does not provide a specific answer to this question. According to Genesis, animals were created during the fifth and sixth creative periods or ‘days’. If the Hebrew expression translated “great sea monsters” includes dinosaurs, which often inhabited swampy, watery areas, this would mean that dinosaurs were created on the fifth “day.” (Gen. 1:21) We do not know whether they continued to exist until man was created (toward the close of the sixth “day”). At the very least, it seems likely that they must have disappeared off the earth at the time of the flood of Noah’s day. Dinosaurs were reptiles, and some kinds of dinosaurs bear strong resemblance structurally and otherwise to lizards (sauros is, in fact, the Greek word for “lizard”; saura in Leviticus 11:29, LXX). Not all types of dinosaurs were of such gigantic size. Hence, even if they had survived till the Flood, this would not have required taking pairs of the mammoth varieties into the ark. Other smaller members of the particular family or “kind” to which these belonged would have sufficed to fulfill the divine command.—Gen. 6:19, 20; 7:14.

Along with this, most other creationist believe that since the dinosaurs were never/hardly mentioned in the bible, they can’t be real. Now here’s what I think and know…

People have been finding dinosaur fossils for hundreds of years, probably even thousands of years. The Greeks and Romans may have found fossils, giving rise to their many ogre and griffin legends. There are references to “dragon” bones found in Wucheng, Sichuan, China (written by Chang Qu) over 2,000 years ago; in my opinion, these were probably dinosaur fossils. Much later, in 1676, a huge thigh bone was found in England by Reverend Plot. It was thought that the bone belonged to a “giant,” but was probably from a dinosaur. A report of this find was published by R. Brookes in 1763.

Now, from what I know, the first dinosaur to be described scientifically was Megalosaurus. It was named in 1824, by William Buckland; Gideon Mantell assigned the scientific type species name, Megalosaurus bucklandii. Buckland (1784-1856) was a British fossil hunter and clergyman who discovered collected fossils. (Note: the first dinosaur found was Iguanodon, but it was named and described later than Megalodon.)

Megalosaurus was the first dinosaur ever described scientifically and first theropod dinosaur discovered. Just for the record, this is all in hindsight, because the dinosaurs had not yet been recognized as a separate group, in fact, the word dinosaur hadn’t even been invented yet.

The first dinosaur models were life size and made of concrete (which stems the, “they’re fake” idea by the way) were made by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins of England in 1854. The first dinosaur used for amusement was a life-size model of an Iguanodon (also made by Hawkins) that was used to house a dinner party for scientists (including Richard Owen) at a major exhibition. The invitations to the party were sent on fake pterodactyl wings. The party took place in London, England, in 1854.

From information I gathered last night, Sir Richard Owen (1804-1892) was a pioneering British comparative anatomist who coined the term dinosauria. From the Greek “deinos” meaning fearfully great, and “sauros” meaning lizard, as I talked about before; recognizing them as a suborder of large, extinct reptiles in 1841.

Owen presented dinosaurs as a separate taxonomic group in order to prove his arguments against the newly proposed theory of evolution (although Darwin’s “Origin of the Species” wasn’t published until 1859, the basic ideas of evolution were known, but its mechanisms, including natural selection, were not). Ironically, Owen’s work actually helped support the evolutionists arguments.

This new taxonomic name, Dinosauria, and new group of reptiles was only the beginning of a great scientific exploration. Since Owen’s time, about 400 dinosaur genera have been described. Every few months (sometimes every few weeks), a new species is unearthed. Paleontologists have varying estimates of how many dinosaur genera existed during the Mesozoic Era; estimates range from about 1,000 to over 15,000.

So what does all this mean?

I believe dinosaurs were real, I mean just look at birds. There is nearly universal believe among paleontologists that birds are the descendants of dinosaurs. In traditional taxonomy, birds were considered a separate class that had evolved from dinosaurs. Birds are thus considered to be dinosaurs and dinosaurs are, therefore, not extinct. Birds are classified as belonging to the subgroup, Maniraptora, which are coelurosaurs, which are theropods, which are saurischians, ….which are dinosaurs.

Your Thoughts?

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