Judith River Ankyosaur

Drowned dinosaurs described in articles in Science (AAAS) News 9 May 2017, PhysOrg News, 10 May 2017, National Geographic, and Royal Society Open Science doi: 10.1098/rsos.161086, published online 10 May 2017.

A team of researchers at the Royal Tyrell Museum in Canada have studied a fossil of  “an exceptionally complete and well-preserved skeleton” of an Ankylosaur  “preserved in a cemented sandstone concretion” in the Judith River Formation of northern Montana.  According to the research team, “This is the first ankylosaurin skeleton known with a complete skull and tail club, and it is the most complete ankylosaurid ever found in North America.”  It was 6 meters long and scientists estimate it would have weighed about 2,500 kilograms, similar in size and weight to a white rhinoceros. Along with its bones, the specimen also has preserved bony plates and skin impressions showing plates, plus some tendons and other soft tissue, with a large bony knob on the end of its tail. The dinosaur has been named Zuul crurivastator, after a demonic character in the Ghostbusters movie.  Its species name crurivastator means “destroyer of shins.”  The bony plates and spikes, along with the tail knob are thought to be for defending itself.  According to PhysOrg News, “As with others of its kind, the specimen had a long, spiked tail that was clearly designed for striking enemies, but not prey— ankylosaur was a vegetarian.”

PhysOrg goes on to report: “The researchers report that the dinosaur met its fate in a body of water of some sort and was quickly covered in sediment, which acted as a very good preservation material.” The researchers report that the quarry where it was found “also produced the remains of numerous other taxa, including turtles, crocodilyforms, theropods, hadrosaurids, invertebrates and plants”.

Meanwhile, another very well preserved dinosaur of similar size, a nodosaur also with bony plates and spikes and preserved soft tissues has been found in Alberta, Canada, and is described in National Geographic. Links: National Geographic, PhysOrg, Science

Editorial Comment: National Geographic has a more detailed and dramatic story about how dinosaurs are preserved: “One unlucky day this landlubbing animal ended up dead in a river, possibly swept in by a flood. The belly-up carcass wended its way downriver—kept afloat by gases that bacteria belched into its body cavity—and eventually washed out into the seaway, scientists surmise. Winds blew the carcass eastward, and after a week or so afloat, the bloated carcass burst. The body sank back-first onto the ocean floor, kicking up soupy mud that engulfed it. Minerals infiltrated the skin and armor and cradled its back, ensuring that the dead nodosaur would keep its true-to-life form as eons’ worth of rock piled atop it.”

National Geographic certainly know how to tell a good story, but they need to add that for a creature to be so well preserved, it had to be buried very rapidly and deeply, before any scavengers or decay processes destroyed it.  For a creature the size of a rhinoceros that meant a lot of water dumping a lot of sediment all at once.  Furthermore, the reason dinosaurs become encased in rock had nothing to do with eons of time.  The Ankylosaur was found in what the scientists described as a cemented sandstone concretion.  Anyone who has ever made concrete will know that it turns to stone because of the right chemicals processes, not because it is left lying around for eons.

PhysOrg is half right in its description of the Ankylosaur. It was a vegetarian, but the bony plates and knobs on its tail were not for “designed for striking enemies”.  To know what it was designed to do you need to consult the Designer who informs us that He created a very good world where all animals were vegetarian and there was no death and struggle. This means this creature was not designed to destroy the shins of enemies, because there weren’t any enemies.  So the bony plates, with all their excrescences and knobs, would have been for thermoregulation, species identification and mating signals.  Sadly this very good world did not last.  Because of human sin and God’s judgement it rapidly degenerated into the world described in the days of Noah – filled with violence, and poor old vegetarian Zuul probably did get round to destroying a few shins of any who attacked him looking for a free lunch.  This violent world grieved God so much He sent the Flood to destroy it, and that is a better explanation of how the Ankylosaur ended up drowned, washed to sea then buried under a mass of sediment, along with all the other animals and plants listed by the research team.

Photo of Ankylosaur skull showing quality of preservation from: Victoria M. Arbour, David C. Evans, A new ankylosaurine dinosaur from the Judith River Formation of Montana, USA, based on an exceptional skeleton with soft tissue preservation, Royal Society Open Science, doi: 10.1098/rsos.161086, Published 10 May 2017, under Creative Commons Licence CC BY 4.0.

Evidence News, vol. 17, No. 8
18 May 2017
Creation Research Australia

This is a corrected version, sent after the original version in the email newsletter of 17 May 2017.

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