Sabre tooth vegetarian found, as reported in ScienceShots and National Geographic News 24 March 2011, and Science vol. 331 p1603 25 Mar 2011.

Scientists in Brazil have found the fossil of a creature that has elongated sharp canines like a sabre-toothed tiger, but has grinding teeth like a plant eater. According to palaeontologist Juan Carlos Cisneros, who discovered the fossil, it “looks like a combination of different animals and it takes some time to believe it when you see this animal in front of you. It has the incisors of a horse, which are very good for cutting and pulling plants; the big molars of a capybara, for grinding; and the canines of a sabre-toothed cat.” (A capybara is a large South American rodent).

The fossil has been named Tiarajudens eccentricus and was about the size of a dog. It was a member of an extinct group of reptiles named therapsids or “mammal-like reptiles,” and is dated as 260 million years old. The teeth are approximately 12 cm long and the scientists noted: “Despite their great length, the canines were not fragile. These could have served to manage food items before processing, to deter attacks from predators, or for intraspecific display and combat as seen in extant antlerless water deer (Hydropotes sp.) and musk deer (Moschus sp.) from Asia.”

National Geographic

Editorial Comment: We are often asked why animals have long sharp teeth designed to kill things if all animals were supposed to have been created vegetarian as Genesis describes (Genesis 1:30-31). The scientists who found this fossil have made two very good suggestions which unintentionally help answer this question. They have stated the long teeth help provide “intraspecific display”, i.e. enabling individuals to recognise one another, and/or using them as courtship displays, as well as “manage food items”. They also noted, the long teeth of this animal were quite robust and could have been used to dig for roots or pull down branches.

Prior to Noah’s flood Genesis records that “All flesh became violent” (Genesis 6:11-13). And by that time some creatures had already become scavengers though no carnivores are recorded till long after Noah’s day. After the flood humans were give permission to eat meat (Gen 9:1-6) and the climate is recorded as having rapidly degenerated as winter and summer went to extremes (Gen 8 – Job). As man increasingly became a hunter, many scavengers moved on to become predators and so all life was forced to become either fighters or hiders in order to survive the increasingly unfriendly and harsh environment.

But note well – only those creatures that already had elongate canines could become kings of the jungle. No one would ever fear being chewed to death by a cow, no matter how sharp its horns were. Survival of the fittest became a real post flood phenomena and in the consequent competition many creatures lost out in this struggle for existence and are now extinct. Some extinctions were provably caused by man, such as the giant Dodo and the giant Moa. Some lost the battle to carnivores or disease, and some declined when they couldn’t cope with the climate change that commenced at the end of Noah’s flood. Among the extinct were the therapsids with specific cause of demise unknown.

Therefore, the use of pre-existent elongated canine teeth for combat or deterring predators came only as a result of the degeneration of the environment and of relationships with other creatures – both animal and human. Darwin’s (and Dawkins et al) assumption that survival of the fittest/natural selection had always existed fails at this point. (Ref. diet, fossils, reptiles)

Evidence News 30 March 2011

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