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The Day The Dinosaurs Died
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The Day The Dinosaurs Died

In the dim past of antiquity, giant dinosaurs roamed the earth. Suddenly--the dinosaur’s strange world came to a cataclysmic end. This mystery of the “great dying” has been a century-long puzzle to the best minds in paleontology. Its true meaning gives us a much-needed understanding of this earth’s history.
By Paul Kroll

It was a bright and beautiful era in that distant past--seventy million years ago, say paleontologists. Strange creatures were roaming this earth. Dinosaurs dominated the land. Pterosaurs (flying reptiles) flitted through the skies. The oceans were alive with giant marine reptiles call ichthyosaurs and mosasaurs.

The landscape of the earth was totally different then. “We might,” as one author put it, “well imagine ourselves upon another planet.”

None of the mammals with which we are ordinarily familiar existed. There were no dogs, no horses, no cattle, no cats, no man walked upon the earth to view this strange creation.

Few of the common insects with which we are familiar, such as butterflies and bees, are known to have existed.

Two Different Worlds

Plant life in the Age of Reptiles would seem strange to us. Cycads, ferns, fern-like plants, dominated the landscape. The flowering plants and landscape--the flowering plants and common trees simply were not in existence. There were no oak trees, no maples, no tomato vines, no orange trees, no marigolds, no sweet peas.

It was a world without the variety of mammals we see today, few if any fish with true scales, no array of feathered fowl, no grains, no fruits, no vegetables for man.

Then a series of strange and terrible disasters wrought havoc on this earth. The flying reptiles were completely exterminated. The great dinosaurs vanished completely, leaving only a few small scattered dinosaur-like creatures for man’s world today. The great reptiles of the sea became a thing of the past. The strange plant life of that time long ago was also destroyed. It was replaced in great measure by the modern plants of today--plants upon which man and mammal alike depend for their survival.

With an alarming abruptness, that entire world perished. The dinosaurs were exterminated. We do have reptiles with us today, but they “occupy a humble, almost insignificant position,” as one author put it. Almost without exception they are crawling, sprawling creatures.

Today’s snakes, lizards, turtles or crocodiles are hardly chips off the old block.

But why did the dinosaurs perish--and HOW? Geologists admit they don’t know! It is a mystery they have not solved, even after one hundred years of sleuthing.

Yet, the fact that these ruling reptiles perished violently and in astronomic numbers is clear. That they left no descendants is also irrefutable.

The Ultimate Disaster

Dinosaur expert Dr. Edwin Colbert admits, “There can be no doubt about it. All of the dinosaurs along with various other…reptiles, became extinct.

“…NOT ONE OF THEM SURVIVED, as it is simply proved by the fact that during almost a century and a half of paleontological exploration, the wide world over, no trace of a dinosaur bone or tooth has ever been found in any post-Cretaceous rocks, not even in the earliest of them.

“The proof of the geologic record on this score is IRREFUTABLE” (Dinosaurs, Edwin H. Colbert, p. 249).

This series of extinctions is one of the most confusing puzzles in the history of paleontology. The greatest scientists scratch their heads in amazement at what occurred.

None claims to have the full answer. For example, Carl O. Dunbar, in his well known textbook, Historical Geology, is simply awed by this wholesale extinction of life.

A Time of Crisis

“It is difficult to account for the SIMULTANEOUS EXTINCTION of great tribes of animals so diverse in relationships and in habitats of life” (Historical Geology, Carl O. Dunbar, pp. 345, 348).

The expert Edwin H. Colbert speaks frankly of this problem:
“The great extinction that wiped out ALL of the dinosaurs, large and small, in all parts of the world, and at the same time brought to an end various other lines of reptilian evolution, was one of the OUTSTANDING EVENTS in the history of life and in the history of the earth…it was an event that has DEFIED ALL ATTEMPTS at a satisfactory explanation” (The Age of Reptiles, p. 191).

Suddenly--New Forms of Life

This sudden extinction of reptilian life was certainly a mysterious event. But equally puzzling to scientists was the sudden appearance of entirely new forms of life, totally unrelated to the reptiles.

It is this utter and complete change that confuses paleontologists who seek to find an evolutionary answer for the existence of all life.

Musing about this problem, geologist Carl O. Dunbar quotes George Gaylord Simpson, one of the most respected men in paleontology:

“It is as if the curtain were rung down SUDDENLY on a stage where all the leading roles were taken by reptiles, especially dinosaurs, in great numbers and bewildering variety, and rose again IMMEDIATELY to reveal the same setting but an ENTIRELY NEW CAST in which the dinosaurs do not appear at all, other reptiles are mere supernumeraries [unimportant, bit-part actors] and the leading parts are all played by MAMMALS’” (Historical Geology, Carl O. Dunbar, p. 426).

Evolution in Crisis

Why is this sudden change in the character of life so devastating to the evolutionary concept?

Because evolution demands slow change over long periods of time. [65 million years ago is a relatively short period of time geologically speaking, and in the evolutionary concept of timing as well.] But here the fossil record show QUICK change in an obviously SHORT period of time.

Evolution demands numerous intermediate living things which can be hooked together in an attempt to show an evolutionary sequence. However, the fossil record reveals a PROFOUND CHANGE from reptilian hosts to mammals--and WITHOUT any proven intermediaries.

Scientists are thus faced with two unanswered puzzles: How were the dinosaurs destroyed, and what killed them off so quickly? [This answer has been discovered recently, as any geology student knows. Two massive asteroids hit the earth at roughly the same time, one approximately 10 kilometers in size, hit on the northern shore of Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, and the other asteroid, 40 kilometers in size, hit in the Arabian Sea off Bombay, western shore of India. These were what has come to be termed, Global Killers.] And second, what is the meaning of this abrupt change in the type of life on this earth?

The Reasons Given

Not one of the theories propounded for dinosaur extinction is accepted by all paleontologists. Paleontologist Edwin Colbert’s decisive verdict on the ultimate cause of the dinosaur disaster is that, “This is one of the big questions of paleontology for which as yet NO SATISFACTORY ANSWER has been set forward" (Dinosaurs, Edwin H. Colbert, pp. 250-251). Briefly, lets examine a few of the theories. What about climatic change?

Perhaps it got too cold for the dinosaurs. According to evolutionary time scales, it would take many millions of years for the earth’s climate to change. Surely, if evolution were a fact, these reptiles could adapt themselves to it.

Perhaps it got too hot for the dinosaurs?

“It is an ingenious idea, but there is no geological evidence to support the concept of temperature increases at the close of the Cretaceous period” (Dinosaurs, Edwin H. Colbert, p. 254).

What about food problems?

The fossil record shows that the plants eaten by the dinosaurs were still very much available to them at the time of the Great Extinction. Perhaps some could have been extinguished IF the food supply in a certain area or of a certain kind were not available. But this idea cannot account for the extinction of ALL dinosaurs EVERYWHERE.

Perhaps great disease epidemics swept the earth at that time? This solution is also rejected by most scientists--and for good reasons. Most epidemics are very specific, attacking only one species of animal or are relatively limited in their effects, killing off only a portion of that species.

One paleontologist candidly confesses that “it is stretching credulity far beyond the bounds of reason to suppose that a series of epidemics could have brought about the disappearance of ALL dinosaurs (Dinosaurs, Edwin H. Colbert, pp. 255, 256).

Poorly Constructed--or Something?

Could it be that dinosaurs were badly constructed? No! Dinosaurs were WELL CONSTRUCTED! And can we, in all honesty, postulate that ALL the varied dinosaurs and other forms of life in the land, in the seas, and in the air were ALL “badly constructed”?

Another quaint theory has certain so-called, primitive “mammals” having a yen for dinosaur eggs--eating the huge reptiles literally off the face of the earth.

Impossible!

The living Nile monitor, for example, avidly hunts and devours eggs of the Nile crocodile. But it has not succeeded in exterminating the larger relative.

But more important, the fossil record shows that true mammals of the type and variety of today did NOT ARISE until after the dinosaurs were extinct. This explanation, as others, simply doesn’t hold water.

The idea of “racial senescence” is an old theory--and that is all it is, a theory! Few competent paleontologists would accept the idea that dinosaurs just grew old and tired as a race or species!

Remember, extremely varied reptilian forms living worldwide, ALL DIED at once. Even if the senility idea were plausible, would all the varied forms of life which became extinct--all reach this so called senility state TOGETHER?

So much for one half of the ideas.

What About Catastrophes?

The other half of the categories usually cited involve some form of “local” CATASTROPHE. However, to do the job of extinguishing the reptilian hordes, these catastrophes would have to be worldwide in extent.

Why?

Because we find dinosaur graveyards in all parts of the world. But such catastrophes would need to account for MORE than just the dinosaurs’ mysterious obliteration.

The great crisis in the history of life at that time also destroyed the great MARINE reptiles--the ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and the mosasaurs. These ALL DIED simultaneously with the dinosaurs--even though they lived in the seas.

Other types of life in the sea, and in the air as well, also perished. The great winged dragons, the pterosaurs, had the amazing wingspread of 23 to 25 feet. The final remains of these flying reptiles are found along with the dinosaurs. Their fate was the same.

But scientists are unwilling to accept sudden catastrophes if they are worldwide in extent. [Since Velikovski (World in Upheaval) some have been willing to, but not the implication of Divine creation that this interpretation carries.]

“An obvious and all to easy explanation is the catastrophe one. Did some great event take place that wiped out these reptiles?” Colbert asks.

His answer?

“There is NO PLACE for worldwide catastrophes in the world of the past or of the present IF the principle of uniformitarianism [the idea that existing processes acting in the same manner as at present are sufficient to account for all geological changes] has any validity” (The Age of Reptiles, Edwin Colbert, pp. 203, 204).

Universal Catastrophes Rejected

And that’s just the problem! Scattered local catastrophes are accepted. But worldwide catastrophe is denied consideration. The theory that all geological processes have continued at basically the same rate as we see them occurring today is a vital pillar in the structure of modern geology.

But, have all geologic processes continued at the same rate? Is this concept true? WHY have worldwide catastrophes been rejected by scientists? Why should the “obvious and all too easy explanation” of a universal catastrophe have NO PLACE in modern science?

The plain and obvious answer is that evolution needs time--VAST amounts of time--to make its theory seem plausible. [And 65 million years from the sudden extinction of highly sophisticated groups of highly interrelated reptilian species to the appearance of other highly sophisticated and interrelated groups of mammals and plants, and man, is not considered by any serious scientist to be sufficient time to allow the evolutionary process to work.]

Scientists realize that a major catastrophe could do in a few days or weeks what natural processes might require many thousands of years or even millions of years to accomplish. A catastrophe enormously speeds up and goes far beyond the pace of the natural processes of erosion and burial. That is why any catastrophic approach is shunned and avoided by scientists who have assumed that all life is due to a slow evolutionary process.

“We may assume,” Nicholas Hotton, a paleontologist tells us, “that it [the extinction] resulted from reasonably well-understood processes of climatic change and biological competition…we are fairly sure that it was gradual, NOT CATASTROPHIC” (Dinosaurs, Nicholas Hotton III, p. 174).

Yet paleontologists acknowledge that other means could not destroy these creatures. They admit that climatic change, epidemics, change of food supply and other such ideas cannot possibly account for the worldwide extinction of land, air, and sea life at the close of the Age of Reptiles.

If a catastrophe is to be involved to explain the extinction of the dinosaurs--it would have to be a WORLDWIDE occurrence!

European paleontologist Bjorn Kurten admits this precise point:

“The catastrophe would have had to be almost UNIVERSAL IN PROPORTIONS as we know that dinosaurs were present in most or all continents” (The Age of Dinosaurs, Bjorn Kurten, p. 236).

Worldwide catastrophe seems to be the only path to pursue in looking for an explanation for this mysterious extinction.

Yet, the typical paleontologist simply does not want to face this possibility.

Catastrophe--Logical Explanations

“It seems logical,” admits Colbert, “to look for some great change that took place…thereby bringing to an end the multitudes of dinosaurs and other reptiles that then populated the earth.

“This is not to imply that there was of necessity a great WORLDWIDE CATASTROPHE, which by the violence of its expression suddenly wiped out the dinosaurs. Catastrophes are the mainstays of people who have very little knowledge of the natural world, for them the invocation of a catastrophe is an easy way to explain great events” (Dinosaurs, Edwin Colbert, p. 253).

Yet, if a worldwide catastrophe explains what happened, why NOT postulate--and prove it? What is wrong with an easy or simple explanation? After all, paleontologists have been struggling for an answer to this “great dying” for many decades.

Keep Admissions in Mind

“So far no logical way has been found to connect the known cause of the extinction of individual species with these worldwide Great Deaths. Some other cause, operating on a WORLDWIDE basis, would seem to be called for” (The Day of the Dinosaur, L. Sprague de Camp and Catherine Crook de Camp, pp. 200, 201).

How can we solve this puzzle of dinosaur extinction? First, we must look for a worldwide cause. Second, that cause must be so catastrophic that no dinosaur any place on earth could survive. The evidence in this mystery is the fossil record.

Dinosaur Hunting in New Mexico

Let’s take a few examples of where dinosaur bones have been found and see how catastrophic their burial really was.

In 1947, an expedition from the American Museum of Natural History discovered an amazing concentration of Coelophysis dinosaur bones in north-western New Mexico.

The explorers began to probe a certain section of land with scratchers and awls, the usual method of preliminary investigation of a possible bone site. It became quickly apparent that the investigators had run upon a most amazing find.

The workers cut a large scallop into the hillside. “As the layer was exposed it revealed a most REMARKABLE DINOSAURIAN GRAVEYARD in which there were literally scores of skeletons one on top of another and INTERLACED WITH one another. It would appear that some local catastrophe had overtaken these dinosaurs, so that they all died together and were buried together” (Men and Dinosaurs, Edwin Colbert, p. 141).

In what condition were they found?

“They were found in the GREATEST PROFUSION, piled on top of one another, with heads and tails and feet and legs often inextricably mixed in a jack-straw puzzle of bones.”

Overwhelmed by Catastrophe

Some of the skeletons were absolutely complete. Even the tiniest bones survived. These finds are rated as among the most perfect dinosaur skeletons ever discovered.

They represent a range of ages, from very small animals to those obviously fully adult. All of this rich material, coming from a single quarry that was perhaps thirty feet square, certainly indicates the remains of animals belonging to a single species that may have been OVERWHELMED BY SOME LOCAL CATASTROPHE AND BURRIED TOGETHER” (Dinosaurs, Edwin Colbert, p. 61).

The fact that these fossils were perfectly preserved shows they had to be buried IMMEDIATELY-before predators and weathering destroyed the skeletons.

The composition of the fossils shows a complete range of a single species, as one might find a herd of some wild animal. It is obvious that a CATASTROPHE buried those animals.

Just a “Local” Catastrophe?

But, was it only a “local catastrophe”? This might be a logical deduction if such graveyards were found nowhere else. However, the reverse is true. No matter where we look, almost invariably we see indication of violent burial for dinosaurs.

In fact, whenever we see fossils of anything from marine invertebrates to mammals-this sudden, and violent type of burial is clearly evident.

The dinosaurs are merely an outstanding case of this. For example, there is a rich bed of fossil dinosaurs in Alberta, Canada. Here is one of the most RICHLY fossiliferous regions in the world for dinosaur bones.

How are these bones found?

“Innumerable bones and many fine skeletons of dinosaurs and other associated reptiles have been quarried from these badlands, particularly in the fifteen-mile stretch that is a veritable DINOSAURIAN GRAVEYARD” (The Age of Reptiles, Edwin Colbert, p. 169).

Dinosaur Graveyards

Another example comes from a 1934 discovery.

Barnum Brown, famous dinosaur discoverer, was collecting bones in Montana. He heard of large bones in the ranch owned by a man named Barker Howe, who lived at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming.

Edwin Colbert tells us in what condition Brown found the bones as he began to work the area of the Howe Ranch.

“The concentration of the fossils was remarkable; they were piled in LIKE LOGS IN A JAM” (Men and Dinosaurs, Edwin Colbert, p. 173).

If this were an isolated case, it might perhaps be explained as a fluke of nature or a “local” catastrophe. But this example is just one of many.

Such destruction, such mixing up, such concentration could only come by catastrophe!

A Profusion of Skeletons

In another case, somewhat earlier, bone diggers were making exploratory excursions into the Medicine Bow anticline, a ridge that contains what are called Morrison sediments-somewhat north of Como Bluff, Wyoming. The Morrison formation is known as a tremendous source of dinosaur fossils throughout Western North America.

In the general area north of Como Bluff, on June 12, 1898, the famous Bone Cabin quarry was located. It was named after an old sheepherder who had built a cabin out of dinosaur bones he found in the area.

Here is what the bone diggers found.

“At this spot the fossil hunters found a hillside of dinosaur bones that had weathered out of the sediments composing the ridge…the party went to work, digging down into the surface of the hill, and as they dug, more and more bones came to light. In short, it was a veritable MINE OF DINOSAUR BONES” (Men and Dinosaurs, Edwin Colbert, p. 151).

Another author gives us more details into what was actually discovered.

“In the Bone-Cabin Quarry…we came across a veritable Noah’s ark deposit, a perfect museum of all the animals of the period.

“Here are the largest of the giant dinosaurs closely mingled with the remains of the smaller but powerful carnivorous dinosaurs which preyed upon them, also those of the slow and heavy moving armored dinosaurs of the period, as well as the lightest and most bird-like of the dinosaurs.

“Finely rounded, complete limbs from eight to ten feet in length are found, especially those of the carnivorous dinosaurs, perfect even to the sharply pointed and recurved tips of their toes” (Dinosaurs, W.D. Matthew, pp. 136, 138).

Again, immediate burial was necessary for such perfect preservation. It is as if a complete biota-an entire range of animals-were buried together by water-borne mud.

Digging Dinosaurs in Africa

One of the most important paleontological expeditions was the 1909-1914 one to what was then German East Africa, now Tanzania.

“The site contained an ENORMOUS NUMBER of fossils-far more than could be carried off by one expedition. As in most of such sites, the greater part of the remains were fragmentary…there was much speculation as to how the remains of so many dinosaurs came to be CONCENTRATED in beds otherwise rather poor in fossil remains. Some German scientists suggested that the animals had been overwhelmed by a natural catastrophe” (The Day of the Dinosaur, L. Sprague de Camp and Catherine Crook de Camp, p. 250).

Why of course!

That is the obvious explanation. Here is another example of VIOLENT burial. When you find fossils the world over-in Africa, in North America, in Europe-all looking as though they had been “overwhelmed by a catastrophe,” that is the logical conclusion.

There was a WORLDWIDE CATASTROPHE that buried these dragons of the ancient past and preserved them as a record of what occurred in those distant times. Sudden death and immediate burial was the fate of that ancient world.

Dinosaurs in Belgium

Back in 1878 a remarkable concentration of Iguanodon (I-gwan-o-don) skeletons were discovered one thousand feet below the ground in a Belgian coal mine.

Coal miners in the coal town of Bernissart were developing a new gallery at the 1,046-foot depth. Suddenly the miners hit upon large fossil bones.

A second tunnel was driven parallel to the first at 1,157 feet. Again, bones were struck.

“Thus it could be seen that the FOSSIL BONEYARD was evidently one of gigantic proportions, especially notable because of its vertical extension through more than a hundred feet of rock” (Men and Dinosaurs, Edwin Colbert, p. 58).

The bones were not contained within the regular beds of the coal seems--but were deposited in Unstratified clays that cut through the layered coal. It appeared that a deep pit or fissure had extended through the coal-bearing layers. How is the profusion of bones explained?

“Careful work…would SEEM to indicate that within the coal mine of Bernissart there was preserved an ancient ravine--a narrow, deep gully…into which, within a comparatively short span of years, many inguanodons had slipped and fallen and died, to be buried in deep deposits of mud brought in by flooding waters after HEAVY RAIN” (Men and Dinosaurs, Edwin Colbert, p. 58).

This, of course, is often the explanation. But even then after “careful work” it only seemed like a possible indication that these iguanodons had slipped and fallen.

But here we have heavy rains mentioned, flooding waters, deposits of mud. Is it not more logical to have a sudden inundation bury these hapless dinosaurs? Do we not here have another positive proof of some catastrophe obliterating the dinosaurs?

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