Given the discovery of soft tissue in dinosaur bones, and a very well-preserved fossilised dinosaur, one question being asked is: could dinosaurs have survived into much more recent times?
The longstanding consensus is that (non-avian) dinosaurs died out in the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) extinction event, and that this took place around around 66 million years ago. This was somewhat challenged when soft tissue – including blood vessels and proteins – was derived from fossilised dinosaur bone…
Dr Mary Schweitzer discovers T-rex blood cell – BBC [3 mins video]
Soft Tissue Found Inside a Dinosaur Bone! [8 mins animated video explanation]
The above video says that the scientific community is “largely convinced” that dinosaur soft tissue is authentic, and that iron-rich haemoglobin may have played a role in its preservation. However, there are still scientists who are not yet convinced regarding soft tissue survival, let alone the means by which it may have been preserved.
There is an ongoing debate, often between evolutionary scientists and young earth creationists, as to whether the apparent survival of soft dinosaur tissue means that dinosaurs themselves survived until much more recently (i.e. thousands rather than millions of years ago). Sometimes this draws in historical or mythological evidence, such as that relating to dragons, creatures of legend which some believe may – in reality – represent what we now refer to as dinosaurs (see Dragons: Evidence of Recent Dinosaurs).
Brian Thomas, author of Dinosaurs and the Bible and science writer at the Institute of Creation Research, gives his perspective below…
(NB: in featuring this video, we are not endorsing creationism, merely featuring this perspective)
Dinosaur soft tissue with Brian Thomas [16 mins video]
From 10:23 into the video, to 14:00, Thomas states that soft tissue should not exist after even one million years (let alone 66 million years or more). He is also critical of the reluctance to examine whether dinosaur remains and the rock strata within which they lie may be younger than previously imagined.
Stepping away from creationism, another perspective comes from Ted Holden, co-author of Cosmos in Collision…
Could Dinosaurs Have Existed ‘Recently’? [circa 10 mins video]
As well as putting forward a case for Earth having lower gravity in the past, Holden refers (at around 6 mins into the video) to radiocarbon dating of dinosaur soft tissue, which suggests that some dinosaur bones are less than 40,000 years old!
Whilst this may sound very recent (geologically speaking), it is worth considering the world’s best preserved armoured dinosaur, which was put on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Canada…
Newly Unveiled Dinosaur Fossil is Best Preserved Of Its Kind [c. 1 min video]
A Man Discovered This Dinosaur Fossil.., And What He Found Would Stun Paleontologists [c. 7 mins video]
As per the above videos, the Nodosaurid (called Borealopelta or ‘Northern shield’) has its armour, keratin sheaths and overlying skin preserved intact. There is enough evidence to suggest that it had a reddish-brown colouration. However, it was found in sediments said to have been laid down 110 million years ago.
This is a remarkably well-preserved specimen to be in excess of 100 million years old. It suggests that we either need to do more research on how dinosaur remains are preserved for so long so well… or we need to re-consider whether the prevailing consensus that the last of the (non-avian) dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago is indeed correct.
In order of shortest to longest:
60 Minutes Presents: B-Rex [14mins]
Dinosaur Soft Tissue Found [23mins]
This article’s featured image is by Machairo from Wikimedia Commons