Tyrannosaur Ancestral Tree Remains Limbless
by Tim Clarey, Ph.D. *
Since Darwin's time, the lack of fossil evidence for vertical evolution has always been a problem for secular scientists. Now a recent paper published online in Scientific Reports attempts to map out the ancestry of tyrannosaurs.1
The two authors, Stephen Brusatte and Thomas Carr, hoped that the surge in new discoveries of tyrannosaurs would help in their analysis, noting that the "origins, phylogeny, and evolution of tyrannosaurids were long mysterious."1 However, their results produced no answers…only more questions.
In their report, they conclude, "Tyrannosauroids are the subject of more research and popular interest than most, or perhaps all, other dinosaurs. However, their fossil record is frustratingly incomplete and patchy."1 Science reporter, Laura Geggel also admits, "Fossil evidence is lacking, but researchers suspect that the predecessors of tyrannosaurs lived on the supercontinent Pangaea."2
In spite of new and recent discoveries, Brusatte and Carr still confess that several issues hamper their ability to map a tyrannosauroid ancestral tree. First and foremost is the lack of fossil evidence—the foundation of paleontology. The so-called ancestral tyrannosaur tree is filled with "suspects" and "ghost lineages"3 but not much in the way of hard, empirical evidence. They also note that there is still a huge gap (20-45 million years in the secular timeframe) in the fossil record between the latest Cretaceous-system tyrannosaurs and their claimed earlier ancestors.1 "Filling this gap is critical to determine where Tyrannosauridae originated."1
A second issue they found perplexing is the similarity of some tyrannosaurs in North America and Asia. They seem to be nearly the exact same kind. Brusatte reported, "Tarbosaurus is the Asian version of T. rex. Or, you could say that T. rex is the North American version of Tarbosaurus. They are so similar in terms of their monstrous size, their proportions, their massive jaw muscles and thick teeth and even many minutiae of their skull bones."2
If tyrannosaurs on two different continents are so similar, then why aren't they classified as the same species? The answer appears to be based on the researchers' worldview. Evolutionary scientists believe each species evolved from different ancestors on different continents. When they find two that are similar, they have to explain it as cross-continental transport of one species to the other continent via plate movements (land bridges) in the distant past. But their evolutionary worldview clouds their understanding and they retain the same classifications.
In contrast, the Bible teaches there were specific created kinds, like the tyrannosaur kind. It is no surprise that numerous types (species) of the same kind (tyrannosaurs) existed in different parts of the world. God allowed for great diversity within the kind, giving variety in the rock record for tyrannosaurs. Consider all the different dog breeds we have today. They may be vastly different shapes and sizes, but they are all dogs. Also, as with most creatures, they have the innate ability to rapidly speciate.
A third unresolved issue is the sudden appearance of T. rex in the sedimentary rock record. Brusatte explains, "Regardless of where T. rex comes from, when it enters the fossil record, it seems to take over immediately, like an invasive species."2 These findings better fit the biblical Flood model, where species appear and disappear suddenly as they were buried in the Flood waters, environment by environment.4
In fact, Brusatte and Carr were apparently so desperate for gap-filling fossils that they included species that aren't even true tyrannosaurs, like Appalachiosaurus and Dryptosaurus. The authors describe these specimens as, "somewhat basal, non-tyrannosaurid tyrannosaurids."1
What in the world is a "non-tyrannosaur tyrannosaur"?
Although many new species of dinosaur are found each year, secular paleontologists still cannot find the evolutionary links to fill the gaps and complete their make-believe tree—now called a cladogram.4
Creation scientists point out that the fossil record of tyrannosaurs is best explained by God's revealed Word. Tyrannosaurs were created on Day Six of Creation Week along with the other land animals. And like so many other creatures, tyrannosaurs were buried rapidly and suddenly in the global Flood as described in Genesis. They appear in the rocks fully-formed, without evolutionary ancestors, and disappear in the rock record just as quickly as the Flood waters overtook them.
Secular science will continue to find substantial gaps between animal kinds, regardless of how many fossils they discover. These researchers can name, classify, and force fossils into an imaginary ancestral tree to their heart's content, but the fact is there is simply no empirical evidence for ancestors of any dinosaur kind.5
Dinosaurs have always been dinosaurs, and tyrannosaurs have always been tyrannosaurs.
- Brusatte, S. L., and T. D. Carr. 2016. The phylogeny and evolutionary history of tyrannosauroid dinosaurs. Scientific Reports. 6: 20252.
- Geggel, L. 2016. T. Rex Was Likely an Invasive Species. Livescience. Posted on livescience.com February 29, 2016, accessed March 7, 2016.
- A ghost lineage is a supposed ancestral link that has not been seen or found, but is believed to link different kinds of organisms in evolutionary diagrams. A ghost lineage is akin to a missing link.
- The latest tyrannosaur discovery, also co-authored by Stephen Brusatte, claims to have found a new tyrannosaur ancestor in Uzbekistan in mid-Cretaceous system rocks below the level of T. rex. However, this discovery totals only about 15 bone fragments and it appears to be merely a juvenile version of an adult T. rex. Of course secular paleontologists cannot call it one as it is found in sediments supposedly 23 million years earlier than T. rex. (Brusatte, S. L., et al. 2016. New tyrannosaur from mid-Cretaceous of Uzbekistan clarifies evolution of giant body masses and advanced senses in tyrant dinosaurs. PNAS Early Edition. 1073.)
- Clarey, T. L. 2015. Dinosaurs: Marvels of God's Design. Green Forest, AR: Master Books. Available at ICR.org.
*Dr. Tim Clarey is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on March 28, 2016.