Dinosaur Soft Tissue: Biofilm or Blood Vessels? | The Institute for Creation Research
Dinosaur Soft Tissue: Biofilm or Blood Vessels?

Over a decade ago, paleontologist Dr. Mary Schweitzer accidentally discovered soft tissues preserved inside dinosaur bone.1 While examining the bone structure from an incompletely fossilized T. rex nicknamed "B. rex," she came upon what appeared to be blood vessels and blood cells on her microscope slides. In an interview years later, she recalled, "I looked at this and I looked at this and I thought, this can't be. Red blood cells don't preserve."2

Evolutionary scientists have had a very difficult time fitting this evidence into a neo-Darwinian framework. After the soft tissues were verified, creation scientists interpreted them as confirmation of a young earth. "Evidence of hemoglobin, and the still-recognizable shapes of red blood cells, in unfossilized dinosaur bone is powerful testimony against the whole idea of dinosaurs living millions of years ago," Creation magazine reported.3

Of course, questioning the paradigm of eons of time seems nonsensical to most scientists because "geologists have established that the Hell Creek Formation, where B. rex was found, is 68 million years old, and so are the bones buried in it."2 However, this appeal to authority ignores the possibility that the geologists themselves "established" this age based not on science, but on assumptions of millions of years of earth history, the authority of the biologists who date fossils based on their alleged evolutionary path, and the veracity of the geologic column itself, which was defined in the 19th century, prior to the accumulation of 90 percent of current geologic data.

The belief that "millions of years" is established fact seems here to trump the empirical evidence that biomolecules should not last longer than 100,000 years. One resilient biomolecule found in many fossils, including B. rex, is collagen. However, "in bones, hydrolysis [breakdown] of the main protein component, collagen, is even more rapid and little intact collagen remains after only 1-3x104 [10,000 to 30,000] years, except in bones in cool or dry depositional environmnents."4

With a lifespan of 30,000 or so years, collagen should not exist in a 68-million-year-old sample. To get around this, some evolutionary scientists challenge the measured molecular decay rates. "Schweitzer's work is 'showing us we really don't understand decay,'" paleontologist Thomas Holtz said in Smithsonian magazine.2 But even allowing 100,000 years for collagen longevity, perhaps due to superior preservation, this is still only 1/680th of B. rex's assumed age. It would seem that the natural preservation of collagen for 68 million years would have required a miracle on the same scale as creation.

A new possible solution was published in July 2008. Researchers took electron micrographs of the "soft tissues," and concluded that they are bacterial secretions called "biofilms."5 Though this is possible, the weight of evidence still seems to favor the interpretation that they are genuine dinosaurian tissue. First, collagen protein sequence data is not a bacterial product, but "colleagues at Harvard successfully sequenced the dinosaur protein that Schweitzer had extracted from the tissue, identifying the amino acids and confirming that the material from the T. rex was collagen. 'From a paleo standpoint, sequence data really is the nail in the coffin that confirms the preservation of these tissues,' Schweitzer says."6

Second, as Dr. Schweitzer pointed out for National Geographic, no biofilms have been observed with hollow, branching tubes. Third, biofilms would have been thicker at the bottom, pulled down by gravity.7 And fourth, the flimsy biofilms themselves could never have retained the shape of the original dinosaur blood vessels, to which they allegedly conformed, for 68 million years.

Not only should the unfossilized bone and its collagen have turned to dust long ago, but there should certainly be no vestige of blood vessels, or even bacterial slime still shaped like vessels. These tissues remain a pesky enigma for long-age thinking, but they fit right in with the young world viewpoint that an unbiased Bible reader would understand.

References

  1. Schweitzer, M. and T. Staedter. 1997. The Real Jurassic Park. Earth. 6 (3): 55-57.
  2. Fields, H. 2006. Dinosaur Shocker. Smithsonian Magazine online. Published May 2006, accessed August 22, 2008.
  3. Wieland, C. 1997. Sensational dinosaur blood report! Creation. 19 (4): 42-43.
  4. Bada, J. et al. 1999. Preservation of key biomolecules in the fossil record: current knowledge and future challenges. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 354 (1379): 77-87.
  5. Kaye, T. et al. 2008. Dinosaurian Soft Tissues Interpreted as Bacterial Biofilms. PloS One. Published online July 30, 2008.
  6. Peake, T. Small Foot, Big Impression. North Carolina State University online feature, July 24, 2007.
  7. Roach, J. 2008. Dinosaur Slime Sparks Debate over Soft Tissue Finds. National Geographic News, posted on-line July 30, 2008, accessed August 22, 2008.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer.

Cite this article: Thomas, B. 2008. Dinosaur Soft Tissue: Biofilm or Blood Vessels? Acts & Facts. 37 (10): 14.

The Latest
NEWS
Inside July 2020 Acts & Facts
Where can we find hope during times of waiting? How has ICR reached a new global audience? How does evolution conflict with the Bible's teaching...

NEWS
Soft Dinosaur Eggs Deflate Bird-Dinosaur Evolution
A pair of new studies found that some dinosaurs, and possibly some marine reptiles, laid squishy eggs. One study discovered that many dinosaurs, like turtles...

ACTS & FACTS
Encouraging Notes During the Storm
Without a doubt, the global spread of COVID-19 has forced most of us to make major adjustments to our daily routines. Whether the stay-at-home mandates...

APOLOGETICS
God's Grassroots Provision
In times of calamity and crisis, it’s easy to question whether life makes sense—or, more accurately, how God is making ultimate sense of...

ACTS & FACTS
Why Do I Believe in Recent Creation?
A student recently asked what I believe about the age of the earth. I replied that at one time I felt absolutely certain that the world was billions...

ACTS & FACTS
Walton's Cosmic Temple Is a House of Cards
A series of books and videos by Dr. John Walton, an Old Testament theologian at Wheaton College, has made a huge splash in the evangelical community...

ACTS & FACTS
Evolution's Death Versus Jesus' Death
Cancer took the life of both my dad and a friend in the last several months. Death certainly injects misery into the joys of life. I know we must die,...

ACTS & FACTS
Tully Monster Has the Last Laugh on Evolution
The pre-Flood world was teeming with some pretty amazing animals. Then the Flood came, rapidly burying and entombing trillions of creatures in sediments...

ACTS & FACTS
Revisiting the Isochron Age Model, Part 2
Last month’s article explored initial problems with the isochron age model, which has been the standard radioisotope dating method.1...

RESEARCH
Salt Deposits Confirm the Pre-Flood Pangaea
Debate exists over the pre-Flood continental configuration, with some creation scientists advocating for an initial supercontinent called Rodinia centered...