T. rex Out of Nowhere | The Institute for Creation Research


T. rex Out of Nowhere

As one of the largest predators ever at 45 feet long, it’s no wonder school children are enthralled with Tyrannosaurus rex. But where did the creature come from? A new reassessment of an old fossil suggests some science-sounding options. But those options should leave critical readers, whose hands can reach their faces, scratching their heads.

Publishing in Scientific Reports, an international team of tyrannosaur experts took another look at a partial jaw and skull fragments that were collected from a lakeshore in New Mexico in the 1980s.1 The team found that overall, it looked like a typical Tyrannosaurus, but subtle differences gave them confidence it deserved a new name—Tyrannosaurus mcraeensis. It’s common to assign new names in the field of paleontology and so is the evolutionary storytelling that this report includes in its discussion of subtle fossil features.

However, amidst the talk of bones and evolution, these authors admitted something that raises the question of creation. They wrote, “The origins of the Tyrannosaurus lineage, Tyrannosaurini, are unknown. Tyrannosaurus rex appeared suddenly in the latest Maastrichtian [uppermost Late Cretaceous].” “Tyrannosaurini” is a category that includes Tyrannosaurus from North America and its look-alikes, Tarbosaurus and Zhuchengtyrannus, from Asia. And the Maastrichtian assumes a time tens of millions of years ago when regular habitats like rivers and shorelines supposedly deposited these fossils, despite the fact that natural processes virtually fail to fossilize vertebrates today.

Now with these big words in place, readers can perhaps better recognize how the Scientific Reports article acknowledges the strangely sudden appearance of these creatures. It’s like someone just air-dropped them—with no evolutionary ancestors in layers beneath—into the rock record.

Co-author of the study Nick Longrich, from the University of Bath, told Associated Press, “Evolution slowly causes mutations to build up over millions of years, causing species to look subtly different over time.”2 If the Tyrannosaurini came into being this way, then where is the expected long trail of ever more Tyrannosaurus-looking fossils in layers beneath the “Maastrichtian”? There aren’t any! Just T. rex out of nowhere.

The report seems to make some contradictions about Tyrannosaur ancestry. If indeed “The origins of the Tyrannosaurus lineage…are unknown,” then how do they know that Tyrannosaurs evolved “from small-bodied ancestors in the mid-Cretaceous”?1

Fossils of smaller-bodied tyrannosaur-ish creatures do, of course, occur in lower layers, but to name them as ancestors of the Tyrannosaurini may reveal more about a strict adherence to evolutionary dogma than to observable fossils. Indeed, the same authors seem to cherry-pick if and when tyrannosaurs from lower layers should be considered ancestors of those found in upper layers.

They believe smaller versions lower down are ancestors, but somehow Tyrannosaurus mcraeensis found in a similar layer in New Mexico “was a side-branch in the species’s evolution, rather than a direct ancestor of T. rex.”2 So, which is it—an ancestor or a side branch? Origins known or unknown? And how do we decide? Apparently, we get to just pick what we like.

Meanwhile, God’s Word, not human-derived speculation, provides a clear history for Tyrannosaurs. The Bible says that God created them with their basic body plan right from the beginning. Along this line, the reason why Tyrannosaurids come in so many size variations—think of Albertosaurus at 30 feet long, Teratophoneus curriei at 20 feet long, or Suskityrannus hazelae at nine feet long—could derive from the Creator endowing their original parents with potential to alter ornamental (not fundamental) traits.3 That way, they could sport head crests like Acrocanthosaurus or not, have larger bodies or smaller bodies, etc. so they could indeed “fill the earth” (Genesis 1:22). Genesis creation fits what we see, despite the ridicule it suffers.

Additionally, the Bible outlines an unconventional reason for why Tyrannosaurs appear so suddenly. The Genesis Flood specifies that waters covered the entire globe, burying all Tyrannosaurs at that general rock level in the advancing Flood along with other animals and plants living at a similar elevation in the pre-Flood world. No wonder we have Tyrannosaurini in vast, flat sedimentary layers from both sides of the world.

So, after a century of scratching through the earth for Tyrannosaurs, we keep finding evidence for their creation. Now we scratch our heads as to why so many evolutionary scientists despise the idea of created dinosaurs.4

References

  1. Dalman, S. G. et al. 2024. A giant tyrannosaur from the Campanian–Maastrichtian of southern North America and the evolution of tyrannosaurid gigantismScientific Reports. 13: 22124.
  2. Bryan, S. M. Fossil unearthed in New Mexico years ago is identified as older, more primitive relative of T. rex. Associated Press. Posted on apnews.com January 11, 2024, accessed January 22, 2024.
  3. Thomas, B. 2023. Trait Variation: Engineered Alleles, Yes! Random Mutations, No! Acts & Facts. 52 (11): 12–15.
  4. I offer some suggestions about this resistance to creation in Thomas, B. 2014. Dinosaurs and the Bible. Eugene, OR: Harvest House.

Stage Image Credit: Brian Thomas

* Dr. Brian Thomas is Research Scientist at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his Ph.D. in paleobiochemistry from the University of Liverpool.

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