We Still Can’t Determine the Sex of Dinosaurs | The Institute for Creation Research
We Still Can’t Determine the Sex of Dinosaurs
Recently, a new study led by Queen Mary University of London concluded that dinosaur bones tell us little about their sexes.1 In the past, secular scientists have made various claims about the ability to make sex determinations in dinosaurs. Most concluded that female predatory dinosaurs (theropods like T. rex) were likely larger than males.2 However, that appears to be unsubstantiated by the actual data.

This new study examined living reptiles to see if their bones alone could determine the sex of the animal. The research team worked with gharials, an endangered crocodilian species.

Dr. David Hone, Senior Lecturer in Zoology at Queen Mary University of London and author of the study, said: "Like dinosaurs, gharials are large, slow growing reptiles that lay eggs, which makes them a good model for studying extinct dinosaur species. Our research shows that even with prior knowledge of the sex of the specimen, it can still be difficult to tell male and female gharials apart. With most dinosaurs we don't have anywhere near that size of the dataset used for this study, and we don't know the sex of the animals, so we'd expect this task to be much harder."1

Sexual dimorphism (physiological differences between sexes in the same species) is common in many animals, and is thought to be common in dinosaurs as well.2 But determining these differences with just bone data has always been problematic. This study, again, confirms this confusion. David Hone added,

Some animals show extraordinarily high levels of sexual dimorphism, for example huge size differences between males and females. Gharials sit somewhere in the middle as they do possess these large narial fossa that can help with identification. Our study suggests that unless the differences between the dinosaurs are really striking, or there is a clear feature like the fossa [a cat-like mammal], we will struggle to tell a male and female dinosaur apart using our existing dinosaur skeletons. Many years ago, a scientific paper suggested that female T. rex are bigger than males. However, this was based on records from 25 broken specimens and our results show this level of data just isn't good enough to be able to make this conclusion.1

This new study suggests that popular portrayals of larger female dinosaurs, common in science documentaries, are wrong. We just aren’t sure.

It still seems the only way to tell if a dinosaur was a male or female is to find the bones of a pregnant female. But this only works if they are buried at just the right time. A pregnant dinosaur produces medullary bone, a special type of bone found in female birds before ovulation and used as a calcium reservoir for eggshell production. Unfortunately, this special type of bone is quickly reabsorbed after ovulation, making it difficult to be preserved.2

However, the snapshot of all stages of dinosaur life provided by the global Flood did preserve some pregnant females. Paleontologists have determined that at least three specimens possessed medullary bone and were therefore pregnant at the time they were buried in the mud and sand of the Flood.2

Although it remains difficult to determine the true sex of a dinosaur fossil without medullary bone, we know God made males and females of every kind. We just can’t be sure which ones were which.

References
1. Staff at Queen Mary University of London, 2020. Can we really tell male and female dinosaurs apart? PhysOrg. Posted on phys.org May 12, 2020, accessed May 13, 2020.
2. Clarey, T. 2015. Dinosaurs: Marvels of God’s Design. Green Forest, AR Master Books, 131.

*Dr. Clarey is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his doctorate in geology from Western Michigan University.
The Latest
NEWS
Saturn’s Moons Continue to Challenge Secular Theorists
A recent article in Sky & Telescope magazine explains why secular theorists have difficulty agreeing on the ages of Saturn’s moons.1...

NEWS
Support Creation Ministry in Texas and Beyond
ICR scientists and support staff recently completed a two-week science expedition through the Great Plains and western mountain states to conduct scientific...

NEWS
Great Unconformity Best Solved by Global Flood
The Great Unconformity is one of the most baffling mysteries in the geological sciences.1 It is marked by a massive surface of erosion that...

NEWS
ICR’s 2021 Science Expedition Update–Dinosaur Fossils
A team of 11 people from the Institute for Creation Research is currently traveling on a multistate science expedition to dig up fossils, conduct field...

NEWS
ICR’s 2021 Science Expedition Update
A team of 11 people from the Institute for Creation Research is currently traveling on a multistate science expedition to dig up fossils, conduct field...

NEWS
ICR’s 2021 Science Expedition Begins!
The Institute for Creation Research launched its 2021 multistate science expedition last week as a nine-member team left the ICR headquarters in Dallas,...

NEWS
Inside September 2021 Acts & Facts
Why does ICR focus on scientific research? How could paleontologists mistake a lizard fossil for a dinosaur? Is animal death before the Fall theologically...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Beauty by Design
Christy Hardy and Susan Windsor* You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with...

ACTS & FACTS
Defend Your Faith with ICR
Have you ever heard a pastor question the historical nature of Genesis? “The days of creation weren’t really 24 hours long. The Bible is...

ACTS & FACTS
Animal Death Before the Fall?
Both the Old and New Testaments teach that death entered the world when Adam ate the forbidden fruit (e.g., Genesis 2:17 and Romans 5:12). Since fossils...