Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kachina Bridge Dinosaurs?

Answers in Genesis (AIG) is a young-Earth creationist (YEC) organization which promotes a peculiar, literalist reading of the book of Genesis which insists on a 6,000 year-old Earth, a literal Adam and Eve, and a global flood during the time of Noah (about 4,000 years ago).  Suffice it to say that for this to all be true, most modern fields of knowledge are completely incorrect - we'd have to toss out ALL of the sciences in addition to history, archaeology, linguistics, etc.

AIG, along with other YEC crazies, have claimed that humans and dinosaurs lived side-by-side - just like in the cartoons. To those of us who actually know something about geology and paleontology (or human history and archaeology, for that matter), this is just bat-shit crazy. It's not even remotely plausible - I'd be more likely to believe in fairies inhabiting my backyard than in some strange, alternate-reality world where dinosaurs and humans cavorted together a few thousand years ago.

Why does AIG believe this?  Because, according to their own Statement of Faith: "By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record."  In other words, since the book of Genesis states that God created all life during a six-day creation week, dinosaurs and humans were created together.  Since Noah brought all the animals on the ark, dinosaurs must have been on the ark as well.  Therefore, humans and dinosaurs lived together until they died off due to climate change after the flood.  Don't believe me, read the AIG article What really happened to the dinosaurs?

Answers in Genesis also runs the infamous Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky (about a half hour from Cincinnati, Ohio).  One of the displays at the Creation Museum claims that there's a dinosaur petroglyph at a site called Kachina Bridge in Natural Bridges National Monument in southeastern Utah.  Here's the AIG claim:

Wow!  That looks like a pretty convincing carving of a sauropod, doesn't it?  Here's a photograph of the rock (not enhanced) from a YEC's blog (click to enlarge):

The petroglyph is about 3 meters up a vertical cliff wall in a relatively inaccessible area so it's hard to get up close to it.  It's been studied by binocular and telephoto photographs to date.

So, did the Native Americans living in Utah record sauropod dinosaurs in the area of Kachina Bridge?  We know there were sauropods walking around in Utah since we find their trackways and fossils bones.  The problem, of course, is that paleontologists say they were around in the Jurassic Period some 175 million years ago and that no dinosaurs survived the 65 million-year-ago mass extinction event.

Well, a real scientist has now looked at this petroglyph and written a rebuttal to the dinosaur claim.  Dr. Phil Senter, a biology professor at Fayetteville State University of North Carolina, is an expert on dinosaurs (check out his publications list) and he interprets the petroglyphs a little differently.

At left is the AIG interpretation of a sauropod, at right is Dr. Senter's interpretation.  He claims the "sauropod" is made up of two snake-like pecked areas (maybe done at different times since the pecking differs) and the "legs" are actually mud or mineral staining.  Senter's paper is available electronically, go read it if interested:

Which is more plausible?  The interpretation which goes against EVERYTHING we know about geology, paleontology, biology, history, archaeology, etc. and is only adhered to because of people's beliefs about how a book written thousands of years ago by a bedouin people in the Middle East who wouldn't know a dinosaur if it bit them in the ass or...  What the hell, it's a rhetorical question.  True Believers® aren't going to be persuaded by something as mundane as facts.


  1. The other thing I am struck by looking at both the "petroglyph" and the 1950's era illustration of sauropods you show is the posture of the dinosaurs. They are depicted as the "lumbering, tail dragging loafers" in a way that does not reflect the modern interpretation of how these animals walked, with tails stretched out in the air, roughly horizontally, as they walked.

    So: actual paleontologists now think that sauropods did not hold their tails in this "dragging" posture, and that diminishes the idea that this petroglyph depicts any kind of eyewitness view of such an animal. This is a good reason to discount the "some paleoIndian painted a sauropod that they saw" interpretation.

    ...Oh, and that whole throwing all of geology out the window thing, too. :)

    1. Looks like I'm in the minority on the site... oh well, lol. I have been to the Kachina arch and have seen it in person, even sat next to it. You're so called experts don't compare to seeing the real thing. This find was documented by the archaeologists Nixon and Markus in 1982 (the real experts) and was recorded clearly as a sauropod, not a mud splotch as claimed by Senter. I could also see the chippings left by the Indian on the legs, definitely not a mud splotch. Look, the establishment used to say the earth was flat (I know, it was the church back then), but now the establishment says that the earth is old. They don't even say 4 1/2 billion years old, they are so exact that they say 4.6 billion years old... all of this when we can't even accurately predict the weather. Why not, for the heck of it, try reading something from another perspective. Say the Bible, or The Case for Christ, or Bones of Contention. It could be that you're only getting one side of the story and missing out on some really good evidence. Ok Ad Hominum, bring it on - :)

      God bless you all,

  2. Excellent post on this. If I was a paleoindian, and I lived alongside dinosaurs, guess what: THAT'S ALL I'D DRAW. You wouldn't be able to spit without hitting a rock wall decorated with a dino petroglyph.

    The fact that YEC folks hold these up as evidence says about all you need to know about their intellectual rigor.

  3. Good points. I just picked that image because I liked how it looked and somewhat resembled the YEC interpretation.

    Another thing to mention is that the CroMagnon and Neanderthal people actually used mammoth and mastodon bones and tusks both for building shelters and tools. Why no dino bone shelters or tools? If you can kill a mammoth, you can certainly kill a plant eating ornithopod.

  4. How can you argue that’s not a sauropod?

    I’m still waiting to hear how “scientists” explain the 20,000+ figurines dug up in Acambaro,Mexico of dinosaurs, many of which look just like dinosaurs in any book, and many of which would be new to science.

  5. "Scientists" explain them as frauds which you'd know if you actually did a little research.

  6. Do you even know anything at all about the finds at Acambaro?

  7. The picture labeled "Dr. Senter's interpretation" says it all. He believes it's impossible that humans could have seen dinosaurs, so has to "interpret" the petroglyph according to this preconceived idea. Both creationists and evolutionists look at the same evidence, but interpret it according to the "glasses" they wear.

  8. The comment by Geoff C deserves a longer answer than I can post here so I'll address in on my Blog post of April 15.

  9. I just ran across your blog, of all things *after* I'd just finished my page on the Kachina Bridge petroglyph.

    I included some commentary on the Answers in Genesis rebuttal to Senter and Cole. Of course, you might not want to read those playground taunts as it could cause you to pull your hair out. It's the very embodiment of "the fool in his folly" that Proverbs describes. The decision whether to answer him and perhaps appear to be like him or not to answer and leave him "wise in his own conceits" is a difficult one.

    Oh, the answer is at http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2011/03/18/feedback-senter-and-cole

    This is the first page of your blog I've seen. Now to move on and read your April 15 post before finding your more up-to-date ones.

  10. Umm, you do know that there's a whole lot more drawings etc than this one, right? And many look much more like dinosaurs than this. I bet they're all mud stains that look just like dinosaurs.