Resource Review: Echoes of the Jurassic

We have written previously about the dinosaur soft tissue problem the evolutionists have.  It is pervasive and since it splashed into the headlines in the early 2000s, has been a regular fixture of the scientific community, with papers either announcing tissue has been found in something new, or papers arguing that the people making the discoveries do not know what they are talking about.   Dr. Kevin Anderson, of the Creation Research Society and Director of the Van Andel Research center, has studied this issue closely. His lab has done work with dinosaur soft tissue. In Echoes of the Jurassic,  he details his own lab’s research as well as discussing the secularists work to demonstrate that dinosaurs simply could not have lived millions of years ago.

Echoes of the Jurassic is not a lengthy book.  Including the index, it is a mere one hundred and eight pages long. However, Dr. Anderson packs a lot of information in the volume and documents his sources relentlessly. There are two hundred-seventy footnotes in the book and many of these cite secular papers on the topic at hand. Dr. Anderson has clearly done his homework very thoroughly.  Throughout the book, he cites leading evolutionary luminaries like Jerry Coyne, P.Z. Myers, and Michael Buckley, as well as old-earth Christians like Dr. Fazale Rana.  The book is almost encyclopedic in its citations, making it a good reference if a particular paper on this topic is desired but its title or authors are unknown.

The book is split roughly into three main parts. The first part is basically a very thorough background to the issue. Anderson discusses how dinosaurs are viewed in the modern culture, then moves into the discovery that made headlines: that of Dr. Mary Schweitzer. Dr. Schweitzer and her team, when examining a fossilized T. rex bone, discovered that it was still stretchy.  This indicated the presence of unfossilized soft tissue. The discovery was announced in 2005 and sparked an avalanche of interest. Schweitzer was not the first to discover this. There are reports of soft tissue in fossils going back to at least 1966 when collagen was discovered in another dinosaur, Tarbosaurus.  However, Schweitzer’s was the first to really impact the public and the scientific community.

The reaction to Schweitzer’s discovery was both swift and explosive. Her Ph.D. mentor, Dr. Jack Horner, a well-known paleontologist and advisor to the Jurassic Park movies, used an expletive to express his frustration when Schweitzer told him about it, not because of the discovery itself, but because he knew creationists would use it.  The wider scientific community reacted, as Anderson points out, by sticking their heads in the sand. Some ignored it, some attempted to refute it by saying that it was leftover bacterial biofilm, while others acknowledged that claims existed but refused to believe them. Anderson also points out, at this point, we don’t just have collagen, the original soft tissue. We have blood cells, blood vessels, myosin, histones, chitin, and even some disputed DNA, just to name a few.  Yet, to the best of Anderon’s knowledge at press time, no natural history museum had acknowledged that there was genuine soft tissue in dinosaurs. It’s almost as if they think if they censor it hard enough, it will go away.

In the second third of the book, Anderson discusses fossil preservation and the condition of fossils. He uses this section to extensively refute both secular and compromised Christian positions on this issue. Using mostly secular sources, Anderson debunks the myth that this soft tissue is leftover bacteria biofilm or that is was preserved using hemoglobin.  Moreover, he points out that, as mentioned above, we do not just have collagen. We have other proteins and even amino acids which take much less time to break down and no one seems to be trying to explain those.  Anderson argues that those attempting to make the proteins millions of years old are doing so, not because of empirical evidence, but because of an a priori commitment to millions of years of evolution.

No book on dinosaurs from a creationist perspective could be complete without a thorough debunking of the radiometric dating scam.   Anderson closes the book by doing just this in a very clear, concise break down of where the millions of years came from, as well as explaining why radiometric dating does not work. He gives cited, specific examples, that make it very clear that radiometric dating simply does not work, and the scientific community knows it.

The book also includes dozens of pictures of the soft tissue Anderson is describing.  The pictures are vivid proof that the tissue exists and it is not something that can be explained away. That said, my only quibble with this book, and it is a small one, is that the pictures are grayscale, rather than full color.  I recognize that would have increased the cost of printing and that many microscope pictures are taken in grayscale, but a few color photos would have gone a long way.

I would highly recommend Echoes of the Jurassic to anyone with an interest in dinosaurs. Even upper elementary age children should be able to understand the key points of this book, as Anderson does an excellent job making the information accessible to everyone.  What’s more, the book is quite inexpensive, a mere six dollars on the Answers in Genesis website.  At that price, everyone should own it.   Check it out and see what you have not been told about dinosaurs.


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