Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden, except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God has said, ‘You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You shall not surely die, for God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity. – Genesis 3:1-5 [Amplified Bible]
One of the great “untold stories” of the American Museum of Natural History is that of the Tyrannosaurus rex battle that never was. In 1913, Henry Fairfield Osborn and Barnum Brown published a bulletin with a potential pose for two of the towering theropods, fighting over a carcass, expressed as a scale model.
From Tyrannosaurus : restoration and model of the skeleton. Bulletin of the AMNH ; v. 32, article 4.
This reconstruction never came to pass, however, and the museum’s singular Tyrannosaurus mount stood upright, holding out its feeble arms while dragging its tail for many years. Today, the AMNH’s Tyrannosaurus takes on a more contemporary and accurate pose, but when two of the dinosaurs came to compete over a meal it must have been just as awesome and frightening as Osborn and Brown envisioned in 1913. Unfortunately, we will never know how such a drama would have played out as the great “Tyrant King” did not survive the end of the Cretaceous, at least outside of the imaginations of paleontologists and dino-philes worldwide.
There are some, however, who claim that humans would have been present to witness such a confrontation. Such beasts did not always bite and claw at each other over carrion, but rather became cursed to do so because of the folly of Man. Indeed, when the Serpent in the Garden tricked Adam and Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, he really did his reptilian brethren a disservice, condemning them to experience competition, hunger, disease, and death, rather than peacefully sharing Eden with the fragile humans and cracking coconuts with their enormous jaws as they were intended. After the Fall, Adam and Eve had to live in a world with such monstrous forms they would certainly need to know the difference between “blessing and calamity,” and the survival of the human species becomes even more spectacular given the carnage gigantic theropods could have wreaked on the first people.
Such beliefs cause enough cognitive dissonance to cause permanent brain damage and run counter to reality, but that doesn’t change the fact that this coming Memorial Day, the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum will be opening. Attempting to turn America away from evolution, the root of all our social ills according to the group, Ken Ham and many others have spent $27,000,000 and countless hours in order to take humanity back to the Garden of Eden physically and mentally, a time of communion with God in which ignorance was cherished and knowledge of anything but the one Book considered dangerous. To Ham and other creationists, the time Eden was a time when “Dragon’s Hearts Were Good” (to borrow the title of a children’s book by another AiG leader, Buddy Davis), and the rampaging dinosaurs that helped exemplify the ramifications of man’s Fall gave rise to the still persisting tales of dragons, sea monsters, and monsters hidden in far-away jungles.
If hundreds (if not thousands) of people donated over $27,000,000 dollars, money that could have been better spent on more admirable causes than a creation museum, can there be something to this view? Is there anything at all that would suggest that AiG and its supporters might be correct? The answer is an unequivocal “No!”; the only way that Ken Ham and others seemingly escape both evidence and logic is by jamming their fingers firmly in their ears and singing “Onward, Christian Soliders” at the top of their lungs. And so, without further introduction, I present to you my case that the truth behind the dinosaur-dragon connection lies not on a 6,000-year-old Mesopotamian plain but in the ground, where the bones of long-dead beasts will gladly share their wisdom with those who seek it.
“…speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee” (Job 12:8)
The dinosaur known as Scrotum
In 1676, the word “dinosaur” had yet to be added to the lexicon. This doesn’t mean, however, that all the remains of prehistoric creatures were tucked away in the strata, patiently awaiting the day in 1840 when Sir Richard Owen would formally describe the “Dinosauria.” In fact, quite the opposite was true; throughout history strange bones, tracks, and other fossils appeared all over the world, few knowing how to make heads or tails of the strange remnants. One such fossil was sent to Robert Plot in 1676, which he described the following year in his book Natural History of Oxfordshire, coming to the conclusion that it was a part of a huge creature’s femur, probably from some sort of giant, pictured below.
The infamous “Scrotum humanum” (ref: Wikipedia: Megalosaurus)
Plot’s analysis is often forgotten, however, as it was the reanalysis of this bone fragment that become one of the most celebrated accounts of a paleontological error in history. In 1763, Richard Brookes redescribed Plot’s fossil as being similar to a gigantic pair of human testicles, dubbing it (informally) Scrotum humanum. Today we know it as part of a femur from Megalosaurus(1), Plot’s description being surprisingly on the mark (how could he have known about dinosaurs in 1676?), but it is Brookes’ description that is more telling of the the mindset about fossils at the time, when paleontology was certainly having “growing pains.”
Mystery of the Tongue Stones
While Nicolas Steno made an important contribution to science in describing principles of stratigraphy (Preliminary discourse to a dissertation on a solid body naturally contained within a solid, 1669), it was his dissection of a shark in 1666 that helped to shatter the intellectual quagmire about fossils at the time. In Steno’s day, no one was quite sure were fossils came from; some said they fell from the sky or heavenly bodies, others that they naturally grew inside the rocks, and yet others (in the famous “seashell on the mountaintop” problem) that fossils of marine organisms were deposited by the Biblical Flood. Robert Plot, the man who correctly identified the Megalosaurus fragment as being part of a femur, described plenty of “star-stones,” “horses’ heads,” “screw-stones,” and “bulls’ hearts,” later turning out to be various bivalves, corals, or other invertebrate animals. Rather than going along with such conventional “wisdom,” (acquiescing to Biblical authority either explicitly or implicitly) Steno suggested that glossopetrae look like shark teeth because they are shark teeth, the ones in the ground matching the teeth he inspected in the mouth of the Great White Shark. The teeth may have changed in chemical composition, but there could be no mistaking their form, running counter to the various ideas about the teeth falling from the moon or being the fossilized tongues of snakes driven out of Ireland.
Adding to the Confusion
Steno’s assertion about the shark teeth should have been heard far and wide, changing the infant discipline of paleontology, but old habits died hard. In 1726 Johann Bartholomew Adam Beringer published his infamous work Wurzburg lithography, featuring lizards, crustaceans, comets, and the petrified name of God, all of which being etched in stone as a joke on the “insufferably pompous” (Gould, 1998) professor, even though the hoaxers tried to dissaude Beringer from publishing when they learned how seriously he was taking the “lying stones.” Even prior to Beringer’s and Brookes’ mistakes, fossils were being shoved into categories that would cause the least amount of conflict with Scripture. Indeed, giants seemed to be a perfect wastebasket category in which to place any large bones that might challenge the idea of a young earth;
Cotton Math, the New England pastor, naturalist, and “authority” on witchcraft, proclaimed in 1706 that the fossil bones and teeth of a mastodon found along the Hudson River in New York State around 1705 belonged to a race of vanished humans, “godless giants drowned in Noah’s Flood.”
(Ref: Dinosaurs of the East Coast by David Weishampel and Luther Young)
Indigenous people had their own take on the massive bones found in various locales too, one of the most famous being Big Bone Lick, located in (ironically, at least in terms of this essay) Boone County, Kentucky. The following are two similar accounts relating where the massive bones came from [Ref: Dinosaurs of the East Coast by David Weishampel and Luther Young (pg. 51-52)];
A Shawnee legend surrounding five mastodon skeletons from Big Bone Lick was described in 1762 by naturalist James Wright of Pennsylvania:
They had indeed a tradition, such might Creatures, once frequented those Savannahs, that there were then men of a size proportionationable to them, who used to kill them, and tye them in Their Noppusses And throw them upon their Backs As an Indian now dos a Deer, that they had seen Marks in rocks, which tradition said, were made by these Great & Strong Men, when they sate down with their Burthens, such as a Man makes by sitting down on the Snow, that when there were no more of these strong Men left alive, God Kiled these Mighty Creatures, that they should not hurt the Present race of Indians, And added, God had Kill’d these last 5 they had been questioned about, which the Interpreter said was to be understood, they supposed them to have been Killed by lightning. (James Wright to John Bartram, August 22, 1762, British Museum, Add. MSS 21648, fols. 333-334)
[I]n 1785, [Thomas] Jefferson wrote about a legend told to him by a delegation of warriors from the Delaware tribe:
In ancient times, a herd of these tremendous animals came to the Big-bone licks, and began an universal destruction of the bear, deer, elks, buffaloes, and other animals, which had been created for the use of the Indians; that the Great Man above, looking down and seeing this, was so enraged that he seized his lightning, descended on the earth, seated himself on a neighboring mountain, on a rock, of which his seat and the print of this feet are still to be seen, and hurled his bolts among them till the whole were slaughtered, except the big bull, who presenting his length, it wounded him in the side; whereon, springing round, he bounded over the Ohio, over the Wabash, the Illinois, and finally over the great lakes, where he is living at this day.
As mentioned at the beginning of the first excerpt, today we know that the bones belonged mastodons, possibly attracted to the area (along with other animals) because it served as a salt lick. How could the Native Americans have known about the fate of the giant elephantine beasts? While the bones became surrounded by mythology, the Native Americans did not mistake them for giants or human monsters, as occurred in other parts of the world. Indeed, the legendary Cyclops owes its origin to mammoths and mastodons as well, the island of Sicily (where, according to mythology, Cyclops were supposed to have dwelt) giving up the remains of many of the extinct mammals, and it is easy to see how a mammoth skull could be confused for that of a giant, one-eyed monster.
Of Oxen and Dragons
Legends surrounding fossils were not restricted to the Greeks or Native Americans, of course; all over the world there are tales describing dragons and other fantastic creatures. In this account, from the book Hunting Dinosaurs, enormous bones are related to a more familiar creature imbued with special powers;
“Fifty-five years ago, a French geologist called Josue-Heilmann Hoffet went to Indochina to conduct a geological survey and found dinosaur bones. Near the border between Vietnam and Laos there is a very small village in a dry teak forest. The people of the village are Qatang and they are animists. Hoffet arrived in this small village, and when he began observing the rocks, the people say, ‘Oh, you must be looking for the stone bones-of the sacred buffalo.’ They told Hoffet that when the sacred buffalo are young, they carry the sun in the sky each day, and when they get old, they die in this place, not far from the village. This is their legend. They took him to see the big vertebrae of the sacred buffalo. They were dinosaur bones. Hoffet was fascinated and wanted to collect the bones, but they told him, ‘You cannot touch these vertebrae because they are sacred. If perhaps you do a sacrifice, maybe you can collect some of them.’ So he paid them a buffalo, a young buffalo, and he was allowed to collect some of the fossil bones. He described these bones in 1936 in Hanoi in a small paper, ‘Description of New Titanosaurians in Bas-Laos.’
[Ref: Hunting Dinosaurs by Louie Psihoyos and John Knoebber (page 132)]
While the people of the village Hoffet visited may have revered the bones and were loathe to let them go (at least, not for free), other asian cultures did not have the same desire to preserve fossils. Such is the case with Traditional Chinese Medicine, consisting of some traditional remedies like massage/acupuncture and other controversial folk-medicine practices including the use of shark fin, tiger penis, sea horses, rhino horn, and even fossils in an attempt to either enhance or heal an individual. From the AMNH Mythical Creatures website;
For using dragon’s bones, first cook odorous plants; bathe the bones twice in hot water, pound them to powder and put this in bags of gauze. Take a couple of young swallows and, after taking out their intestines and stomach, put the bags in the swallows and hang them over a well. After one night take the bags out of the swallows, rub the powder and mix it into medicines for strengthening the kidneys. The efficacy of such a medicine is as it were divine! – Chinese medical scholar Lei Xiao (AD 420-477)
There is no doubt that what the bones being discussed are not the bones of actual dragons or even (as creationists may assert) living dinosaurs, but fossil bones found in various regions all over China. It is almost painful to think how many specimens have been lost so that some people could have stronger kidneys. It should be noted, however, that many “dragon bones” are actually fossil mammals, not dinosaurs or any other Mesozoic reptile, which goes to show that mammals are often just as much the basis for dragon lore as dinosaurs are, and this trend is not only apparent in Asia.
Dragons of the Carpathian Caves
A number of European caves, especially in central Europe, traditionally maintain the name of the dragon’s (or dragons’) cave or lair. During the 17th century, the German doctor Petersonius Hayn found some large skulls, isolated teeth, and bones in several caves in the Carpathian Mountains around Moravia. In 1673, Hayn had a article published by the Halle Academy of Sciences entitled “Skulls of Dragons in the Carpathians.” Around the same time, another German, named Vette, found similar remains in Transylvania. According to their discoverer, these bones belonged to flying dragons. Illustrations of the material described by Hayn and Vette still exist. In both cases, they are of Quaternary cave bears, a powerful animal that was one of the largest carnivorous mammals. The famous Austrian paleontologist Othenio Abel analyzed the legend of the dragon of Klagenfurt (Austria) early in the 20th century. At the beginning of the 14th century in the spot known as the “Dragon’s Grave,” the skull of a woolly rhinoceros from the ice age was found and was subsequently exhibited in the city’s town hall. This specimen served as a model for the sculptor Ulrich Vogesland for this creation of a statue of a dragon, which today is an emblem of the city of Klagenfurt.
[Ref: Starring T. rex!: Dinosaur Mythology and Popular Culture by Jose Luiz Sanz (pg. 122-123)]
Just in case all these prior descriptions have not made things clear, wherever there have been fossils, legends have cropped up to explain them. While the dinosaurs and mammoth mammals of times long-gone are now extinct, they did leave us their bones, startling remnants that inherently fire the imagination. Could such creatures still be living? When Georges Cuvier, in 1796, showed that species did indeed go extinct, not everyone believed him. Rejecting the idea that nature could produce a creature and later eliminate it, Thomas Jefferson instructed Louis and Clark to keep their eyes open for mammoths and other large beasts on their trek west (Native American lore apparently fueling his idea that the beasts could still be alive somewhere in the unexplored recesses of the continent). Today, of course, we know Cuvier to be right, but the prospect that some vestige of a “lost world” survives in an ocean trench or fetid jungle still captures the imaginations of many. While there are plenty of strange creatures of ancient heritage still alive today (perhaps the most famous being the coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae) (3), they seemingly do not hold a candle to the huge and varied creatures that lived during the Mesozoic, and such monstrous forms inspired Ray Bradbury to write a short story called “The Fog Horn“;
Up From the Depths
We waited a moment. And then I began to hear it. First a great vacuumed sucking of air, and then the lament, the bewilderment, the loneliness of the great monster, folded over upon us, above us, so that the sickening reek of its body filled the air, a stone’s thickness away from our cellar. The monster gasped and cried. The tower was gone. The light was gone. The thing that had called it across a million years was gone. And the monster was opening its mouth and sending out great sounds. The sounds of a Fog Horn, again and again. And ships far at sea, not finding the light, not seeing anything, but passing and hearing late that night must’ve thought: There it is, the lonely sound, the Lonesome Bay horn. All’s well. We’ve rounded the cape.
The story ended up being an inspiration in its own right, as well, becoming the basis for the cult classic The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.
The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms trailer
“Are we delving into mysteries we weren’t meant to know? Is mankind challenging powers behind the cosmic barriers? Will science unleash the fearsome forces of lost worlds?” Such questions seem to belie a mistrust and misunderstanding of science. While Japan had a more blatant allegory in Gojira, “Beast” (which actually predates the famous man-in-suit monster by a year) attempts to achieve a similar end for American audiences; how can we trust scientists when they unleashed the terrible power of the atomic bomb? If such destructive power is the aim of science, maybe there are things (as the closed-minded gentleman in the trailer suggests) that are better left unsolved. While there are certainly lines of inquiry that we would do well to keep closed (eugenics being the most famous example), I can’t help but think that the spirit of this particular trailer somewhat reflects the attitudes of many present-day creationists towards evolution. To them, science has become a corrupt process driven to subjugate and undermine mankind under the inherently evil hand of atheism, doing away with everything good in the world. Any good scientist, however, knows that the study of the world as it is (or was, given our discussion of paleontology) does not dictate morality or the way things should be, yet this distinction is seldom made by those threatened by the idea of an old earth or any non-Deluge model for the extinction of ancient life.
England’s attempt to capitalize on the radioactive reptile craze lurched out of the sea in 1959 in the form of Behemoth the Sea Monster (or, rather redundantly, The Giant Behemoth). (2)
Behemoth the Sea Monster trailer
According to the trailer, the titular monster (aka “a geometrical progression of deadly menace,” which I suppose could also apply to killer fractals) is the very same Behemoth (“The Biggest Thing Since Creation”) described in the Bible’s book of Job, except that the film creature seems to have been confused with the enigmatic Leviathan (also featured in Job). The Bible says nothing about Behemoth having radioactive powers or electric charges, but oddly enough the fictional monster has more in common with current creationist dogma than the creature God points out in an attempt to humble and awe Job.
“Why is there a giant elephant penis in my Bible?”
Here are the oft-cited passages concerning Behemoth from Job 40:15-24 (King James Version):
15 Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.
16 Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.
17 He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.
18 His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.
19 He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him.
20 Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play.
21 He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens.
22 The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about.
23 Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.
24 He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.
Surely, Behemoth would be a beast to be feared, if it even existed. While we certainly could debate whether the animal described above is merely myth or based upon a living creature, for our purposes I am going to assume that some living animal provided the basis for such poetic prose. Needless to say we are dealing with an immense and powerful animal, living in or around a lake or river. What gigantic animals would have been alive in Job’s time that could have caused such an impression? Hippos and elephants are our main contenders, but creationists often attempt to apply the brakes at this point; “It was no mammal, it was a dinosaur!” In nearly every instance I have encountered, they make damn sure to quote the first half of verse 17, “He moveth his tail like a cedar.” In fact, Allan K. Steel spends a fair bit of time agonizing over the verse fragment in one of AiG’s treatments on Behemoth, overlooking the most obvious conclusion about the identity of Behemoth’s “tail.”
(Before fully revealing what the seemingly crucial verse 17 tells us, it should be noted that Archy dealt with this very subject many months ago, just as I did in one of my more popular ProgressiveU posts.)
Looking at the context in which verse 17 is found, it seems strikingly apparent that the “tail” of Behemoth is really a gigantic phallus, one that would certainly speak to the sexual potency of its owner. While “swings” is the most often used verb in creationist literature, other translations use words/phrases like “extends,” “stiffens,” “makes his tail stiff,” “erects,” “stretches,” and “extendeth down stiffly” (among others) seem to be just as common if not moreso, making it seem like the organ in question can be lengthened/stiffened by Behemoth rather than just swung about (although I’m sure that happened as well).
Even if we were to momentarily forget about the verb in question, putting the first half of verse 17 in context paints a fairly provocative picture;
16 Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.
17 He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.
It’s quite obvious that this part of the passage is describing the virility, the sexual prowess and potency, of Behemoth, and it would be odd that in the middle of such a frank description the beginning of verse 17 would divert to talk about the tail. Verse 16 is quite clear that Behemoth has “his strength… in his loins”, the last half of 17 describing the massive testicles of the animal (and it should further be considered that a bull elephants testicles are “wrapped together” internally, making them impossible to castrate in captivity). In case all of this discussion has been too subtle, it is plain to see that what creationists are hanging their case on is not the whiplash tail of a long-extinct sauropod, but rather a massive mammalian penis, and perhaps they are so embarrassed about the sexual frankness of the surrounding passages that they have chosen to ignore them altogether.
England’s Dragon That Wasn’t
Stretching their case even further, many creationists often cite the legend of England’s patron saint, St. George, as evidence of dinosaurs making it to recent times. In various books, from Duane Gish’s terrible Dinosaurs by Design to the aforementioned When Dragon’s Hearts Were Good, a relatively recently-discovered theropod named Baryonyx has been adapted into the role of dragon. While Gish’s version makes some attempt at accurate reconstruction, many of the AiG renditions have the dinosaur bearing extra horns, waddles, and other strange appendages in order to make it look like a dragon. Here is part of their bried description of the dinosaur;
Baryonyx is on display at the Natural History Museum in London. If you ever get the chance to view this wonderful specimen, remember that you just might be looking at the skeleton of one of the dragons from English history and legend (e.g. Sir George the Dragon Slayer) or one of the dragons spoken of in the Bible. One can easily understand how people could embellish the features of a dinosaur like Baryonyx over the years, adding fanciful appendages, etc., to result in some of the dragon pictures and sculptures that have come down to us today.
[Ref:The Great Dinosaur Mystery SOLVED! by Ken Ham (p.37)]
Why this dinosaur and not some other? Baryonyx had the disctinction of being discovered in England, making it a perfect candidate for AiG’s dragon mythology, but although choosing a British theropod may seem obvious it entirely undermines AiG’s case.
Strike 1: We have no historical proof that Saint George even existed outside of the fanciful religious text the Golden Legend, so we cannot even be sure that there really was a Saint George to do the dragon slaying!
Strike 2: The mythology surrounding Saint George and the dragon came from the middle east, as told by crusaders as they returned home. Given the location in which the events (if they even happened) occurred, Baryonyx would be a poor choice given the confrontation in question didn’t even occur in England.
Stirke 3: The “slaying of a dragon” could easily refer to the destruction of pagan cults in a particular region, or (being this was set in the middle east) the slaying of a crocodile. It is even in question whether George did the slaying, given that Saint Theodore of Amasea is purported to have slain a crocodile (“dragon”) in the region, and is even depicted standing on the reptiles corpse in a famous statue in Venice, Italy.
Given all these facts, there is absolutely no compelling reason to believe that St. George confronted a dinosaur, much less even existed himself. Why a fundamentalist protestant group like AiG would attempt to use part of Catholic mythology to prove their point (notice how he is “Sir” George in the excerpt) I don’t know, and I can only assume that they simply didn’t research their assertion. Given this poor scholarship, why should anyone trust them? Why should the average person pay $20 to be lied to? AiG’s various mistakes and intellectual dishonesty are well-known, yet they keep spewing out discredited creationist dogma as if it were something new. It is not; if anything else, the new “state of the art” museum represents a huge step backward, intellectually speaking, attempting to breathe life into a long-dead idea. The most frightening thing, however, is how many people they manage to take in this way.
Digging for the Truth
Whether the Creation Museum will be a success or failure is anyone’s guess; I’m sure there are plenty of church groups that have already booked their trips over the last year or so. They’ll get their fair share of skeptical visitors as well, people who have intact and working BS detectors who want to see for themselves what all the fuss was about. While this museum is certainly the largest and most advanced, its message is not new, and I can’t help but wonder if it will end up like another controversial theme park. A mere 4 years ago, on May 23, 2003, Erich Anton Paul von Däniken, author of Chariots of the Gods?, opened Mystery Park in Interlaken, Switzerland. Based upon notions about “ancient astronauts” and alien intervention on earth so fanciful they bordered on the psychotic, the park was scoffed at by many and closed on November 19, 2006 due to financial problems (likely filed under “Money: Lack thereof”). (4) Will AiG’s museum succomb to the same fate? Nobody knows, but given the current cultural climate of the United States at present, it is perhaps more likely that it will be a success.
Writing to his friend Asa Gray, Charles Darwin once related;
I am bewildered. I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae [parasitic wasps] with the express intention of their [larva] feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice.
Indeed, rather than the world being filled with joys and pleasures as described by William Paley in Natural Theology (a book that was very influential on Darwin as a young man), there seemed to be so much pain, misery, and loss. With the literal Genesis account intellecutally untenable, what are we to conclude? Are we to continue to hold on to the concept of the universe as we wish it to be, a place where mankind is the crown of creation, subduing all of nature for our own benefit? This is not merely a debate about when dinosaurs lived and died or whether there was a global Flood; it’s about how we see and experience the world around us. It may be easy, even emotionally fulfilling, to believe that nature exists for our benefit by the grace of God, but I simply don’t see it (nor can I without a frontal lobotomy, or similar procedure). What good can come from a traditional delusion that doesn’t seek to illuminate, but rather do away with notions that are deemed “unsafe”?
Our attainment of intellegence and understanding began ages ago, regardless of whether you accept that it is one of our advantages us imbued to us by evolution or is a consequence of Eve’s teeth sinking into the flesh of the cursed fruit; we do not have the luxury of creating a fantasy world where we are isolated from the rest of life on earth. Rather than being ashamed of our ancestry, instead of ever-cramming more and more skeletons into the overflowing closet, why not embrace our evolutionary heritage? If we can’t do this, then we can no longer regard “truth” as a virtue, and we will have finally succeeded in subjugating the most unruly of all life; ourselves.
(1) It is unlikely that Brookes actually intended to officially name whatever creature the bone came from Scrotum humanum, given that such a binomial would be strangely inappropriate to describe an entire organism. Thankfully, the name was not used and is considered a “forgotten name” by the ICZN, otherwise many children might be learning about the first described dinosaur, Scrotum, when the unit on dinosaurs came up in class (although it would be interesting to sit in on a school-board meeting where irate parents arrived to protest their children learning about the extinct, carnivorous Scrotum).
(2) Just as an aside, the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (a “Rhedosaurus”) and The Giant Behemoth appeared together at least once in popular culture, taking down the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the super-gory Dinosaurs Attack! card series.
(3) It should be noted that while many have called this fish a “living fossil” or asserted that it has lived unchanged since the demise of the dinosaurs, this is utterly untrue. Such is the confusion when one extant representative of a group of organisms bears the name for all its extinct relatives, as there were once many different kinds of coelacanths swimming the seas. In fact, Latimeria chalumnae is not known from the fossil record, although there are some known fossils from close relatives like Macropoma.
(4) There are rumors that the part will soon open again, but this remains to be seen and I will not consider it to be anything more than wishful thinking on the part of “believers” at the moment.