Texas has a new State Dinosaur.
Scientists are working to make a good model of the beast for the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, as reported in the October 6 Fort Worth Star-Telegram (often referred to locally as the “Startle-gram,” but still one of America’s good-to-great newspapers). David Casstevens reported:
The official state dinosaur would look big even inside Cowboys Stadium.
The creature stood 15 feet tall at the shoulders.
Sixty feet long, head to tail, it weighed 20 tons or more.
Sadly, despite being native to Texas, the species lived and died without ever tasting brisket.
“It was a herbivore,” paleontologist Dale Winkler said.
The quadrupedal sauropod — sort of a giant prehistoric giraffe — was the state’s first vegetarian.
Winkler, an SMU professor, stood with several other men around a workbench inside a building west of Azle, arms folded, their eyes studiously fixed on a rare and wondrous object, the skull that once contained the very small brain of Paluxysaurus jonesi.
They are members of a team that is meticulously reconstructing the dinosaur’s framework.
An articulated skeleton of the beast, which roamed this part of the country more than 100 million years ago, will become the centerpiece of DinoLabs, a dinosaur exhibit at the new $80 million Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, which opens Nov. 20.
Texas is the ample belly of the nation’s Bible Belt, don’t you know. Creationists could not let such science endeavors proceed without their version of a blessing, provided in this case by a letter to the editor by a local guy named Richard Hollerman:
David Casstevens’ Oct. 6 story tells of work to restore a dinosaur, Paluxysaurus jonesi, that will soon have its place in the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. (See: “Dinosaur skeleton to lead exhibit”)
Thousands of professing Christians, including scientists with advanced degrees, deny basic elements of his account and views held by unbelieving paleontologists. (1) Consistent Christians believe God created dinosaurs relatively recently — about 6,000 years ago — whereas skeptical scientists assert they lived 100 million years ago. (2) Christians contend that dinosaurs were created as dinosaurs instead of evolving from prehistoric life that spontaneously sprang from nonlife 3 billion years ago. (3) Consistent Christians believe that dinosaurs became extinct after the worldwide Noaic flood 4,500 years ago.
We totally reject the unfounded assertion that this dinosaur “roamed this part of the country more than 100 million years ago” — as the reporter asserts. The discerning reader can verify this by consulting the Institute for Creation Research ( www.icr.org), Answers in Genesis ( www.answersingenesis.org), Apologetics Press ( www.apologeticspress.org) and others showing the fallacy of the evolution model and reasonableness of recent creation, along with the creation and extinction of dinosaurs.
I encourage the Star-Telegram to report these findings in a way that harmonizes with established facts instead of blindly accepting unfounded assertions by unbelieving paleontologists.
— Richard Hollerman, Richland Hills
You should be impressed that so many other local residents have differing views. The newspaper published several letters in response to Hollerman, on October 17:
Good science vs. non-science
After reading Richard Hollerman’s Oct. 14 letter, “Unwarranted assumptions,” I gather that he believes that only atheist scientists think that dinosaur fossils are millions of years old.
That is incorrect. The vast majority of scientists, regardless of religious beliefs, think that the evidence is overwhelming that dinosaur fossils are millions of years old. If he needs some examples of scientists who are Christian, specifically evangelical Christians, I would point out Mary Schweitzer, Keith Miller, Francis Collins, Richard G. Colling and Stephen J. Godfrey, who are biologists and paleontologists and are also evangelical Christians. Were it not for space limitations I could list thousands more.
This is not about belief vs. disbelief. It is about good science vs. non-science.
— Bill Robinson, Arlington
Hollerman and “thousands of professing Christians” have declared that their religious beliefs trump science, and they have a constitutional right to their notions. On top of that, they also have their churches, family units, private schools, home schooling, colleges that teach pseudo-science and the amazing Creation Museums in which Noah built a third tier on the “ark” to keep dinosaurs at a respectful distance. Fine.
Those of us who do not share the beliefs of “thousands” ask only that you use the aforementioned resources to educate your young, accustom yourselves to the thought of life in a Third World country and leave the rest of us alone!
— Jackie Bell, River Oaks
According to creationists, science is correct about the following:
Chemistry, computer science, mathematics, engineering, sociology, systems science, psychology, medicine, nuclear science, agronomy, astronomy, nanotechnology, acoustics, biophysics, condensed matter physics, electronics, fluid dynamics, geophysics, plasma physics, vehicle dynamics, solar astronomy, meteorology, limnology, soil science, toxicology, marine biology, parasitology, anatomy, biochemistry, structural biology, entomology, cetology, phylogeny, algebra, calculus, cartography, geopolitics, criminology, agriculture, language engineering, pathology, pediatrics, nutrition, physical therapy and dermatology.
But for some reason, according to creationists, science is wrong about evolution. How is that even possible?
— Mark Stevens, Fort Worth
Millions of professing Christians, including intelligent people from all religions and all walks of life, view the basic elements of paleontology as reasonable and logical. (1) Bones found in the different layers of soil show a chronological time line extending much further than 6,000 years ago. (2) Evolution is an observable, rational concept that is ongoing even in today’s “educated” world. (3) Claims that dinosaurs became extinct in a worldwide flood 4,500 years ago are laughable.
Uneducated Christians contend that dinosaurs became extinct in the Noaic flood, yet if you read the Bible it says Noah took two of every animal into the ark to preserve the different species. Did he overlook dinosaurs? Were they deemed unfit to survive by God?
Being raised as a Southern Baptist, I was taught that God guided evolution to fit His plan. Even the most devout Christians in my church had enough intelligence to see the facts that were right before their eyes. I encourage Star-Telegram readers to open their minds and their eyes to prevent the corruption of future generations and find a way to harmonize their beliefs with established facts instead of blindly accepting unfounded fantasies from uneducated Christians.
— Terry Brennan, Haltom City
I sat in total amazement after reading Hollerman’s letter disagreeing with the history of the Paluxysaurusjonesi. To cite Genesis as a historical reference is almost laughable, except for the fact that there are people who honestly believe the Adam and Eve story of creation. To believe that humans lived in this form, only with less clothing, millions of years ago is incredulous to say the least.
I give thanks that there is a science that disproves these myths. Why can’t these folks see the divine spirit in the creation and evolution of life forms on our planet, rather than actually believing what is in the Bible literally? I find it exciting that there are higher forms of being, and that new knowledge is being revealed every moment of every day.
— Betsy Stell, Arlington
I don’t know whom Hollerman was referring to in his letter when he wrote about “Consistent Christians.” I guess he means “fundamentalists” since they’re the only ones who believe in Bronze Age myths rather than modern science. Or perhaps he means people who believe the pseudo-science in the silly, anti-evolution Christian fundamentalist Web sites he cited.
The truth, of course, is that every scientific discipline from archeology to zoology contributes to the vast body of knowledge and huge amount of evidence supporting evolution. Thanks, Star-Telegram, for publishing facts and not allegorical stories written by Middle Eastern tribesmen thousands of years ago.
— Terry McDonald, Grapevine
I was impressed by the Star-Telegram’s reporting on the restoration of the fossil Paluxysaurus jonesi by the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. The article gave the facts and some feel-good information about the people involved in the reconstruction of the dino fossil.
However, Hollerman’s letter would be a joke if it weren’t for the fact that so many people really do think that the Earth is only 6,000 years old and will deny the fact that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. It has been proven by scientific method.
Creationists have a distorted view because the one book that they use (written 2,000 years ago by primitives) disagrees with the science that proves the existence of natural history. The age of this fossil is not unfounded but rests on the work of many thousands of scientists over a couple of hundred years in scores of different scientific disciples. The scientific method that is used to vet new and existing research is a crucible that is used to sort facts from fallacy and has been used to debunk fake, false and misleading science for a couple of hundred years.
We would still be living in caves without the scientific and technological advances that we enjoy today. I applaud the Star-Telegram for its fair and unbiased science reporting. Keep it up.
— Charlie Rodriguez, Arlington
Meanwhile, e-mails between members of Texas Citizens for Science chase another interesting facet: Where in Texas is there enough Jurassic rock to support such a find?
Oh, those scientists!
- Home page for the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, with news about the new construction
- Stories on the naming of the new state dinosaur earlier this year, from the Dallas Morning News, here and here; more here, PowerPoint here.
Tip of the old scrub brush to Annette Carlisle, a member of Texas Citizens for Science.
Cast away a note in a bottle, in the Paluxy River: