Hoopla over Hypacrosaurus DNA:
Is that DNA, inside that Duck-billed Dinosaur’s Skull ?
Dr. James J. S. Johnson
O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called, which some professing have erred concerning the faith. (1st Timothy 6:20-21a)
Observable facts have a way of embarrassing erroneous theories, such as ‘science’ falsely so-called.(1)
For example, consider who awkward it is that dinosaur bones (or cartilage) repeatedly show, not only soft tissue—like stretchable collagen, recognizable erythrocytes and osteocytes—but even biomolecules that stubbornly refuse to be easily explainable as anything except dinosaur DNA.
This disconcerting development is especially humiliating for evolutionists who previously (and publically) denied the modern existence of dinosaur DNA, because: (a) DNA molecules must biochemically degrade into unrecognizability in less than a million years; yet (b) evolutionists insist that all dinosaurs died many scores of millions of years ago.(2)
In other words, the very idea of recognizable dinosaur DNA must be conceptually “impossible” (to them). Yet rocking-the-boat scientists, like Dr. Mary Schweitzer (who is actually an evolutionist herself), keep finding what looks like dinosaur DNA fragments, under conditions that convincingly negate alternative explanations.
This [duck-billed dinosaur skull] study provides the first clear chemical and molecular demonstration of calcified cartilage preservation in Mesozoic skeletal material, and suggest that in addition to cartilage-specific collagen II, DNA, or at least the chemical markers of DNA (for example, chemically altered base pairs that can still react to PI [propidium iodide] and DAPI [4’,6’-diamidino-2-phenylindole dihydrochloride]), may preserve for millions of years.(3)
Schweitzer and her colleagues cautiously suggest that there must be an explanation (for “deep time”-surviving dinosaur DNA), via some as-yet-undiscovered process that somehow stabilizes fragile DNA. Yet notice how the “deep time” assumption itself is never questioned by Schweitzer and her team.
Rather, they assume that DNA’s inherent instability is somehow rescued, by yet-unknown mechanisms, that heroically preserve it for millions of years. Further, they notice that popular reluctance, to admit that dinosaur DNA can exist today (after supposedly “millions of years”), has delayed scientific progress.
The assumption of a temporal limit on molecular longevity [such as dinosaur DNA’s longevity] has hindered the pursuit of molecular data from fossils older than ~1 million years (MA). A short temporal range is predicted for informative biomolecules (~1 MA for proteins, and ~100,000 years of DNA; with 700,000 years as the oldest genome report)…. However, these assumptions have been challenged by multiple studies on Mesozoic fossil remains reporting evidence of chemical and organic remnants, including extracellular proteins and pigments … cytoskeletal proteins, compounds that localize to cell interiors that are chemically consistent with DNA … and peptide sequence data including histone proteins, a protein not found in bacteria [cites omitted].(3)
In other words, evolutionist assumptions have delayed scientific progress!
Meanwhile, what hope does Schweitzer give, to her evolutionary comrades, to excuse the awkwardness of dinosaur DNA remnants surviving into modern times?
Although extensive research and sequencing is required to further understand DNA preservation in Mesozoic material, … our data suggest the preserved nuclear material in Hypacrosaurus [duck-billed dinosaur] was in a condensed state at the time of the death of the organism, which may have contributed to its stability.(3)
So some dinosaur DNA chromosomes were in “condensing” mode when the creatures died.(3) However, because DNA-containing chromosomes are constantly undergoing mitotic cell divisions—including “condensing” stages—in animals of all kinds (including duck-billed dinosaurs), why or how should that detail become a “magic bullet” that miraculously preserves unstable DNA over “deep time” eons?
The “elephant-in-the-room” fact is that biochemical entropy is universal, and DNA is inherently unstable, so DNA wouldn’t survive intact over millions of years.(4)
But dinosaur DNA doesn’t “need” to survive in bones for millions of years—because dinosaurs exited Noah’s Ark about 4500 years ago, and some (apparently) only died off only a few centuries Fossils ago.
And now for a limerick:
Dinosaur DNA’s Existence Upsets ‘Deep-Time’ Evolutionists
For years in rock strata and cold,
Now dino remains feel quite bold!
Still sporting DNA,
Causing some to dismay —
Proving dinos aren’t really that old!
In sum, Dr. Schweitzer and her evolutionist colleagues are ducking the real forensic science issue, that their duckbill DNA evidence demonstrates: dinosaur DNA is only a “problem” if one assumes that all dinosaurs went extinct many millions of years ago.
All of which leads to this conclusion: if it looks like a duck-billed dinosaur’s DNA, it probably is(!)—yet the reason why (years after the dinosaurs died) it is still microbiologically recognizable (in bone or cartilage), as DNA (with histone proteins), is because those duck-billed dinosaurs lived not that long ago.
(1) 1st Timothy 6:20. In 1st Timothy 6:21 the verb translated “erred” is a Greek verb that also appears in 1st Timothy 1:6 & 2nd Timothy 2:18, indicating deviation, swerving, going off-course. In this duckbill-DNA context the “problem” is retrofitting an evolutionist explanation to new evidence that clashes with previous positions taken by “deep time”-affirming evolutionists. Specifically, the forensic evidence rule that is illustrated is Federal Evidence Rule 801(d)(1)(B)(I) (regarding how to disprove a false accusation of “recent fabrication”).
(2) Regarding the “problem” of post-mortem DNA degradation beyond survivability, see James J. S. Johnson, “Dinosaur DNA Trumps Mammoth Expert”, Acts & Facts, 46(6):21 (June 2017), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/dinosaur-dna-trumps-mammoth-expert . Regarding temptations to “back-date” one’s story, after embarrassing facts arrive, see James J. S. Johnson, “Tonsils, Forensic Science, and the Recent Fabrication Rule”, Acts & Facts, 41(6):8-9 (June 2012), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/tonsils-forensic-science-recent-fabrication . Regarding the spoliation-of-evidence problem, that handicaps access to uncorrupted dinosaur DNA research data, See James J. S. Johnson, Jeffrey Tomkins, & Brian Thomas, “Dinosaur DNA Research; Is the Tale Wagging the Evidence?”, Acts & Facts, 38(10):4-6 (October 2009), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/dinosaur-dna-research-tale-wagging .
(3) Alida M. Bailleul et al. [including Mary Schweitzer & Wenxia Zheng], “Evidence of proteins, chromosomes and chemical markers of DNA in exceptionally preserved dinosaur cartilage”, National Science Review (Moleculary Biology & Genetics column) doi: 10.1093/nsr/nwz206 [advance access publication 12 January 2020]. The duckbill dinosaur remains were “disarticulated”, suggesting a rapid burial event (such as the Genesis Flood) that was catastrophically destructive in force. (See also March 2020 news item, titled “Traces of DNA Found in Fossilized Dinosaur Skull”, posted at http://www.geologyin.com/2020/03/traces-of-dna-found-in-fossilized.html .)
(4) James J. S. Johnson, “Infinite Time Won’t Rescue Evolution”, Acts & Facts, 47(6):21 (June 2018), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/infinite-time-wont-rescue-evolution .