‘Sue’ the T. rex: another ‘missionary lizard’
30 May 2000
On 17 May 2000, an amazingly complete 12.5-metre (41-foot) long skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex was unveiled at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. This huge creature, named ‘Sue’ after Sue Hendrickson who discovered it in 1990, was 4 m (13 feet) tall at the hip and had teeth as long as a human forearm.
CAT scans of its skull show that its senses were acute. The ‘Jurassic Park’ scene of a T. rex not detecting a child literally under its nose is a myth. The T. rex could see and hear well, but its sense of smell was amazing. Their olfactory bulbs2 were the size of a grapefruit, and the bundle of olfactory nerves leading to the brain was wider than the spinal cord, judging by the size of the skull openings.1
Naturally, the secular media are interpreting the latest finding about Sue in an evolutionary context. But as we will see, the facts make better sense when interpreted in the light of the biblical framework of world history.
When did Sue live?
The usual secular story is that Sue lived 65 million years ago. But the Bible states that all land creatures and man were created on Day 6 of Creation Week. A bone from another T. rex provided excellent support for the biblical timescale, because it had red blood cells and hemoglobin—see Sensational dinosaur blood report! [and Still soft and stretchy]. But see the reaction of one of the scientists involved, showing how one’s bias determines the interpretation of the evidence:
‘It was exactly like looking at a slice of modern bone. But of course, I couldn’t believe it. I said to the lab technician: “The bones are, after all, 65 million years old. How could blood cells survive that long?” ’3
An alternative way of interpreting the evidence is: ‘I can see the blood cells and detect the chemical signature—in the present! Also, protein and DNA can be seen to break down so fast that they couldn’t survive for more than a few tens of thousands of years. So how could they possibly be 65 million years old? After all, this is a claim about the past, not based on eye-witness evidence.’
When did she die?
Obviously, if she lived 65 million years ago, then she died 65 million years ago. But the Bible’s account of history says something vastly different. As we have repeatedly pointed out, the Bible teaches that God created all things ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31), while death (of conscious creatures) is ‘the last enemy’ (1 Cor. 15:26) so could not have been part of God’s very good creation. Animals and humans were created vegetarian (Genesis 1:29–30).
Adam was warned that he would die if he ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:17). The Hebrew literally means ‘dying you shall die’. When Adam disobeyed, the curse of death was placed upon him (Gen. 3:19), and passed on to all people since (Romans 5:12, 1 Corinthians 15:21–22). Not only death, but all disease and suffering started after Adam’s sin—this could not have been part of a ‘very good’ creation unless the words are emptied of all meaning. Indeed, the whole creation is groaning in pain as a result (Romans 8:20–22).
More recently, Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey gave a good account of the biblical teaching of the origin of death and suffering in their book How Now Shall We Live?:4
‘God is good, and the original creation was good [Genesis 1:31 actually says ‘very good’]. God is not the author of evil. This is a crucial element of Christian teaching … there would also be no basis for fighting against injustice and oppression, against cruelty and corruption, for these, too, would be reflections of God’s own nature, and, therefore, inherent in the world as he created it.’
‘… Redemption means the restoration and fulfillment of God’s original purposes.’ p.194.
‘The consequences of sin affect the very order of the universe itself. … the Fall affects all of nature … their rebellion injected disorder into all of creation.’ p. 197.
‘Every part of God’s handiwork was marred by the human mutiny … At the Fall, every part of creation was plunged into the chaos of sin, and every part cries out for redemption. Only the Christian worldview keeps these two truths in balance: the radical destruction caused by sin and the hope of restoration to the original created goodness.’ p.198.
‘There’s evidence that one rib was broken badly and never healed properly. Some experts say this suggests a potentially fatal struggle between Sue and another T. rex.’
The main text says:
‘Long before dying, Sue suffered a broken left leg that was slow to heal … Embedded in Sue’s ribcage is the tooth of another T. rex. The left side of the skull is smashed, with holes along her jaw.’1
Obviously, Sue’s suffering in life and her death reflect a post-Fall, sin-cursed world. It is just not biblically possible to date her skeleton to millions of years before Adam sinned.
What should Sue teach creation compromisers?
Compromise views about Genesis add billions of years of secular uniformitarian ‘science’ to the plain teachings of Scripture [see Q&A: Genesis for a defence of a straightforward reading of Genesis and refutation of compromise views]. But as well as interpreting God’s infallible word by the fallible theories of men, these positions have one major flaw in common: they must logically teach that death, disease and suffering existed for millions of years before man existed.
How was the fossil formed?
‘It’s thought the animal was washed into this position by a flood, though scavengers may also have moved it.’
This should not be surprising—three whole chapters (Genesis 6–8) of the Bible describe a global Flood in Noah’s time, which destroyed all land vertebrates and humans not on the Ark. And Jesus Himself affirmed the reality of the Flood and Ark (Luke 17:26–27).
It also fits with what we know about fossilization—for something this huge to fossilize, it must be buried quickly before the scavengers can obliterate the carcass.
However, not all dinosaurs died in the Flood. Noah took two of every land animal on board the Ark [see How did all the animals fit on Noah’s Ark?]. Therefore some would have lived some time after the Flood. They died out later for any number of reasons (e.g. climate change, hunting by man), just as many other species have.
Does Sue prove that dinosaurs evolved into birds?
We should be used to evolutionists trying to interpret every new find as ‘proof’ of evolution. With Sue, they found two bones that had never previously been found with T-rexes before:5
- A wishbone (furcula), supposedly unique to birds.
- A small ear bone called the stirrup (stapes) that helps transmit sound to the inner ear. This is usually too delicate to be preserved.
However, such similarities (allegedly ‘homologies’) are hardly proof that meat-eating dinosaurs evolved into birds. There are several points to consider:
- There are many reasons that dinosaurs could not have evolved into birds. In fact, none of the arguments outlined in Archaeoraptor—Phony ‘feathered’ fossil against the dino-to-bird theory have been affected in the least by these discoveries [see also the references hyperlinked in note 4 of that article].
- Dinosaurs are very different from living reptiles—in particular, dinosaur legs were directly under their bodies, instead of being spread sideways. So it’s not surprising that they had some different bones. The similarities are more likely the result of a Creator who designed dinosaurs with organs they needed, including those that resembled other creatures’.
- We should beware of evolutionists’ wishful thinking, where small scraps of bone are given an evolutionary slant—Micro-primates … a transitional form or just heelbone hype? In Sue, the two shoulder blades seem to be joined by a very small, almost straight piece of bone, and this was supposed to suggest that this was a wishbone like a bird’s. But a bird’s wishbone is a highly specialised v-shaped bone, the equivalent of two joined clavicles (‘collar bones’), and very springy so it can support wing motion.
- There are many similarities that no evolutionist uses to prove an evolutionary relationship:
- Many dinosaurs have a hip bone arrangement that is so similar to that of birds that they are classified in the major group called the ‘bird-hipped dinosaurs’ (ornithischians—Greek ornis/ornitha = bird, ischion = hip). This includes the horned dinosaurs, duckbills, stegosaurs and armored dinosaurs. ‘But despite this striking similarity there is no obvious close relationship between birds and ornithischians.’6 Rather, those evolutionists who promote the dino-to-bird theory believe that birds evolved from the other major subgroup, the ‘reptile-hipped dinosaurs’ (saurischians—Greek σαῦρος sauros = lizard/reptile), in particular, the small carnivorous ones similar to Velociraptor.
- Although evolutionists believe that feathers evolved from scales, they have very little in common. Rather, feathers are strikingly similar to hairs in many ways—see Bird evolution flies out the window. In fact, feathers on flightless birds, which merely need to be heat insulators rather than being amazingly designed aerodynamically, resemble hairs in shape as well.
- Sue the T. rex was overall very well designed, with enormous size and strength and acute senses.
- Her injuries and death are consistent with existing in a world cursed by God because of Adam’s sin. It is not biblically possible that she lived and died millions of years before mankind arose.
- She was fossilized in a flood.
- The dinosaur-to-bird theory has many problems that aren’t at all solved by the new bones discovered.
- There are striking similarities between some different organisms that no evolutionist uses to prove evolutionary descent.
Blood and soft tissue in T. rex bone:
Other examples of soft tissue preservation in fossils:
- Sue the T. rex, a roaring business, 16 May 2000. Return to text.
- Stemlike projections under the front part of the brain that sort the nerve impulses from the nose and transmit them to the brain for processing. See ‘Sensory Reception: Smell (Olfactory) Sense’, Britannica CD, Version 97, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 1997. Return to text.
- Mary Schweitzer, Montana State University Museum of the Rockies; cited on p. 160 of V. Morell, ‘Dino DNA: The hunt and the hype’, Science 261(5118):160–162, 9 July 1993. Return to text.
- Charles W. Colson and Nancy Pearcey, How Now Shall We Live? Tyndale, Wheaton, IL, USA, 1999. Return to text.
- Michael Conlon, Landmark Dinosaur Unveiled, Chicago (Reuters). Return to text.
- David Norman, The Prehistoric World of the Dinosaur, Bison Books, London, UK, p. 22, 1989. Return to text.
* Note added 2 August 2000: this article was written as a current news report. At the time of writing, there was indeed a diagram of the T. rex skeleton with the rib and skull hyperlinks as stated. However, URLs often change, especially on news sites. This is why these links no longer work. Those familiar with the internet should have realised this. But alas, a certain atheistic/sceptical/anticreationist site, already known for its scurrilous accusations and for supporting blatantly unethical behaviour, has made yet another false accusation about ‘Fraud, Deception or an Honest Mistake?’ Return to text.