Paleontologists Get Down


March 2013

This area of the country has long been a hot spot for geologists and paleontologists who like to get down.  Y’know, they dig for remains of dinosaurs that date back to the Jurassic and Triassic periods, as long ago as 245 million years, give or take twenty minutes.  More than 18 tons of bones have been recovered here.  That’s a lot of dead dinosaur, and a lot of history.

When my sewer line went bad, the plumber dug a trench six feet deep in my basement and eight feet deep in the front yard.  That was fifteen years ago, give or take twenty minutes.  Once he was done with the pipe, it took him half a day to fill up that hole.  Here you see me standing in a hole created by the foot of an Allosaurus more than 63 000 002 years ago, give or take twenty minutes.  This hole still hasn’t filled in.

Black Mesa is the highest point in Oklahoma.  It is located here in the Panhandle, part of what is called the Morrison Formation which covers parts of 13 states.  More Allosaurus bones have been found here than anywhere else in the world.

When we drove into Boise City, we saw a dinosaur in a field.  It is made of metal, but hey, it’s still a dinosaur.

From the trailhead parking lot where we earlier began our hike to the summit, it is only three tenths of a mile up the road to the turnoff to the advertised “Dinosaur Tracks!”

These tracks were made by critters much larger than us and currently much deader.  I stand in the depressions left by those terrifying lizards and try to imagine how big one would be if it were standing here with us.  Nope, can’t do it.  Too fantastic.  I still have trouble imagining heavier than air flight.  But there is no doubt the dinosaurs were here.

As a point of fact, humans never stood here, or anywhere, with dinosaurs.  Depending on how you choose to define “human being,” or “person,” we began trampling around this Earth anywhere from 2.3 million to 250 thousand years ago, give or take twenty minutes.

Humans have had many forms over the long haul, from early hominins to Homo erectus to Homo neanderthalensis on up to Homo sapiens, us!  Think of that picture depicting evolution:  a monkey turning into a hairy human with bad posture, turning into a modern human turning into a hiker.

Dinosaurs, on the other paw, were finished with their careers, their calling, somewhere in the neighborhood of 65 million years ago, give or take twenty minutes.  This means, contrary to what those dipsticks will tell you at the Creation Museum in Kentucky, the last dinosaur went out of business a good 63 million years before we began to be human.  It was a pretty good run for the terrible lizard, stretching all the way back to Pangaea, when all the Earth’s land mass was one.  The dinosaurs were very busy making fossils sixty-three million years ago, give or take twenty minutes.

Why am I calling these enterprising people at the Creation Museum dipsticks?  Look.  I don’t have a problem if those folks want to believe that the Earth and the Universe are the same age, that they were literally created in six days in the year 4004 B.C.  I don’t have a problem if they want to believe that dinosaurs and humans existed at the same time (like the Flintstones.)  No.  My problem with them, and hence the “dipstick” characterization, is that they are insisting that their belief is true fact, and they have no respect for science, and that, in their ass-holiness, they use deceitful tactics to try to convince us of their dipstick philosophy.  They tell you what the science says and then tell you why it is wrong.  But they lie about what science says.  They make up something dumb and call it science and then discredit what they made up as if it proves science is wrong.  That’s just not nice, and I would very much like them to stop.

Science is not against religion.  Science does not try to make religion go away.  They are dissimilar enough that it doesn’t even make sense to compare them.  Science deals with the <how> of the Universe whereas religion is about the <why>.  There’s room for everyone.

Even someone as large as an Allosaur.

Interesting, ain’t it.  In general, Oklahoma is so backward in their approach to science, and this is the state where so many prehistoric critters once lived, and still provide evidence, real evidence, contrary to what these people believe.  As my buddy Neil deGrasse Tyson once mentioned to me, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

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