Missing the Big Question

The media drops the ball again on the announcement that soft tissue recovered from the leg bone of a Tyrannosaurus, including blood vessels and what appear to be blood cells, has yielded proteins showing that the closest modern cousin to T. Rex is the chicken.

Okay, sure.  Paleontologists have been advancing the theory that dinosaurs and birds are close evolutionary cousins for years, and there is some evidence to support that theory.  But a few points of clarity:

  1. Many unrelated species share similar proteins.
  2. Chain of evidence:  There isn’t any between the time the tyrannosaur died and its discovery in 1992.
  3. No one in the major media, as far as I know, has asked the obvious question:  Under what possible set of conditions does soft tissue stay preserved for more than a few thousand years?

Point #3 is the big one.  It’s been assumed until fairly recently that no soft tissue would ever be found with a fossilized dinosaur because that type of organic material simply disintegrates over thousands (not millions) of years.  Since the early ‘90s, however, there have been several discoveries of “fresh” dinosaur bones, something that doesn’t fit with the belief that the bones are 65-plus million years old.

Yet I challenge you to find a single story about this discovery in the major media that asks how we “know” the bones are so old when the evidence suggests that they’re much younger.  You won’t.

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