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Discovery Channel’s T. Rex Error

On March 24, 2003, the Discovery Channel broadcast a documentary called “ Valley of the T-rex. ” This considered a new theory about the carnivorous dinosaur species Tyrannosaurus rex, which lived between 85 and 65 million years ago. A paleontologist called Jack Horner, from the Rockies Museum in the state of Montana in the United States, suggested that rather than hunting its prey down, T. Rex actually ate the bodies of other dead animals. Viewers were told how T. Rex’s eyes were too small (to hunt with), its forearms were too short (to grasp prey with) and its legs were too large (to chase its quarry). Based on these features, Horner maintained that T. Rex lacked the ability to chase down and seize its prey, for which reason it needed to be thought of as a scavenger. Although the question of the origin of T. Rex was not brought up, a relationship built between two discovered T. Rex fossils pointed to a scientific error. The aim of this article is to set out the evolutionist prejudices underlying the relationship in question.

The paleontologist Jack Horner provided information about the two fossils, known as “G. Rex” and “Wankel rex,” and taking these as his starting point he made a number of claims regarding T. Rex’s so-called evolution. At some 68 million years old, G. Rex enjoys the distinction of being the oldest known T. Rex fossil. Horner states that Wankel rex, found in 1980 in a stratum 90 meters higher than G. Rex, comes from the transition point between the Cretaceous period and the third geological age (the K-T border). It is therefore estimated that Wankel rex is some 2-3 million years older than G. Rex.

In his research Horner compared the tibia and thighbone of the two fossils. The viewer was then told that the G. Rex tibia and thigh bone were more or less the same length, whereas the Wankel rex thighbone was longer than the tibia. Horner then went on to establish a connection based on nothing more than his own imagination, claiming that T. Rex’s legs underwent a change over time, as a result of which its ability to run evolved into an ability to walk long distances. This claim aired on the Discovery Channel is of no scientific value.

First of all, there is doubt as to the accuracy of the information provided: a dinosaur expert who commented on the Discovery Channel documentary and Horner’s claims states that the ratios of the bones in question were not as Horner makes out. Nicholas Gardner, a dinosaur expert whose comments appear on the Cleveland Museum of Natural History website, states that the Wankel rex tibia consists of broken pieces. Gardner then goes on to state that the ratios established by Horner by looking at these fragments are wrong and that this error can clearly be seen from the Wankel rex skeletons set up in the Carnegie and Washington museums, since the specimens in those museums do not exhibit the ratios put forward by Horner. (1)

On the other hand, even if Horner’s ratios are verified, his claims will still provide no evidence for evolution. That is because simply looking at leg bones dating back millions of years and saying there has been “evolution” between them is a conclusion which can only be arrived at by individual prejudice. Considerable differences may be observed in specimens of bones from a single species. For example, a paleontologist who encounters the leg bones from someone from China and another person from Scandinavia will see enormous differences between them. Yet that paleontologist will have no grounds for claiming that “The Scandinavians evolved from the Chinese.” That, in turn, is because the fact that Scandinavians have longer legs than the Chinese does not indicate any evolution. The fossils bear the traces only of an isolated moment from millions of years ago. They cannot give any idea of what might have happened in the 2-3 million period between them. Fossils usually emerge from tiny fragments and are incapable of giving a full idea of what their owner might have looked like. An article in the scientific magazine Discover makes the following comment on this subject:

“Fossils are fickle. Bones will sing any song you want to hear.”(2)

All Horner is doing here is looking at the fossils and listening to the evolutionary music of his dreams. Evolutionist institutions such as the Discovery Channel broadcast these imaginary claims without researching into their scientific foundations. We advise the channel to reconsider its dogmatic devotion to evolution in the light of modern scientific discoveries and to cease engaging in propaganda on behalf of the theory of evolution, which has been shown to be nothing more than a 19th century superstition.

2- J. Shreeve, “Argument over a woman”, Discover 11(8):58, 1990.

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