Researchers have found a reason for the puzzling survival of soft tissue and collagen in dinosaur bones – the bones are younger than anyone ever guessed. Carbon-14 (C-14) dating of multiple samples of bone from 8 dinosaurs from Texas, Alaska, Colorado, and Montana revealed that they are only 22,000 to 39,000 years old. Since dinosaurs are thought to be over 65 million years old, the news is stunning. And more than some can tolerate. After the AOGS-AGU conference in Singapore, the abstract was removed from the conference website by two chairmen because they could not accept the findings. Unwilling to challenge the data openly, they erased the report from public view without a word to the authors or even to the AOGS officers, until after an investigation. It won’t be restored.
The researchers presented their findings at the 2012 Western Pacific Geophysics Meeting in Singapore, August 13-17, a conference of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS).
Carbon-14 is considered to be unassailable in its reliability among dating methods. It’s accuracy as a technique has been verified by using C-14 to date artifacts whose age is known historically. The possibility that the amount of C-14 in the air has fluctuated adds a small uncertainty. But the greater possibility for error is that the amount of C-14 in bone samples has been altered by contaminants such as decayed organic matter from soils.
Dr. Thomas Seiler, a physicist from Germany, gave the presentation in Singapore. He says that his team and the laboratories they employed took special care to avoid contamination. That included protecting the samples, avoiding cracked areas in the bones, and meticulous pre-cleaning of the samples with chemicals to remove possible contaminants. Knowing that small concentrations of collagen can attract contamination, they compared precision Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) tests of collagen and bioapatite (hard carbonate bone mineral) with conventional counting methods of large bone fragments from the same dinosaurs. “Comparing such entirely different molecules as minerals and organics from the same bone region, we obtained concordant C-14 signals which were well below the upper limits of C-14 dating. These, together with many other remarkable signal concordances between samples from different fossils, geographic regions and stratigraphic positions make random contamination as origin of the C-14 signals unlikely”, he notes. “If dinosaur bones are 65 million years old, there should not be one atom of C-14 left in them.”
Many dinosaur bones are not fossilized. Dr. Mary Schweitzer, associate professor of marine, earth, and atmospheric sciences at North Carolina State University, surprised scientists in 2005 when she reported finding soft tissue in dinosaur bones. She started a firestorm of controversy in 2007 and 2008 when she reported that she had sequenced proteins in the dinosaur bone. Critics charged that the findings were mistaken or that what she called soft tissue was really biofilm produced by bacteria that had entered from outside the bone. Schweitzer answered the challenge by testing with antibodies. Her report in 2009 confirmed the presence of collagen and other proteins that bacteria do not make. Also in 2009, the team of Dr. Phil Wilby discovered a fossilized squid that contained a sac of ink so well-preserved that it could be used in a pen for writing, found in rock that is considered to be 150 million years old. In 2011, a Swedish team found soft tissue and biomolecules in the bones of another creature from the time of the dinosaurs, a Mosasaur, which was a giant lizard that swam in shallow ocean waters. Schweitzer herself wonders why these materials are preserved when all the models say they should be degraded. That is, if they are over 65 million years old as the conventional wisdom says.
The theoretical limit for C-14 dating is 100,000 years before present using AMS. For practical purposes, it is 50,000 to 60,000 years. Dinosaur bones with Carbon-14 dates in the range of 22,000 to 39,000 years before present, combined with the discovery of soft tissue in dinosaur bones, indicate that something is wrong with the conventional wisdom about dinosaurs.
“The AOGS-AGU assembly encourages presentation of reliable data even though the topic may be controversial. This is a very wise policy for the advancement of science and the education of people everywhere” agreed Dr. Jean de Pontcharra, one of ten co-authors and an atomic physicist recently retired from the Grenoble Research Center of the French Atomic Energy Commission, and Professor Dr. Robert Bennett, physicist and coauthor. ”Thus, we encourage our colleagues to do their own carbon dating of dinosaur bones from museums and university fossil repositories around the world, as well as testing for C-14 in scrapings from dinosaur bones as they are excavated. We are anxious to see their results presented, just as we have done. Also, we call on the news media and citizens everywhere to urge paleontologists, curators, university faculty, and government scientific agencies to encourage and support further testing for C-14 content in dinosaur remains. Scientists need to know the actual chronology of the Earth and the age of the fossils.”
At the AOGS-AGU (WPGM) 2012 conference
YouTube video of the conference presentation
YouTube video of Carbon-14 tests of the dinosaur bones