I came across this exchange on Twitter today. It's a claim that is currently doing the rounds on creationists sites and something I was challenged with on Facebook about a week ago. The claim is that scientists have isolated soft tissue from dinosaur 'bones' which has been carbon-dated to not more than four thousand years old, in a fossil which was believed to be 65 million years old.
When faced with this on Facebook, my reply was that if the recovered 'soft tissue' had been carbon-dated to four thousand years old then that would be evidence that sample had been contaminated. My proponent promptly disappeared and has not been seen since. It turns out he had been repeating a lie, knowingly or unknowingly anyway. Maybe he realised he'd been duped and ran in embarrassment.
We can see from the Twitter exchange that @crevinfo is quite confident. The sample contains C14 and so proves the sample is no more than 4 thousand years old. He/she even links to a creationist website which repeats the claim and where creationists are jubilantly congratulating themselves on have disproved evolution and proved dinosaurs were killed off in the biblical flood, et, etc.
Obviously none of them have bothered to check the original paper, even though @crevinfo smugly provides a link to it.
There is no mention whatsoever of carbon-dating, C14 or a 4000 year age anywhere in the paper. The claim is a lie.
No ifs or buts.
The claim that this sample contains C14 is a lie.
There is not even the excuse that the paper is behind a paywall, so the facts couldn't be checked. This paper, published in Nature Communications, is open access, freely reproducible under Creative Commons Licence.
It can be read in full here: Fibres and cellular structures preserved in 75-million–year-old dinosaur specimens. Note, it doesn't even claim the dinosaur fossil was 65 million years old, as @crevinfo states, but 75 million years. Had @crevinfo even read the title of the paper he could have seen that for himself. Not only has he almost certainly not checked his source to ensure the accuracy of his claim, he almost certainly hasn't even read it.
So, what's behind this lie? Are all these creationists rushing online to deliberately lie to us, or have they been duped once again by creationist pseudo-scientists and people who run creationist disinformation sites? Creationists are noticeably reticent to read a proper scientific paper so they can usually be relied on never to check the facts. Being keen to have a scientific basis for their infantile magical beliefs (as though that were even remotely possible) they are the easy dupes of anyone unscrupulous enough to swallow these lies and constant drip of disinformation. No doubt we will still have creationists making this same claim in five years time and never one of them will have checked.
The ease with which these unfortunate people can be duped is why they are creationists in the first place of course; the entire belief is a hoax founded not on good scientific data but on carefully selected disinformation and misrepresentations in pursuit of a political agenda. There is absolutely no interest in truth; the entire purpose of creationism is to maintain a market in creationist literature for those who require confirmation for their bias and for whom maintaining a sacred conclusion is paramount, even at the expense of intellectual honesty and personal integrity.
Creationism is seen as a shortcut to credibility, avoiding any need to learn science or bother with fact checking, logical thinking and deductive reasoning. God did it! and any science which disagrees must be wrong. Any science which can be misrepresented as supporting creationism however, is absolutely conclusive proof! And no self-respecting creationist is going to risk spoiling a brilliant scientific proof like that by checking it; just in case it's not.
In fact, this paper is moderately interesting. I actually started to write a blog about it the day it was published then decided there wasn't enough new material. What the authors believe they have found is not 'soft tissue and dinosaur blood' (another creationist lie) but what looks very much like collagen and possibly remnants of red blood cells which have been retained inside fossilized dinosaur bone. The evidence for collagen is the appearance of banding, characteristic of fibrous structural proteins and due to the tertiary structure, and mass-spectroscopy analysis suggesting the presence of amino acids.
Exceptionally preserved organic remains are known throughout the vertebrate fossil record, and recently, evidence has emerged that such soft tissue might contain original components. We examined samples from eight Cretaceous dinosaur bones using nano-analytical techniques; the bones are not exceptionally preserved and show no external indication of soft tissue. In one sample, we observe structures consistent with endogenous collagen fibre remains displaying ~67 nm banding, indicating the possible preservation of the original quaternary structure. Using ToF-SIMS, we identify amino-acid fragments typical of collagen fibrils. Furthermore, we observe structures consistent with putative erythrocyte remains that exhibit mass spectra similar to emu whole blood. Using advanced material characterization approaches, we find that these putative biological structures can be well preserved over geological timescales, and their preservation is more common than previously thought. The preservation of protein over geological timescales offers the opportunity to investigate relationships, physiology and behaviour of long extinct animals.*
There is absolutely nothing in the paper to suggest that these samples are evidence that the fossil is a mere four thousand years old. The interesting thing from a scientific point of view is that it suggests there may be special conditions in which these structural proteins may be retained, even in a mineralised form, for much longer than was generally assumed.
Collagen is a remarkably stable, tough, fibrous protein and a basic component of connective tissues such as bone, ligaments and tendons, as well as being found in skin and as other structures like blood vessels. It is very slow to break down in the absence of bacteria or fungi and especially when dry or in an anoxic environment so, if any structural components are going to be retained and become fixed during fossilisation, it's going to be collagen.
The controversy here is not that this paper shows dinosaurs were around just a few thousand years ago but that it might show that a structural protein which was assumed would be lost within a few thousand years may be retained for far longer. Controversy of this sort is normal in science and will be resolved by evidence. That evidence will not prove that life was created a few thousand years ago by magic.
Such an idiotic notion cannot be proven by science because it is intelligently designed by creationist frauds to be unfalsifiable, just in case. It's a touching tribute to their scientific illiteracy and skills at self-deception that creationists believe science is going to ever prove their childish, Bronze-Age superstition from the infancy of our species so they can believe they have a special relationship with a magic invisible friend who created everything for them.
*Published under Creative Commons CC-BY license.