Saturday, 13 May 2017

How Creationists Lie To Us - Zuul crurivastator

Life restoration of Zuul crurivastator.
Credit: Danielle Dufault
© Royal Ontario Museum
New ankylosaurine from Montana | Open Science

The discovery by palaeontologists of one of the most complete fossils of an ankylosaurine dinosaur which they have named Zuul crurivastator is interesting to creationists only in so much as that it can be misrepresented as evidence of a very young Earth and of the idiotic notion that humans and dinosaurs co-existed. The problem of dinosaurs for creationists is that they are evidence of a very old Earth with life having gone through lots of stages with diversification and extinctions commonplace tens of millions of years before humans evolved. They thus refute the myths and invalidate the Bible's account of creation. So, creationists are desperate to mislead their followers about this evidence.

Creationism has never been about truth. Creationism is about recruitment to a fundamentalist cult and making money. The cult leaders like Ken Ham, Ray Comfort, Michael J Behe, William Lane Craig, etc, are invariably very rich and very skilled at playing to the ignorance and credulity of their audience, which is mostly poor both financially and educationally.

Firstly, what the scientists really say in this open access paper published by Royal Society Open Science is:

Overview of the tail of Zuul crurivastator ROM 75860 in dorsal view, with insets of detailed anatomy. (a) Field of ossicles in the anterior portion of the tail. (b) Detail of the neural arches of the handle caudal vertebrae, and ossified tendons. (c) Left caudal osteoderm from the seventh pair. (d) Preserved epidermal sheath on the right caudal osteoderm from the second pair. (e) Preserved epidermal sheath on the right caudal osteoderm from the third pair. (f) Epidermal scales lacking bony cores, arranged in a transverse row at the third pair of caudal osteoderms. (g) Close-up of the tail club knob.
The terrestrial Judith River Formation of northern Montana was deposited over an approximately 4 Myr interval during the Campanian (Late Cretaceous). Despite having been prospected and collected continuously by palaeontologists for over a century, few relatively complete dinosaur skeletons have been recovered from this unit to date. Here we describe a new genus and species of ankylosaurine dinosaur, Zuul crurivastator, from the Coal Ridge Member of the Judith River Formation, based on an exceptionally complete and well-preserved skeleton (ROM 75860). This is the first ankylosaurin skeleton known with a complete skull and tail club, and it is the most complete ankylosaurid ever found in North America. The presence of abundant soft tissue preservation across the skeleton, including in situ osteoderms, skin impressions and dark films that probably represent preserved keratin, make this exceptional skeleton an important reference for understanding the evolution of dermal and epidermal structures in this clade. Phylogenetic analysis recovers Zuul as an ankylosaurin ankylosaurid within a clade of Dyoplosaurus and Scolosaurus, with Euoplocephalus being more distantly related within Ankylosaurini. The occurrence of Z. crurivastator from the upper Judith River Formation fills a gap in the ankylosaurine stratigraphic and geographical record in North America, and further highlights that Campanian ankylosaurines were undergoing rapid evolution and stratigraphic succession of taxa as observed for Laramidian ceratopsids, hadrosaurids, pachycephalosaurids and tyrannosaurids.

Imagine the sensational news this would have been if it had been evidence that dinosaurs lived just two or three thousand years ago, alongside modern humans! Somehow, both the scientists themselves and the mainstream news media missed that piece of information. It was only noticed by creationists. Already we have claims in the social media that actual soft tissue was discovered.

So far though, Ken Ham's one-stop science disinformation shop, Answersingenesis has not commented on it. We can be fairly sure however that, if he ever does so, Ham will present the 'preserved soft tissue' as evidence that the fossil was alive very recently.

The trick creationists use here, just as with the claim that 'soft tissue' had been found in an earlier dinosaur fossil in the form of collagen and even red blood cells (often embroidered with the lie that the 'soft tissue' was C14 dated), is to deliberately misrepresent the term 'preserved soft tissue. It might have been soft in life (which is what the term means); it is certainly not soft in the fossil, which is fully mineralised and hard. Preserved soft tissue is no more actual skin, muscle, brain or internal organs than preserved hard tissue is actual bone or teeth.

It's just another example of the careful and studiedly deliberate misrepresentation of science and play on popular misconceptions so characteristic of creationist disinformation. Despite the truth being available in an open access paper, creationist frauds can rely on their willing dupes either not reading the real science or not understanding it if they do.

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