F Rosa Rubicondior: How Creationists Lie To Us - Zuul crurivastator

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 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, Kent Hovind, William Lane Craig, etc, are invariably very rich and very skilled at playing to the ignorant 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.

1. Introduction

The Judith River Formation of northern Montana is a terrestrial siliciclastic unit deposited over an approximately 4 Myr interval during a Campanian transgressive-regressive cycle of the Western Interior Seaway [1]. The fossiliferous strata of the formation have been known to scientists since the Lewis and Clark expedition of the early 1800s, and the first vertebrate fossils from this unit were collected several decades later by F. V. Hayden, when mapping the area for the US Geological Survey [2]. This collection is historically significant because it included specimens recognized as the first dinosaurs from North America [3]. The Judith River Formation has been prospected and collected continuously by palaeontologists for over a century, but beyond abundant vertebrate microfossils [16], few relatively complete skulls or skeletons of dinosaurs or other vertebrates have been recovered. As such, dinosaur biodiversity in the Judith River Formation remains represented primarily by fragmentary specimens that are difficult to identify to low taxonomic levels. Only seven ornithischian dinosaur species that are currently considered valid have been identified from this unit, with most based on highly incomplete remains, and theropod species-level records are largely restricted to isolated teeth [7]. Knowledge of other aspects of the fauna, such as non-dinosaurian reptiles, is also based on isolated and fragmentary material.

The Oldman and Dinosaur Park formations of southern Alberta were deposited penecontemporaneously and under similar geological controls and palaeoenvironmental conditions as the Judith River Formation [8]. In contrast to the Judith River Formation, the Dinosaur Park Formation is taxonomically diverse. Over 45 dinosaur species are currently recognized from the Dinosaur Park Formation [9,10], of which the majority are large-bodied ornithischians (six hadrosaurids, ten ceratopsids and six ankylosaurians). The paucity of diagnostic fossil material in the Judith River Formation is particularly vexing given its significance in ongoing debates on dinosaur evolution and palaeobiogeography. The scant dinosaur remains from the Judith River Formation have contributed to discussions of provinciality [1113], evolutionary mode and anagenesis [14,15] and faunal turnover [7]. New fossils from this unit, therefore, have considerable potential to provide important new data on these and other topics.

Of the common large-bodied plant-eating dinosaurs from the Campanian–Maastrichtian of North America, ankylosaurians are particularly poorly known from the Judith River Formation, being represented primarily by isolated teeth and bones [2,4,6,7]. Here we describe the first diagnostic ankylosaurid skeleton from the formation, representing the new ankylosaurine genus and species, Zuul crurivastator, based on a spectacular, partially mummified specimen with preserved soft tissues. The new specimen (ROM 75860) is one of the best dinosaur skeletons from this unit, and it is the most complete ankylosaurid ever found in North America, making it a key reference skeleton for interpreting more fragmentary specimens. Notably, it preserves both a complete skull and tail club, two of the most taxonomically informative parts of the ankylosaurine skeleton, yet which are rarely preserved in the same skeleton. ROM 75860 also has remarkable integument preservation across the body, including in situ osteoderms, skin impressions and dark films that probably represent preserved keratin. These features make the holotype of Z. crurivastator a critical specimen for interpreting other Laramidian ankylosaurine remains given that osteoderms typically dissociate from the rest of the skeleton after death, and will be important for understanding the evolution of dermal and epidermal structures in these unusual armoured vertebrates.

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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