F Rosa Rubicondior: Creationism in Crisis - Giant Sea Lizards From 66 Million Years Before 'Creation Week'

Wednesday 6 March 2024

Creationism in Crisis - Giant Sea Lizards From 66 Million Years Before 'Creation Week'

Fossil skull of Khinjaria acuta
Reconstruction of the skull of Khinjaria acuta
Dr. Nicholas R. Longrich
Fossils of giant sea lizard show how our oceans have fundamentally changed since the dinosaur era

Creationists only have themselves to blame. By insisting that Earth is only 6-10 thousand years old, they are consigning the vast majority of Earth’s 3.8-billion-year history to the pre-'Creation Week' period, before they believe Earth Existed.

So, they then need to perform the most ludicrous of intellectual gymnastics to avoid dealing with all the evidence that they are wrong about the age of Earth and wrong about their denial of what else that evidence shows. For example, there is no way a 66-million-year-old fossil of a marine lizard could be assimilated into creationist superstition, so their only recourse is to devise a way to dismiss it. Favorite tactics are straight denial; bear false witness against the scientists by impugning their honesty and professional integrity; claim, without any evidence to support it, that the dating methods were so flawed they somehow made 10,000 or less look like 66 million.

But the fact remains, no matter that creationists stamp their feet and cover their eyes and ears and demand the Universe changes to conform to their requirements, there were orca-sized marine lizards in the seas 66 million years ago.

This is explained in a recent paper by researchers from the University of Bath in the UK, the Marrakech Museum of Natural History, Morocco, the Museum National d’ Histoire Naturelle (NMNH) in Paris, France, Southern Methodist University in Texas, USA, and the University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, Spain. Their paper is published in Cretaceous Research and explained in a Bath University news release.

First, a little background on the dating of the phosphate deposits in Morocco where the fossils were found:
Do you have any information on the dating of fossil-bearing the Late Cretaceous phosphate deposits in Morocco? Yes, the Late Cretaceous phosphate deposits in Morocco are well-known for their rich fossil content, particularly of marine organisms. These deposits have been dated using various methods, including radiometric dating of associated volcanic rocks and biostratigraphy, which involves correlating the fossils found in the deposits with known fossil assemblages from other regions and time periods.

One of the key methods used for dating these deposits is radiometric dating, particularly using isotopes such as uranium-lead (U-Pb) dating of zircons found in volcanic ash layers interbedded with the phosphate deposits. Additionally, biostratigraphy, which relies on the identification of index fossils and their temporal ranges, has been crucial for establishing the age of these deposits.

Studies have indicated that the Late Cretaceous phosphate deposits in Morocco date to the Campanian and Maastrichtian stages of the Late Cretaceous period, roughly between 83 to 66 million years ago. These deposits have yielded a diverse array of marine fossils, including ammonites, bivalves, gastropods, sharks, fish, marine reptiles such as mosasaurs, and even some dinosaur remains.

Overall, the dating of these phosphate deposits in Morocco provides valuable insights into the geological history and evolution of marine ecosystems during the Late Cretaceous period.
Creationists might like to ignore the fact that those dreaded zircons in volcanic deposits were dated using Uranium-Lead (U-Pb) dating which is about the most accurate available dating methods with very few sources of error and very precise results.
Earth during the Late Cretaceous, when sea levels were higher and North Africa was under water.

Paleontologists have discovered a strange new species of marine lizard with dagger-like teeth that lived near the end of the age of dinosaurs. Their findings, published in Cretaceous Research, show a dramatically different ocean ecosystem to what we see today, with numerous giant top predators eating large prey, unlike modern ecosystems where a few apex predators – such as great white sharks, orca and leopard seals – dominate.

Khinjaria acuta was around the size of an orca (7-8 metres) and a member of the family Mosasauridae, or mosasaurs. Mosasaurs weren’t dinosaurs, but giant marine lizards, relatives of today’s Komodo dragons and anacondas, which ruled the oceans 66 million years ago, during the era of Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops.

Khinjaria had powerful jaws and long, dagger-like teeth to seize prey, giving it a nightmarish appearance. It was part of an extraordinarily diverse fauna of predators that inhabited the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco, just before the dinosaurs went extinct.

The study is based on a skull and parts of the skeleton collected from a phosphate mine southeast of Casablanca. The study involved researchers from the University of Bath in the UK, the Marrakech Museum of Natural History, the Museum National d’ Histoire Naturelle (NMNH) in Paris (France), Southern Methodist University in Texas (USA), and the University of the Basque Country (Bilbao).

What’s remarkable here is the sheer diversity of top predators. We have multiple species growing larger than a great white shark, and they’re top predators, but they all have different teeth, suggesting they’re hunting in different ways. Some mosasaurs had teeth to pierce prey, others to cut, tear, or crush. Now we have Khinjaria, with a short face full of huge, dagger-shaped teeth. This is one of the most diverse marine faunas seen anywhere, at any time in history, and it existed just before the marine reptiles and the dinosaurs went extinct.

Dr Nicholas R. Longrich, lead author
Department of Biology and Biochemistry
University of Bath, Bath, UK.
Morocco’s diverse marine reptiles lived just before an asteroid struck the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Dust and fine particles shot into the high atmosphere blocked out the sun for months, causing darkness and cooling, which drove most of the planet’s species to extinction.

Dinosaurs were wiped out on land, and a handful of surviving species of mammals, birds, and lizards diversified to take their place. Meanwhile, the same happened in the oceans.

Mosasaurs, plesiosaurs and giant sea turtles disappeared, along with entire families of fish. This opened the way for whales and seals, and fish like swordfish and tuna appeared. However, the ecosystem that evolved after the impact was different.

There seems to have been a huge change in the ecosystem structure in the past 66 million years. This incredible diversity of top predators in the Late Cretaceous is unusual, and we don’t see that in modern marine communities.

Dr Nicholas R. Longrich
Modern marine food chains have just a few large apex predators, animals like orcas, white sharks, and leopard seals. The Cretaceous had a whole host of top predators.

It’s not just that we’re getting rid of the old actors and recasting new ones into the same roles. The story has changed dramatically. Modern ecosystems have predators like baleen whales and dolphins that eat small prey, and not many things eating large prey. The Cretaceous has a huge number of marine reptile species that take large prey. Whether there’s something about marine reptiles that caused the ecosystem to be different, or the prey, or perhaps the environment, we don’t know. But this was an incredibly dangerous time to be a fish, a sea turtle, or even a marine reptile.

Dr Nicholas R. Longrich

The phosphates of Morocco deposit in a shallow and warm epicontinental sea, under a system of upwellings; these zones are caused by currents of deep, cold, nutrient-rich waters rising towards the surface, providing food for large numbers of sea creatures and, as a result, supporting a lot of predators. This is probably one of the explanations for this extraordinary paleobiodiversity observed in Morocco at the end of the Cretaceous.

Professor Nathalie Bardet, co-author.
Centre de Recherche en Paléontologie de Paris
Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France

The phosphates of Morocco immerse us in the Upper Cretaceous seas during the latest geological times of the dinosaurs’ age. No deposit has provided so many fossils and so many species from this period. After the ’titan of the seas’, Thalassotitan, the ‘saw-toothed’ mosasaur Xenodens, the ‘star-toothed’ mosasaur, Stelladens and many others, now there is Khinjaria, a new mosasaur with dagger-like teeth. The elongation of the posterior part of the skull which accommodated the jaw musculature suggests a terrible biting force.

Professor Nour-Eddine Jalil, co-author
Centre de Recherche en Paléontologie de Paris
Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France
Khinjaria acuta with a human for scale.
Dr Nicholas Longrich, 2024.
Technical details are given in the team's research paper in Cretaceous Research:

The Upper Maastrichtian of Morocco has produced a remarkably diverse fauna of mosasaurids, the most diverse known for any time or place. As apex predators, Mosasauridae provide a picture of the marine ecosystem just before the end-Cretaceous mass extinction. Here we describe a bizarre new plioplatecarpine mosasaurid, Khinjaria acuta, characterized by enlarged, dagger-like anterior teeth, short, robust jaws, and posterior elongation of the skull. Khinjaria is related to Goronyosaurus nigeriensis from Nigeria and Niger, and Gavialimimus almaghribensis from Morocco. These species form a distinct clade of specialized mosasaurids so far unknown outside of Africa. Mosasaurids show high endemism in the Maastrichtian, with different lineages occurring in different regions, implying that mosasaurid diversity is underestimated because of limited geographic sampling. The large size, robust jaws, akinetic skull, and bladelike teeth of Khinjaria suggest it was an apex predator, but the unusual skull and jaw differ from those of contemporary predators like Hainosaurus, Thalassotitan, and Mosasaurus, suggesting a distinct feeding strategy. Mosasaurids became increasingly specialized in the latest Cretaceous, repeatedly evolving to occupy the apex predator niche, suggesting a diverse marine ecosystem persisted up to the K-Pg boundary. Late Cretaceous marine ecosystems differ from modern marine ecosystems in the high diversity of large predators.

Longrich, Nicholas R.; Polcyn, Michael J.; Jalil, Nour-Eddine; Pereda-Suberbiola, Xabier; Bardet, Nathalie
A bizarre new plioplatecarpine mosasaurid from the Maastrichtian of Morocco
Cretaceous Research (2024),105870, doi: 10.1016/j.cretres.2024.105870.

© 2024 Elsevier Ltd.
Reprinted under the terms of s60 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Why on Earth creationists believe the people who made up the childish origin myths in the Bible knew everything, when they were manifestly completely oblivious to the vast history of Earth and life on it, is anyone's guess. It take a special mixture of intellectual dishonesty, careful scientific illiteracy avoidance of logic and terror of the consequences of doubt, to maintain a belief in the fairytales they were fed as children, that normal people grow out of by the age of about 10 when they stop believing in Santa and the Tooth Fairy. If the same Bronze Age ignorami the wrote Genesis had included fairies at the bottom of the garden, creationists would be making up excuses for believign in them despite the lack of any evidence for them.

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1 comment :

  1. Creationists and Fundamentalists are so incredibly delusional and gullible when it comes to believing whatever absurdities that exist in the Bible they will believe anything. If the Bible claimed that Jonah swallowed the whale they would believe it! They are unable to see that the Bible is vague,ambiguous, unclear, and full of contradictions. They are unable to see that the Bible can be interpreted in more ways than one and that no one really knows what the Bible means. The Bible has caused centuries of disagreement, division, and confusion. There are literally thousands of different Christian churches and denominations with each one claiming only they are right and everyone else is wrong. So salvation is based in part by trying to correctly interpret the Bible and trying to correctly guess which is the true church. We have to play an eerie meanie mini mo guessing game and if we guess wrong then it's hell. This is demented and perverted. A good God would not do this. A rational sane being would not do this. A loving merciful being would not do this. It's like the story of Rumpelstiltskin, an evil character. This God reminds me of the evil Rumpelstiltskin.
    The fact that such terrifying monsters exist in the water reveals the true nature of the creator. It's a being who revels in violence, carnage, killing, gore. Plesiosaurs, Kronosaurus, Megalodon, Sharks, Crocodilians, Basilosaurus, Octopus, Squids,and other horrors in the water illustrate to me that if there's a single creator who made all things then this creator wants its creation to kill and eat eachother, and it wants to kill its human creation which it supposedly loves so much. The creator is an amoral heartless bastard who has no clue what love is. How could a being who created and allows so much torture, killing, and death still love its creation? I dont see any love here. It's up to moral humans to create love. God or the creator doesn't know and.doesnt understand what love is and has no clue what mercy is. Morality does not come from the creator, but comes only from Moral human beings.


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