Untold Secrets of Planet Earth: Dire Dragons by Vance Nelson

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Vance Nelson starts the book by talking a little bit about the history of paleontology.  Until the 1840’s, dinosaurs were referred to as dragons.  At the natural history museum, founded by Sir Richard Owen, dinosaur remains were labeled as sea dragons.

Next, the author writes about the age of dinosaur bones and evidence relating to their date of extinction.  He uses scientific studies and discovers to prove the dinosaur extinction happen much more recently than is commonly believed.

  • Carbon Dating can be used to determine the age of fossil remains.  Living creatures have a set ratio of carbon 14 and carbon 12 inside of them.  After death, the levels of carbon 14 dissipates, but the levels of carbon 12 remain consistent.  Carbon dating test done on dinosaur bones show they are 20,000 to 40,000 years old.
  • Dr Mary Schweitzer discovered soft tissue (with blood vessels and blood cells) inside a femur belonging to a T. Rex.  Since we know how fast tissue degrades, it calls into question the age of that dinosaur.
  • Dinosaur fossils are unearthed next to fossils belonging to creatures that are still living today, such as crocodiles, alligators, and soft shelled turtles.  If a catastrophic event caused the dinosaurs to become extinct millions of years ago, then why are these creators still living today?
  • Discoveries of animals previously believed to be extinct have occurred.  Scientist thought the Coelacanth (a type of fish) went extinct millions of years ago.  However, a living Coelacanth was found in 1938, off the coast of South Africa.
  • Dinosaur like creatures have been depicted in ancient artwork.  These drawings and ceramic pieces have a striking resemblance to dinosaurs.  How did ancient people learn about dinosaurs?