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'Conspiracy theory'


Michael Hopkins September 7th, 2011

When the original Obama birth certificate was released, those familiar with crank intellectualism knew what would happen: The new evidence would be made to “fit” a preposterous conspiracy theory. No matter what is found, a crank will make it “fit.”

Steve Kern (Letters, “The Rev. Steve Kern disputes dino diets,” Aug. 17, Gazette) is a case in point. The “scientists” Kern listens to start with a conclusion — their dogma — and force the evidence to “fit” it. That some dinosaurs are obvious meat eaters makes some creationists go through mental gymnastics. They think of ludicrous ways to make adaptations for meat-eating fit plant-eating.

Kern also uses another common crank strategy: “How do we know much of anything about dinosaurs and what their true eating habits were ...?” We really don’t know, therefore he is right. Here are some of the ways that we do know:

—Dinosaur-aged coprolites, fossilized feces, often have bones in them including one with a 1.52-meter (5-foot) main mass. Something huge was eating somebody.

—Dinosaurs with bite marks on their skeletons.

—Herbivorous dinosaurs often have teeth of theropod dinosaurs found with their remains, including cases where theropod teeth are jammed into bones. So did a theropod mistake a Hypacrosaurus for a melon?

—There are dinosaur fossils with bones of various other animals inside them.

—Tooth wear patterns can give clues to how its owner ate. All this brings up another characteristic of pseudoscience: the ignoring of contrary evidence.

None of the facts I have mentioned are obscure. I am not even remotely an expert on dinosaurs, but was easily able to find references in short order. Kern and his apparent source, Tom Sharp, are without excuse.

—Michael Hopkins
Norman

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09.07.2011 at 06:29 Reply

I will continue my habit of putting reference in a comment.

Most of what I say can be confirmed via the review article at:

  • http://www.yale.edu/ypmip/predation/Chapter_09.pdf

That source is a book chapter.  I provides a photo of a theropod tooth jammed into a plant-eating dinosaur.  If someone want to look at the issue more deeply than is need to make fun of creationist idiots, it provides references to the peer-reviewed scientific literature and names of concepts that you shove into Google. 

1.52 meter-long  coprolite :

  • http://rock.geosociety.org/absindex/annual/2000/50526.htm

I could have mentioned the "dribbling zone" but I resisted. I found this ply by googling large dinosaur coprolites.  I also did not mention that this coprolite is most likely from an Allosaurus or some related form because of the teeth found in it.  Meat-eating dinosaurs often shred teeth.  It is better than breaking a jaw.

I might point out that coprolites were first recognized for what they are by pioneering fossil hunter Mary Anning (1799-1847).  Part of that evidence she used was the bones in them.  She also noticed that  ichthysaur (a marine reptile) skeletons often had coprolites in the adnominal regions.

Tooth ware via the first reference and:

  • http://www.app.pan.pl/archive/published/app50/app50-093.pdf

 

 

 
 
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