Dinosaurs are loose in Britain! They come in the form of five postage stamps depicting an Iguanodon, a Stegosaurus, a Tyrannosaurus, a Protoceratops and a Triceratops.1 The stamps were released by the Royal Mail on August 20, 1991, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first use of the term ‘dinosauria’ (from the Greek δεινός deinos ‘terrible’ + σαύρος sauros ‘lizard’) by famous British anatomist and palaeontologist, Sir Richard Owen. He used the term at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held in Plymouth, in 1841.
Sir Richard Owen was Britain’s foremost expert in comparative anatomy and was the first person to realize that these creatures were a distinctive group of previously unknown reptiles. While everyone now accepts this conclusion, it is less well known today that Owen opposed Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution on scientific grounds.2
Since their discovery, dinosaurs have been depicted on at least 280 stamps, representing 70 sets from some 50 countries, including such diverse places as Russia, Morocco, Yemen, Nicaragua, China, Mongolia, Laos, Vietnam, Cuba and British Antarctic Territory. Surprisingly, the non-existent Brontosaurus is depicted and named on two stamps—a USA 25¢, showing a pair of the animals, and a Central African Republic SOF, showing a herd.3 There have been more stamp issues depicting Tyrannosaurus than the total number of fossils of this dinosaur found—only three complete skeletons to date.4 Evolutionists believe that the dinosaurs evolved, while creationists believe that they were some of the ‘beasts of the earth’ created by God, along with the other land-dwelling animals on Day Six of Creation Week (Genesis 1:24–31).5 Who is right?
If evolution is true, we should expect that:
In fact, all dinosaurs appear fully formed in the fossil record, without trace of an ancestor, and there is not one single dinosaur fossil that can be called an intermediate form between any of the types known.
On the other hand, if creation is true, and the dinosaurs were created on Day Six of Creation Week, we should expect that:
Aboard Noah’s Ark
First of all, they were not all large; many dinosaurs were comparatively small, such as Compsognathus, which was about the size of a chicken, and Mussaurus, the smallest dinosaur ever found, the skull of which measured a mere 32 millimetres in length6—about the length of an ordinary paper-clip. Second, the dinosaurs, like modern reptiles, usually laid eggs which had a leathery shell (compared to birds’ eggs which have a hard shell); reptiles today, after hatching, keep growing for most of their lives.
British anatomist Sir Richard Owen strongly opposed Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Owen introduced the word ‘dinosaur’ in 1841.
The largest dinosaur egg found was discovered in France; it is 30 centimetres (one foot) long and is now on display at Reading University in England. Others from the same site are 25 centimetres in length or about the size of a football; they were laid by a giant sauropod, which was a gigantic quadrupedal (four-legged) herbivore (plant-eater). The reason for this comparatively small size is that the larger the egg, the thicker the shell has to be and, if it had been too thick, neither enough air could have passed through it to supply the baby dinosaur inside, nor could the baby dinosaur have succeeded in breaking out.7
So, if baby dinosaurs are football size, it is reasonable to suppose that God would have directed children-sized dinosaurs of the larger species to the Ark, or perhaps teenage-sized ones; it certainly was not necessary for Him to have sent grandfather-sized ones!
In fact, there are many such stories, from all over the world. One of the oldest is of Gilgamesh, hero of an ancient Babylonian epic, who killed a huge reptile-like creature named Khumbaba, in a cedar forest.8 The early Britons provide the first European accounts of reptilian monsters, one of which killed and devoured King Morvidus of Wales, c. 336 BC. Another monarch, King Peredur, however, managed to slay his monster at a place called Llyn Llion, in Wales.9,10
The epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf tells how Beowulf (c. AD 495–583) of Scandinavia killed a monster named Grendel, and its supposed mother, as well as several sea-reptiles,11 but eventually lost his life at the age of 88 in the process of killing a flying reptile. The Saxon description of this creature fits that of a giant Pteranodon—it was ‘fifty feet in length (or possibly wingspan)’.12 The monster called Grendel, which Beowulf killed many years previously, is described as follows. He was apparently a youngster (having been known for only 12 years), man-like in stance (i.e. bipedal), and he had two small forelimbs that the Saxons call eorms (arms), one of which Beowulf tore off. He was a muthbona—one who slew with his mouth or jaws—and his skin was impervious to swordblows.13
Other well-known stories involving medieval heroes and dragons include Siegfried of the ancient Teutons (possibly the same person as Sigurd of Old Norse, who slew a monster named Fafnir),14 Tristan (or Tristram), King Arthur, and Sir Lancelot, of Britain,15 and perhaps the most famous of all, St George who became the patron saint of England. (The film and video The Great Dinosaur Mystery16 details many more of these accounts besides those listed here.)
The dragon ensign was used by many armies. Under the later eastern Roman emperors, the purple-dragon ensign became the ceremonial standard, called the drakonteion.17 In England, before the Norman Conquest in 1066, the dragon was chief among the royal ensigns in war, having been instituted by Uther Pendragon, father of King Arthur. Other kings who used the dragon ensign were Richard I, in 1191, when on crusade, and Henry III, in 1245, when he went to war against the Welsh.18
In China, the dragon appears as the national symbol and the badge of the royal family, and the dragon adorned the Chinese flag until the founding of the Republic of China, in 1911.
Although doubtless over the years many of these dragon stories and drawings have gained embellishments, the fact of their virtual worldwide existence, and the many items of similarity between the creatures slain and known dinosaur fossils, clearly point to an underlying reality. Modern children’s story books about dragons invariably have drawings of fairy-tale creatures, but according to Paul Taylor,19 who has done extensive research on this issue, many (perhaps most) of the historical dragon stories do not have this imaginative element; usually the more ancient stories are more matter-of-fact in quality, while the more recent ones tend to be more fantastic. One explanation of this could be that as the evidence in the form of the dinosaurs became extinct, the storytellers felt free to make their stories more marvellous and to combine the features of several dragons into one.
In fact, two such animals are described in the book of Job. The first is a giant vegetarian animal that may be either a Diplodocus or a Brachiosaurus: ‘Behold now behemoth which I made with thee; he eateth grass like an ox …. He moveth his tail like a cedar … his bones are like bars of iron, he drinketh up a river’ (Job 40:15–24). The second appears to have been some sort of large fire-breathing animal. Just as the small bombardier beetle has an explosion-producing mechanism, so the great sea-dragon may have had an explosion-producing mechanism to enable it to be a real fire breathing dragon: ‘Canst thou draw out leviathan with a hook … his breath kindleth coals and a flame goeth out of his mouth ….’ (Job 41:1–34).
It is also interesting that in the King James version of the Bible the term ‘dragon(s)’ is used more than 20 times in the Old Testament,20 once metaphorically, referring to the Pharaoh King of Egypt as a dragon (Ezekiel 29:3), and the other times referring to animals; for example, ‘… the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under foot’ (Psalm 91:13), ‘And I will make Jerusalem heaps and a den of dragons …’ (Jeremiah 9:11).
This has special significance when it is realized that the KJV was published in the year AD 1611; that is to say, less then four centuries ago, the translators of the Bible were happy to use the term ‘dragon’, confident that its use would be meaningful and not mythical for the readers.
All the predictions and expectations, with respect to dinosaurs, arising from the creation model, are seen to be fulfilled, while none of the predictions and expectations arising from the evolution model are. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that if evolutionists were not locked into their millions-of-years scenario, there would be no problems about the idea that dinosaurs and man have coexisted on the earth, from the time of Adam, until they, along with many other creatures, gradually became extinct.