Posted by Rev. Jeff Dixon, Senior Equipping Minister, Covenant Community Church on Aug 31, 2005, 17:12
The Adventure Link
A New Series begins.....
Dinosaurs of every shape, size and color still can be found on the earth today. One can see them by the dozens in shops, on T-shirts and greeting cards, on trinkets, cereal boxes, T.V. programs and in bookstores.
Dinosaur fads that come and go are undoubtedly due to dramatic new fossil discoveries, extensive media attention focused on the latest extinction theories, and events that make the news about the dinosaur.
The Christian community doesn't always know what to do or how to react to dinosaurs. They are intrigued by them, they are fun to watch in movies, and they are fun to ponder...but just how do they fit into the big picture of God's creation?
Well, this series will cover lots of stuff...but it will be dino-mite for the Christian who wants to know about dinosaurs and how they fit into the whole creation event. This series comes from a variety of sources...so lets get ready and begin.
The Truth About Dinosaurs.
From the first moment a child encounters an image of one of these strange, massive creatures, his mind and imagination are captivated. This fascination is shared by many adults. Scientists are continually uncovering new information about dinosaurs. Questions are being answered which have puzzled people for years. So much is new, a lot of what has been written in the past about dinosaurs is being changed because many of the old ideas and drawings were inaccurate. For decades, the Church wondered if such creatures actually existed; and even today some ministers don’t quite know how to handle the topic of dinosaurs, for they are unsure of just how they fit into the Bible.
A Bit of Dinosaur History
The first discoveries of dinosaur fossils were not even recorded, as prehistoric monsters were considered to live only in overactive imaginations and in fairy tales. The few fossils which had been found were thought to belong to a giant animal, such as an elephant, and the footprints to some sort of gigantic bird. But in 1822, the wife of an English doctor was taking a walk while visiting in Lewes, Sussex, England. Among some rocks piled alongside the road she saw what resembled a large tooth. Because her husband had an interest in fossils, she knew this could be important, and took it to him. Dr. Mantrell then hastened to the spot where his wife had found the tooth. There he discovered not only more teeth, but some bones as well—though not a complete skeleton. He decided to send them to an expert on fossils. Baron Cuvier of Paris, France. Cuvier mistakenly identified the teeth as being from an extinct rhinoceros, and the bones as belonging to an extinct hippopotamus. Dr. Mantrell was not satisfied with this explanation, and later discovered that the fossils resembled the bones and teeth of a Central American lizard—the iguana—though much larger, of course. He gave his discovery the name iguanodon, meaning “iguana-tooth.”
The bones of the iguanodon were the first find of the creatures which came to be known as the dinosaurs.
It was not until 1878 that another fossil find, this time in Belgium, made it possible to know what an iguanodon really looked like. There, in a coal mine, several dozen complete skeletons of iguanodons were found piled together. Fossil bones and teeth of another ancient creature had by this time been found, though no complete skeleton had come to light. The great discovery in Belgium proved beyond any doubt that these monsters did indeed exist at one time on the earth. From that point, fossils of prehistoric animals have become a matter of intense interest, and have been extracted from all over the world.
The Meaning of “Dinosaur.”
The name dinosaur was coined by Sir Richard Owen in 1841 to be used in his address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science to describe an order of extinct giant reptiles. He derived it from two Greek words meaning terrible (deinos) and lizard or reptile (sauros).
Since the first modern-day find of dinosaur fossils in 1822, there have been many additional finds; today some books list as many as 200 different kinds of dinosaurs. However, the validity of this figure is somewhat dubious since many of these have been reconstructed from as little as only one tooth.
The Wrong-Headed Dinosaur.
How do scientists know anything about dinosaurs? Apart from the Bible, the only information on dinosaurs comes from fossils—parts of dead plants and animals which have been turned into rock. The study of dinosaurs has undergone a revival in very recent years and this has become an interesting period in which many of the previous conceptions about dinosaurs have been changed. Dinosaur fossils not only include skeleton bones, but also teeth, claws, spikes, horns, bony plates, eggs (sometimes with unborn babies), gizzard’s stones, footprints, imprints of skin, and stomach contents. Fossils of dinosaur skin show they had thick, scaly skin, but we have no idea what colors they may have been.
Fossils are like pieces of a puzzle. No one knows how the living animal actually looked, nor can one do more than guess about the animal’s behavior. This is why our concepts about dinosaurs continually change.
A good example is the great brontosaurus, probably one of the best known of the dinosaurs. Millions of people have seen it in books and advertising; however, the brontosaurus never existed. Originally, its fossils were discovered with the head missing. To complete the skeleton, the scientist attached a skull found 3 to 4 miles away, but did not reveal this fact until recent years. Then it was discovered the skeleton of the body belonged to a diplodocus and the skull was from an apatosaurus. Modifications are being made around the world to correct the error in books and models of the creature.
Another example of mistaken identity involves the iguanodon. When the iguanodon was first discovered, it was thought it had a horn on its nose. Later it was found it had no horn on its nose, but a spike on each of its thumbs!
It is into the world of misinformation, changing discoveries, amazing finds, and astounding proof that this new series of the Adventure Link will travel. We will bridge the gap between what we think we know, what we really don't know, and what the Bible has to say about these fantastic creatures.
The adventure continues....into the Lost World
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