Carbon-14-dated dinosaur bones are less than 40,000 years old
Researchers have found a reason for the puzzling survival of soft tissue and collagen in dinosaur bones - the bones are younger than anyone ever guessed. Carbon-14 (C-14) dating of multiple samples of bone from 8 dinosaurs found in Texas, Alaska, Colorado, and Montana revealed that they are only 22,000 to 39,000 years old.
Members of the Paleochronology group presented their findings at the 2012 Western Pacific Geophysics Meeting in Singapore, August 13-17, a conference of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS).
Since dinosaurs are thought to be over 65 million years old, the news is stunning - and more than some can tolerate. After the AOGS-AGU conference in Singapore, the abstract was removed from the conference website by two chairmen because they could not accept the findings. Unwilling to challenge the data openly, they erased the report from public view without a word to the authors. When the authors inquired, they received this letter:
Carbon-14 is considered to be an extremely reliable dating technique. It's accuracy has been verified by using C-14 to date artifacts whose age is known historically. The fluctuation of the amount of C-14 in the atmosphere over time adds a small uncertainty, but contamination by "modern carbon" such as decayed organic matter from soils poses a greater possibility for error.
Dr. Thomas Seiler, a physicist from Germany, gave the presentation in Singapore. He said that his team and the laboratories they employed took special care to avoid contamination. That included protecting the samples, avoiding cracked areas in the bones, and meticulous pre-cleaning of the samples with chemicals to remove possible contaminants. Knowing that small concentrations of collagen can attract contamination, they compared precision Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) tests of collagen and bioapatite (hard carbonate bone mineral) with conventional counting methods of large bone fragments from the same dinosaurs. "Comparing such different molecules as minerals and organics from the same bone region, we obtained concordant C-14 results which were well below the upper limits of C-14 dating. These, together with many other remarkable concordances between samples from different fossils, geographic regions and stratigraphic positions make random contamination as origin of the C-14 unlikely".
The theoretical limit for C-14 dating is 100,000 years using AMS, but for practical purposes it is 45,000 to 55,000 years. The half-life of C-14 is 5730 years. If dinosaur bones are 65 million years old, there should not be one atom of C-14 left in them.
Many dinosaur bones are not petrified. Dr. Mary Schweitzer, associate professor of marine, earth, and atmospheric sciences at North Carolina State University, surprised scientists in 2005 when she reported finding soft tissue in dinosaur bones. She started a firestorm of controversy in 2007 and 2008 when she reported that she had sequenced proteins in the dinosaur bone. Critics charged that the findings were mistaken or that what she called soft tissue was really biofilm produced by bacteria that had entered from outside the bone. Schweitzer answered the challenge by testing with antibodies. Her report in 2009 confirmed the presence of collagen and other proteins that bacteria do not make. In 2011, a Swedish team found soft tissue and biomolecules in the bones of another creature from the time of the dinosaurs, a Mosasaur, which was a giant lizard that swam in shallow ocean waters. Schweitzer herself wonders why these materials are preserved when all the models say they should be degraded. That is, if they really are over 65 million years old, as the conventional wisdom says.
Dinosaur bones with Carbon-14 dates in the range of 22,000 to 39,000 years before present, combined with the discovery of soft tissue in dinosaur bones, indicate that something is indeed wrong with the conventional wisdom about dinosaurs.
The findings: Carbon-14 in dinosaur bones
(a) Acro (Acrocanthosaurus) is a carnivorous dinosaur excavated in 1984 near Glen Rose TX by C. Baugh and G. Detwiler; in 108 MA Cretaceous sandstone - identified by Dr. W. Langston of Un. of TX at Austin.
Allosaurus is a carnivorous dinosaur excavated in 1989 by the J. Hall, A. Murray team. It was found under an Apatosaurus skeleton in the Wildwood section of a ranch west of Grand Junction CO in 150 Ma (late Jurassic) sandstone of the Morrison formation.
Hadrosaur #1, a duck billed dinosaur. Bone fragments were excavated in 1994 along Colville River by G. Detwiler, J. Whitmore team in the famous Liscomb bone bed of the Alaskan North Slope - validated by Dr. J. Whitmore.
Hadrosaur #2, a duck billed dinosaur. A lone femur bone was excavated in 2004 in clay in the NW 1/4, NE 1/4 of Sec. 32, T16N, R56 E, Dawson County, Montana by the O. Kline team of the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum. It was sawed open by the O. Kline, H. Miller team in 2005 to retrieve samples for C-14 testing.
Triceratops #1, a ceratopsid dinosaur. A lone femur bone was excavated in 2004 in Cretaceous clay at 47 6 18N by 104 39 22W in Montana by the O. Kline team of the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum. It was sawed open by the O. Kline, H. Miller team in 2005 to retrieve samples for C-14 testing.
Triceratops #2, a very large ceratopsid-type dinosaur excavated in 2007 in Cretaceous clay at 47 02 44N and 104 32 49W in Montana by the O. Kline team of Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum. Outer bone fragments of a femur were tested for C-14.
Hadrosaur #3, a duck billed dinosaur. Scrapings were taken from a large bone excavated by Joe Taylor of Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum, Crosbyton TX in Colorado in Cretaceous strata.
Apatosaur, a sauropod. Scrapings were taken from a rib still imbedded in the clay soil of a ranch in CO, partially excavated in 2007 and 2009, in 150 Ma (late Jurassic) strata by C. Baugh and B. Dunkel.
(b) GX is Geochron Labs, Cambridge MA, USA; AA is University of Arizona, Tuscon AZ, USA; UG is University of Georgia, Athens GA, USA; KIA is Christian Albrechts Universitat, Kiel Germany.
(c) AMS is Accelerated Mass Spectrometry; Beta is the conventional method of counting Beta decay particles.
(d) Bio is the carbonate fraction of bioapatite. Bow is the bulk organic fraction of whole bone; Col is collagen fraction; w or ext is charred, exterior or whole bone fragments; Hum is humic acids.
Bioapatite is a major component of the mineralised part of bones. It incorporates a small amount of carbonate as a substitute for phosphate in the crystal lattice.
Charred bone is the description given by lab personnel for blackened bone surfaces.
Collagen: Proteins that are the main component of connective tissue. It can be as high as 20% in normal bone but decomposes over time so that there should be none after ~100,000 years. Yet it is found in four-foot long, nine-inch diameter dinosaur femur bones claimed to be greater than 65 million years old. The "Modified Longin Method" is the normal purification method for bone collagen. Dr. Libby, the discoverer of Radiocarbon dating and Nobel Prize winner, showed that purified collagen could not give erroneous ages.
On the conference website, the abstract was removed
position number 5.
This is what happens when you
try to get members of the academic community involved:
More soft tissue
An amazing find was reported in the journal Nature in April 2013: "we report the discovery of a monotaxic embryonic dinosaur bone bed in Lower Jurassic strata near Dawa, Lufeng County, Yunnan Province, China". The "bone bed is characterized by the presence of completely disarticulated skeletal elements at various stages of embryonic development". "This discovery also provides the oldest evidence of in situ preservation of complex organic remains in a terrestrial vertebrate." "There are no preserved nest structures or uncrushed eggs." "In contrast to previous studies of organic residues based on extracts obtained by decalcifying samples of bone, our approach targeted particular tissues in situ. This made it possible to detect the preservation of organic residues, probably direct products of the decay of complex proteins, within both the fast-growing embryonic bone tissue and the margins of the vascular spaces." "Previous reports of preserved dinosaur organic compounds, or 'dinosaurian soft tissues', have been controversial because it was difficult to rule out bacterial biofilms or some other form of contamination as a possible source of the organics. Our results clearly indicate the presence of both apatite and amide peaks within woven embryonic bone tissue, which should not be susceptible to microbial contamination or other post-mortem artefacts." -- Reisz, Robert R., Timothy D. Huang, Eric M. Roberts, ShinRung Peng, Corwin Sullivan, Koen Stein, Aaron R. H. LeBlanc, DarBin Shieh, RongSeng Chang, ChengCheng Chiang, Chuanwei Yang, Shiming Zhong. 11 April 2013. Embryology of Early Jurassic dinosaur from China with evidence of preserved organic remains. Nature, Vol. 496, pp. 210-214. doi: 10.1038/nature11978.
Radiocarbon (RC) or Carbon-14 (C-14) dating of linen, cotton, bones, fossils, wood, sea shells, seeds, coal, diamond (anything with carbon) is one of the most common and well understood of the various scientific dating methods.
Carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope of carbon that is formed naturally in the atmosphere. All plants and animals have a regular intake of carbon while they are alive. When an animal or plant dies, it no longer takes in carbon of any form. C-14 has a half-life of 5730 years. The maximum theoretical detection limit is about 100,000 years, but radiocarbon dating is only reliable up to 55,000 years with the best equipment. Older dates are considered to be tentative. If, as generally believed, dinosaurs have been extinct for 65 million years, there should not be one atom of Carbon-14 left in their bones.
The accuracy of carbon dates depends on whether the ratio of Carbon-14 to Carbon-12 was the same in the past as it is today. Even with reliable results there is always a degree of uncertainty, and dates are usually given as +or- so many years.
There are two types of C-14 dating technologies. The original one, counting Beta decay particles, is a multistep process and requires sample sizes of several grams. The newer method of "Accelerator Mass Spectrometry" (AMS) requires smaller sample sizes and is more accurate. Beta counting is prone to possible errors in each of the many phases. AMS uses a much smaller sample size, and actually counts the Carbon-14 atoms as they are separated from the sample. The equipment accelerates streams of charged atomic particles to high velocities in order to sort and analyze them.
Carbon-14 dating of bone is one of the most difficult tasks in carbon dating, and requires the most care of any carbonaceous material. This is mainly due to the nature of bone, which is a very porous material. Certain parts of bone look like a sponge under the microscope. Many dinosaur bones are hard as rock because the original material has been replaced with a silicon material such as quartz. These are "mineralized" or "fossilized". We have found un-mineralized dinosaur bones. We then scrape the outer surface off to get rid of surface contamination, and date the inner remaining material. One can date just the purified bioapatite, the total organics, or the collagen, or a combination of these, as we did in several cases.
The discovery, and later confirmation, of collagen in a Tyrannosaurus-Rex dinosaur femur bone was reported in the journal SCIENCE. This is a remarkable find because collagen, being a soft tissue present in most animals, is supposed to decay in a few thousand years. Collagen is the main protein found in connective tissue of animals. It can make up from 1 to 6 percent of muscle mass. Triceratops and Hadrosaur femur bones in excellent condition were discovered in Glendive Montana, and our group received permission to saw them in half and collect samples for Carbon-14 testing. Both bones were tested by a licensed lab for presence of collagen. Both bones did in fact contain some collagen.
The best process (Accelerator Mass Spectrometry) was used to date them. Total organic carbon and dinosaur bioapatite was extracted and pretreated to remove potential contaminants, and concordant radiocarbon dates were obtained. They were similar to radiocarbon dates for ice-age megafauna such as Siberian mammoths, saber tooth tigers of the Los Angeles LaBrea Tarpits, sloth dung, and giant bison. We usually prefer AMS dating because of its inherent superior accuracy, but use the conventional method when large samples are available in order to completely rule out contamination. This is recommended by a carbon-dating laboratory specialist.
Dr. Jean de Pontcharra, one of ten co-authors and an atomic physicist retired from the Grenoble Research Center of the French Atomic Energy Commission, and Professor Dr. Robert Bennett, physicist and co-author, agree that "the AOGS-AGU assembly encourages presentation of reliable data even though the topic may be controversial. This is a very wise policy for the advacement of science and the education of people everywhere. Thus, we encourage our colleagues to do their own carbon dating of dinosaur bones from museums and university fossil repositories around the world, as well as testing for C-14 in scrapings from dinosaur bones as they are excavated. We are anxious to see their results presented, just as we have done. Also, we call on the news media and citizens everywhere to urge paleontologists, curators, university faculty, and government scientific agencies to encourage and support further testing for C-14 content in dinosaur remains. Scientists need to know the actual chronology of the Earth and the age of the fossils."