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Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Information
Phylum Chordata
Class Information
Class Sauropsida
Sub-class Diapsida
Infra-class Archosauromorpha
Order Information
Superorder Dinosauria
Order Ornithischia; Saurischia
Population statistics

Dinosaurs were reptilian creatures which are now generally believed to be extinct. They were known for their large size, although some species weighed just a few ounces. The word dinosaur was coined in 1841 by Richard Owen[1], from the Greek words for "terrible lizard", and reflected the creatures' large size and fearsome appearance to the early paleontologists.


Dinosaurs are classified into two orders based upon differences in pelvic structure: Saurischia ("lizard-hipped"), in which the pubis is pointed forward and down; and Ornithischia ("bird-hipped"), in which the pubis is pointed towards the rear.


Herbivorous species were almost all quadrupedal. They carried peg-like teeth which cut, rather than chewed, plant material; grinding of food was aided by gastroliths. Carnivorous species were exclusively bipedal.

  • Sauropoda
Species of this infraorder are characterized by long necks and tails, barrel-shaped bodies, and column-like legs. In three families (notably Diplodocidae, Brachiosauridae, and Titanosauroidea) there are species which are of extreme size, in excess of 125 feet in length and 100 tons, making them the largest animals to have walked the earth.
  • Theropoda
Exclusively bipedal; forearms meant for grasping or holding. Fossil evidence for several species indicate pack hunting.


Species of this group were all herbivorous; most were quadrupedal. Front teeth were lacking, while a predentary bone was present in the front of the lower jaw. Several species (mainly within Ceratopsia) had a distinctive parrot-like beak.

  • Ceratopsia
Species of this infraorder carried one or more horns on their heads, as well as a shield-like frill to protect the neck.
  • Stegosauria
Large dinosaurs with a row of bony plates on top of their backs, and several spikes used as a defensive weapon at the end of their tails.
  • Ankylosauria
Heavily-armored dinosaurs, some with a row of spikes along each side, and possessing a bony tail club.
  • Ornithopods
Large, herd-dwelling dinosaurs that could run bipedaly. Several species had a "boss" of bone on their heads (Pachycephalosaurs) which may have been used for head-butting similar to bighorn sheep; others a crest of bone (hadrosaurs) which may have been sound resonators.

Highlights of the history of dinosaur paleontology

In the United States during the 1900s, the public imagination was caught by the discoveries of Henry Fairfield Osborn (1857-1935) and the great competitive dinosaur hunters, Edward Drinker Cope (1847-1897) and Othniel Charles Marsh (1831-1899). Exploring in Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico, they found numerous fossil dinosaurs. Their museums worked out the techniques for mounting and displaying them.

Osborn was a proponent of orthogenesis, as were many paleontologists up through the middle of the twentieth century. These paleontologists interpreted the fossil record as showing sustained, continuing, unidirectional trends in evolution, which they felt required some kind of driving principle in addition to natural selection. As the author of an encyclopedia article on variation and selection put it in 1911,

Selection cannot create the materials on which it is supposed to operate... Both sides concur in the position assumed by Darwin, that the word "chance" in such a phrase as "chance variation" does not mean that the occurrences are independent of natural causation and so far undetermined, but covers in the first place our ignorance of the exact causation.... No doubt a large amount of variation is truly indefinite, so that many meaningless or useless variations arise... But there are several directions in which the field of variation appears to be not only limited but defined in a certain direction.... When beetles, or medusae, or cats vary, the range of possible variation is limited and determined by the beetle, medusa or cat constitution, and any possible further differentiation or specialization must be in a sense at least orthogenetic - that is to say, a continuation of the line along which the ancestors of the individual in question have been forced. Darwin himself showed that different species in a genus, or varieties in a species, tended to show parallel variations.[2]

Roy Chapman Andrews (1884–1960), said to be the prototype for the fictional Indiana Jones, is famous for his discovery of fossil dinosaur eggs in Outer Mongolia.

In the 1970, Robert Bakker catalyzed a new era of dinosaur paleontology with evidence that dinosaurs were fully warm-blooded (endotherms) and fast-moving.[3]

Dinosaur Species

Dinosaurs were immensely varied, and included both herbivores and carnivores. Although many have been found in the fossil record, paleontologists expect that they have barely scratched the surface of the vast superorder that the dinosaurs encompassed.[4]

Different Perspectives

Ever since the discovery of dinosaur fossils, there has been debate about whether and how dinosaurs fit into the history of life on Earth. Young-Earth creationists reject the uniformitarian time-scale, and therefore believe that humans and dinosaurs co-existed. Creationists also reject the now-popular idea that dinosaurs evolved into birds.

Creationary Perspective

The Flood, by Michaelangelo, detail from the Sistine Chapel, 1509.

Young earth creationists believe, from the biblical account, that dinosaurs were created on day 6 of the creation week[5] approximately 6,000 years ago, along with other land animals, and therefore co-existed with humans. As such, they reject the Theory of Evolution and the beliefs of evolutionary scientists about the age of the earth.

They believe that dinosaurs lived in harmony with other animals, (probably including in the Garden of Eden) eating only plants[6]; that pairs of each dinosaur kind were taken onto Noah's Ark during the Great Flood and were preserved from drowning[7]; that many of the fossilized dinosaur bones originated during the mass killing of the Flood[8]; and that possibly some descendants of those dinosaurs taken aboard the Ark are still around today.[9]

They use archaeological, fossil, and documentary evidence to argue that dinosaurs co-existed with mankind until at least relatively recent times.

Because the term only came into use in the 19th century, the Bible does not use the word "dinosaur." However, they are alleged to be mentioned in numerous places throughout the biblical account. For example, the behemoth in Job and the leviathan in Isaiah are sometimes said to be references to dinosaurs,[10] [11], although others have claimed that Behemoth and Leviathan are references to a hippopotamus or elephant and a crocodile respectively. Young-Earth creationists point out that the descriptions don't fit these creatures, including that hippopotamuses and elephants don't have a "tail like a cedar".


Creationists reject the "Great Impact Theory", pointing out multiple problems with this theory. [12]

Creationists assert that evolutionists are frequently coming out with a "New Theory of Dinosaur Extinction" and that their theories are laden with false assumptions. [13] It is worth noting, however, that more and more of these theories are being harmonized with one another.[14]

Dinosaur-like creatures in history and modern sightings

Creationists cite a number of reasons to believe that dinosaurs have existed until relatively recent times, and perhaps still survive.

Charles W. Gilmore, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology with the United States National Museum, examined an ancient pictograph which he claimed portrays dinosaurs and man coexisting
  • There have been a number of claimed sightings of dinosaur-like creatures.
    • A thousand people reported seeing a dinosaur-like monster in two sightings around Sayram Lake in Xinjiang according to the Chinese publication, China Today.[9]
    • Locals in the Congo have reported a creature they name Mokele-mbembe[9][15], and from its description it appears to be a small plant-eating dinosaur. The reports have been taken seriously enough that a biologist from the University of Chicago has made several expeditions to find the creature. Another biologist has reported seeing the creature.[9]
    • Dinosaur-like creatures have been seen by several people in two different parts of Papua New Guinea since 1990.[16]
  • There are drawings of creatures resembling dinosaurs.
    • An expedition which included Charles W. Gilmore, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology with the United States National Museum, examined an ancient pictograph which he claimed portrays dinosaurs and man coexisting.[17][18].
    • The Nile Mosaic of Palestrina, a second century BC piece of art, contains a portion which depicts a group of Ethiopians hunting what some claim appears to be a dinosaur; there is much debate on this, however, and most modern art historians consider the mysterious animal to be a lion or a crocodile (the latter theory is supported by the presence of the Greek word for "crocodile" written near the image of the mysterious animal). [19]
A portion of the Nile Mosaic of Palestrina, depicting the hunting of an animal which is often said to resemble a dinosaur (but which appears to be labelled "crocodile" in Greek).
    • Engravings in the floor of Carlisle Cathedral appear to be of dinosaurs. They are on the tomb of bishop Richard Bell, who died in 1496.[20]
  • Creatures matching dinosaurs and similar creatures have been described by various people groups.
  • Descriptions of dragons are widespread and match descriptions of dinosaurs, suggesting that dragons were real creatures and were actually dinosaurs.
    • The World Book Encyclopedia states that: "The dragons of legend are strangely like actual creatures that have lived in the past. They are much like the great reptiles [dinosaurs] which inhabited the earth long before man is supposed to have appeared on earth." [21]. Dragons exist in the folklore of many European and Asian cultures.[22] World Book Encyclopedia says, "In Europe, dragons are traditionally portrayed as ferocious beasts that represent the evils fought by human beings. But in Asia, especially in China and Japan, the animals are generally considered friendly creatures that ensure good luck and wealth."[22]
    • Dragons appear in the flag of Wales, in traditional Chinese New Years' Day celebrations, and in the Chinese calendar. Every other creature on the calendar is a real creature.
  • That dinosaurs are not known from the fossil record above the Cretaceous strata is not reason to believe that they have not survived until more recent times.
    • Living specimens of orders of animals that were believed to have been extinct for millions of years have been found before, such as the Diatomyidae Squirrel [23], the Wollemi Pine [24] and the Coelacanth [25] [26].
  • The recent dinosaur tissue find is a strong rebuttal of the claim that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. [27]

Dinosaurs and birds

Creationists contend that the idea that birds are descendants of dinosaurs is not demonstrated by the evidence [28] [29], and that the dinosaur-bird connection is even disputed by some evolutionists.

In his article, "Fifteen ways to refute materialistic bigotry", Dr. Jonathan Sarfati wrote regarding dinosaurs being descendants of birds:

“The same logic applies to the dinosaur-bird debate. It is perfectly in order for creationists to cite Feduccia’s devastating criticism against the idea that birds evolved ‘ground up’ from running dinosaurs (the cursorial theory). But the dino-to-bird advocates counter with equally powerful arguments against Feduccia’s ‘trees-down’ (arboreal) theory. The evidence indicates that the critics are both right — birds did not evolve either from running dinos or from tree-living mini-crocodiles. In fact, birds did not evolve from non-birds at all![30]

Creationists also cite the evolutionist and atheist Ernst Mayr[31] who stated the following:

“It must be admitted, however, that it is a considerable strain on one’s credulity to assume that finely balanced systems such as certain sense organs (the eye of vertebrates, or the bird’s feather) could be improved by random mutations." [32]

The March 2003 issue of Scientific American is also cited by creationists:

Of all the body coverings nature has designed, feathers are the most various and the most mysterious...The origin of feathers is a specific instance of the much more general question of the origin of evolutionary novelties--structures that have no clear antecedents in ancestral animals and no clear related structures (homologues) in contemporary relatives. Although evolutionary theory provides a robust explanation for the appearance of minor variations in the size and shape of creatures and their component parts, it does not yet give as much guidance for understanding the emergence of entirely new structures, including digits, limbs, eyes and feathers...." [33] [34]

Creationists also assert that the comparative anatomy analysis done by evolutionists comparing bird bones and dinosaur bones is flawed. [35]

Evolutionary/Old Earth Perspective

The view of evolutionists and others who accept the uniformitarian timescale is that dinosaurs existed on earth from 230 million years ago to 65 million years ago. In this view, the entire population of dinosaurs were wiped out by a mass extinction event (usually thought to be a meteorite) about 65 million years ago. This precludes humans and dinosaurs co-existing.


According to most scientists, close to 65 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period, and the beginning of what is called the Tertiary period, an event occurred which has come to be known as the K-T Event. This event would have obliterated most life on Earth, plunging the world into something that would now be likened to global nuclear winter, through which few extant species could survive. Although these scientists dispute the nature of the K-T Event (selecting among any number of catastrophes that could have caused the significant global cooling that resulted), most find that the claimed K-T Event was caused by the collision of a massive asteroid with the Earth, the dust and debris from which would have shrouded the sky for thousands of years, cooling Earth considerably.[36] According to this view, the dinosaurs did not survive this cataclysm.[37] A layer of rock containing high concentrations of Iridium, a metal that is extremely rare on earth but common in asteroids, is said to be due to the vaporization and then fall of dust from the meteorite's impact, and its compression within the subsequent geological record.[38]The evidence of a large impact crater can be found in rocks of the Yucatán Peninsula of the supposed age of this layer.[39] [40] Creationists assert that the assumptions underpinning the methods used by modern geologists are incorrect, and even though the validity of a large impact is accepted, this does not consitute proof that the impact caused the extinction of the dinosaurs—although the abundance of dinosaur fossils in rocks found higher in the rock layers than the impact is drastically less than their abundance in rocks lower down.[Citation Needed]

An Explosion of new species

The mass extinction of the dinosaurs removed a major food competitor, and predator, of smaller animals. As a result of a new "vacancy" in the food chain, following the K-T Event, vast speciation occurred, as the evolutionary pressure of a new cold age propelled animal species to adapt or die out. According to this view, mammals were some of the main beneficiaries of this explosion: their fur allowed them to adapt to the cold, and their small size allowed them to conserve energy relative to the huge dinosaurs of the previous age.[41]

Dinosaurs and Birds

As a number of feathered fossils (claimed to be dinosaurs) have been discovered, and evolutionary scientists claim the similarity in the bone structure between birds and dinosaurs show that modern birds are a descendants of dinosaurs. This is often cited as an example of macroevolution.[42] Cladists place modern birds within the clade dinosauria, meaning that they consider all bird species today as, technically, dinosaurs.[43]

Dinosaur fossils and Human Fossils and Geological Strata

Some evolutionary scientists assert that if human bones aren’t found with dinosaur bones, then dinosaurs and man didn’t live together.[44][45] Creation scientists point out that this is a false assumption; if human bones aren’t found buried with dinosaur bones, it simply means they weren't buried together.[44]

Evolutionists point out that radiometric dating of rocks containing dinosaur bones shows them to have formed between 65 million years ago and 250 million years ago, whereas rocks with human bones in them are dated as being much newer (less than 5 million years old). Young Earth Creationists believe that these methods of dating rocks provide false results, and therefore reject this argument.

Creationists note that the fossil record contains mainly marine organisms and that a small sliver of the fossil record contains vertebrates and thus assert that we shouldn't expect to find many human fossils at all.[44] Moreover, as the biblical Flood would be a marine catastrophe, it would be expected that marine fossils would dominate the fossil record. This is in fact what we find.[46]

Approximately 70% of the Earth is covered in salt water which would also explain the dominance of marine fossils. In addition, creation scientists assert there may have been a small pre-flood human population and that massive amounts of flood sediment are why we haven’t found human fossils in pre-biblical flood sediments.[46] Also, creation scientists point out that we don't find human bones buried with coelacanths yet humans and coelacanths coexist today.[44]


  1. Grigg, Russell, Dinosaurs and dragons: stamping on the legends, Creation 14(3):10–14, June 1992
  2. Mitchell, Peter Chalmers (1911), Variation and Selection, Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th edition, volume 27 (TON-VES), p. 906
  3. Benton, Michael J. (2000), Vertebrate Paleontology p. 217
  4. Vast Majority of Dinosaurs Still to Be Found, Scientists Say, National Geographic
  5. Genesis 1:25
  6. Genesis 1:29-30
  7. Were dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark?, Creation Ministries International
  8. Carl Wieland, Dinosaur bones—just how old are they really?, Creation, vol. 21 No. 1 p. 54
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Robert Doolan, Are dinosaurs alive today?, Creation, vol. 15 No. 4 p. 12.
  10. Allan K. Steel, Could Behemoth have been a dinosaur?, Journal of Creation vol. 15 No. 2 p. 42.
  11. [1], Answers in Creation
  12. Jonathan Sarfati, Did a meteor wipe out the dinosaurs?.
  13. Michael Matthews, Dinosaur demise theory, version #451, Answers in Genesis
  14. More Than a Meteor Likely Killed Dinosaurs 65 Million Years Ago, SpaceRef.com
  15. Mokele-mbembe The Living Dinosaur!
  16. Anon., A living dinosaur?, Creation 23(1):56, December 2000.
    Irwin, Brian, Theropod and sauropod dinosaurs sighted in PNG? 1st July, 2008 (Creation Ministries International).
  17. Doheny Scientific Expedition, Hava Supai Canyon, Arizona, Creationism.org
  18. The Hava Supai Dinosaur Carving, ChristianCourier.com
  19. Dinosaurs in Literature, Art & History-- Page 2, s8int.com
  20. See picture on page 241 of Batten, Don, et. al., 2007, The Creation Answers Book.
  21. Quoted in What about the Dinosaurs?, CreationScience.com
  22. 22.0 22.1 Dragon entry in World Book Millennium 2000 CD ROM
  23. Diatomyidae Squirrel [2]
  24. Wollemi Pine Biotechnology Australia [3]
  25. Sulawesi Coelacanth. University Of California, Berkeley[4]
  26. More on the Coelacanth marinebio.org[5]
  27. Carl Wieland, Still soft and stretchy, Creation Ministries International
  28. Bird evolution?, Creation Ministries International
  29. Andy McIntosh, 100 years of airplanes—but these weren’t the first flying machines!, Creation vol. 26 No. 1 p. 44
  30. Jonathan Sarfati, 15 ways to refute materialistic bigotry, Creation Ministries International
  31. Matthews, Michael, 99 and still fighting God, 8th December, 2003 (Answers in Genesis).
  32. In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood, Center for Scientific Creation
  33. Michael Matthews, Scientific American admits creationists hit a sore spot, Answers in Genesis
  34. Which Came First, the Feather or the Bird?, Scientific American
  35. Dr. David N. Menton, "Ostrich-osaurus" Discovery?, Answers in Genesis
  36. Kevin O Pope, "Meteorite impact and the mass extinction of species at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary," Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, available at [6]
  37. Prehistoric Asteroid "Killed Everything", National Geographic
  38. Ibid
  39. "Dinosaur-Killer" Asteroid Crater Imaged for First Time, National Geographic
  40. http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/education/events/cowen1b.html
  41. Bennet, Shostak, Jakotsky, "Life in the Universe," viewable at [7]
  42. New Dinosaur Discovered: T. Rex Cousin Had Feathers, National Geographic
  43. Tree of Life Web Project. 1999. Dinosauria. Version 01 January 1999 (temporary). Accessed 30 May 2007.
  44. 44.0 44.1 44.2 44.3 Hodge, Bodie, If humans and dinosaurs lived together, why don’t we find human fossils with dinosaur fossils? Answers 1(1):52, May 2006.
  45. Claim CH710 (The TalkOrigins Archive)
  46. 46.0 46.1 Hodge, Bodie, Why Don’t We Find Human & Dinosaur Fossils Together? (chapter 13 of the New Answers Book), 2006.