Dinosaurs: What is the Real Story?

From Live Science: 1

Instead of being driven to extinction by death from above, dinosaurs might have ultimately been doomed by death from below in the form of monumental volcanic eruptions. This suggestion is based on new research that is part of a growing body of evidence indicating a space rock alone did not wipe out the giant reptiles. The Age of Dinosaurs ended roughly 65 million years ago with the K-T or Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event, which killed off all dinosaurs save those that became birds…Another leading culprit is a series of colossal volcanic eruptions that occurred 63-67 million years ago. These created the gigantic Deccan Traps lava beds in India.

Thus, the beat goes on with these types of stories by evolutionists perpetuating the notion of the origin of dinosaurs by chance over millions of years. I and other creation scientists believe the real story is that God created by omnipotent power and design these fascinating creatures only several thousand years ago according to the Genesis account in the Bible during the creation week. Unfortunately, our public school system and the media have convinced many adults and children that dinosaurs were extinct at least 60 million years before man appeared on earth. They have done such a thorough, though deceiving, job in this area that we can not imagine people and dinosaurs living at the same time.

The fact is that dinosaurs were created no more than one day before mankind, not millions of years earlier. 2  According to the creation account in Genesis, the sea creatures, including leviathan mentioned in Job 41 and considered a dinosaur, were created on the fifth day, and the land creatures, including the beasts of the earth or wild animals like behemoth and also considered a dinosaur mentioned in Job 40, were created on the sixth day, which was the same day man was created. There is a lot of quality scientific information available regarding dinosaurs in the Bible some of which will be addressed below.

Dr. Duane Gish points out that scientists, by and large, simply do not know why dinosaurs died out. Why did dinosaurs die out, along with flying reptiles, marine reptiles, and many other creatures that used to populate the earth? How could they be so numerous, and thus so successful and in such variety—meat-eaters, plant-eaters, little, big, ordinary, bizarre, slow, fast—and yet become utterly extinct? Scientists have puzzled over this question since dinosaur fossils were discovered, and many ideas have been suggested. Perhaps a peculiar disease wiped them out. Some evolutionists speculate the newly evolved mammals ate all the dinosaur eggs.  One of the latest ideas, as stated above, is that an asteroid struck the earth and threw billions of tons of dust and debris into the air. The dust was supposedly so thick that it blacked out the sun for several years and caused most of the plants on the earth to die. Therefore, most of the plant-eating dinosaurs died and left little for the meat-eating dinosaurs to eat. 3

There are things wrong with all of the above assumptions. For example, if an asteroid collision caused the dinosaurs to die, why didn’t alligators, turtles, snakes, and all other reptiles die? If tough dinosaurs died out (large and small), why didn’t thin-skinned mammals become extinct? How could a great variety of birds survive? The evolutionary scientists basicly conjecture or guess using the naturalistic evolutionary theory.

Dr. Duane Gish, along with other creation scientists, believes that by combining facts of science with the facts we find in the Bible, we can make a reasonable assumption about what happened to the dinosaurs and other animals. The Bible tells us in Genesis 6-8 about a great worldwide flood, the Flood of Noah, that covered the entire earth and destroyed every land-dwelling, air-breathing creature on the earth except those on the Ark.  This would include the dinosaurs. (Since space is limited here, you may wish to read details of how the Ark accommodated all the “kinds” of creatures, including dinosaurs, by reading my article about Noah’s Ark.) 4  To get a before and after picture of the worldwide flood, it will be worthwhile for you to read Genesis 7:20-23 and 8:15-19. This worldwide catastrophic event, brought about as a judgment for man’s rebellion and sin, explains why there would be billions of fossils of plants and animals all over the world. Fossils of dinosaurs would be included. The fossils of dinosaurs that we find today were likely formed at the time of the worldwide flood by their bodies being covered over quickly by mud flows and sediments. The worldwide flood of the Bible explains that the dinosaurs and other animals were killed except for those on the Ark. The preservation of life by Noah’s Ark also explains why there would still be representative kinds of dinosaurs and other animals and mankind after the flood. We also have legends and stories of the dinosaurs from cultures around the world that indicate that these animals lived before and after the flood. The climate and environment, however, believed to be influenced by the worldwide flood would be much more difficult for survival, and some would repopulate for a while but become extinct later. (For further understanding of climate change after the Flood, you may also like to read my articles about the Genesis flood as the cause of a great ice age. 5 ,6 )

Much geological evidence indicates that the earth had a worldwide mild climate at one time. Fossils of palm trees and ferns are found on Greenland, so although it is now covered all year with ice and snow, at one time Greenland had a climate similar to the Caribbean. The fossil graveyard of duck-billed dinosaurs, found recently on the north shore of Alaska, is evidence that this part of the world enjoyed a much milder climate when it was home to these animals. Other fossils of animals that now live in the tropics have been found above the Artic Circle. Evolutionary geologists do not know what could have caused the tremendous changes in the climate of the earth. This is because they cannot (or will not) believe what the Bible says about the worldwide Flood. If they did, they would have to believe what it says about creation. Dinosaurs were some of the “beasts of the earth” mentioned in Genesis 1:24, 25, created on the sixth day. Dinosaur fossils give eloquent testimony to the fact of creation. The fossil record of the dinosaur shows clearly that every one of the different kinds of dinosaurs appears fully formed, with no evidence that it evolved from an earlier form over 150 million years. According to evolutionary theory, there should be thousands of intermediate forms, which there are not. 7

The name “dinosaur”

To continue to understand the real story about dinosaurs, let us back up some to see when dinosaur fossils were recognized and how they got the name “dinosaur”. Also, let us examine what were the Bible names for dinosaurs and what it says about them that would help us to understand that the dinosaurs were a part of the creation week. 

In 1822, Dr. Gideon Mantell, an English doctor, and his wife Mary shared an interest in collecting fossils. Mary found a large fossil tooth, and later Dr. Mantell found large fossil bones in the area around the tooth that he thought belonged to an animal new to science. Dr. Mantell later named the animal after the iguana lizard, Iguanadon. He realized that he had found the remains of an amazing new kind of animal, a giant plant-eating, reptile-like animal. About this same time some fossil bones and teeth of a huge meat-eating, reptile-like animal were discovered. The creature was given the name Megalosaurus, i.e., “giant lizard”. This ushered in an exciting discovery effort to find more fossils of these fascinating creatures.

In 1841, Sir Richard Owen, one of England’s greatest anatomical researchers and one of Charles Darwin’s strongest opponents, closely studied the bones of Megalosaurus and Iguanodon and came to the conclusion that these were not like the bones of any animal living today. He felt they should be regarded as a new order of animal. He gave them the name “dinosaur”, which means terrible lizard (deino=terrible; sauros=lizard). 8  Dr. Gish, however, believes that the dinosaurs are described in the Bible with one of them called behemoth—more on this later—with specific reference to Job 40:15-24. Gish points out that dinosaurs, as were all other animals (except for those that lived in the sea and the birds that flew in the air), were created on the sixth day of creation, the same day man was created, Gen. 1: 24-31. (Note: “Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee…” Job 40:15). Although dinosaurs and man were created to inhabit the earth at the same time, dinosaurs became extinct after the worldwide flood of Noah. It wasn’t until the fossil remains of these huge creatures began to be discovered in great numbers that modern man acknowledged their true existence. 9

What the Bible has to say about dinosaurs

Now to help us further with the real story, let us see more of what the Bible has to say about the dinosaurs using their Biblical names. The following section is taken from Clarifying Christianity2

The Bible refers to many of the common animals we know today. The list includes lions, wolves, bears, sheep, cattle and dogs along with various kinds of birds, rodents, reptiles, and insects. What is interesting is that this extensive list includes three animals that we no longer recognize. These three are (in the original Hebrew language) tanniyn, b@hemowth (yes, it’s spelled correctly—at least as close as we can get in Roman characters ), and livyathan. 10

Although we alter the spelling of behemoth and leviathan slightly from the Hebrew translation, we still use those same words in bibles today. However, tanniyn is always translated into another word when we write it in English. Tanniyn occurs 28 times in the Bible and is normally translated “dragon.” It is also translated “serpent,” “sea monster,” “dinosaur,” “great creature,” and “reptile.” Behemoth and Leviathan are relatively specific creatures, perhaps each was a single kind of animal. Tanniyn is a more general term, and it can be thought of as the original version of the word “dinosaur.” The word “dinosaur” was originally coined in 1841, more than three thousand years after the Bible first referred to “Tanniyn.” To make things clearer, we constructed the following table comparing the scientific names with the Biblical names tanniyn, behemoth, and Leviathan.

Reading the Bible carefully, you will realize that no living creature matches the descriptions of behemoth and leviathan. However, if you grab your child’s dinosaur book, you will notice several possible matches for each one. Let’s examine those.

Behemoth has the following attributes according to Job 40:15-24:

  • It “eats grass like an ox.”
  • It “moves his tail like a cedar.” (In Hebrew, this literally reads, “he lets hang his tail like a cedar.”)
  • Its “bones are like beams of bronze, His ribs like bars of iron.”
  • “He is the first of the ways of God.”
  • “He lies under the lotus trees, In a covert of reeds and marsh.”

Some bibles and study bibles will translate the word “behemoth” as “elephant” or “hippopotamus.” Others will insert a note stating that behemoth was probably an elephant or a hippopotamus. Although an elephant or hippopotamus can eat grass (or lie in a covert of reeds and marsh), neither an elephant nor a hippopotamus has a “tail like a cedar” (that is, a tail like a large, tapered tree trunk). In your child’s dinosaur book you will find lots of animals that have “tails like a cedar.”

We would expect behemoth to be a large land animal whose bones are like beams of bronze and so forth, so whatever a behemoth is, it is large. A key phrase is “He is the first of the ways of God.” This phrase in the original Hebrew implied that behemoth was the biggest animal created. Although an elephant or a hippopotamus are big, they are less than one-tenth the size of a Brachiosaurus, the largest (complete) dinosaur ever discovered. (From: U.S. Geological Survey: What was the biggest dinosaur? What was the smallest?) A brachiosaurus could therefore easily be described as “the first of the ways of God.”

Comparing all this information to the description in your child’s dinosaur book, you may come to the conclusion that “behemoth” is not an animal we could see today, it is a dinosaur—the brachiosaurus. We agree with that conclusion.

Leviathan has the following attributes according to Job 41, Psalm 104:25, 26 and Isaiah 27:1. This is only a partial listing—just enough to make the point.

  • “No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him up.”
  • “Who can open the doors of his face, with his terrible teeth all around?”
  • “His rows of scales are his pride, shut up tightly as with a seal; one is so near another that no air can come between them; they are joined one to another, they stick together and cannot be parted.”
  • “His sneezings flash forth light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning lights; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke goes out of his nostrils, as from a boiling pot and burning rushes. His breath kindles coals, and a flame goes out of his mouth.”
  • “Though the sword reaches him, it cannot avail; nor does spear, dart, or javelin. He regards iron as straw, and bronze as rotten wood. The arrow cannot make him flee; slingstones become like stubble to him. Darts are regarded as straw; he laughs at the threat of javelins.”
  • “On earth there is nothing like him, which is made without fear.”
  • Leviathan “played” in the “great and wide sea” (a paraphrase of Psalm 104 verses 25 and 26—get the exact sense by reading them yourself).
  • Leviathan is a “reptile [a] that is in the sea.” (Isaiah 27:1) “reptile” here is the Hebrew word tanniyn (dragon). [a] Note: The word translated “reptile” here is the Hebrew word tanniyn. This shows that “Leviathan” was also a “tanniyn” (dragon).

Unlike behemoth, who is huge, leviathan is ferocious and terrifying. Many references (we have not listed them all) refer to the sea, so leviathan is probably a sea creature. Although some bibles refer to leviathan as an alligator or crocodile (and both of these are fierce), neither of these is a sea creature. They like the water, but they spend much of their time on land.

It is hard to read Job 41:18-21 without realizing the Bible is telling us that leviathan breathes fire. That alone will eliminate almost every living animal. Yes, there is one known animal like that in today’s world. It is called the bombardier beetle.

…By the way, crocodiles and alligators are out of the picture on this one, don’t you agree?

  • The history of every culture is filled with stories of fire-breathing dragons. If you think of it, in all the past ages wouldn’t someone have made up a story of a fire-breathing lion or something? Nobody did because the dragon stories are based on truth, and only “dragons” breathed fire. It is easy to imagine leviathan as a member of the dragon (tanniyn) family. (Plus, Isaiah 27:1 strongly implies this connection.)
  • Many fossil dinosaur skulls contain unexplained, empty passages. Would it make sense that some dinosaurs used these passages as “gas tanks” for the combustible mixture used to “breathe fire?”

Comparing all this information to the description in your child’s dinosaur book, you may come up with the conclusion that leviathan is a kronosaurus. We have heard (and read) other suggestions, but the kronosaurus is the best match of any known creature to the description of Leviathan.”

Dr. Henry Morris’ comment on Isaiah 27:1 has relevance to the real story of dinosaurs.

“Leviathan” is here also called “the dragon.” The references to “leviathan” in Psalm 74:13,14; Psalm 104:26; and Job 41:1-34 make it clear that this was a real animal, probably a fearsome marine reptile, like a dinosaur. This passage, as well as Psalm 74:13,14 shows that the many references to “dragons” in the Bible (Hebrew tannin) must refer to great monsters, now extinct, such as dinosaurs. Only the false idea of the supposed evolutionary ages of geology says that dinosaurs became extinct seventy million years before man evolved. 11

Quoting Wayne Jackson in the Christian Courier: 12

Logical Considerations: If one accepts the plain testimony of the Bible, with no compulsion to harmonize Scripture with evolutionary assertions, there is no doubt that dinosaurs and humans were contemporary, as the following considerations indicate: All of the basic “kinds” of living creatures were brought into existence in the same initial creation week. Moses wrote: “In six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is.” (Exodus 20:11) This would include the dinosaurs (“terrible lizards”) and man as well. Jesus affirmed that mankind has existed “from the beginning of the creation” (Mark 10:6); this certainly excludes the notion that dinosaurs became extinct millions of years before man appeared upon the planet. Humanity was given dominion over all the lower creatures of the earth. (Genesis 1:26) There is no reason to exclude dinosaurs from the scope of this passage.

Modern Evidence: There is a growing body of evidence that dinosaurs and humans were contemporary. In 1970 newspapers reported the discovery of cave paintings in Zimbabwe. The paintings were made by bushmen who ruled that area from about 1500 B.C., until a couple of hundred years ago. Along with accurate representations of the elephant and the giraffe, is a painting of an Apatosaurus (brontosaurus). These art works have greatly puzzled scientists since bushmen are known to have painted from real life!

About seventy years ago, Dr. Samuel Hubbard, curator of archaeology in the Oakland (California) Museum, discovered dinosaur carvings on the cliff walls of the Hava Supai Canyon in Arizona. One remarkable carving resembles a Tyrannosaurus. Nearby, dinosaur tracks were preserved in the rock surface. (For a picture of this carving, see our book, The Mythology of Modern Geology 1990, 31.)

A couple other findings that show that dinosaurs are not millions of years old are: “Fresh,” unfossilized bones of dinosaurs were found in 1990 by scientists from Montana, containing what seemed to be blood cells. Mary Schweitzer, a paleontologist, found soft, fresh-looking tissue inside a T. rex femur. 13 ,14     

Quoting Barry Yeoman in Discover: Science, Technology, and the Future: 14

When this shy paleontologist found soft, fresh-looking tissue inside a T. rex femur, she erased a line between past and present. Then all hell broke loose.

“Fresh” frozen dinosaur bones were found in Alaska. Even evolutionists would not argue that this deposit of bones had stayed frozen for the many millions of years since these dinosaurs supposedly died out. 15

Over the past several hundred to thousand years, there have been many other stories and reported sightings of large creatures we would now call dinosaurs but on which space limitations will not allow to comment in this article.

From Clarifying Christianity: 10

The Accuracy of the Bible

Some people believe that the Bible is not a scientifically accurate book, and that it is only a ‘spiritual book’ that forgot about dinosaurs or described them incorrectly. This is not the case. Nobody has ever proven that the Bible contains any inaccurately recorded information…

You do not have to believe the Bible just because someone says you are supposed to. That is blind faith, and blind faith is something you do not need with Christianity. The Bible and Christianity have been proven to be true… There is no other religion or ‘holy writing’ that can honestly make the same claim.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God (II Tim. 3:16). We can be confident in what it says to us that it is true. It is the real story just as it has the real story about the creatures we now call dinosaurs. I hope and pray that this examination of information to determine what is the real story about dinosaurs has reinforced your faith in God, our Creator, and Jesus Christ our Savior or brought faith if you have none.