Were there Dinosaurs in the Bible?
Creationist Claim: The "dragons" in the Bible; Leviathan and Behemoth, actually fit the description of Dinosaurs!
All too common a claim made by creationists. Jeff Dykes (2000) states that:
"Chapter 40 speaks of 'behemoth', who 'ranks first among the works of God' (v.19 - probably due to its size). It had a tail like a cedar (v.17), it lived in the marsh (v.21), and even a raging river would not alarm it (v.23). It was said to be too large to either trap or capture (v.24). Scholars have speculated that this could have been something like a Brachiosaurus or "Ultrasaurus", which grew to up to 60 feet tall."
The large sauropods (such as Brachiosaurus, Ultrasaurus, Seismosaurus, or Diplodicus) probably didn't live in marshes, but on the edge of forests where they could feed on pine cones, branches from pine trees, and occasionally rough grasses. Though, they may have spent much of their time near large bodies of water, it is unlikely they spent any amount of time submerged down in muddy water as some of the earlier scholars of the twentieth century postulated.
The most logical assesment of these verses is that they are discribing a large crocodile. Crocodiles were very common to that part of the world, and the largest on record was 27 ft; a crocodile between 25 and 30 ft long would certainly fit this description.
And as a side note, Brachiosaurus and Ultrasaurus are two completely different genera -- contrary to what is implied by the statement "Brachiosaurus or 'Ultrasaurus'," which gives the impression that "Ultrasaurus" is the Brachiosaur's nickname.
"Chapter 41 in Job speaks of an even more curious creature called "leviathan". It also lived at the water, possibly to support its great bulk. Its hide couldn't be pierced by harpoons or spears, since it had armor plating (vv.15-16). It had fearsome teeth (v.14), and the mere sight of it was overpowering (v.9). And most significantly, this animal breathed fire! "His breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from his mouth" (v.21). It seems unlikely that the tales of fire-breathing dragons in ancient times could come into existence without a strong factual basis. Dinosaur fossils have been excavated that show a strange protuberance with an internal cavity at the head. It is conceivable that this could have served as a sort of mixing chamber for combustible gasses, which could ignite when exhaled into the outside oxygen."
The problem here is that there is absolutely no evidence that dinosaurs breathed fire. "Strange protuberance with an internal cavity at the head" could refer to a number of dinosaurs:
[Image from http://www.nmmnh-abq.mus.nm.us/nmmnh/parasaur.html]
Parasaurolophus walkeri (top)
Parasaurolophus tubican (middle)
Parasaurolophus crytocristatus (bottom)
Images from http://www.nmmnh-abq.mus.nm.us/nmmnh/parasaur.html
"The parasaurolophus had a bony tubular crest that extended back toward its body from the top of its head. Scientists had believed the crest may have contained a maze of air passages that could have been used to produce sounds. [...] The skull, found near Farmington, confirmed their beliefs. It lacked only a segment below the eyes, making it the second-most complete parasaurolophus skull found to date. Common sense and imagination helped scientists create the missing beak and nostrils, and also soft tissues of the head and throat that were not fossilized. [...] The skull was taken to a hospital in Albuquerque, where it underwent a series of about 350 CT scans at 3-millimeter intervals. The results were used to create a three-dimensional computer model. [...] The size and shape of the skull, and of the air passages inside the crest, helped the researchers approximate what kind of tones may have been emitted from the bony structure. [...] Scientists are not sure whether the parasaurolophus had vocal cords, so, using the supercomputer, they simulated sounds the dinosaur may have produced both with and without vocal cords."
[Rick Lockridge / CNN 1997]
So the animals' crest was actually a sounding chamber. The only other theories which were ever accepted in scientific circles state that:
The crest was used as a "snorkel" while the creature was underwater. Though, there is no opening at the posterior end of the crest, meaning that it could have in no way served as such a device. The crest was used for display purposes, which might still be true (along with being a sounding chamber).
Brachiosaurus had a large nasal passage at the top of its head, which was also once thought to be used as a "snorkel". Scientists of the time thought of dinosaurs a slow-witted, swamp-dwelling reptiles. It was supposed that it had to live in the water to support its weight and hide from predators, with just the top of its head sticking out of the water for air.
Today's scientists have a much different idea of how the creature lived - on land, in the forests, defending itself against predators by rearing up on its hind legs and then crushing its attacker by letting its massive bulk fall on top of it, front limbs first. The large nasal passage at the top of its head was probably used as a sounding chamber to emit mating calls. In any event, Brachiosaurus' "strange protuberance with an internal cavity at the head" was not used for breathing fire. [Image from http://rainbow.ldeo.columbia.edu/courses/v1001/brachiosaurus.gif]>
This creature is probably one of the most "dragon-like" of all the dinosaurs. It was roughly twenty three feet in length, making it over twice the length of Tyrannosaurus. While alive, it truly must have looked like a two-legged dragon. Unfortunately for the creationists, the two "strange protuberances", or crests, did not have any cavities to speak of -- let alone cavities which could be used as "mixing chambers" for combustible gasses.
CNN - After 75 million years, dinosaur 'speaks' [Online] Rick Lockridge / CNN (1997). Available:
[2000, September 23]
Dinosaurs and the Bible [Online] J. Dykes (2000). Available: http://www.faithalone.com/dinosaurs.htm
[2000, September 23]
Parasaurolophus, A Strange Duckbill Dinosaur From New Mexico [Online] T. Williamson (1999) available:
[2000, September 23]