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 DNA fragments 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 could 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:
They did not look at the data and they never spoke with the researchers. They did not like the test results, so they censored them.
Carbon-14 is considered to be a highly 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, depending on the type of equipment. 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.
Clearly something is wrong with the conventional wisdom about dinosaur bones, but it has been hard to reach the public with the information. Despite being simple test results without any interpretation, they were not allowed to be presented in conference proceedings by the 2009 North American Paleontological Convention, the American Geophysical Union in 2011 and 2012, the Geological Society of America in 2011 and 2012, and by the editors of various scientific journals. On one occasion, they were allowed to display a poster. The information was finally published in an online journal on January 3, 2020, presenting the Carbon-14 data from dinosaur bones alongside similar data from other material in the geologic column.
Watch a video of what happens when you try to get members of the academic community involved.
Dinosaur soft tissue
Many dinosaur bones are not petrified. Dr. Mary Schweitzer, paleobiology researcher and professor of biological 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 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. -- Schweitzer, Mary H. et al. 01 May 2009. Biomolecular Characterization and Protein Sequences of the Campanian Hadrosaur B. canadensis. Science, Vol. 324, No. 5927, pp. 626-631 DOI:10.1126/science.1165069
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. -- Lindgren et al., 2011. Microspectroscopic Evidence of Cretaceous Bone Proteins. PLoS ONE, Vol. 6, No. 4, 11 pages, e19445, DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0019445
A remarkable find was published in the journal Nature in April 2013: "we report the discovery of a monotaxic embryonic dinosaur bone bed in Lower Jurassic [190-197 million year old] 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.
The discovery of original organics in an ichthyosaur supposedly 180 million years old (Early Jurassic) leaves no doubt about the preservation of soft tissue and biomolecules.
Researchers from North Carolina State University and Sweden's Lund University reported their findings in 2018: "Our analyses recovered still-flexible remnants of the original scaleless skin, which comprises morphologically distinct epidermal and dermal layers. These are underlain by insulating blubber that would have augmented streamlining, buoyancy and homeothermy. Additionally, we identify endogenous proteinaceous and lipid constituents, together with keratinocytes and branched melanophores that contain eumelanin pigment." -- Lindgren, Johan et al. 2018. Soft-tissue evidence for homeothermy and crypsis in a Jurassic ichthyosaur. Nature, Vol. 564, pp. 359–365 DOI:10.1038/s41586-018-0775-x
Microscopist Mark Armitage found sheets of soft tissue with bone cells (osteocytes) in a triceratops horn. This scanning electron microscope image from a paper published in Acto Histochemica in 2013 (Volume 115, Issue 6, July 2013, pages 603-608) shows "four osteocytes lying on fibrillar bone matrix." "Tiny white filipodial processes from cells beneath the layer can be seen extruding".
Schweitzer wondered why such materials are preserved when all the models say they should be degraded. She coauthored a paper published in 2014 proposing that there is a role for iron in preserving proteins in fossil tissues. However, iron is not always present in dinosaur soft tissue. Jasmina Wiemann coauthored a paper published in 2018 proposing a different solution to the problem: polymerization of proteins in oxidative settings. A 2019 report in Science magazine explained more about these findings, showing that although the protein structure in selected dinosaur bones was changed, their organic material is apparently original. Yet the associated brown and black bones and residues constitute only a portion of the preserved organics in dinosaur bones, as described by Brian Thomas.
However it is preserved, if the original organic material in dinosaur bones is less than 55,000 years old it could reasonably be expected to contain measurable Carbon-14, and so it does. For years, until their access was blocked, the Paleochronology group had AMS laboratories conduct Carbon-14 tests on dinosaur bones. The tests yielded dates in the range of 22,000 to 39,000 years before present.
Dinosaur DNA fragments
the March 2020 news release
"The team included Mary Schweitzer, professor of biology at NC State with a joint appointment at the North Carolina Museum of Sciences, as well as other researchers from Canada and the U.S."
"Alida Bailleul, a paleontologist from the Chinese Academy of Sciences... noticed structures within certain tissues that were consistent with chondrocytes, or cartilage cells, and within these were internal structures resembling nuclei and chromosomes."
"The cartilaginous tissues and chondrocytes from the dinosaur skull reacted with antibodies to collagen II, but the surrounding bone did not react with collagen II antibodies. This is significant because collagen II is found only in cartilage, while collagen I dominates in bone."
Schweitzer noted that "bacteria cannot produce collagen, which rules out contamination as the source of the molecules."
"The researchers also tested the microstructures for the presence of chemical markers consistent with DNA using two complementary histochemical stains that bind to DNA fragments within cells. These chemical markers reacted with isolated cartilaginous cells, supporting the idea that some fragmentary DNA may remain within the cells."
"We used two different kinds of intercalating stains, one of which will only attach to DNA fragments in dead cells, and the other which binds to any DNA,” Schweitzer explains. “The stains show point-reactivity, meaning they are binding to specific molecules within the microstructure and not smeared across the entire 'cell' as would be expected if they arose from bacterial contamination."
-- Peake, Tracey. March 2, 2020. Original Cartilage and Evidence of DNA Preserved in 75 Million-Year-Old Baby Dinosaur. North Carolina State University news release. https://news.ncsu.edu/2020/03/duckbill-dna/
the published paper
"Several limb and skull elements of these nestlings were subjected to microscopic analyses." They found a place where "cartilage could be distinguished from bone". "Other juvenile hadrosaur material from the Two Medicine formation showed exquisite preservation of cartilage."
The "study specimen had not been previously embedded in resin."
"Hypacrosaurus calcified cartilage shows positive, localized staining when exposed to antibodies raised against avian collagen II". "As an additional specificity control, fossilized cartilage was exposed to antibodies raised against avian collagen I, the dominant protein in bone. Because extant primary cartilage does not usually express collagen I, no binding was expected, and none was observed in ...Hypacrosaurus".
"The most parsimonious explanation for these results is that epitopes [antibody binding sites] of collagen II are preserved in this 75 million year-old dinosaur. Collagen II is not produced by microbes; positing a microbial source is not parsimonious or congruent with the data."
"Although osteocytes [bone cells] have previously been isolated from dinosaur bone, here, we show the first isolated dinosaur chondrocytes [cartilage cells]." "[W]e tested these microstructures for the presence of chemical markers consistent with DNA using two complementary histochemical stains, propidium iodide (PI) and 4',6'-diamidino-2- phenylindole dihydrochloride (DAPI)."
"PI does not stain DNA in a living cell, but only in dead cells. Therefore, positive PI staining cannot arise from contamination with living (i.e., microbial) cells. DAPI binds preferentially to double-stranded DNA in both living and dead cells. It is sequence dependent requiring at least three successive AT [Adenine-Thymine] base pairs as a binding site."
"Specific staining of both PI and DAPI is observed inside the isolated cartilage cells of Hypacrosaurus, following the pattern seen in extant cells, but diminished in the ancient ones. This not only supports that the compound within these cells is chemically consistent with DNA, but that material is double stranded, and of a minimum length of 6 base pairs."
"[T]he combined data at the histological, cellular and molecular levels robustly support the hypothesis that the cartilage of Hypacrosaurus has remnants of original chondrocytes, original nuclear material, and endogenous compounds chemically consistent with DNA."
"An alternative hypothesis, that the staining arises from microbial contaminant, is not supported; there is no mechanism for exogenous DNA to penetrate an intact membrane and localize to a single point specifically inside the cell, demonstrating no reactivity in any other region."
"Although it has been suggested that similar, cell-like structures recovered in dinosaur bones could be the result of biofilm infiltration, the pattern of reactivity observed when biofilm was exposed to DAPI and PI staining during a previous study is inconsistent with the one observed here."
"The assumption of a temporal limit on molecular longevity has hindered the pursuit of molecular data from fossils older than ~1 million years".
"The identification of chemical markers of DNA in Hypacrosaurus suggest it may preserve much longer than originally proposed. Even though it is clear that contamination does exist in fossil material and complicates identifications of original organic molecules, it can be accounted for with proper controls. Contamination is not a plausible explanation in this case".
-- Bailleul, Alida M., Wenxia Zheng, John R. Horner, Brian K. Hall, Casey M. Holliday, Mary H. Schweitzer. Advance access publication, 12 January 2020. Evidence of proteins, chromosomes and chemical markers of DNA in exceptionally preserved dinosaur cartilage. National Science Review, 8 pages. DOI:10.1093/nsr/nwz206
Michael J. Benton, Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Bristol wrote an opinion piece on the discovery. He believes the DNA is from bacteria, ignoring the staining test that refutes a bacterial source by binding to DNA fragments in isolated cartilage cells, but he did say something useful: "Those studying what they believe to be ancient DNA are now careful to decontaminate their samples and work in antiseptic conditions. But we now also know that DNA molecules break down very easily and will typically survive only a few years. Hundred-year-old samples of DNA from museum specimens are massively fragmented and the breakdown of their molecular structure continues rapidly. ...DNA from fossils maybe 50,000 years old can be reconstructed from millions of short fragments. The oldest such samples are 700,000 years old - a long way from the 66 million year of the last dinosaurs."
A 2012 study supports that conclusion, showing that, even under ideal conditions, all mitochondrial DNA bonds would be broken by 6.83 million years; and "we show that nuclear DNA has degraded at least twice as fast as mtDNA. These results provide a baseline for predicting long-term DNA survival in bone." Here is their Table 1: (a base pair, bp, is two nucleobases bound to each other)
From: Allentoft, Morten E., et al. 10 October 2012. The half-life of DNA in bone: measuring decay kinetics in 158 dated fossils. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Vol. 279, No. 1748. DOI:10.1098/rspb.2012.1745
Looking at the table, we immediately go to the 6.83 million year line. But that is only if the preservation temperature is minus 5 degrees Celsius. The current global surface temperature is around 14.5 degrees Celsius. The chart below shows that, in the geologic time scale since the end of the Cretaceous, the global surface temperature was 25 degrees Celsius or higher for many millions of years. That's a different line on the table.
the published paper:
This "is a well-preserved, complete and partially articulated specimen of Caudipteryx. In [this specimen], we report another example of exquisitely preserved dinosaur cartilage cells, with one cell showing a nucleus with intracellular chromatin threads that have retained some of their original chemistry."
"In living organisms (Eukaryotes and Archaea), chromosomes represent the highest level of condensation of chromatin, which is composed of condensed DNA molecules coiled around histone proteins."
"We used an array of microscopy methods that complement each other, including ground-sections [thin slicing], scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), histochemical staining, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The histochemical stain Hematoxylin and Eosin (that stains the nucleus and cytoplasm in extant cells) was applied. The common histochemical [tissue chemistry] stain Hematoxylin and Eosin (H&E) [is] used worldwide in biology laboratories. Hematoxylin reveals nuclei and nucleic acids in blue/purple and Eosin stains proteins of the cytoplasm and of the extracellular matrix."
"One dinosaur chondrocyte revealed a nucleus with fossilized threads of chromatin. The most logical conclusion is that the H&E staining is binding to endogenous structures and that this Caudipteryx cell preserves an original dinosaur nucleus. It sits within the cell cytoplasm, is delimited by a nuclear membrane and further contains darker stained material showing the morphological characteristics of condensed chromatin threads."
"Due to the fragility of nucleic acids, nuclei are thought to degrade extremely rapidly after death (sometimes within hours postmortem), leaving almost no chance for these structures to enter the fossil record. However, the paleontological literature is full of histological reports of fossil tissues with exquisitely preserved nuclei and even sub-nuclear structures like nucleoli or chromosomes in multiple stages of cell division. These examples are numerous and include nuclei from permafrost-preserved Cenozoic mammals, Mesozoic dinosaurs, various Cenozoic, Mesozoic, and Paleozoic plants, and even embryo-like fossil cell clusters that are more than 600 Million years old. All of this published, abundant evidence shows that recent claims that histochemistry is inappropriate for fossil tissues are completely invalid and unsupported."
"Since the chromatin threads that we report here in Caudipteryx were identified specifically in a non-ironized cell, this suggests iron may not always play a role in cellular nor nuclear preservation."
"Articular cartilage is shielded from external contaminating microbes by the surrounding tissues of the joint capsule and by subchondral bone. It also lacks vascularization and innervation, which offers protection against microbial invasions and the alteration of organic components. Moreover, cartilage has a low cell density and its cells have an anaerobic metabolism. These characteristics apparently play a role in delaying the autolytic processes (i.e., the autodestruction of cells by their lytic enzymes) that should otherwise start almost immediately after death."
"Even though hematoxylin binds to DNA in extant cells, H&E alone cannot be considered a powerful enough stain to suggest that ancient DNA is preserved in this fossilized material (for this, more specific DNA stains like the Feulgen stain, or DNA fluorescent dyes like Propidium Iodide or DAPI would be preferred). The H&E staining observed here does however show that differences in chemistries between the chondrocyte cytoplasm and the nucleus were preserved for millions of years, still retaining the ability to properly interact with standard histochemical stains. It also shows that some of the original nuclear biochemistry is preserved in this dinosaur cartilage material."
"In the present study, histochemistry has helped discover structures that were unobservable in the thicker ground-sections [slices]. Proposing a contamination of this dinosaur cell by a chromatin mimicking structure or by a chromatin shaped organism is not scientifically sound."
-- Zheng, Xiaoting, Alida M. Bailleul, Zhiheng Li, Xiaoli Wang, Zhonghe Zhou. 24 September 2021. Nuclear preservation in the cartilage of the Jehol dinosaur Caudipteryx. Nature Communications Biology, Vol. 4, No. 1125, pp. 1-9. DOI:10.1038/s42003-021-02627-8
The preservation of dinosaur soft tissue and DNA fragments points to dinosaur bones being tens of thousands, not tens of millions, years old, contradicting the geologic time scale. So do the Carbon-14 tests:
The Data: Carbon-14 in dinosaur bones (download more details)
(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.
UGAMS-9891,9893 UGAMS-8824 UGAMS-7509a/b
Others should attempt to replicate these results, as two researchers did in 2015:
Data from page 301 of: Thomas, Brian, Vance Nelson. Spring 2015. Radiocarbon in Dinosaur and Other Fossils. Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 4, pp. 299-311
A similar result (24,600 years BP) was obtained for a Mosasaur in 2011. Lindgren J, Uvdal P, Engdahl A, Lee A H, Alwmark C, Bergquist K E, Nilsson E, Ekström P, Rasmussen M, Douglas D A, Polcyn M J, Jacobs L L (2011). Microspectroscopic Evidence of Cretaceous Bone Proteins. PLoS ONE 6(4): e19445 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0019445
2012 AOGS conference
On the conference website, the abstract was removed from position number 5.
Banned by the Center for Applied Isotope Studies
From 2007 through 2011 the Paleochronology group had 11 dinosaur bone samples carbon dated by the Center for Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia, and for good reason. Senior research scientist Alexander Cherkinsky specializes in the preparation of samples for Carbon-14 testing. He directed the pretreatment and processing of the dinosaur bone samples with the Accelerator Mass Spectrometer, though he did not know the bones were from dinosaurs, and he signed the reports. Carbon dating at this facility is certainly the very best.
But in 2014, someone told the director of the facility, Jeff Speakman, that the Paleochronology group was showing the Carbon-14 reports on a website and YouTube and drawing the obvious conclusions. So when he received another bone sample from the Paleochronology group, he returned it to sender and sent an email saying: "I have recently become aware of the work that you and your team have been conducting with respect to radiocarbon dating of bone. The scientists at CAIS and I are dismayed by the claims that you and your team have made with respect to the age of the Earth and the validity of biological evolution. Consequently, we are no longer able to provide radiocarbon services in support of your anti-scientific agenda. I have instructed the Radiocarbon Laboratory to return your recent samples to you and to not accept any future samples for analysis."
Notice that he did not say the radiocarbon reports of the dinosaur bone samples were inaccurate. No, his objection was that the Paleochronology group was using the reports as evidence that dinosaurs lived thousands, not millions, of years ago. So I asked him 3 times over 3 weeks what is the right conclusion to draw from the test results they provided us; then I asked his entire scientific staff. None of them had an answer.
This is an attitude we have encountered among members of academia: there is an established truth, and all evidence contrary to it is rejected. Anyone who challenges the established truth is made an enemy.
The threat hangs over everyone. A manager of a commercial laboratory that does Carbon-14 dating, Beta Analytic Inc., reviewed a poster display of the dinosaur data and discussed it with a member of the Paleochronology group. Her interest led us to propose that her company perform a Carbon-14 test on a T-rex bone we acquired. She wrote back:
Mark Armitage and the triceratops horn
Mark Armitage served as the Manager for the Electron and Confocal Microscopy Suite in the Biology Department at California State University Northridge from January 2010 to February 2013. Mark was suddenly terminated by the Biology Department when his discovery of soft tissues in a Triceratops horn was published in Acta Histochemica. The university claimed his appointment had been temporary and that they lacked funding for the position. This was news to him, and contradicted prior statements and documents from the university. He sought relief with a legal action for wrongful termination and religious discrimination by California State University Northridge (CSUN).
Mark Armitage has a MS degree in biology and has been a microscope scientist (microscopist) for 30 years. He was the president of the Southern California Society for Microscopy for several years. He has some 30 publications to his credit. Mark's micrographs have appeared on the covers of eleven scientific journals, and he has many technical publications on microscopic phenomena in such journals as American Laboratory, Southern California Academy of Sciences Bulletin, Parasitology Research, Microscopy and Microanalysis, Microscopy Today and Acta Histochemica, among others. His career in teaching at educational institutions includes Master's College Azusa Pacific University and California State University Northridge.
According to papers filed with the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, when Mark Armitage interviewed for an opening at CSUN for a "regular" "part-time" microscopist in 2009 he told the panel that he had published materials supportive of creationism. William Krohmer, Manager of Technical Services and Safety, who would be Armitage's direct supervisor, was on the panel. The panel hired Armitage despite his creationist writings because of his exceptional qualifications. The position was Electron Microscopy Technician in the Department of Biology, working two ten-hour days per week. He was "permanent part-time" and was allowed to enroll in the full benefits package of the university.
He ran the Microscopy Imaging Facility with its three electron microscopes, personally training students and faculty on their proper use. He was often praised for his work and accomplishments. The Biology Department bought a new confocal microscope that used high-powered lasers for imaging and was computer-driven. Armitage supervised the installation of the new microscope. He was assigned to be the only instructor on it, with responsibility for control and supervision of the instrument.
In February 2012, he was asked to teach a full graduate course in Biological Imaging for the Biology Department. In March 2012, Dr. Steven B. Oppenheimer sent an email to staff saying that the two days per week that Armitage was working needed to be expanded in order to facilitate the growing demands of the microscopy lab.
In June 2012, Dr. Ernest Kwok was made chairman of the committee overseeing the microscopy lab, and became Armitage's new supervisor.
In the summer of 2012, Armitage responded to an invitation to participate in a search for dinosaur fossils in Glendive, Montana in the famous Hell Creek formation. He found the brow-horn of a triceratops; it was not petrified. Studying the horn at the CSUN lab, he discovered soft tissue in the supposedly 65-million-year-old (or more) fossil.
While teaching students how to use microscopes in the lab that he directed at CSUN, Armitage engaged them in brief socratic dialogue about the possible age of the horn. One of Dr. Kwok's students was stunned by the discovery and implications of soft tissue in the triceratops horn, and told Dr. Kwok about it.
On June 12, 2012, Dr. Kwok stormed into Armitage's lab and shouted, "We are not going to tolerate your religion in this department!", and chastised Armitage's "creationist" projects, referring to the triceratops horn. Armitage reported this to the Biology Department chair, Dr. Randy Cohen, and to the manager of technical services for the Biology Department, William Krohmer. They both played down the event and told Armitage to forget it.
Praise for Armitage's work continued from distinguished members of the Biology Department. In November 2012, a photo of the soft tissue in the triceratops horn was published on the cover of American Laboratory magazine. The former chair of the Biology Department, Dr. Oppenheimer, wrote a ringing endorsement of Armitage in a letter of recommendation.
On February 12, 2013, the journal Acta Histochemica published a paper by Armitage describing the discovery of soft tissue in the triceratops horn. Acta Histochemica is a peer-reviewed journal of structural biochemistry of cells and tissue that welcomes advanced microscopical imaging; it has been publishing since 1954. The current editor of Acta Histochemica is a biology professor at CSUN who was a colleague of Armitage, the esteemed Dr. Steven B. Oppenheimer.
On the day the paper was published, Dr. Kwok called a secret meeting of the committee overseeing the microscopy lab. Armitage had served on the committee for three years, but he was not invited. The committee decided to terminate Armitage.
On February 19, 2013, William Krohmer told Armitage that there was a "witch hunt" being mounted against him, and advised him to resign. When he refused to resign, Krohmer told him he would be terminated. Armitage was fired on February 27, 2013. He was told that his job had only been a "temporary appointment".
In July 2016, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dalila Lyons tentatively denied CSUN's request for a summary judgement, finding sufficient evidence of religious discrimination to warrant a trial. The University began to arrange a settlement, realizing they might not succeed in a jury trial. So in early October 2016 Armitage won a settlement of almost $400,000 from CSUN; it was designated to replace his retirement fund, which he can use when he eventually retires. The university claimed it settled to avoid a long, costly legal battle, and admits no wrongdoing.
There is a sidenote to this story. Hugh Miller, head of the Paleochronology group, obtained a bone sample from the triceratops horn Mark Armitage discovered. The sample was sent to the Center for Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia in 2012 to test for Carbon-14. The bone was dated by them to 33,570 years before present:
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."
Our ancestors around the world made depictions of living dinosaurs.
More censorship by "scientists"
On the webpage http://www.bible.ca/tracks/tracks-acambaro.htm Dr. Dennis Swift describes the discovery of ceramic figurines near Acambaro, Mexico (selections quoted, with grammatical corrections):
He was familiar with Tarascan, Aztec, Toltec, Mayan, Chupicuaro, Inca and pre-Incan Indian civilizations. The objects he held in his hand were distinctively different than any other known Indian culture.
In 1923, Julsrud and Padre Fray Jose Marie Martinez had discovered the Chupicuaro culture at a site just eight miles away (near Chupicuaro). When a few ceramic fragments were found there, Julsrud hired diggers to excavate. This discovery brought world wide attention from archaeologists who at first mistakenly defined them as Tarascan, but later they were correctly identified as a whole New Indian culture - the Chupicuaro. The Chupicuaro civilization flourished from about 500 BC to 200 AD, roughly a thousand years before the Middle Post-classic Tarascan.
Julsrud at age sixty-nine was on the brink of making a discovery that may prove to be the greatest archaeological discovery ever made. He hired a Mexican farmer, Odilon Tinajero, to dig in the area where the ceramic figurines were found and bring him any other similar objects. Soon Tinajero had a wheelbarrow full of ceramic pottery that had been excavated on El Toro Mountain.
Charles Hapgood notes that "Julsrud was a shrewd businessman and he now made a deal with Tinajero that is very important for our story. He told Tinajero that he would pay him one peso (worth about 12 cents) for each complete piece he brought in." Tinajero was very careful with the excavation process so as not to break the pieces, and the broken ones were cemented together before being brought to Julsrud.
Among the thousands of artifacts excavated were items that turned Julsrud's mansion into "the museum that scared scientists." Sculpted in various colors of clay were figurines of dinosaurs, various races of people such as Eskimos, Asians, Africans, bearded Caucasians, Mongols, and Polynesians, plus objects that had cultural connections with the Egyptians, Sumerians and others.
The objects were made of clay and stone, varying in size from a few inches long to statues three feet high, and dinosaur objects four to five feet long. In the collection, that now numbered over 20,000 objects, not one could be found to be a duplicate of another. Each of the clay pieces had been individually made, without molds, skillfully sculptured, and carefully decorated. Several hundred of the figurines were scientifically identified as representing many species of dinosaurs, including duck billed Trachodon, Gorgosaurus, horned Monoclonius, Ornitholestes, Titanosaurus, Triceratops, Stegosaurus Paleococincus, Diplodocus, Podokosaurus, Struthiomimos, Plesiosaur, Maiasaura, Rhamphorynchus, Iguanodon, Brachiosaurus, Pteranodon, Dimetrodon, Ichtyornis, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Rhynococephalia and other unknown or as yet unidentified dinosaur species.
These remarkable dinosaur figurines threaten orthodox concepts and time scales in many fields of study. Dr. Ivan T. Sanderson was amazed in 1955 to find that there was an accurate representation of the American dinosaur Brachiosaurus, which was almost totally unknown to the general public at that time. Sanderson wrote about the figurine in the Julsrud collection. "This figurine is a very fine, jet-black, polished-looking ware. It is about a foot tall. The point is it is an absolutely perfect representation of Brachiosaurus, known only from East Africa and North America. There are a number of outlines of the skeletons in the standard literature but only one fleshed out reconstruction that I have ever seen. This is exactly like it."
Eventually over 33,000 ceramic figurines were found near El Toro as well as Chivo Mountain on the other side of Acambaro.
In 1972, Arthur Young submitted two of the figurines to Dr. Froelich Rainey, the director of the Pennsylvania Museum for Thermoluminescent Dating. The Masca lab had obtained thermoluminescent dates of up to 2,700 B.C. In a letter dated September 13, 1972, addressed to Mr. Young, Dr Rainey said:
"...Now after we have had years of experimentation both here and at the lab at Oxford, we have no doubt about the dependability of the thermoluminescent method. We may have errors of up to 5-10% in absolute dating, but we are no longer concerned about unexpected bugs that might put the whole system in doubt. I should also point out, that we were so concerned about the extraordinarily ancient dates of these figures, that Mark Han in our lab made an average of 18 runs on each one of the four samples. Hence, there is a very substantial bit of research in these particular pieces... All in all the lab stands on these dates for the Julsrud material, whatever that means in terms of archeological dating in Mexico, or in terms of 'fakes verse's authentic' pieces."
But when the lab at the University of Pennsylvania found out that dinosaurs were part of the collection, they retracted their thermoluminescent dates. They asserted that the ceramics gave off regenerated light signals and could be no more than 30 years old.
A thermoluminescent technician admitted that no other ceramics existed, in his experience, that produced regenerated light signals, and no other thermoluminescent dating of ceramics had ever been done by utilization of a regenerated light signal. In short, the excuse was a hocus pocus, laboratory trick to avoid the obvious conclusion that dinosaurs and man lived together.
John Tierney determined to expose the University of Pennsylvania's shenanigans by testing with standard procedures. Tierney had two fragments of Julsrud-type ceramics excavated at El Toro Mountain in Acambaro, and in 1956, in Julsrud's presence, Tierney submitted these pieces to Dr. Victor J. Bortolet, Director of Research of Daybreak Nucleari Archaeometrics Laboratory Services, for dating. Dr. Bortulot determined the pieces' upper limit age to be 2,000 years old, thus, invalidating the Masca report which claimed the objects were made thirty to one hundred years ago.
John Tierney took a half dozen samples of Julsrud ceramics of different clay composition to a team of experts at Ohio State University. They consisted of Dr. J.O. Everhart (Chairman of the Department of Ceramic Engineering), Dr. Earle R. Caley (among the world's most respected archaeological chemists), and Dr. Ernest G. Ehlers (mineralogist in the geology department at Ohio State University). The team reported that they could not believe the artifacts were made in modern times, nor could they believe they were made by some amateur who tried to perpetuate a fraud. Upon my notifying them that they had authenticated Julsrud artifacts, they lapsed into a profound and apparently permanent silence.
In 1997, B.C. Video released the program "Jurassic Art", which contained an Acambaro segment that was originally supposed to have been part of NBC's television special, "The Mysterious Origins of Man." The program featured Neil Steede, President of the Early Sites Research Society West and Mexican Epigraphic Society, attempting to debunk the collection, claiming it was of recent manufacture. Toward the end of the program, it is revealed that he sent two samples of Julsrud-type ceramics (a human figure and a dinosaur figure) to an independent Carbon-14 laboratory. Startling results came back. The human figure was dated at 4,000 years BP (Before Present) and the dinosaur figure at 1,500 years BP. Steede tap danced around the implications, embarrassingly embracing the human figurine as credible, while waltzing past the dinosaur figurine, claiming the laboratory test must not have given a true reading. In reality, the dinosaur figurine created too much tension for orthodox science and Steede had to find an out. The solution was simple. He discarded the dinosaur date.
The Japanese company Nissi sponsored a television crew to go to Acambaro and produce a program for Japanese T.V. regarding the Acambaro figurines. The program entitled "Did the Ancients See Dinosaurs?" was aired on February 2, 1997 in Japan. There is a stunning moment in the program as the Japanese narrator is looking over an animal figurine, and he holds it up next to his Japanese book on dinosaurs. Amazingly, the Julsrud dinosaur figurine matches the color drawing of an Amargasaurus cazaui in the Japanese dinosaur book. The narrator quickly picks up another dinosaur figure and thumbs through the dinosaur book. This figure is very similar to the Saurolophus osborni as drawn in the Japanese dinosaur book. The narrator ponders the perplexing problem that ancient people about 4,500 years ago must have seen dinosaurs because they could not have known what they looked like by merely seeing their skeletons in the ground. The narrator points out that when modern man, such as Sir Richard Owen, found dinosaur skeletons, the first life-sized models of Megalosaurus, Iguanodon and Hylaeosaurus made from them were ridiculously inaccurate.
Individual censorship on YouTube - "NaturaLegion"
A YouTube video by an uninformed evolutionist calling himself "NaturaLegion" ridicules the work of the Paleochronology group, including this webpage. I posted comments under the video that he at first answered and then removed. They are reproduced below. The video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrnhUZWTaWY
Me: It has been a thrill to watch evolutionists reeling from reports of soft tissue and radiocarbon in dinosaur bones, the complete failure of "chemical evolution" (origin of life) research, and the discoveries in molecular biology over the last 35 years of mind-boggling complexity that support Intelligent Design and confound evolution. At last they are being forced in desperation to discuss issues rather than patronisingly name-call and tell creationists to "go read a biology book". I work with Hugh Miller and the Paleochronology group that had the dinosaur bones radiocarbon dated, test results pilloried by "NaturaLegion". My email is on the webpage, and he could have inquired any time but chose not to.
"NaturaLegion" repeats erroneous information he found on the internet. As the downloadable data page shows, the Acrocanthosaurus specimen was not obtained from a museum – it was excavated, as were all specimens that were tested. No shellac or other preservative was on any of them.
"NaturaLegion" is very fond of saying the word "collagen" but, again as the data page shows, mineral bioapatite was tested in almost all the bone samples instead of collagen. Alexander Cherkinsky, senior scientist at the Center for Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia who signed most of our Carbon-14 reports, wrote in "Determining The Reliability Of Radiocarbon Age From Bioapatite", Radiocarbon journal, 2009, Vol. 51, Nr. 2, pages 647-655: "Our investigation has shown that the pretreatment of bone with diluted acetic acid following a proscribed technique allows the separation of the bioapatite fraction from diagenetic carbonates. We have successfully used this technique to prepare and date samples of bone and of tooth enamel and dentin, with varying degrees of preservation condition, and from time intervals ranging from a few hundred Carbon-14 years to greater than 40,000 Carbon-14 years." "The proper pretreatment of bone and tooth samples permits the separation of diagenetic, secondary carbonates from bioapatite carbonates". He describes a lengthy "chemical cleaning" protocol that was used by his technicians to process the samples we submitted.
Cherkinsky and Christine Chataigner again explain this method in Radiocarbon journal, 2010, Vol 52, Nr. 2-3, pages 569–577 where they also state "Minerals in bones and teeth usually survive much better than the organic fractions of collagen and lipids. Collagen tends to undergo microbiological decomposition, hydrolysis, dissolution, and denaturizing over archaeological and geological timescales, so that only in exceptional conditions, such as burial in permafrost, is collagen found to survive without significant changes into Pleistocene. Survival is usually far shorter for the bones buried in warmer regions. In contrast, the mineral fraction of bones and teeth could be preserved quite well".
If secondary or "Modern" carbon could not be removed from samples, no items of any kind or any age found in natural environments could be Carbon-14 dated. In practice, pretreatment works quite well to remove skin cells and other contaminants encountered during excavation, transport, and handling.
I call BS on this "NatuaLegion" video. Be sure and subscribe to all the rest!
Troll: /It has been a thrill to watch evolutionists reeling from reports of soft tissue and radiocarbon in dinosaur bones...//
Finding preserved fragments of collagen and bone matrix protein from the interior of fossilized dinosaur bones was certainly a fascinating discovery. Where mainstream paleontologists disagree with creationists is in the best explanation for the discovery: unexpectedly favorable preservation conditions or younger ages. Whenever creationists get around to providing evidence for their preferred explanation—instead of just asserting it--let us all know, won’t you?
//...the complete failure of "chemical evolution" (origin of life) research, and the discoveries in molecular biology over the last 35 years of mind-boggling complexity that support Intelligent Design and confound evolution//
I can literally provide you with enough peer-reviewed studies on molecular self-assembly, self-replication, neofunctionalization, the evolution of new genes, and molecular mechanisms in evolution to keep you busy for years to come, and I have PDFs I can share of the original papers in case you have trouble accessing them on your own due to lack of subscriptions. Just let me know if you would like to learn what data is actually out there in the research literature, instead of just reading whatever creationist organizations and websites tell you about it.
//I work with Hugh Miller and the Paleochronology group that had the dinosaur bones radiocarbon dated, test results pilloried by "NaturaLegion". My email is on the webpage, and he could have inquired any time but chose not to.//
You or Hugh Miller could’ve produced evidence of having found dinosaur collagen (and in the quantities that are claimed in the online articles with his name on them) any time but chose not to.
//"NaturaLegion" repeats erroneous information he found on the internet. As the downloadable data page shows, the Acrocanthosaurus specimen was not obtained from a museum – it was excavated, as were all specimens that were tested. No shellac or other preservative was on any of them.//
I was referencing the 1991 article in The Columbus Dispatch saying that Miller obtained a dozen samples from the Carnegie Museum in 1990. In the part of the video that you’re responding to, I wasn’t referring to the more recent claims of radiocarbon in samples from dinosaur fossils excavated in the 2000s.
//"NaturaLegion" is very fond of saying the word "collagen" but, again as the data page shows, mineral bioapatite was tested in almost all the bone samples instead of collagen.//
My professional and academic background is in biochemistry, evolutionary and molecular biology, so their claims about dinosaur collagen are what I’m most readily equipped to address. They did claim to have found--and carbon-dated--collagen, no? If their claims of discovering and carbon-dating dinosaur collagen are not relevant to their conclusions, why bring it up? And if they ARE relevant to their conclusions, what’s wrong with pointing out the lack of supporting evidence?
As for the bioapatite...
In response to your references to an Alexander Cherkinsky article, separating diagenetic from bioapatite carbonates is only part of the problem. Carbonates are only one of many potential sources of exogenous carbon, and other sources are not as easily removed by treatment with acetic acid. Extracellular polymeric substances like proteins and polysaccharides from bacterial biofilm exhibit different chemical properties than mineral carbonates, and Cherkinsky's article makes absolutely no mention of extracellular polymers or exogenous proteins. This is something I already point out in the video: the creationists behind the "radiocarbon dating" claims provide no evidence to establish what the primary source of carbon-14 is.
//If secondary or "Modern" carbon could not be removed from samples, no items of any kind or any age found in natural environments could be Carbon-14 dated.//
Bullshit. In most instances, the material being carbon-dated is much more well-preserved than the fragments of who-knows-what obtained from dinosaur fossils. When wood, fabrics, leather, human bones and teeth are carbon-dated, we already have a multitude of independent evidence that gives us some idea of about how old these items are. Radiocarbon dating just helps us zero in on a more precise estimate. In the case of dinosaur fossils, Hugh Miller and his group of creationists claim to have obtained radiocarbon dates on endogenous sources of carbon-14. But regarding the source of the radiocarbon signal detected, all they have are unverified claims. Nothing more. Radiocarbon decays exponentially, and an age of 40 thousand years is actually closer to 40 million than it is to 20 thousand, in terms of percentage of modern carbon-14 that is detected, so finding a bunch of fossils that carbon-date to under 40 thousand years doesn’t really tell me anything useful or interesting if you can’t establish the source of carbon-14 signal.
//In practice, pretreatment works quite well to remove skin cells and other contaminants encountered during excavation, transport, and handling//
Don't just claim it. Evidence please.
//I call BS on this "NatuaLegion" video.//
Go for it. Call BS all you want. You have only unverified claims with no supporting evidence.
Me: More crap from "NatuaLegion". We have numerous reports in hand from respected Accelerator Mass Spectrometry labs providing Carbon-14 test results on dinosaur BONE in the twenty to thirty thousand radiocarbon year range, well below the 55,000 year acceptable detection limit. And "NatuaLegion" has, well... nothing but invective. QED
Regarding origin of life research, Dr. Franklin M. Harold examined at length the current state of origin-of-life research in a chapter titled "Ultimate Riddle - Origin of Cellular Life" in his 2014 book "In Search of Cell History: The Evolution of Life’s Building Blocks" published by the University of Chicago Press. He wrote:
"Over the past sixty years, dedicated and skillful scientists have devoted much effort and ink to the origin of life, with remarkably little to show for it.
[Quoting Radu Popa, 2004,] 'So far, no theory, no approach, no set of formulas, and no blackboard scheme has been found satisfactory in explaining the origin of life.' At the conclusion of a century of science, whose great glory is the discovery of how living things work, there is something downright disgraceful about this confession, an intimation that despite our vast knowledge and clever technology there may be questions that exceed our grasp. But its truth is indisputable.
Life's origin has been most ardently pursued by chemists, apparently on the unspoken premise that once the molecular building blocks are on hand, cellular organization will take care of itself. That premise is surely incorrect. Modern cells do not assemble themselves from preformed constituents, and they would not have done so in the past.
…the notion that the first protocells assembled themselves spontaneously from a generous menu of precursor molecules conveniently supplied by abiotic chemistry (or imported by way of comets and meteorites) is now widely recognized as simplistic and effectively has been abandoned. Among its most cogent critics are experienced masters of the art of prebiotic synthesis, who are well aware of the shortcomings of many of the proposed routes and of the wide gap between the range of molecules that living things employ and those that can be made in the laboratory.
…the fact is that chemists have encountered insuperable difficulties in generating a working replicator, and many have expressed doubts about the project. It is at least incumbent upon proponents of its spontaneous genesis to explain how the 'correct' monomers could have been selected from the 'prebiotic clutter,' how a sufficient concentration of monomers was maintained, where the energy came from, and how the replicator evaded the tendency of polymers to break down by hydrolysis.
A decade ago, a hot topic for debate was which came first, replication or metabolism? That issue has not been resolved but has been largely superseded by the recognition that neither of them, by itself, can take one far along the road to life. It is simply not credible to claim that anything beyond the most rudimentary kind of replication or metabolism could have arisen in free solution.
…the origin of the principles that govern cellular operations today - genes specifying proteins and all the apparatus that this requires - remains quite unknown and points beyond the capacity of present-day biochemistry and biophysics.
For the present, we are in limbo. The natural path from simple cosmic molecules to cells, from chemistry to biology, remains undiscovered. …where we should look for illumination I cannot say.
In truth, there is presently no persuasive hypothesis to account for the emergence of protocells from the primal chaos.
The difference between a puzzle and a mystery is that the former can be solved within the framework of known principles, while the latter cannot. In the end, the origin of life remains a mystery that passes understanding. …we may still be missing some essential insight."
So, who to believe - a star of biochemistry and microbiology who has been studying cell biology for over 50 years, or a snot-nosed blogger? We report; you decide.