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Re: (fwd) Re: Worst YEC book ever

Barry Pearce wrote:

: (1) I remember as a boy in the late 50's , early 60's I read an
: article about a person finding a _LIVE_ Pterodactyl or Pteradon, I
: can't remember.

And Mickey writes:

>This event was recently written up in talk.origins, because
>descriptions of it appear in a book by Carl Baugh.

>From: xdegrm@oryx.com (glenn r morton)

>The total reference for the book is _Panorama of Creation_ Carl
>E. Baugh, PH.D, Creation Evidences Museum 1989.

>The following quote comes from pages 19-21
>"In a 1982 Reader's Digest publication, 'The Mysteries of the
>Unexplained', it was related that a century ago, a very phenomenal
>thing occurred.  If this record is correct, and having so many other
>anomalies, we certainly do not doubt this account (also, it was
>related in a verifiable publication), this means it is absolutely
>impossible for evolution to be the explanation of how life forms got

Oh dear, "Readers Digest" and the "London Illustrated News" as scientific
texts!. Excuse me if I don't rush out and swap my subscription to "Nature"!

>       "The article refers to the last of the great pterodactyls, the
>flying dinosaurs of the Mesozoic era.  They existed supposedly around
>one hundred million years ago in the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic
>era.  The record states that in France, some workmen, in the winter of
>1856, while working on a partially completed railway tunnel between
>St. Dizey and the Nancy lines, came across something unusual.  In the
>tunnel, they had broken and removed a huge boulder of Jurassic
>limestone, which precedes the Cretaceous by several million years.
>After they had broken the limestone, stumbling out of the tunnel
>toward them was a creature which fluttered its wings, croaked, and
>collapsed dead at their feet.  This creature had a wingspan of ten
>feet, seven inches, with four legs joined by a membrane like a bat.
>What should have been feet were long talons.  The mouth was arrayed
>with sharp teeth.  The skin was black, leathery, oily, and thick.
>Local students of paleontology immediately identified this creature as
>being a pterodactyl.  This was all reported in _The Illustrated London
>News_ February 9, 1856, page 156.  They examined the limestone from
>which the creature had been released and found there a cavity in the
>exact mold of the creature's body.  If this is true, it is absolutely
point of minor importance.

>impossible for that creture to have lived more than a few thousand
>years in any form in hibernation."

Aaaggguueee! Not this *again*

OK, firstly, this story is true. It is true to the extent that it *was*
reported in the Illustrated London News. So, apparently the final arbiter
of scientific facts are the newspapers. Hmm, this means that Cold Fusion
must be true. What? those nasty scientists have disproved it? Ha! what do
they know, it was in the newspapers, so it *must* be true. Gosh this is
easy, do you think that if I get my thesis published in the local newspaper
I can safely ignore comments from my marking committee? "I don't *care* if
you have studied palaeontology for 30 years, *my* theory has been published
in the newspaper so it *must* be true. Now hand over that PhD". Gosh this
is *really* easy!

Now, to understan what *really* happened, a quick history lesson is in order.

During the early to mid 1800's there was great franco-prussian rivalry, in
most spheres of life, political, scientific, etc. and geology was no
exception.  The profile of France in European geology had dwindled since
the death of Cuvier in 1832 and the focus of influence had switched to
Germany and Russia(Prussia) with the release of Murchison's book "The
Geology of Russia" in 1845.

On top of this a small Bavarian location near the town of Solnhofen was
producing some exquisite fossils of fish, reptiles and pterodactyls from an
Upper Jurassic limestone (Gee, I guess pterodactyls predate the Cretaceous
after all). Note this is several years before the first _Archaeoptyrix_ was
identified. These fossils were loudly (and rightly) trumpeted by German
geologists, and they just kept on coming.

Now during this period, many geologists were 'gentlemen' with time and
money on their hands. A group of French 'gentlemen geologists' became
rather pis* - er, annoyed at all this publicity surrounding the Solnhofen
finds and decided to do something about it. Thus when the opportunity
presented itself, they took it.

The opportunity can in the construction of a railway tunnel through
limestone of the *same age* as the Solnhofen limestone (Are you begining to
see the picture? :-) )

>From this the tale of the pterodactyl emerged.

Actually in the original report, the pterodactyl "crumbled to dust" at
their feet (neat eh? No evidence)
No evidence was ever found to corroborate the story.

In other words it was a fabrication founded in franco-prussian rivalry. If
they had waited 10 years, we would have had tales of real live
_Archaeopteryxes_ running around in French railway tunnels, sheesh!

This episode is mentioned in a couple of anti-creationist texts, but I do
not have the references.

Note to Mickey:

If this is still an issue on t.o you can post this there, if you want.

Chris Nedin
Dept. of Geology and Geophysics
University of Adelaide
South Australia