When presented with compelling dinosaur-like depictions found in multiple ancient civilizations, some evolutionists put forward the theory that ancient peoples assembled dinosaur skeletons. While there is certainly evidence that fossilized bones were noted in ancient times, and in some cases removed as talismans or curiosities (See Mayor, Adrienne, The First Fossil Hunters, Princeton University Press, 2001.), there is no evidence that these cultures assembled full skeletons or conducted paleontological studies of the great reptiles. In fact, several key points essentially refute the ancient paleontologist hypothesis:
- If ancient civilizations were digging up dinosaur fossils, why do they almost never show skeletons? Why only depict them as alive and often interacting with people (fight scenes, etc.)?
- We have many tools and artifacts from these various civilizations. Where are their excavation tools, scaffolding, bone screws, & glues? Where are their records of skeletal assembly? the museum displays themselves?
- Even if ancient peoples were able to excavate and reassemble fossilized bones that they undoubtedly saw weathering out of the cliffs, they did not have the expertise in comparative anatomy, the experience of thousands of scientists, and tens of thousands of publications that we have today. Early attempts by western paleontologists were laughable. It has taken a couple of centuries of accumulated experience and even computer analysis for us to get the accurate models we have today. Yet some of the ancient depictions are strikingly close to what we now know!
- If people in antiquity were drawing from assembled fossils, it would be expected that the specific dinosaur depicted would be found in close proximity to the ancient artist’s community. But this is not the case. Some are only found continents away.
- Many of the depictions contain fine details not preserved in the fossils: musculature, cartilage (like ears and nose), skin details, and dermal frills. Some of these fine details have been confirmed recently by preserved dinosaur skin fragments.
- But probably the strongest argument against the idea of ancient peoples like the Native Americans digging up and assembling fossilized bones is their dread of touching or even discussing the remains of living things. Pervasive throughout Indian tribes (not just in North America) is the fear of disrespecting the places where the spirits of the dead are. Mayor recognized this fact, even while illogically trying to argue that native peoples were skilled paleontologists! (See Mayor, Adrienne, Fossil Legends of the First Americans, 2005, p. 131.)
The theory of ancient paleontologists is a real stretch. It is far more reasonable to just draw the straightforward conclusion that past civilizations knew and interacted with some of the remaining great reptiles.