TITLE: Mystery of the Walking Fossils (college english paper)
By Jacob Gibson
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(=(: )) Mystery of the Walking Fossils (=(: ))
1 225 million years ago, dinosaurs ruled the world. In the time throughout the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods of the Mesozoic era the giant reptiles created fear in all other creatures of the land. But 65 million years ago in the Cretaceous period, all of this changed after an unknown, catastrophic force wiped them all out, sparing only a few plants, mammals, and reptiles to further evolve (Roop 12, 24-29). The legendary lizard kings were permanently dethroned by extinction, and none of them survived to this day. Or so we have been told.
T1.5 How do we know that all dinosaurs went extinct? What if the experts were wrong? What if a few of them survived without our notice? What if some dinosaurs still live even today in hidden corners of the earth? Do we dare to even consider a statement that outrageous and politically incorrect? A better question is, why not? Should we close our minds to a consideration because hardly any might believe it? No, we should do what other great individuals in history have done and always challenge the basic system of modern thinking in order to discover the unknown. We shall judge the possibility of present-day living dinosaurs by uncovering examples from the past and examining popular theories. Even if we prove nothing new from all of this, we can still better learn how to investigate and think in new ways. Earth was only flat for those who thought it was.
2 Along with evolution, other things the general population has been told include exciting legends about knights who fought dragons, or ships that fell under attacked from frightening, scaly sea-dwelling monsters. We may have seen works of art such as stone carvings, paintings, designs of boats, and more that tell stories about these mythical creatures (Landau 12-14). Even history talks about sea monsters such as when the Irish St. Columba came to Scotland to preach and during his outside sermon beside the Loch Ness, a large monster emerged from the water and roared at the terrified Scots (Morell 66-67; Thorne 14). Is every one of these accounts based on fictional stories, or could a number of these people truly have seen what they say they did?
3 Today, the world has its own mystery sea creature: the Loch Ness monster. Despite a couple hoaxes, over a hundred have claimed to see unknown beasts in or on the shore of Scotland’s deep, dark 24-mile lake (Thorne 10-11). They frequently describe the monster as having a large body, black skin, a small head, long neck, flippers, and occasionally a few humps on its back and small horns on its head (Thorne 8-21). The witnesses’ reports of Nessie’s size can stretch anywhere from 15-60 feet long, so if they stand correct, more than one of these creatures and possibly different forms of sea monsters would have to exist (Thorne 8-21).
>3.5 Loch Ness is in fact only one of multiple lakes in the world with monster sightings. In 1964, Russian geologists in Siberia saw a creature like Nessie but it had bluish-black skin, an upright dorsal fin, and a long tail. More monster raves have arisen from Lake Vorota, Lake Labynkyr, Lake Champlain, Lake Okanagan, Lake Manitoba, Lake Winnipegosis, Lake Dauphin, and probably many more (Thorne 45-47).
4 What are these mysterious lake creatures? We do not have a definite answer, but if a person wanted to research the Loch Ness monster, they would probably hear a wide range of thoughts that individuals have about the unidentified swimming creature. People have labeled Nessie everything from a giant worm, sea slug, eel, and newt to animals like seals, manatees, salamanders, and more (Walker 34). But one of the most remarkable suggestions is that maybe the creature is really a plesiosaur, which the Webster dictionary says “Plesiosaur, any of an extinct order (Plesiosauria) of large water reptiles of the Mesozoic Era, characterized by a small head, long neck, and four paddle like limbs” (“Plesiosaur”).
5 That description could definitely match the description of Nessie according to the numerous eyewitnesses and believe it or not, a plesiosaur qualifies as a dinosaur too. Could it be that a few of their kind still live and some inhabit the Loch Ness? Virginia Morell of National Geographic does not appear to believe so. “That a plesiosaur would be alive today, plying the fresh waters of once glaciated Loch Ness, defies scientific reasoning (Morell 66).”
6 We can understand why many people would think that, since evolution and even the dictionary reminds us of their mass extinction of long ago. But despite that, we should remember how most of the world’s scientific information builds on continuous research and new discoveries, and therefore new information could prove one or more theories incorrect and require adjustment. Secondly, if mankind can occupy an overwhelmingly huge planet that probably remains somewhat unexplored and still uncover new species today (like the mountain gorilla, Komodo dragon, okapi, and so on), we should have a much greater reason to consider this possibility of living dinosaurs (Walker 2). We may possess a large collection of dinosaur fossils and the majority of us probably have not seen any living dinosaurs, but that does not necessarily indicate their extinction (but neither does it help though).
7 A perfect example of this is the coelacanth fish, which many thought died 65 million years ago. One day in South Africa in 1938, someone bought one at a store and later recognized it as a possible match. When they revealed it to the scientists, few accepted it, but in 1952 people caught enough of them that now we know they are definitely not extinct (newanimal.org). If we can find a remarkable discovery like this, does it seem logical to say that 100% of all creatures suspected of extinction are indeed extinct? History should always remind us that it is incredibly unwise to dismiss the statements of new thoughts and discoveries (even if they challenge the ways we now think).
8 Now, if we plan to suggest something as radical as living, breathing prehistoric monsters of today, we should think about what it would take for them to survive the mass extinction that evolution talks about. How could a number of these creatures survive something that would kill the others? What permitted various creatures to escape while the rest turned into fossils?
9 One popular theory we probably have heard suggests a meteor strike to the world. A single 6-mile-wide meteor could have fell from space and struck the world, blasting out a load of sunlight-blocking dust, which would cause most plants to die and then the beginning of a gradual and temporary food chain elimination. However, certain plants like spores, plants with seeds, and resilient plant roots could survive and grow new plants afterward and certain animals could eat those until the dust cleared. From the numerous meteor impacts we have seen, we have not found a crater large enough to fit, but Luis Alvarez, a Nobel-prize-winning physicist, believes that a few smaller ones could have generated the same effect (Roop 60-65).
10 Many additional arguments exist but we do not have time to examine each one. Some involve mammals devouring the dinosaur eggs, others; death from tiny brains, devastating climate changes, consistently timed comets launched to Earth from a planet orbiting the solar system, and so on (Roop). Perhaps it could be something that we would not normally think, such as a temporary shift in the process of evolution, alien attacks or abductions, or, if we truly want to use our imaginations, a change in history caused by people of the future in a time machine.
11 One challenge with these hypothesises is that even to this day, scientists still disagree about what exactly caused this selective extinction and how. The possibilities are endless and throw time, space, and everything else together into one big scientific puzzle; each theory with its own potential for flaws. For example, could the proposed incident have the destruction to kill off one species yet still spare the others? Do the proposals fit with the present environmental world? Would one action not trigger another reaction that would ruin the entire theory? Whatever anyone says, none of us knows everything that occurred at the beginning life, and if other creatures managed to survive the catastrophe, perhaps a a number of the dinosaurs did too.
12 Evolutionary theories are crucial to study, but in complete fairness we should also look into the biblical theory of dinosaurs. Most church attendants have probably never heard about this, but a great possibility exists that dinosaurs (or creatures like them) are mentioned in a few brief passages in the Bible. Occasionally, we can hear words like “behemoth,” “leviathan,” and “dragon” mentioned, and despite how the names of these words can change between versions, one specific book appears to suggest things quite different from any modern day animal we may think of (King James Bible).
13 In the book of Job in chapter 40:15-24, God reminds Job about a creature called behemoth, and says that it eats grass in the mountains, has bones as strong as brass or iron bars, and that he can “drinketh up a river and hasteth not; he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.” He also says that the creature moves his tail like a cedar tree and can break through hunters’ traps with his nose. Versions like the Living Bible translates the word behemoth into “hippopotamus,” but if that was only hippo, it would have to be an extremely thirsty, mountain-dwelling hippo with a big tail (King James Bible).
14 When chapter 40 ends, the next one presents an even greater suggestion of a possible dinosaur when it proceed to describe another fierce and powerful creature (or a different name for the same creature) named leviathan; the last creature that God describes.
Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? Or his tongue with a cord which thou latest down (verse 1)?... Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? Or his head with fish spears? Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more. Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him (7-9)? Who can open the doors of his face? His teeth are terrible round about. His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal.” (King James Bible, Job 40:14-15)
14.5 The phrase “drawing out leviathan” sounds like a reference to water, and the aquatic creature must have tough, scaly skin and perhaps a mouth like a crocodile. But could a crocodile or other regular scaly creature escape from these sharp, deadly weapons? And what kind of scaled creature could scare everyone, including Steve Irwin, simply by its appearance? Is it a giant crocodile perhaps? If anyone thought they had the explanation now, the end of the chapter only sets that notion on fire.
Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out. Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or cauldron. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth (19-21).... He maketh the deep to boil like a pot; he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment (31).... Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear. (King James Version, 33)
15 Are these creatures what we think they are? If the behemoth is not a grass-eating dinosaur and the leviathan is not a dragon or fire-breathing sea serpent, then what else could they possibly be? Would God, who supposedly speaks in these verses and the rest of Job, exaggerate about these beasts (Job 38-42)? Or were these simply a couple analogies for the devil or something else, like the analogies in Revelation?
>15.5 We may not know for certain, but we can remember that God depicts these two creatures following other numerous well-known animals, therefore suggesting more real animals. (Job 38-42). And He has also associated the devil with ordinary creatures before, such as a wolf, serpent, and “a roaring lion,” so that could possibly indicate something too. If not dinosaurs, perhaps these are creatures we have never seen before (and may never want to) (King James Version).
16 Of course, if we consider that the Bible is accurate we should also remember the Flood and how Genesis states that it drowned everything outside of the ark. Genesis 6:19 says “And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female” and then in 7:21, “And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of beast...” This theory of a flood could work because it presents a possible solution of how creatures could die and yet how their kind could survive and repopulate. However, if we consider the large size of the dinosaurs related to that of the ark, it also creates a big challenge. How could one small family ever build any size of boat able to hold all of the behemoths and leviathans inside? Could the T-rex ride on the roof? One possibility is that the larger animals could come inside while they were still small infants, and since it took only 150 days for the water to recede according Genesis 8:3, they would not outgrow their space during that period. Whatever happened to a number of them after that would be up for debate, but one possibility is that people may have hunted and killed them like other animals, or they had problems surviving in the new post-flood atmosphere (King James Version).
17 We talked about a few theories for research, but what everyone really wants to hear about are the eye witness accounts. Have any other possible dinosaur-suspected creatures besides the Loch Ness monster been spotted in our world today? Yes, and not just the swimming ones either.
18 In the tropical region of central Africa during the 1970s, scientists James Powell and Roy Mackall learned from the natives about a peculiar animal with the name N’yamala by the natives of Gabon or Mokele-Mbembe from the Congo. They told the scientists about its appearance—a large creature with a long neck, small head, a large tail, and eyes like a crocodile. Powell showed them pictures of animals, including dinosaurs, and what should they identify it with but the plant-eating dinosaur, sauropod. Powell and Mackall searched for Mokele-Mbembe in the swamps but never found it. Next, a number of eager expeditions also came there to find the mystery creature but found nothing but additional spoken affirmations of its existence. However, at least two men, engineer Herman Regusters and zoologist Marcellin Agnagna, declared that they had seen it in Lake Telle, and Marcellin said that it did look like a sauropod. Herman even took some pictures of it, which sadly did not turn out (Walker 47-48).
19 Another discovery also happened in Africa, northwestern Zambia. The British official Frank H. Melland learned from the Kaonde tribe about their ritual of making mulendi root paste as a charm of safety before crossing a river. What was the safety from? Kongamato—a huge, red flying monster that looked like a lizard but had bat-like wings at least six feet wide (according to descrptions). Melland inquired about this creature and, like Powell, gave them some pictures of animals to identify it with. The moment he came across the flying pterodactyl, they said it matched perfectly. Is Kongamato just an old legend that still frightens the Kaonde, or is it an actual living threat (Walker 53-54)?
20 The list of so-called dinosaur testimonies does not end here. Not only in Africa but also in Asia and America witnesses have claimed to see flying monsters in the sky, like missionaries in Kenya talking about “flying dragons” and folks in Texas during the 1980s mentioning “pterosaur like creatures” (Walker 53). In Papua New Guinea, witnesses told about what they described as a “gray 10-foot-tall predatory dinosaur” and some reported that in 2004 some even asked the police to enter the forest and kill it. Even in Utah America, some have stated to doubt their sanity after claiming to see small, nearly three foot tall versions of Tyrannosaurs rex that sometimes run across roads in front of cars (newanimal.org/Living Dinosaurs). We could probably listen to hundreds of these unusual stories, but this should prove adequate.
21 Why would so many people tell stories that would cause them to sound crazy in front of everyone? Are they just trying to receive attention, increase tourism, persuade people to believe their own ways, or maybe impress their friends by spicing up a tale like certain fishermen do? We do not understand the reasons for why these people tell these peculiar stories, but if so many stunned individuals persistently proclaim the exact same things, it does become difficult to ignore. These reports alone may not prove the existence of living dinosaurs, since they could just turn out as more disrespectful hoaxes, tempting mirages in the desert, or maybe unknown species of lizards, birds, or bats (newanimal.org). But it does suggest a possibility that more extraordinary creatures could still hide in our planet, and that alone can make one excited (newanimal.org).
22 Now for the answer to our big question. Do prehistoric creatures still live here, or are these just some dinosaurs in our imaginations? We looked at the possibilities of a dinosaur living today and listened to testimonies, but we still do not know for sure and maybe never will. Possibly the only thing that would give the proof to persuade everyone to believe is to capture one and obtain a thorough examination, which could prove an exceptionally difficult task. How do we catch large, tough to find, and possibly dangerous rare creatures that can live in locations with unfavorable climates? And if someone did catch it, would the captors sell it, reveal it in a world-famous zoo, or would the government take it and conduct experiments? Many of these uncertanties seem to make this situation look either hopeless or disappointing.
23 However, on the bright side, even if just one or two of these theories and testimonies hold true and somehow a few living dinosaurs remain today, then we could have exciting new possibilities for exploration and discovery! Eager explorers would rush to these lands to catch a glimpse of these creatures. Cryptozoologists would throw a party and declare National Dinosaur Week. The Discovery Channel’s ratings would launch into space. Scientists and historians could have exciting new clues for solving the history of this enticing land. It could be the most astounding find since the actual dinosaur fossils themselves. And if there are a number of terrible lizards left, would it really not be possible to believe in a plesiosaur living in the Loch Ness? One day time could reveal the answer. But if someone does find a confirming answer, the big question is; would the skeptics reveal it? Keep your mind and camera ready.
Morell, Virginia. “Beyond Nessie.” National Geographic Dec. 2005: 66-67.
Walker, Paul Robert. Big Foot and Other Legendary Creatures. Singapore: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1992
Hall, Jamie. The Cryptid Zoo: A Menagerie of Cryptozoology. 2005. 11 April 2006. <http://www.newanimal.org/>
Roop, Peter and Connie Roop. Dinosaurs: Opposing Viewpoints. St. Paul, Minnesota: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1988.
Holy Bible: King James Version. Royal Publishers, 1971.
Landau, Elaine. The Loch Ness Monster. Brookfield, Connecticut: The Millbrook Press,
Thorne, Ian. The Loch Ness Monster. Ed. Dr. Howard Shroeder, Prof. in Reading and Language Arts, Dept. of Elementary Education, Mankato State University. United States: Crestwood House, Inc., 1978.
“Plesiosaur,” “Dinosaur” Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language. 2nd ed. 1968.
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