Two biologists claim a Middle Ages pterosaur was actually constructed from parts of several different animals.
Summary: In the 1600s, according to legend, a dragon resembling a pterosaur showed up outside Rome, Italy and began pestering construction workers, an activity that led to its demise. In one of two versions of the story, the beast was linked to the 1660 reconstruction of St. Peter’s Basilica, a project by architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini who erected the famous colonnade. In the other version, 31 years later the dragon appeared in swamps outside Rome where a dike was under construction. A book about the dike construction projects around Rome written by an engineer involved in the dike project, one Cornelius Meyer [or Ingegniero Cornelio Meyer], included engravings of the dragon.
Creationists have pounced on these stories and the engravings as offering evidence that people in the Middle Ages actually saw living dragons or pterosaurs. A 1998 paper by creationist author John Goertzen which was delivered at the Fourth International Conference on Creation said his study “helps to establish the recent existence of rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs; animals that mainstream science believes became extinct about 140 million years ago.”
Meanwhile, evolutionists have not ignored these claims. Two biologists from Fayetteville State U. in N. Carolina have studied the engravings and called the dragon story a hoax. Pondanese D. Wilkins and Phil Senter write, “The skull of Mey er’s drag on is that of a do mes tic dog. The man di ble is that of a sec ond, smaller do mes tic dog. The 'hindlimb' is the fore limb of a bear. The ribs are from a large fish. Os ten si ble skin hides the junc tions be tween the parts of dif fer ent an i mals. The tail is a sculpted fake. The wings are fake and lack di ag nos tic traits of bat wings and pterosaur wings. No part of the ske l e ton re sem bles its coun ter part in pter o saurs.”
The two biologists have speculated that the dike construction project was being hampered by rumors of a dragon on the loose, perhaps a beast angry over the disturbance of its home. Meyer then produced evidence that the animal was dead, supposedly to reassure frightened workers and to keep the dike project going. The scientists argue that Meyer chose to go along with the rumor instead of denouncing it by providing visual evidence that the dragon was no longer a threat.
Wilkins and Senter, apparently feeling that they have settled the matter once and for all, write, “A three-century-old hoax is fi nally un veiled, the mys tery of its con struc tion is solved, and an interesting and bi zarre ep i sode in Renaissance Ital ian histo ry is elucidat ed.”
But these assertions apparently would not satisfy Goertzen. In his paper he wrote of other evidence supporting the recent pterosaur scenario. “The re mark a ble thing about this an i mal is that it was de picted in sev er al cul tures of an ti qu ity. Ar ti facts iden ti fied with this in ter est ing pter o saur spe cies in clude Roman-Alex and rian coins, an Ara bia-Phil istia coin, a French wood carv ing, a Ger man stat ue and coin, sev er al Mid dle Ages pic ture maps, and an en light en ing sketch of a mount ed an i mal in Rome.”
To read the entire article and see other illustrations of Meyer‘s dragon, click on WORLD SCIENCE.
Comment: This is indeed an interesting account of what two biologists believe was clearly a hoax. Wilkins and Senter may be correct. Then again, I believe their case has some holes. Perhaps the author of this story felt the same way because he/she surprisingly gave Mr. Goertzen, a creationist, the last word.
Unlike in the infamous evolutionist Piltdown man hoax, about which the author of this story admirably reminded us, there is no hard evidence in this case that can be studied to determine whether or not the dragon or pterosaur was really the result of putting parts of several different animals together. The biologists only had engravings on which to base their assumption. Also, the mere fact that the dragon had parts that may superficially resemble those of other animals doesn’t prove anything. The first time some scientists examined the remains of a duckbill platypus, it was assumed to be a hoax because the platypus has features of a bird, a reptile and a mammal, all in one body. Yet, the platypus is alive and well in the modern world.
Some other questions pop up about the biologists‘ opinions. Wouldn‘t Meyer have realized the workers would have wanted to see the actual dead dragon and not just engravings of it? Wouldn’t someone had seen him constructing his complicated dragon if it were a hoax? Also, what were the workers afraid of if the dragon was just imaginary? And perhaps even more important, why do these dragon engravings resemble other pterosaur depictions found in other parts of the world over the course of many centuries? Check this webpage out for other illustrations from other times and places showing pterosaur-like creatures with the same wings, the same tail, and similar heads: Genesis Park.
We can’t be absolutely sure either way about this Roman dragon, but what we can be sure of is that all extinct animals were at one time contemporaries with humans. We have the Bible for that. Something else we can be sure of is that the enemies of God’s word are not going to sit around doing nothing. Mr. Wilkins and Mr. Senter were only doing what their belief system was telling them to do — find or make support for their faith in evolutionism wherever they can.
As for me, I will stick with the book authored by the God who created all things and who doesn’t have to rely on three-century-old engravings. And when it comes to dragons, I believe God wants us to be most concerned about the dragon mentioned in Revelation. This dragon is Satan who is after our souls. But for all believers in Jesus he is a defeated dragon, beaten down for us along with His evil angels by Jesus Christ who died for our sins and rose again. “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him” (Revelation 12:9). This happy truth doesn’t need any scientific research to back it up.
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QUESTION OF THE DAY
What museum in Nevada is dedicated to the automobile?
The National Automobile Museum in Reno features more than 200 rare and valuable cars such as an 1892 steam-powered Philion and a 1937 experimental Airomobile.
Source: American Profile (April 7-13, 2013)
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