Creationists and dinosaurs: Answers in Genesis teams with dissident scientists to deny feathered dino fossil record – Slate Magazine


The dinosaurs of our childhood aren’t around anymore. The sluggish, swamp-bound pea-brains that haunted museum halls and trundled through picture books have been eviscerated by agile, hot-blooded, and, often, feathery dinosaurs that more accurately reflect what Tyrannosaurus rex and kin were actually like. What’s more, thanks to a heap of lovely fossils, we now know that even the most fearsome of the tyrant dinosaurs were closely related to the avian dinosaurs—the birds—that flit around our backyards today. 

Not everyone is pleased with the dramatic dinosaur makeover. In “How Science Ruined Everything,” io9’s Esther Inglis-Arkell said, “Dinosaurs used to be cool, feathers came in, and now it’s like, they’re going to ruffle their plumage when they come after me, and that is not scary.” It’s not surprising that the new imagery of enfluffed dinosaurs makes Velociraptor and company seem more like chickenosaurs than the monsters we grew up with. I used to hate fluffy dinosaurs, too. When feathery dinosaurs started to appear in museum shops and poorly-rendered fuzzballs strutted through basic-cable documentaries, I mourned the loss of the reptilian monsters I once knew. But when I dug into why dinosaur depictions have changed so radically, I came away with a new appreciation of dinosaur feathers.

Paleontologists have uncovered scores of fluffy, fuzzy, bristly, and otherwise spectacularly-adorned dinosaur species throughout the group’s family tree. Feathers weren’t meant for flight from the start; at first they were adaptations for insulation and display—for showing off. By comparing the microscopic features of dinosaur feathers with those of modern birds, paleontologists are answering one of the most perplexing dinosaur mysteries: What color were they? (Some were iridescent blue; some were black and white like a magpie; and some had rust-colored stripes along their tails.) We can finally start to explore the beauty of the dinosaur palette, something I was told as child would be totally impossible. I’ll trade evolutionary secrets for slightly silly dinosaurs any day.

Of course, not everyone agrees. Some people would rather go back to the days before 1996—when Sinosauropteryx, the first fluffy dinosaur, was announced—to a world of naked dinosaurs. If you’re one of those people who loathe dinosaur feathers, there’s a group that will commiserate with you: creationists.

Creationists are on a campaign to “take dinosaurs back.” Earlier this year, the creationist crackpot Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis—the organization that established the fundamentalist funhouse called the Creation Museum—said, “Dinosaurs have been held hostage for decades” by his mortal enemy, the nefarious “secular humanists.” Ham is determined to appropriate dinosaurs for biblical literalists. (The organization’s website even sells a “We’re taking dinosaurs back!” bumper sticker.)

Written By: Brian Switek
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  1. Esther Inglis-Arkell says the idea of dinosaurs ruffling their feathers before chasing her is “not scary”. She should try to imagine being pursued by a phororhacus or, in present-day reality, having her guts kicked out by an emu.

  2. SaganTheCat beat me to XKCD.  For a discussion of what evidence we have of tyrannosauroids with feathers, with a further hyperlink therein to a more general discussion of feathered dinosaurs, see

    It’s one thing to deny a given set of fossils show evolutionary change within a clade; it’s another to pretend we have no feathered dinosaur fossils. Admittedly the creationists claim the relevant fossils just aren’t dinosaurs rather than denying the existence of certain feathered fossils, but even a child looking at them would say, “Look at the shape & size! That’s a dinosaur!” Plus there’s other evidence too – skeletal anatomy, being terrestrial reptiles, age…

  3. remake jurassic park using feathery dinosaurs, allow time to become box-office hit, observe the new feathery exhibits in creationists museums.


  4. I like to think of the Muslim dinosaurs as having beards.

    And before anybody points at my post and shouts, ‘STUPID! STUPID!’, I mean, of course, the ‘male’ muslim dinosaurs.

    Just realised this may be offensive?



  5.   The organization’s website even sells a “We’re taking dinosaurs back!” bumper sticker.)

    Well the Creation Museum staff have to get home somehow, even if motor transport might be a bit modern for them!

  6.  See. This is what I don’t understand about you people? To you this is just a cheap shot, a joke between one humanist secularist and another on some cheap American so called ‘freedom of speech’ reason website thing.

    But if a bearded muslim dinosaur read your so called ‘jokey post’, this could ignite the butterfly’s fart that burns out a halal KFC in Riyadh denying many a child a Post-Prayers Happy Meal ™ this Friday!

    Still, at least you didn’t put into print what I think you meant to say, which was ‘Allah’saurus Akbar!’ which would be so insulting as to be worthy of a death senten…



  7. I was horrified to find a book by Ken Ham in a Grade 5 classroom in an Australian Christian school where I was doing relief teaching. I spent a lot of lunchtime writing a long letter explaining to the regular teacher exactly why he was a deluded fool and a disgrace to the teaching profession, but binned it, as being priggish and counter-productive. Why oh why didn’t I just write something pithy and short, like ‘you sad, brainwashed, brainwashing fuckwit.’   There will be no second chance – I’m not going there again under any circumstances.

  8. This would seem to suggest a possibility: our mammalian ancestors lined their nests with feathers. I think that’s kind of neat.

    One can think about the evolution of quill-hugging mites, and imagine shrew-like animals perhaps furthering their successes by providing new niches for parasites. Ok, must turn imagination off now.


  9. Think I have just had a ‘revelation’, this article encapsulates the crap of creationism. Thank you, couldn’t see the wood for the trees, time to get out of this shithole of Christian ministry.



    of course allah saurus. he sees everything

    Yes, but he only reacts to movement.

    If you stay very, very, still…


  11. Color me confused, but I would think that hard-core creationists would welcome the thought that all dinosaurs had feathers.  After all, all they would have to do next is define “bird” as a “an animal with feathers” and suddenly there were no dinosaurs after all.  Just a bunch of really large birds who happened to die out sometime in the last 4000 years or so…

  12. This  could turn out to be a spectarcular own goal.
    Creationists take back the dinos, …
    Question to creationists, where are the dinos now?  are they all extinct? was it part of god’s plan? which bit of the bible says it is part of god’s plan? or did god change then all into modern birds? Where is the evidence? Oh yes, in the fossil record,  streaching back …  er …  some time, (never mind the gaps in the record.)

    Their ‘theory’ is going to have more holes in it than the Turin shroud.
    This is going to be so funny.


  13. Ken Spam believes aeroplanes and jets are evil.  Bring back the good old days of pterodactyls – it’s the only way to fly!!

  14. No, Ken Ham, you can’t have the dinosaurs. We’ll give you Behemoth and Leviathan though.

  15. Oh the irony….
    After a long day of hard work, the religiots drive off in cars with fossil fuels in their tanks…

  16. Where’s  aquilacane?
    I think someone should do a scribble of a displayed Ham-o-sore-arse, having been stuffed and mounted, after being bitten by the ostrich dressed as a Velociraptor he was plucking and saddling for the Creation Museum dressage event!

  17. I agree completely.  Not to mention she’s clearly never been on the receiving end of an enraged falcon’s talons, or been kicked by a cassowary hard enough to have her stomach ripped out. She’s a pop-culture ignoramus of the worst kind.

    As for the main article about the evolution-deniers, well, it’s their loss. Dinosaurs aren’t owned by anybody, so “taking them back” pretty much reveals in one stroke their non-commitment to facts and truth.

  18. So Ken ‘one Ham sandwich short of a picnic’ thinks that dinosaurs have been held hostage by secular humanists,  this shows the problem of having a rational debate with the terminally stupid that is creationism these morons think that the bible is the literal truth and will deny all logic that tells them otherwise.  Answers  in genesis arseholes in gensis in reality.

  19.… –
    Is there any possibility that Creationists will ever be able to learn anything from scientific evidence? The answer is: “Not likely”. There are large numbers of people who choose to be willfully ignorant, and there is always the scientifically ignorant Ken Ham (and his Creation“Museum”) who revels in catering to the ignorant.

    Creationists have their own ways of researching scientific knowledge!

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