This story is so good, I couldn’t pass it up even though it’s a few weeks old. This piece appeared in an online paleontology journal detailing the story of a so-called “dragon” displayed in Rome. It’s an analysis of each part of this skeleton to show it is not AT ALL what it was portrayed to be.
Young earth Creationists hijacked the idea that this skeleton was of a newly deceased pterosaur (winged reptile that coexisted with dinosaurs 60+ million years ago. Was it a pterosaur? Was it a dragon?
Here is the abstract from Senter and Wilkins:
Here we investigate a claim that pterosaurs survived into the seventeenth century in Italy. In 1696 Dutch civil engineer Cornelius Meyer published an engraving of the skeleton of an alleged dragon from near Rome. Some recent young-Earth creationist authors have used the engraving as evidence against the separation of humans and pterosaurs by millions of years, claiming that the skeleton is that of a pterosaur that was alive in the seventeenth century. The engraving is detailed enough to identify the skeleton as a composite of bones from various extant animal species. Until now, however, no one has attempted such identification. Here we identify the specific animals that were used in the construction of this taxidermic hoax. The skull of Meyer’s dragon is that of a domestic dog. The mandible is that of a second, smaller domestic dog. The “hindlimb” is the forelimb of a bear. The ribs are from a large fish. Ostensible skin hides the junctions between the parts of different animals. The tail is a sculpted fake. The wings are fake and lack diagnostic traits of bat wings and pterosaur wings. No part of the skeleton resembles its counterpart in pterosaurs. This piece of young-Earth creationist “evidence” therefore now joins the ranks of other discredited “evidence” for human-pterosaur coexistence and against the existence of the passage of millions of years. Also, a three-century-old hoax is finally unveiled, the mystery of its construction is solved, and an interesting and bizarre episode in Renaissance Italian history is elucidated.
No it was neither a pterosaur or dragon but a clever hoax.
The skull of Meyer’s dragon is that of a dog. The mandible is that of a second, smaller dog. The ribs are those of a large fish. The thoracic vertebrae probably are those of a beaver. The “hind limbs” are the forelimbs of a juvenile bear. The wings, tail, beak, and cranial horn are fake.
This is NOT the first time Creationists have desperately tried to us paleo-evidence to support their views. They get it spectacularly wrong with the following examples:
Paluxy Dinosaur/”Man Track” controversy. Not man tracks but dinosaur tracks.
BCSE : Piltdown Man. Creationists claim that science was completely wrong with this interpretation, it is completely wrong about evolution. Nevermind that fact that we now know it was a hoax.
Creationists fail when they try to shoehorn some occasional anomalies (or observations they can reinterpret) to fit into their ideology that the Earth is young and evolution is fraudulent. A few random anomalies will NOT overthrow the incredible evidence that exists for the age of the earth the evolution of life. Besides, these examples are easily explained by science. Just remember, hoaxes abound. While it seems improbably people will go through the trouble. They indeed do. That’s far less improbable than pterosaurs lived a few hundred years ago.
Tip: National Center for Science Education