Scientist dismissed after soft tissue found on dinosaur fossil


A microscope scientist working for California State University has been fired following the discovery that a Triceratops horn still contained soft tissue complete with bone cells “that look alive”, according to a report in CBS Los Angeles . The scientist, whose analysis of the Triceratops horn was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, is also an evangelical creationist, and claimed that the finding supports the view that Earth is 6,000 years old and that dinosaurs roamed the planet around 4,000 years ago. While the university claims the scientist, Mark Armitage, was fired for allowing his religion to interfere with his work, Armitage is suing the University for wrongful dismissal on the basis of violation to freedom of speech and academic freedom. 

Mark Armitage, a published scientist of over 30 years, was working at the Hell Creek Formation excavation site in Montanaa when he discovered one of the largest Triceratops horns ever unearthed at the site. According to conventional perspectives, the Triceratops is a genus of herbivorous dinosaur that first appeared in the late Cretaceous period, about 68 million years ago in what is now North America, and became extinct around 66 million years ago.

Example of a Triceratops horn

Example of a Triceratops horn. Photo source .

Armitage studied the fossil in the California State University lab using a high-powered miscroscope and was stunned to find soft tissue complete with bone cells.  According to Armitage, the preservation of such cells is a scientific impossibility if the dinosaur really walked the Earth over 66 million years ago. On this basis, he felt it was not unreasonable to open discussion with colleagues and students about the implications of such a finding being that the creationist perspective is correct and that dinosaurs existed much later than mainstream science maintains. The results of Armitage’s analysis of the soft tissue was eventually published in July 2013 in the journal Acta Histochemica . Nevertheless, Armitage was fired from the University of California, which he is now fighting in court.

“Terminating an employee because of their religious views is completely inappropriate and illegal,” said Attorney Brad Dacus of Pacific Justice Institute. “But doing so in an attempt to silence scientific speech at a public university is even more alarming. This should be a wakeup call and warning to the entire world of academia.”

While numerous examples of suppression of ‘academic freedom’ can be cited in which scientists have been discriminated against for presenting views that conflict with mainstream perspectives, Armitage made the ‘unscientific’ mistake of assuming that the dinosaur must be only several thousand years old simply because the process in which the cells were preserved was not understood by him.

In fact, the finding of the soft tissue is not the first of its kind.  Several ground-breaking discoveries in the last decade have revealed preserved soft tissue on dinosaur remains, such as the recent finding of 68-milion-year-old soft tissue from the bones of a Tyrannosaurus rex. However, Mary Schweitzer, a molecular paleontologist at North Carolina State University, who headed up the research on the T. rex remains, explained that the soft tissue was able to be preserved by iron in the dinosaur’s body, which preserved the tissue before it could decay.

The legal case surrounding Armitage’s dismissal opens up many important questions about academic freedom, whether science and religion can ever truly coexist in harmony, and what knowledge may be unravelled by the discovery of preserved cells in the remains of dinosaurs.

Featured image: A Triceratops. Source: BigStockPhoto

By April Holloway


actually I didn't completely ignore the find. I wrote a post responding to the Dearth if fundamentalist Christians who think this proves the earth is 6,000 years old. Did you ignore other articles on this site? like the one recently posted about the 70,000 year old city that was just discovered in Africa?

I like how you just completely IGNORED the fact that this still REALLY DID HAPPEN lol. A scientist found SOFT TISSUE in a creature that's supposed to be long gone for more then 60 million years. Its IMPOSSIBLE for it to have SOFT TISSUE still. Does that calculate in your brain? I'm not saying the earth is 6000-10000 years old I personally believe its much older BUT this amazing find raises many questions.

If we as humanity stopped looking for the real answer every time a new finding or an interesting question was raised just because some religious fundamentalists cried "magic" did it, Where would we be?

I am going to sound insulting, buts its like every single Christian puts a dunce cap on and is proud of it. Would you people like to go back to the dark ages? Would you like to be ruled by the church the way it used to be? Would you like every single illness and disease treated as a demon possession an evil spirit or witchcraft? That is what the world looks like when you don't use the scientific process to find rational and factual answers to what is really going on in the world.

When we find soft tissue in a Dinosaur bone it does not mean that your religious text is true. It is not a proof that every word in your religious text is perfect. It certainly doesn't mean that your religious texts explanation of things fits the actual evidence.

You guys need to think long and hard about what the world would really look like if you guys were in complete control. It would be a very dark and scary place. We would have no hospitals no doctors no medicines no books no learning no freedom of thought no exploration of nature. These are all things that Christians at one time burnt people at the state over.

What would the Baptists do to the Pentecostals? Or the Protestants the Catholics (let alone all the bloodshed between all the protestant groups). This is what you guys are hanging your hat on. This is what the world would be like without real scientific secular inquiry about nature and reality. The world would be filled with far more pain, suffering and brutality and no magical being would be coming down from the sky to stop it.

I am serious. No magical being is going to fly down from the sky some day to save you. Live in the real world.

Soft tissues emerged as some of the dinosaur bone's original minerals departed. The study authors found "large strips of thin, light brown, soft material (20 cm by 10 cm)." They also identified bone cells called osteocytes, "including internal nucleus-like spheres, primary and secondary filipodia, and cell to cell junctions."1

I get the impression that you were mislead to think that the soft tissue was only an impression when it was clearly not. They pulled "large strips" FROM the fossil in question. Put creation theory aside and your evolutionary bias aside and look at the facts. Start with a fresh mind, look at the evidence and then see what world view you would lean toward (even if its not religious "as in Christianity or evolution" yes, both are religions) you could be a young earth atheist.

The biggest problem is sensationalist journalism, which misleads the half-educated populace. No, there is no soft tissue in a fossil, nor are there living cells in a fossil. What these fossils contain are IMPRESSIONS of soft tissue. For this to happen the soft tissue has to survive until the mineralization process sets in, and the preserving sediment has to be fine enough to preserve a detailed image of the tissue.

Most people are under the impression that a fossilized bone is a bone – it is not. It is a mineral that preserves the exact impression of the bone, and also preserves the mineral make up of the bone.

A scientist publishing that actual soft tissue or living cells were found in a fossil, without providing sufficient evidence is guilty of abusing his credentials as a researcher. No one objected when the South Korean cloning researcher Hwang Woo-Suk was fired for embellishing his research. Hwang did it for the money, and this guy did it for his religion.




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