Dinosaurs and the Bible


Dinosaurs -- what are they?
Is there any evidence they co-existed with mankind?
Are dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible?
Is there a possibility that some dinosaurs may still exist?

Dinosaurs--what are they?

Dinosaur is a generic term that covers a wide variety of fossil remains of creatures that existed in large numbers at an earlier point in earth's history. (Click on the highlighted, underlined words to see artists' renditions of what they might have looked like.)

The earliest identified dinosaur fossils were discovered in England in 1822. That fossil was called Iguanodon. The word "dinosaur", which we use so much today and which means "terrible lizard", was not used until 1842. By the middle of the 19th century the hunt was on for remains of these monster creatures, and by the 1870's there was a world-wide search for dinosaur fossils.

Dinosaurs come in all shapes and sizes. Some are plant eaters, some meat eaters. They range in size from the size of a chicken to more than 90 tons. Some were armored; some had spikes on their head or tail. Some had large, sharp teeth and others small, blunt teeth. Their tremendous variety and weird shapes, as well as their enormous size, fire our imaginations.

Fossil remains of dinosaurs have been found on every continent and every modern-day climate zone. They were extremely abundant, and their remains have been found in enormous graveyards.

Horned dinosaurs -- One well known example of a horned dinosaur is triceratops, which was about 20 feet long and weighed 10 tons. Ceratopids (the fancy name for horned dinosaurs) had mouth parts uniquely designed to feeding on fibrous plants like palms. The turtle-like beak could rip fronds; then teeth specialized for shearing could chop them up. Another example is styrecosaurus.

Plated dinosaurs -- this class of dinosaurs known as Stegosaurids (literally "plate lizard") had large, bony plates that projected from the back. The best known example is stegosaurus, which had two rows of plates down its back. It is proposed that these plates were used for cooling purposes since the bones were laced with channels for blood flow. Stegosaurus was about 20 feet long and weighed 2 tons. The spikes on the tail were 3 feet long and about 6" thick at the base. Its brain was about the size of a walnut.

Another example of stegosaurids is the Anklosaurus. Anklosaurus was about 15 feet long, and its entire body was covered with armor. Its tail was shaped like a club.

Hadrosaurids-- or Duck-billed dinosaurs. These were large dinosaurs bearing a wide variety of bony crests on their skulls. An example is corythosaurus, which means "corinthian helmet lizard" and was about 18 feet long. (The picture to the right is from Jurassic Park.) In corythosaurus an air passage ran from the nostrils through the bill, up into the crest and exited in the back of the mouth. Lambeosaurus had a hatchet-shaped crest.

Big Plant Eaters--These dinosaurs include the largest creatures ever discovered. For many years Brontosaurus ("thunder lizard") was considered to be the largest. It was 70-75 feet long, stood 20-25 feet tall at the shoulders and weighed 30-40 tons.

Collectively, these huge reptiles are known as Diplodocids. They among this class is diplodocus, from which the class gets its name. Diplodocus was almost 100 feet are also called "sauropods" because of their large, thick feet that are similar to those on elephants. Typical long from head to tail. He was a light weight at 25 tons, and had broad pads on his feet like an elephant.

The image to the right is that on an apatosaurus. Like other diplodocids it had a very long neck and long tail.

Another family among these giants are the Brachiosaurids. The name means "arm lizard", since what distinguishes these giants from the diplodocids is that their front legs, or arms, were longer than the rear legs.

Raptors--One of the dinosaurs that attained some level of notoriety in the movie are also called "sauropods" because of their large, thick feet that are similar to those on elephants. Typical Jurassic Park was the velociraptor. Velociraptor belongs to the family of dromaeosaurids.

Actually, velociraptors are much smaller than those depicted in the movie. They were less than 2 meters (6 feet) from head to tail and only stood about .5 meter high (1.6 feet) at the hips. The most well known characteristic of the velociraptor is middle digit of the foot. It was highly modified and held retracted off of the ground and bore a relatively large, sickle-shaped claw. This enlarged claw, which could be over 6.5 cm (2.6 in) long around its outer edge, was most likely a predatory device used to tear into prey, possibly delivering a fatal blow.

Carnosaurs -- These are meat-eating dinosaurs and the ones that strike terror in the hearts of children. Allosaurus was 35 feet long and stood about 15 feet high. It head was about 2.5 feet long with lots of sharp teeth about 3" long.

Tyrannosaurus Rex means "king tyrant lizard" and was the most frightening of all. He was 50 feet in length, stood about 20 feet tall and weighed about 10 tons. Its head was 5 feet long with a mouth that could open 4 feet and was full of teeth 6-12" long. With all that, its front feet were quite small and too short to reach its mouth.

Some experts believe that far from being the fiercest of predators, Tyrannosaurus Rex and his trannosaurid relatives were actually plant eaters. For example, the short and relatively weak front feet would not be very effective in battle with other dinosaurs. Also, although the teeth are quite formidable in size and very sharp, we cannot really tell what they ate based on the shape of the teeth alone. The roots of the teeth, however, were relatively shallow, which would indicate they could not take the kind of stress encountered in pitched battle with other creatures.

Birds--One of the well known bird-like fossils is archaeopteryx. The name comes from two Greek words and literally means "original wing". Although it was originally classified as a dinosaur, it has since been reclassified as a true bird belonging to the class Aves. It was about the size of a crow or pigeon and had fully formed feathers. The picture shows the famous fossil of Archaeopteryx found in Germany in 1891. Note the awkward position, including the neck bent at an extreme angle, which might indicate a rather violent death.

Evidence dinosaurs and mankind lived together

The picture one gets from reading evolutionary accounts of dinosaurs is that the last of the massive creatures became extinct about 65 million years ago. It is proposed that the extinction was not a gradual process but happened suddenly as a result of a catastrophe.

We are also told by the evolutionists that mankind did not emerge until 1 or 2 million years ago. Thus it is reasonable to assume that man and dinosaurs never co-existed.

But is that really the case? Is there any evidence that man and dinosaurs lived together?

That is really a difficult question to answer definitively. What kind of evidence is required depends a great deal on the perspective of the observer. Remember that the evolutionist believes that it is impossible for that to be the case, so no matter what evidence is produced it is bound to be insufficient.

One of the interesting areas of evidences is that of pictographs, drawings on rock surfaces made by ancient peoples, that include recognizable images of dinosaurs. As one might expect, an internet search for "dinosaur pictrograph" resulted in many hits on Christian-based web sites.

One type of pictograph is known as the petroglyph, which is a pictograph formed by carving images into the surface of the rock. They are found all over the world and include a wide variety of subjects, including dinosaurs.

dino pict One of those petroglyphs is located in the Natural Bridges National Monument in southeastern Utah. The image to the right is a detail of a photograph posted on http://www.rae.org/dinoglyph.html. In this detail is an image of a sauropod, possibly a brontosaurus. Notice the sweeping tail just above the rock edge, lower-center left. (Click on picture to see a larger image.) This is a quotation about this petroglyph from a book sold in the visitors center at the park:

There is a petroglyph in Natural Bridges National Monument that bears a startling resemblance to a dinosaur, specifically a Brontosaurus, with a long tail and neck, small head and all. (Prehistoric Indians, Barnes and Pendleton, 1995, p.201)

The entire image to too large to display here, but you may see the entire photo by clicking here. The dinosaur is in the center, and notice the figure of a man up and to the left of the dinosaur.

dino pict Another petroglyph found in the same area is of what appears to be a triceratops.

There are other instances of petroglyphs of dinosaurs in North America. In 1924 a scientific expedition was led by Samuel Hubbard, curator of archaeology at the Oakland Museum, and Charles W Gilmore, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the United States National Museum. The purpose of the expedition was to explore the Havasupai Canyon in northern Arizona looking for evidence of prehistoric man.

What they discovered, among other things, were several petroglyphs, two of which are of particular interest in this context.

dino pictThe first is of an animal which can only be described as a dinosaur. A reproduction of the halftone photo taken by the expedition is shown here. The organizer of the expedition, E.L. Doheny, had discovered this petroglyph many years before, in 1879, and he noted that the image had not changed since he observed it then. It is also of interest to note that tracks of carnivorous dinosaurs were seen in the "Painted Desert" less than 100 miles from the canyon.

On the same wall, only about 15 feet from the dinosaur, they found a petroglyph of an elephant attacking a large man. Whether they were created at the same time it is perhaps impossible to say. However, the present day climate is that of a desert, which is an inhospitable habitat for elephants. So this picture must have been made at a time when the climate was substantially different than today's.

dino pict One other example of carvings of dinosaurs was found in a ancient Buddhist temple in Cambodia. Built of gray sandstone in the 12th Century, the temple contains carvings of many animals common to that area, including monkeys, water buffalo, parrots, and deer. One of the carvings, shown here, is of a stegosaurus. (Click on the picture to go to the www.bible.ca website.)

These are but three examples, but there are many others. There are also many examples of dragons being described in literature from many different peoples.

Possible mentions of dinosaurs in the Bible

Is it possible that there are mentions of dinosaurs, or dinosaur-like creatures, in the Bible? The answer is, "Yes!"

The first such mention is of "great sea monsters" in Genesis 1:21. The Hebrew word here is tanniyn, and the Strong's Lexicon gives this definition:

H8577 tanniyn: 28 occurrences; AV translates as “dragon” 21 times, “serpent” three times, “whale” three times, and “sea monster” once. 1 dragon, serpent, sea monster. 1a dragon or dinosaur. 1b sea or river monster. 1c serpent, venomous snake.
Strong, J. (1996). The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible

Parenthetically, there are many sightings in the literature of sightings of great sea monsters by sailors and others.

Two of the above mentioned references to "dragon" are in Psalms 74:13 and 148:7, the latter of which is:

Praise the Lord from the earth,
Sea monsters and all deeps.

Perhaps the clearest Biblical description of dinosaur-like creatures occurs in the book of Job. The first of these is in Job 40:15-24, which is too long to quote here. The word "behemoth" is actually a transliteration of the Hebrew word, for which no direct translation is known. Strong's The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible includes the definition "Diplodocus or Brontosaurus, exact meaning unknown."

dino pict The second passage in Job is Job 41:1-34. In this case the word used to describe this creature is Leviathan, which is also a transliteration of the Hebrew. This word is also used symbolically in several other places, but in Job it is clear that God is describing an actual creature. Also, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance includes this definition: "perhaps the extinct dinosaur, plesiosaurus, exact meaning unknown."

An interesting anecdote was reported to me by a first-grade teacher in a Christian school. Without telling the students what the creatures described in Job 41 and 42, she read the accounts and asked the students to draw a picture of what they heard. Many of the resulting pictures resembled, within the ability of first graders, dinosaurs.

Evidence that dinosaurs might be alive today

When one sets out to find recent accounts of encounters with large creatures, such as the Loch Ness monster, it is surprising how many such incidents have been recorded.

Loch Ness is an obvious starting place since it has made news for years. It is a little difficult to separate fact from fiction, but recorded sightings of "Nessie" extend back to 565 AD. There has also been some very credible sonar evidence.

There have been sightings of a similar nature in Lake Roemsjoen, Norway.

There are reports from indigenous people in places like the Amazon basin and the jungles in the Democratic Republic of Congo of dinosaur-like creatures. Recently a team traveled to Papua New Guinea to film a type of pterosaur, called a Ropen. (Their report, published in the Creation Research Quarterly, can be read in .pdf form here.)

So far the evidence seems to be somewhat sketchy, at least not definitive enough to convince those whose minds are already made up that they cannot exist.


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