Scientist wins hard cash over soft tissue from dinosaurs

By Bob Unruh


The scientific community and academia still are working out just exactly how to deal with the stunning revelation from paleontologist Mary Schweitzer in 2005 that there exists soft tissue attached to the skeletal remains of dinosaurs from their long-past era on Earth.

The latest fight erupted when a scientist who took part in a dinosaur dig in Montana found a triceratops horn with soft fiber and bone tissues that were stretchy, and he published a report on his findings.

He soon found himself out of his job at Cal State-Northridge, and now he’s reached a settlement over the dismissal he believes was triggered by the evidence that raises serious questions about evolution.

The report on the resolution to Mark Armitage’s case was profiled recently in the College Fix.

WND reported in 2014 when the fight developed.

The discovery of the soft tissue attached to the dinosaur skeleton is viewed by many as undermining the belief that dinosaurs roamed Earth no less than 60 million years ago, because of the understanding that soft tissue can’t survive the passage of millions of years.

Armitage reported after his discoveries were documented and reported, one university official shouted at him, “We are not going to tolerate your religion in this department!”

Armitage’s report on the discovery cited the finding of the tissue, but it did not speculate on any religious implications.

He eventually filed a lawsuit against California State University Northridge in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the board of trustees, alleging discrimination.

Ever wonder about evolution, and all those millions of years? Find out the truth at WND’s Superstore, where books and videos include “Evolution: A Fairy Tale for Grownups,” “Evolution: The Grand Experiment,” “Intelligent Design vs. Evolution” and “The Greatest Hoax on Earth,” and many more.

“Terminating an employee because of their religious views is completely inappropriate and illegal,” said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, at the time the case developed.

“But doing so in an attempt to silence scientific speech at a public university is even more alarming. This should be a wake-up call and warning to the entire world of academia,” he said.

Armitage’s lawyers said he was at a dig in the Hell Creek formation in Montana in 2012 when he came up with “the largest triceratops horn ever unearthed at the site.”

Later, while examining the specimen under a high-powered microscope at CSUN, he discovered the soft tissue.

“The discovery stunned members of the scientific community because it indicates that dinosaurs roamed the Earth only thousands of years in the past rather than going extinct 60 million years ago,” the legal team explained.

Armitage, a published scientist for more than 30 years, then was dismissed when CSUN abruptly claimed his appointment at the university of 38 months had been temporary and there was no funding for his position.

According to Armitage’s biography, he had been serving as the manager for the Electron and Confocal Microscopy Suite in the school’s biology department.

The Fix said Armitage’s settlement, while not revealed in detail, was for six figures.

The settlement did not require the school to admit that the fight was over creationism.

“In an emailed statement to the College Fix, campus spokesperson Carmen Ramos Chandler said California State University Northridge is ‘firmly committed to upholding academic freedom, free speech and a respect for all religious beliefs,'” the Fix reported.

The school continued, “The Superior Court did not rule on the merits of Mr. Armitage’s complaint, and this voluntary settlement is not an indication of any wrongdoing. The decision to not renew Mr. Armitage’s contract was based on budgetary considerations and a dwindling need for his services. The decision to settle was based on a desire to avoid the costs involved in a protracted legal battle, including manpower, time and state dollars.”

A spokesman for Armitage said that is true, but the university likely wouldn’t have reached a settlement on the claim had not there been the possibility the school would lose entirely.

A judge in Los Angeles Superior Court just weeks earlier had refused the university’s request to get rid of the case entirely.

Ever wonder about evolution, and all those millions of years? Find out the truth at WND’s Superstore, where books and videos include “Evolution: A Fairy Tale for Grownups,” “Evolution: The Grand Experiment,” “Intelligent Design vs. Evolution” and “The Greatest Hoax on Earth,” and many more.

It was Schweitzer in 2005 who apparently was the first to reveal the discovery of soft tissue from dinosaurs, a development that has been documented several times since.

She was studying the thigh bone of a Tyrannosaurus rex unearthed in 2000 when she found “the first evidence for soft tissues in a 68-million-year-old bone.”

Schweitzer was interviewed several years ago in Biologos and talked about her discovery.

She explained that that the arguments about evolution are not necessarily black-and-white, and so her discovery shouldn’t be treated as the definitive refutation of evolution.

“For 300 years we thought we knew how fossils formed – that an animal died, was buried and all the organics rotted away, leaving small spaces that later filled with mineral. But that explanation never accounted for some things we see in fossils, like skin for example,” Schweitzer said at the time. “Yet what this meant – the implications of it, were not considered by most paleontologists. Finding soft tissues that responded to our tests like modern materials in many ways, suggested that after 300 years of looking at this stuff, we don’t know as much as we thought. It’s also hard because, being a Christian evolutionary biologist, I receive a lot of mail that is not fun – fellow Christians suspect my faith, and scientific colleagues suspect my science.”

She said she was so nervous about the original discovery that she had the data, yet didn’t publish it for a year.

“I was terrified. First of all, I don’t like attention or the spotlight and I knew that was going to get a lot of attention.”

Schweitzer continued with the “one thing” that bothers her is that “young earth creationists” use her research for their own message.

“Pastors and evangelists, who are in a position of leadership, are doubly responsible for checking facts and getting things right, but they have misquoted me and misrepresented the data,” she charged. “They’re looking at this research in terms of a false dichotomy (science versus faith) and that doesn’t do anybody any favors.

“I don’t think my being a Christian has anything to do with the fact that the data I’m proposing is challenging, I’ve only had one or two people say they don’t trust my science because of my faith. So if I’m doing science according to the rules, which I’m doing to honor God, and I’m aware that anything and everything I do could be proven wrong tomorrow, then my job is to be as careful and cautious as I can and not overstate my data. All I can do is the best that I can do.”

Schweitzer said the real answer is there somewhere.

“Either the dinosaurs aren’t as old as we think they are, or maybe we don’t know exactly how these things get preserved,” she explained at the time. “We’ve known for a while that skin gets preserved. It’s the same with anything controversial – for example, it was decades ago now that somebody first proposed that continents move, and everybody laughed and said that shouldn’t be possible. Nowadays if you say that isn’t true you’d be a laughingstock. DNA, too, nobody wanted to believe that DNA was the carrier of biological information because it’s too simple a molecule.”

She described the church she attends as pretty conservative and she and the pastor “have discussed what I do, and we have agreed to disagree on some things.”

Schweitzer said, “After all, God is the only one who knows for sure – he is the only one who was there.”

She added, “The more I understand how things work, the bigger God gets. When he was just a magician pulling things out of a hat, that doesn’t even compare to how I see him now!”

Since her discovery, there have been several other reports of related findings, including Armatage’s.

The Daily Mail reported in 2014 a fossil bed in China has fossils that “include complete or nearly-complete skeletons associated with preserved soft tissues such as feathers, fur, skin or even, in some of the salamanders, external gills.”


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