International's rotten evidence
John Stear, June 2006
Creation Ministries International (CMI) has, on its web site (as has Answers in Genesis (AiG)) an article listing arguments they think creationists should NOT use. The list includes many of the old furphies still being tossed about by some creationists despite CMI and AiG's advice to the contrary.
At least one of those arguments is still on their web sites. I refer to News blackout on strange creature, written, in 1991, by Creation Ministries International (CMI) proselytiser Russell Grigg, which refers to the carcase of a sea creature recovered off New Zealand by a Japanese trawler in April 1977. However, the issue is not so much that CMI continues to promulgate Grigg's article, the important question is, why did it take them so long to acknowledge the scientific evidence.
Grigg wrote his article in 1991, some thirteen years after evidence emerged that the carcase was that of a shark, most likely a basking shark. Grigg wrote:
'The Japanese trawler Zuiyo Maru caught a dead plesiosaur near New Zealand'. This carcass was almost certainly a rotting basking shark, since their gills and jaws rot rapidly and fall off, leaving the typical small 'neck' with the head. This has been shown by similar specimens washed up on beaches. Also, detailed anatomical and biochemical studies of the Zuiyo-maru carcass show that it could not have been a plesiosaur.
So, long after the basking shark evidence became convincing, Grigg continued to claim that "flipper samples for tissue analysis" proved the carcase was a plesiosaur
Let's look at the evidence at Sea Monster or Shark:
Photographs and witnesses confirm the presence of fin rays, which are possessed by most fish, including sharks. In contrast, plesiosaurs had bony phalanges as flipper supports, which were not seen in the carcass (Obata and Tomoda 1978, p 51). The limb bones shown in Yano's drawing were evidently based on presumption or pro-plesiosaur bias rather than observation (Omura and others 1978, p 56; Obata and Tomoda 1978, p 49).
Grigg cites "measurements of the head and neck".
More evidence from the same source:
The carcass sketch showed six neck vertebrae, viewed as "seven or so" by Obata and Tomoda (1978), which is reasonably consistent with Yano's measurements of neck length (150 cm) and individual vertebra diameter (20 cm). It is also consistent with sharks. However, 6 to 7 cervical vertebrae is not consistent with plesiosaurs and other marine reptiles. Even the pliosaurs, also known as "short-necked" plesiosaurs, have at least 13 neck vertebrae; the "long necked" plesiosaurs have far more. (Obata and Tomoda, 1978, p 46)... Although some of Yano's measurements seem surprisingly round (for example, 2000 mm for the tail and 10000 mm total length), if we assume they are reasonably accurate, then the body proportions (approximately 2:6:2 for the head+neck:torso:tail) are incompatible with any known plesiosaur fossils (Obata and Tomoda 1978, p 52). In many plesiosaurs the neck is by the longest section, and in no case is the torso (between the pelvic and pectoral fins) much longer than the head and neck, as it is in the carcass. The carcass could have lost some length through tail loss (discussed below), but the neck to torso ratio would still be incompatible with plesiosaurs.
And, "the absence of a dorsal fin discounted the possibility of its being a basking shark"?
Not so! More evidence:
Some witnesses denied the presence of a dorsal fin (Obata and Tomoda 1978). However, even if a dorsal fin were absent, it could have been rotted away. Second, as mentioned, one photo does show an apparent dorsal fin (see Figures 1c and 5) which was evidently overlooked by Yano and others. Omura, Mochizuki, and Kamiya (1978, p 56) state, "...by a close examination of the photograph we can clearly distinguish the base of a dorsal fin, though it had slipped from the mid-dorsal line".
As most of this evidence emerged in 1997/8 and Grigg wrote his article in 1991, the question deserves to be asked again: why, twelve years later, was he still clinging to his long discredited "plesiosaur" theory? Why did he not bother to follow up the evidence that emerged in 1978? The answer is plain. He didn't want to know. After all, why let the facts get in the way of a good story.
At the end of Grigg's article is a footnote acknowledging that evidence refuting the "plesiosaur" theory has been available since 1978, and providing links to two CMI articles, Live plesiosaurs: weighing the evidence and Let rotting sharks lie, written in December 1998 and November 1999 respectively. Why did it take so long for CMI to decide to heed the evidence, write those articles and add the links? Bev Elliott, co-author of Let rotting sharks lie, is described as being:
... a supporter of the AiG ministries since 1988... [and] until recently, an ardent supporter of the plesiosaur identification for the Zuiyo-maru carcass. [my emphasis]
"until recently"? What took Bev so long to discover and publish the correct evidence, considering she's been associated with AiG since 1988?
Good questions, but will answers be forthcoming? I fear not.
See also "Answers" in Genesis' Inconsistencies in Endorsing Myths