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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Stegosaurus Carving on a Cambodian Temple?

Young earth creationists Don Patton, Carl Baugh, and some of their associates and followers have argued that a stone carving on the wall of the Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia was based on a live Stegosaurus dinosaur seen by the artist. There are problems with this interpretation, even aside from extensive evidence that humans did not appear on earth until at least 60 million years after non-avian dinosaurs* went extinct.

First, the image in question differs in several significant ways from actual stegosaurs. Second, the main evidence for the Stegosaurus interpretation consists of a row of lobes along the back of the carving animal. Although superficially resembling the bony back plates of stegosaurs, there are a number of alternate explanations, including the possibility that they merely represent background vegetation or decorative flourishes, similar to many others on and around other carvings on the temple.

The lobes may also represent exaggerated dorsal spines of a chameleon or other lizard. When all features and factors are considered, the carving is at least as compatible with a rhinoceros or chameleon as a stegosaur. Moreover, even if it represents a stegosaur, the carving could have been based on fossil remains rather than the artist seeing a live stegosaur.

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