An eleven-foot snake slithers among a cache of eggs and a sauropod dinosaur hatchling. Before it can grab the hatchling a landslide or windstorm buries the eggs, hatchling and snake. This is the scene preserved in Late Cretaceous deposits in India (Wilson et al. 2010). These same rocks have yielded thousands of sauropod eggs, hatchlings, bones and coprolites in what was a large sauropod nesting ground (Jain, 1989; Sahni et al, 1989). Wilson and his colleagues describe a particularly well preserved snake as a new fossil species and they also note that remains of other individuals of the same species of snake are found associated with other eggs in the same area.
This is observational evidence that ancient snakes hunted sauropod hatchlings. This nest site and other preserved sauropod nests in other locations reveal that sauropods typically left six to twelve eggs on the ground covered by a small bit of vegetation or loose sediment and the eggs were left to incubate themselves much like most reptiles today. In this case the eggs were likely too large and hard for this primitive snake to swallow because it did not have the capacity to open its jaws as wide a modern snakes. But given the size of the snake, even with its narrow gape, it could have taken in very young hatchlings. Fortunately, sauropods are thought to have had very fast growth rates, much like birds, such that they could escape any chance of snake predation if they could survive their first few weeks outside of the egg.
Yet Another Challenge to Young Earth Creationist’ Flood Geology Models
This fossil illustrates and supports an observation I have made previously about preserved dinosaur nests: Fossil Wasp Cocoons in Dinosaur Eggs: Complex Ecology Contradicts YEC Flood Geology Hypothesis, Juvenile Dinosaur Fossils in a Nest: Testimony to Rapid Burial but not by a Flood and Fossil Eggs, Nests, Floods and Stressed Pregnant Dinosaurs. In the latter two posts, I noted that dinosaur nests from Mongolia were found in layers of rock sitting on top of 20,000 feet of layers fossil-bearing rock. To explain how this could happen young earth creationists have had to result to some very creative story telling. They must explain how dinosaurs could have been roaming the Earth’s surface after 20,000 feet of sediments below their feet had deposited in global flood just a few days or weeks earlier. They claim (see prior posts for references) that pregnant dinosaurs which had been treading water and running up mountains to escape the global calamity wandered, during some lull in the chaotic global catastrophe, onto layers or newly deposited sediments. This time was so stressful for these dinosaurs that they sought out any place they could lay their eggs. Given the number of fossilized eggs in found in supposed Flood deposits, there must have been hundreds of thousands of these stressed pregnant dinosaurs that escaped the initial onslaught of the global deluge and were running around desperately making nests and laying eggs during this time.
Soon after laying these eggs, their nest and eggs, were covered by the continuing global events that eventually killed all the dinosaurs, except those preserved on the ark, and covered over the nests with fresh sediments allowing them to be preserved and eventually discovered by us today.
As implausible as this scenario painted by YECs might sound, their hypothesis is rendered utterly implausible when the physical evidence from dinosaur nests, such as the those above, are considered. Young earth creationists paint a picture of half-crazed dinosaurs running around to escape the next giant wave washing new layers of sediments over the world and laying nests in barren sand layers and then running off to try to find higher ground. What we find in this nest contradicts everything about this explanation.
Here we find clutches of preserved eggs, a hatchling dinosaur and a snake. How did the snake get there? How could dinosaurs have laid eggs during a global flood much less had the eggs survived long enough to incubate to hatching? Furthermore, there are thousands of eggs preserved in this area and there of several snakes of the same species preserved among them in addition to the one detailed in this particular study. Maybe a YEC could suggest that a long dinosaur survived weeks of flooding and laid its eggs and there was a snake that survived on a vegetation mat that happened to be there at the same time. But are we to believe that hundreds of the same species of dinosaur all laying eggs in the same area and multiple individuals of the same species of snake all ended up in that same location?
How could these snakes survive weeks if not months of a global Flood that killed every animal except those on the ark to then find itself in this nest? One would not expect the preservation of complex ecological relationships to be maintained in the middle of a disaster and yet we see evidence of that in this preserved nest.
There are far more reasonable explanations for the preservation of dinosaurs nests with eggs that don’t include a global flood. YECs often promote their view as being the best explanation for the geological features of the Earth and the fossil record. However, over and over again, a close inspection of the evidence shows that the YEC hypothesis is nothing more than an artificial construct with no explanatory power. It exists solely to maintain a specific, apparently infallible, interpretation by Ken Ham and others of the Bible.
Jain, S. L. “Recent dinosaur discoveries in India, including eggshells, nests and coprolites.” Dinosaur Tracks and Traces. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1989): 99-108.
Sahni, A. “Upper Cretaceous dinosaur eggs and nesting sites from the Deccan volcano-sedimentary province of peninsular India.” Dinosaur eggs and babies (1994): 204-226.
Wilson, Jeffrey A., Dhananjay M. Mohabey, Shanan E. Peters, and Jason J. Head. “Predation upon hatchling dinosaurs by a new snake from the Late Cretaceous of India.” PLoS biology8, no. 3 (2010): e1000322.
Cover image: Sculpture by Tyler Keillor and original photography by Ximena Erickson; image modified by Bonnie Miljour – Benton MJ (2010) Studying Function and Behavior in the Fossil Record. PLoS Biol 8(3): e1000321. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000321.g001, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9624022