Were flying reptiles too large to fly?

The following is from the U.K. Telegraph

They carried away Raquel Welch in One Million Years BC and were ferocious in the Jurassic Park series of films.

But now it seems pterodactyls, the terror of the prehistoric skies, may have struggled to get off the ground.

The new research claims that the ancient reptiles, which could grow to the size of small aeroplanes, were too heavy to fly — even with their massive wings.

The problem, according to a leading scientist, is that they could not flap fast enough to create the thrust to keep their enormous bulk airborne.

This is a well-known problem for paleontologists, that recently made the “news” again. Birds can fly because they have lighter bones than most mammals and are light enough to create the momentum to take off from the earth with their wings. Flying reptiles — which were related to, but in a different class than dinosaurs — were so massive that the mechanics of pterosaur flight are not completely understood. But it is equally unlikely that this group of animals was not capable of powered flight.

The problem vanishes if it is proposed that the atmosphere at this time had a higher barometric pressure, being several times thicker or more “soupy” than it is today. In fact, this helps to explain the hugeness of nature in general — how the atmosphere could support giant ferns, plants, trees, insects, dinosaurs, and of course, pterosaurs — during this era.

Implications For Radiometric Dating

The dinosaur era — spanning 300 million years from 350 to 50 million years ago, the Triassic, the Jurassic and the Cretaceous — commenced with an explosion of huge and prolific plant forms. At the start of the Triassic period coal is noticeable by its absence throughout the world. This is known as the “coal gap.” Most of the coal and fossil fuel of the planet is thought to have been formed after the beginning of the Triassic period. During this era, the entire planet existed in a tropical climate. Huge lush rain forests and swamps supported huge insect and animal forms. It is further thought that warm blooded animals did not come on the scene until the planet cooled.

But this theory of a dense atmosphere planet has huge implications for radiometric dating models. Carbon-14 dating relies on the presupposition that the amount of radiation entering the earth’s atmosphere has been fairly constant over the time period being studied. Potassium-argon dating and uranium-lead dating is thought to be more stable than this and the formation of these isotopes are not dependent on cosmic rays. However, it is known that the effect of cosmic rays bombarding these isotopes can produce an an acceleration or deceleration of decay.

If we accept the “super-pressure tropical atmosphere hypothesis” there would be a significantly lower amount of radioactive material and a higher rate of radioactive decay since the sun’s radiation was hindered by the higher moisture environment of the earth’s protective shield. The resulting radiometric dating models would yield dates much higher than the actual age if this is not taken into account.

The mistake is to assume that the amount of cosmic radiation entering the earth’s atmosphere has been constant since the age of dinosaurs. This would have its most immediate effect on Carbon-14 dating, which would affect mainly recent archaeological finds now dated at less than 70,000 years. For the purpose of dating flying reptile fossils, potassium argon and uranium-lead dating is used. The effect of the sun on these radioacative isotopes is more complicated to describe, but the interaction of cosmic rays with the earth’s magnetic field has been shown to have an effect on the enrichment and rate of decay of potassium-argon and uranium-lead.

Without assuming the Genesis pre-flood earth model proposed by many creationists, I’d like to see some paleontologists do a recalibrated study of fossils based on various atmosphere models that differ from the constant model now assumed. The hypothesis ought to be considered that the dinosaur era was closer to us in time than is now proposed.

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