Texas newspaper publishes editorial claiming humans and dinosaurs walked the Earth at the same time

Op-ed argues early human cave drawings prove people and dinosaurs co-existed

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 09 March 2021 19:37
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As millions of Americans still struggle with pandemic-induced joblessness, financial instability and food insecurity, the executive director of the Meals on Wheels chapter of Orange, Texas decided to write an editorial.

Naturally, it focused on whether or not dinosaurs and humans roamed the Earth at the same time.

Karen Y Stevens, the author of the editorial, assured readers of The Orange Reader that while she did believe that dinosaurs existed, she did not adhere to the idea that they walked the Earth long before humans.

"I believe that Dinosaurs walked this earth but not 140 million years ago like scientists claim," she wrote.

Ms Stevens then went on to offer an unintentional critique of the Texan public school system, revealing that a 2010 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll found that one third of people in the state also believed, like she, that dinosaurs and humans coexisted.

"I recently watched a video on dinosaurs, and a school teacher of Science was the one sharing the facts," Ms Stevens wrote. "But this Science teacher got it right. He stated that dinosaurs waked (sic) the earth with man. How else would they know what pictures to draw on cave walls that look exactly like dinosaurs? They have found drawings of Woolly Mammoths, Triceratops and men, drawn together fighting."

While it is correct that humans and woolly mammoths existed at the same time, it is important to note that mammoths were not dinosaurs, and that they existed in the Upper Paleolithic period, about 30,000 to 40,000 years ago. Dinosaurs died out approximately 65 million years ago.

Ms Stevens' claim that early humans drew pictures of triceratops on cave walls is a common Creationist talking point. It was debunked in Smithsonian Magazine as modern viewers experiencing pareidolia, the human tendency to attribute meaning to shapes whether or not that meaning was intended. Pareidolia is why we sometimes see recognisable shapes in clouds, figures in the stars, and Jesus in pieces of burnt toast.

She went on to argue that portrayals of dragons on the ancient Babylonian Ishtar Gate from 600 BC suggest they were inspired by dinosaurs.

"The animals appear in alternating rows with lions, fierce bulls, and curious long-necked dragons (Sirrush)," Ms Stevens writes. "The lions and bulls would have been present at that time in the Middle East, but on what creature did the ancient Babylonians model the dragon?"

Anthropologists believe that humans imagined dragons based on our learned fear of snakes and other large, venomous reptiles.

Perhaps more confounding than Ms Stevens' beliefs that humans and dinosaurs roamed the Earth at the same time is why the newspaper allowed the op-ed to run unchallenged.

Hemant Mehta, an atheist activist and author, wrote an essay in The Friendly Atheist critiquing the piece, and questioned why no one pushed back on the editorial and its numerous incorrect claims.

"No one at the newspaper did it. No one in Stevens' life did it. She's just extremely confident about her ignorance and no one seems to have the heart to tell her she's an idiot. It's sad, really," he wrote.

For readers curious about Ms Steven's further beliefs regarding dinosaurs, an editorial note informs that her op-ed is only the first in a series of two.

She said her next instalment would deal with "Job, and how God tells Job to behold these mighty creatures. How could Job behold these mighty creatures if Job had not seen them? We will also talk about why this is important in the Christian realm."

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