A Dinosaur Tale

1,331 words

© Anthony E. Larson, 2004

A Dinosaur Tale

Science may be about to lose a skirmish in the age-old ideological conflict between science and religion. One of its fundamental tenets is about to be shown totally false.

Christians would do well to take notice of these developments because if science has been so very wrong about this idea, it could well be wrong about many other things.

A number of years ago, a large oil company advertised its gasoline product with an animated television commercial explaining how ancient plants and animals “gave their all” so we could have gasoline for our cars today. The animators depicted a cartoon dinosaur poking its head out of a car’s gasoline tank, making a somewhat comical growling sound as the car sped off.

This amusing commercial illustrated the modern view, held by geologists and paleontologists, that Earth’s petroleum deposits came from the remains of long dead plants and animals. It was a cleaver portrayal of orthodox science’s theories—a dinosaur tale, if you will.

Interplanetary space exploration, first begun over 40 years ago, has uncovered an embarrassment of enigmas. We may know more about our solar system than we did before we reached out into space, but we understand it less. Each new mission brings exclamations of “surprise” from scientists because what they learn differs from their preconceptions.

Among the most mystifying enigmas is the discovery of hydrocarbons—gas and oil, if you will—on other planets and moons.

But how can that be? Doesn’t gas and oil come from ancient, entombed biomass? That’s what we learn from the dinosaur tale told us in school.

Earth’s petroleum deposits and its many byproducts, according to geologists, originated in the distillation of hydrocarbons from the decaying remnants of massive deposits of ancient flora and fauna, accumulations that were then buried by successive depositions in enormous subsidence zones. Over great expanses of time, opine the experts, these deposits were compressed in geological processes, squeezing out the hydrocarbons, which then collected in great pools beneath impermeable layers of rock, waiting for us to tap them with deep wells.

Hence the term “fossil fuel” is applied to natural gas and oil because they are thought to be the byproducts of life.

But if Earth’s petroleum or hydrocarbons came from dead plants and animals, how did they appear in abundance on lifeless planets and moons elsewhere in our solar system? Are we to assume that these orbs once supported teeming life, which then vanished, leaving behind their hydrocarbons for us to discover? Or are geologists wrong about the origin of Earth’s hydrocarbons?

A century ago, the idea of obtaining oil from biomass seemed logical. Probably since time began, man has mined coal for energy from great seams layered in the earth. Those same coal beds, and the strata adjoining them, hold the fossils of ancient plants and animals. Since the only things on this planet seen to contain appreciable amounts of hydrocarbons were the flora and fauna that proliferate on its surface, scientists naturally assumed that this was the source for buried gas and oil deposits.

Deep peat beds found in some locations seemed to support that idea as well. Those peat beds, which yield burnable fuel when dried, are thought to be simply an early step in a process that eventually creates coal and hydrocarbon deposits. Thus, it seemed reasonable to assume that coal and oil were the byproducts of accumulated and buried biomass.

This explanation for the existence of crude oil and natural gas—hydrocarbons—beneath Earth’s crust may have been useful up until the mid-twentieth century, but it has no meaning in light of the preponderance of evidence that has accumulated since mankind ventured into space.

For decades, we have launched unmanned probes to other planets and moons in our solar system. These have sent back pictures and data sufficient to teach us the true origin of hydrocarbons, whether they be on a distant planet or here on Earth.

We have learned that hydrocarbons are present almost everywhere in the solar system, not just on Earth. Sophisticated spectrographic analysis has detected hydrocarbons in the atmosphere of most major planets and many large moons.

So much for dinosaur tales.

Most notable for its concentration of hydrocarbons (scientists cautiously use the word “methane”) is great Titan, a moon nearly the size of Mars that circles Saturn. Data suggests that the atmosphere of this planet-sized moon is composed primarily of nitrogen and hydrocarbons in one form or another. Some astronomers speculate that so great is the concentration of hydrocarbons in its atmosphere that when it rains on Titan, condensed hydrocarbons drizzle from clouds of methane rather than water as on Earth. In fact, where Earth is a water planet with streams, lake, rivers and oceans of water, Titan may be an oil planet with streams, lakes, rivers and oceans of flowing hydrocarbons in one form or another ranging from light, volatile oils to heavier forms.

What seems likely from the evidence collected to date is that Titan and Earth represent two distinct phases of similar planetary evolution. The oil deposits deep in Earth’s crust betray the unarticulated truth that this planet once passed through a phase like that which persists on Titan today. At some time in Earth’s prehistory, our atmosphere was so charged with hydrocarbons that they naturally accumulated in great concentrations on the surface. Some of the heavier oils were deposited in pools and then buried in seismic events. Some of the lighter hydrocarbons, like naphtha, would have seeped deep into the ground to accumulate in vast pools, just as water concentrates in deep aquifers today. Those great pools of oil, gas or petroleum remained entombed in Earth’s crustal rock, insulated from the chemical and catastrophic processes that ultimately reduced our atmosphere to its present composition.

No one speculates that these newly discovered hydrocarbons found elsewhere in the solar system came from any kind of decayed biomass. The environment on other planets—most notably the gaseous giants—is far too harsh to support any life, much less generate the abundance needed to produce massive amounts of hydrocarbons. So, why assume that oil elsewhere—on Earth, for example—came exclusively from life?

This beg the question: Since there are massive amounts of hydrocarbons elsewhere in the solar system, might it be that Earth’s hydrocarbon deposits originated in the same way as those others? Of course, the only logical answer is yes! If it is impossible that hydrocarbons found elsewhere in the solar system are the byproducts of life, then it stands to reason that the same holds true for Earth.

Once mankind entered the space age, the orthodox myth of crude oil’s origin in ancient biomass should have been dispelled immediately. But it was not. Instead, today’s science textbooks parrot the same weary myth of yesteryear. Although the truth is as plain as the nose on our collective face, we persist in teaching a dinosaur tale, a fabrication.

Indeed, the latest textbooks written and used by academia in classes on geology, paleontology and astronomy, intended to ‘educate’ the young, perpetuate this absurd fiction. Once again, as in the days of Copernicus and Galileo, we see establishment science and academia clinging like grim death to an absolute myth!

Then, as now, whenever people who have embraced a myth or mystery are confronted by truth, they seldom relinquish the myth. Indeed, they continue to embrace it in the face of all evidence to the contrary, either completely ignoring the evidence for the truth or viciously attacking it with spurious logic and an utter absence of common sense.

In other words, we go on telling dinosaur tales.






  1. There are three forms of life on our planet: prokaryotes (bacteria), eukaryotes (animals, plants, fungi, protists), and archaea.

    Since the discovery of archaea, it has been estimated that at least 20% of all biomass on Earth is from this domain. But I have read of working hypotheses where the biomass estimate is that 80% of all life on Earth is archaea, assuming massive underground deposits of these lifeforms which are responsible for the creation of crude petroleum and natural gases.

    I have read of studies which determine that there has not been enough biomass that has lived and died on the surface of the Earth since the Cambrian-Ordovician transition to account for how much oil we have already extracted from the crusts.

    Archaea live in the harshest environments on Earth. Bacteria can live in some incredible places , but archaea has bacteria beat hands down on that front.

    I expect something like archaea and bacteria to be discovered on the other planets of our solar system.

  2. You show, at best, an obvious lack of chemistry education and, at worst, a deliberate distortion of the truth to match a preconceived notion. All molecules containing hydrogen and carbon are “hydrocarbons.” Methane (CH4) is the simplest hydrocarbon and can be produced by many abiotic processes. It is one of the simplest molecules known and is found in abundance throughout the universe. Petroleum and coal are complex mixtures of long chain hydrocarbons (from 6-30 carbons strung together) that HAS NOT been found off earth.

    To suggest that the use of the term “methane” is anything other than a description of the evidence (spectral lines identify the elements and compounds in abundance) and the atmosphere is disingenuous.

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