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Open letter to science editors
KRONOS Vol II, No. 2
WERE ALL DINOSAURS REPTILES?
Copyright 1976 by Immanuel Velikovsky
(In the archives of Immanuel Velikovsky, two articles on the present subject were
found by his assistant, Jan Sammer. One version dates from January 1941 and the other from
early 1951. It was the task of the Editor-in-Chief of KRONOS to consolidate the two articles
in order to avoid any redundancy. To that end, Velikovsky empowered the Editor-in-Chief of
KRONOS to unite the two versions into one. The result is the article presented herein.)
* * * * *
BRONTOSAURUS WAS A MAMMAL
Millions of years are required for a piece of wood to become a piece of coal. But to
make of it a piece of coal when ablaze, only a few hours are needed. When footprints of
pre-historic animals are found in the coal surface of quarries, it is not necessary to assume that
millions of years must be involved in the calculations.
Continents appeared and disappeared; mountains rose and fell; rivers lost their beds;
and deep within the Earth, all geological strata boiled and turned over.
An animal fled upon the ground to save itself, or hid in a cave. The woods burned; the
air high above was in flames; the ground became soft from the inside. The animal perished, but
before perishing it left its mark -- its footprints.
The antiquity of the geological strata in which fossils are found is measured by tens and
hundreds of millions of years. However, all conclusions of geology must be revised in a very
definite manner. It is possible that not tens of millions of years lay between the full extinction
of the large Dinosauria and our age, but only some thousands of years. The evolution of
species, as it would proceed in a world not disturbed by catastrophes, would require for its
course quite a different span of time than if cataclysms intervened; cataclysms could do in only
hours or weeks for what evolution would require millennia to accomplish.
The huge extinct animals -- dinosaurs -- are classified as reptiles, and their time is
called the Age of the Reptiles. It was supposed that in this early age no mammals existed; then
skeletons of small wolf like animals were discovered together with the bones of dinosaurs.
Brontosaurus is classified as one of the amphibious dinosaurs. It is more than sixty feet
long and stands fourteen feet high. It has upright legs, with five tarsal bones and five digits on
its feet, a roomy chest enclosed by well-curved ribs and shoulder-blades, a large pelvis with a
wide aperture; the teeth of this animal are confined to the front of the jaw. Brontosaurus is
estimated to have weighed thirty tons.(1)
Reptiles are crawling creatures and do not have upright legs; the four legs of the
brontosaurs are unlike the legs of reptiles. Reptiles have a narrow pelvis, through the aperture
of which they lay eggs; they do not bear their living young. The large pelvis of Brontosaurus
suggests that this monster might have given birth to its young and did not lay eggs.
Diplodocus, another gigantic amphibious dinosaur, may also have been a mammal;
likewise a beast (Triceratops) resembling the unicorn, with a large pelvis, too, seems to have
been not a reptile but a mammal. "To the lay observer of the many restorations which we have
of the long-vanished forms, tinged perhaps in part by the artist's knowledge of existing types,
they do in frequent instances correspond so closely with existing mammals, notably
Triceratops with the rhinoceros, that knowledge of their true place in nature cannot be
assumed as understood."(2)
The theriodont, a stout-body animal, skeletons of which have been found mainly in
South Africa, is also regarded as a reptile of the Age of Reptiles. Not only did it carry its body
on upright legs, but its teeth were differentiated into incisors, canines, and molars, as is the
case in mammals, but not in reptiles.
"One of the most striking features in the skull of the theriodonts was the specialisation
of the teeth. In most reptiles the teeth are more or less alike, and they keep coming in during
the life of the animal as fast as their predecessors are worn away or broken. In the theriodonts,
however, there were some small front teeth, evidently for chewing and grinding, and between
them some elongated, dagger like teeth, evidently for slashing and tearing. Here we see an
exact counterpart of the front incisors, the long pointed canines, and the grinding teeth (the
pre-molars and molars) of the mammals."(3)
"It is not however the evidence of the skull and teeth alone that points to the direct
descent of mammals from the theriodont reptiles. For in these remarkable reptiles, the
vertebrae of the backbone, the shoulder-blade, the hip bones, the limbs and the feet, all show
many characteristics that clearly foreshadowed the typical mammalian plan ."(4)
It is conceivable that mammals and reptiles are erroneously placed in the same class of
Dinosauria. Camptosaurus, Tyrannosarus, and Trachodon are clearly not mammals; the
difference between their narrow pelves and the wide pelvis of Brontosaurus is obvious even to
non-students of paleontology. The latter may possibly have given birth to living creatures, who
nursed at their udders; the former laid eggs.
If only the fossils of whales had been found, and the living animal were not known, the
form of its skull with jaws and teeth, its body skeleton and tail, would suggest that it was a fish
and not a mammal. But whales larger than the largest dinosaurs are found alive, and we know
that they are mammals.
No fossil eggs of the brontosaur have been found; but fossil eggs of a narrow-pelvis
dinosaur have turned up, for instance, in the Gobi Desert. I do not think that a fossil egg of the
brontosaur will ever be discovered.
* * *
EXTINCTION OF THE DINOSAURS
It is not known what was the cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs.(5)
Did they exterminate one another? Some were carnivorous; the tyrannosaur, with
sharp curved claws, sharpened teeth, little forefeet and narrow pelvis, or the allosaur, with
bones hollow like those of birds. They fought with the herb-eating Brontosaurus and
Diplodocus, attacking with claws and sharp teeth. Some of their skeletons were found in a
position that suggests a battle. In the hall of the Dinosauria of the Jurassic period, in the
American Museum of Natural History, the final scene of such a battle is reconstructed,
showing a carnivorous dinosaur -- Allosaurus -- tearing the carcass of the fallen brontosaur.
What was the weapon of Diplodocus and Brontosaurus? These animals seventy and
eighty feet long had no horns, no claws, and no teeth suited for offence or defence. "They
were apparently unarmed and weaponless, unless the terminal ten feet of the tail, which was
sometimes slender like a whiplash, might be interpreted as a
It is sometimes supposed that the cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs, carnivorous
and herbivorous alike, might have been in their increased bulk. It is not even clear how the
brontosaurs could bear their many tons' weight of body on straight legs.(7) "The increased
bulk necessitated their forsaking the strictly terrestrial habitation and becoming partly if not
wholly water-borne." "These [Sauropoda] creatures waded, as their heavily ballasted limbs
imply, or swam . . . but show no distinctively natatory adaptation" (Lull).
For this reason the large brontosaurs and diplodocs are thought to be related to the
class of amphibia, or reptiles living partly in water and partly on the land. The skeletons have
no signs of adaptation to life in water, but their great weight on land demands this explanation
about the amphibious behavior of these animals; in water their bodies would be less heavy.
However, Brontosaurus was not an amphibian, but a land animal.
It is conjectured that the brontosaurs grew too heavy to walk on land; but why did they
grow so heavy, if the law of evolution is a principle of adaptation to existing conditions? "The
cause of extinction is by no means clear" (Lull).
The extinction was not gradual. "The most dramatic and in many respects the most
puzzling event in the history of life on the earth . . . is the change from the Mesozoic, Age of
Reptiles, to the Tertiary, Age of Mammals. It is as if the curtain were rung down suddenly on
a stage where all the leading roles were taken by reptiles, especially dinosaurs, in great
numbers and bewildering variety, and rose again immediately to reveal the same setting but an
entirely new cast, a cast in which the dinosaurs do not appear at all, other reptiles are mere
supernumeraries, and the leading parts are all played by mammals of sorts barely hinted at in
the preceding acts."(8)
But a hint is given in the fact that the so-called Laramide revolution, accompanied by a
folding of the Earth's crust and the uplifting of mountains, marks the end of the Mesozoic era,
or the era of the dinosaurs. It is characteristic: The Mesozoic age terminated in a revolution
that uplifted continents and dropped them in other places; and "the period of the extinction of
the dinosaurs was coincident with the world-wide Laramide revolution."(9)
It should be very simple to imagine that the same catastrophe killed the dinosaurs.
Cataclysms are not barred from Geology but they are regarded as slow processes; as a factor
in biology, real cataclysms and revolutions have been disqualified since the theory of Darwin
about slow adaptations and evolutions became the standard view. Therefore the Laramide
revolution folded the Earth's crust and uplifted mountains, but did not affect the life of the
dinosaurs, and the cause of their extinction is still being sought.(10) The beginning of the antediluvian world of beasts may well have been hundreds of thousands,
or millions of years ago. This is not being discussed here. But the end of the dinosaurs came
well in the age of man, even in the historical part of this age.
Regarding the problem of extinction, Lull notes that "individual species [of dinosaur]
are reported from rocks as high as the Lance [formation]. It is hardly conceivable that a few
stragglers should survive, even in the more remote portions of the globe, for millions of years
after the general extinction of the group, yet this is precisely what our records seem to show,
unless there has been a misinterpretation of an extremely local remnant of older strata, as in
the Ojo Alamo described by Gilmore, or the lack of recognition of true age, possibly of the
lower members of an apparently continuous formation, as in Patagonia."(11)
The revolution which marks the finale of the Cretaceous period was caused by one of
the interplanetary contacts. Only a few specimens of the Dinosauria survived the Deluge;
single individuals survived one or more of the later cataclysms.
In the great catastrophes, the large terrestrial animals had less chance to survive than
the small ones; they could hardly find caves large enough to conceal them; if they found large
caves, they thronged into them, and suffocated there or were crushed by the collapse of the
caves. Many skeletons of dinosaurs are found in such large caves. Small animals could enter
clefts of the rocks, or holes in the ground, and though they also were destroyed by myriads,
relatively more of them could survive.
In the conditions that followed the catastrophe, the very few large dinosaurs which
were left alive, were condemned to extinction as the result of violent alterations in practically
all geophysical conditions: changes in magnetic fields, in temperature, in the composition of
the atmosphere, in the length of the day and of the year, along with the change in the seasons,
profoundly affected organic life.
Especially the increased weight of everything on the Earth,(12) caused the bodies of
the few remaining brontosaurs to become heavier than they could bear. Wading in water,
though diminishing the load which ballasts the legs, is no real adaptation: the feet are heavily
dragged and sink in the mud below the shallow water. Leaving the water, the animals must
have felt the great weight of their bodies and the arresting effect of the mud.
If these animals were mammals, as I suppose, the period of gravidity, because of the
additional weight, must have been most disastrous for the female.
Only the monstrous sea-mammals of that age escaped total destruction, and their
descendents live until today: these are the whales. They reach over one-hundred feet in length,
and in weight they surpass the largest brontosaurs.
It is remarkable that travellers of the second and possibly the first millennium before
the present era, brought home these stories:
The ruler over the sea animals is Leviathan. His fins radiate brilliant light, its smell is
foul.(13) Leviathan spouts out water.(14) This description, one may guess, is of a whale.
Ziz is the ruler over the birds; it is monstrous in size; its wings are so huge that
unfurled they darken the Sun. "Great bird Ziz slaps his wings and utters his cry, so that the
birds of prey, the eagles and the vultures, blench."(15) The span of the wings of the pterosaurs
ranged from 27 feet upwards to an incredible 69 feet,(16) whereas the span of the wings of the
large eagles is less than 10 feet.
Behemot (not to be confused with the animal that bears this name at present) is the
most notable representative of the mammal kind. Behemot matches Leviathan in strength. It
had to be prevented from multiplying and increasing, "else the world could not have continued
to exist". It is deprived of the desire to propagate its kind.
As the above-mentioned travellers could not have visited the American Museum of
Natural History on their voyages, nor any other museum of paleontology, nor could they have
read modern books on dinosaurs and all their classes, it is puzzling to read their description of
the monstrous animals and of their behaviour, and also of the weapon used by the largest land
In mortal combat between the gigantic beasts, Leviathan kills by a blow of its fins, and
Behemot kills by a lash of its tail.(17) The modern paleontologists wondered at the largest
land animal's lack of weapons for attack or defence, which would have made it easy prey for
every attacker, and supposed that the animal used its tail as its weapon.
Equally interesting is the description of the gigantic female Reem when heavy with
young. "Leviathan, Ziz, and Behemot are not the only monsters; there are many others, and
marvellous ones, like reem, a giant animal, of which only one couple, male and female, is in
existence .... The act of copulation occurs but once in seventy years between them . . . The act
of copulation results in the death of the male. He is bitten by the female and dies of the bite.
The female becomes pregnant and remains in this state for no less than twelve years. At the
end of this long period she gives birth to twins, a male and a female. The year preceding her
delivery she is not able to move .... For a whole year the animal can but roll from side to side,
until finally her belly bursts, and the twins issue forth. Their appearance is thus the signal for
the death of the mother reëm."(18)
The problem of the statics of the dinosaurs, with their pillar-like legs, vexed modern
scholars. The larger species are classified as amphibians, though no adaptation for life in water
is found in their fossilised remains; they are classified so because, by wading in water, they
would have a lesser load of body to carry. That this does not solve the question is shown
above. The animals were apparently not adapted to the life conditions and did not survive.
To be more exact, the animals adapted themselves to conditions, but the Earth changed
these conditions completely, and more than once. The variations of the force of gravitation
became, more than anything else, fatal to the large dinosaurs.
* * *
DINOSAURS IN THE AGE OF MAN?
Dinosaurs were found in the Laramie basin in Wyoming together with land plants
"remarkably modern in their aspect";(19) these land plants bespoke a much more recent age
than the Age of Reptiles, which, it is assumed, came to its end about 70 million years ago. The
plants were referred by paleobotanists to at least the Tertiary epoch, or the Age of Mammals.
"The Laramide group has given rise to one of the two most prolonged controversies in the
history of American geology."(20) But the paleozoologists persisted in ascribing the plants to
the Age of Reptiles, and finally coerced the botanists into accepting their view.
In the redstone wall of Supai Canyon in the region of the Grand Canyon in northern
Arizona were discovered figures of animals cut by some prehistoric man. "The fact that some
prehistoric man made a pictograph of a dinosaur on the walls of this canyon upsets completely
all of our theories regarding the antiquity of man."(21) "The fact that the animal is upright and
balanced on its tail would seem to indicate that the prehistoric artist must have seen it
alive."(22) Dinosaurs were in the vicinity, as is established by footprints discovered not more
than one hundred miles from the picture.
The paleontologist's scheme requires the extinction of dinosaurs sixty to seventy
million years before man appeared on the Earth. "Either man goes back in Geologic time to
the Triassic Period, which is millions of years beyond anything yet admitted, or else there were
'left over' dinosaurs which came down into the age of the mammals. Yet even this last
conclusion indicates a vast antiquity."(23)
What kind of man was the artist? "He used tools. He had the patience to chip an
outline in hard stone with a crude flint and he had the perseverance to finish the job. He had
an eye for form and a sense of proportion. He had the good judgment to select a medium
which has preserved his work."(24)
Close to the picture of the dinosaur appears a drawing of an elephant attacking a large
man. Elephants were not found in America when it was discovered by Columbus, but remains
of elephants "are very common all over North America, and they are found from Alaska to
Mexico. Three species are represented: the mammoth, the mastodon and the imperial elephant
(elephas imperator) of California."(25) On the wall of the Canyon is the picture of the last
species. The restored skeleton stands fourteen feet high.
Next to these pictures an ibex is drawn; prehistoric pictures of the ibex, rather
artistically executed, are also found in other places in the region of the Grand Canyon. "The
interesting thing about this is that no ibex, not even fossil ones, have ever been found in
America. These drawings would seem to indicate that they must have been a common animal
in the Grand Canyon region, in the prehistoric past."(26) "Must we not readjust many of our
ideas regarding the antiquity of man, and his contact with the prehistoric animals. . . ?"(27)
It is not enough that a prehistoric man depicted animals long extinct and even of
antediluvial origin. On the same wall where dinosaur, elephant, and ibex appear, the artist left
pictographs or some inscription of prehistoric times. "The most remarkable of these was a row
of symbols, deeply incised, which resembled the Greek sign of Mars showing shield and spear,
thus [*!* image] . The 'desert varnish' had commenced to form in the cut, indicating an
unbelievable antiquity."(28) If the man knew how to express himself not only in pictures but
also in writing, then the term "prehistoric" is hardly justified.
In 1926 a stone bearing an inscription in characters similar to those of the Supai
Canyon was found near Granby, Colorado. "The sculptured stone . . . shows, carved in high
relief, the figures of two dinosaurs and an elephant .... The dinosaurs suggest either the
brontosaurus or the diplodocus."(29)
Human beings did not exist in the age of the reptiles; if they did exist, they were not
literate people. Or were they?
REFERENCES AND NOTES
1. [Adrian J. Desmond, The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs (N. Y., 1976), p. 27 (under present
conditions). - Editor's Footnote]
2. R. S. Lull in Organic Adaptation to Environment, by G. E. Nichols, et al., Chapter VII,
"Dinosaurian Climatic Response" (Yale Univ. Press, 1924), pp. 225-226 (emphasis added).
[The ceratopsians now appear to have been definite egg-layers. "One dinosaur that is
unquestionably associated with its eggs is the small Mongolian Protoceratops. It is significant
that the eggs are very large (far larger relatively than those of reptiles), so the offspring began
life larger than many contemporary mammals and lizards" (see Desmond, p. 202 and R. T.
Bakker, "Dinosaur physiology and the origin of mammals," Evolution, 25 (1971), pp.
636-658). The Triceratops may still have been a mammal, however, since a present day group
of mammals - the monotremes - do lay eggs. The duckbill platypus is the most typical and best
known of the monotremes. - The Ed.]
3. E. H. Colbert, The Dinosaur Book (American Museum of Natural History, N. Y., 1945), p.
5. [Cf. Desmond, op. cit., pp. 184-196; D. Russel and W. Tucker, "Supernovae and the
Extinction of the Dinosaurs," Nature, 229 (Feb. 19, 1971), pp. 553-554, H. Urey "Cometary
Collisions and Geological Periods," Nature, 242 (March 2, 1973), pp. 31-33 1. S. Shklovskii
and C. Sagan, Intelligent Life in the Universe (Delta Books: N. Y., 1966) p. 100. Theories of
extinction range to include plant alkaloid poisoning, cosmic radiation, drastic global climatic
change, cometary collision, asphyxiation, stress, old age, and constipation. - The Ed.]
6. R. S. Lull, "Dinosaura," Encyclopedia Americana
7. [See J. H. Ostrom, "Terrestrial vertebrates as indicators of Mesozoic climates,"
Amer. Paleontol. Conv. (1969), pp. 347-376 -- "The evidence indicates that erect posture
and locomotion probably are not possible without high metabolism and high uniform
temperature."; also see Desmond, p. 60 and p. 216, ref. No. 38; R. T Bakker, "Anatomical and
Ecological Evidence of Endothermy in Dinosaurs," Nature, 238 (July 14, 1972) pp. 81-85; R.
S. Seymour, "Dinosaurs, endothermy and blood pressure," Nature, 262 (July 15, ;976), pp.
207-208. As to the specific problem of how Brontosaurus could have borne itself, see
Desmond, pp. 128-131. - The Ed.]
8. G. G. Simpson, quoted by Shuchert and Dunbar, Outlines of Historical Geology (N. Y.,
1941), p. 230.
9. W. E. Swinton, The Dinosaurs (London, 1934) p. 186.
[E. H. Colbert, Wandering Lands and Animals (N. Y., 1973), p. 207 - "Perhaps the extensive
extinctions at the end of Cretaceous time are to be correlated in some way with the beginning
of worldwide mountain uplifts, which eventually were to result in the modern great mountain
systems - the Himalayas and the Alps, the Andes and the Rocky Mountains. This is known as
the 'Lararnide revolution' in earth history. However that may be, the empirical evidence shows
that with the advent of Cenozoic history the mammals inherited the earth." - The Ed.]
10. "There have been many theories set forth to explain their [dinosaurs'] sudden and dramatic
end, no one of which in itself suffices. That the Laramide revolution lies back of it as a basic
cause I have not the least doubt; in what way it may have reacted upon the dinosaurs is not at
all clear." - Lull, Organic Adaptation, op. cit., p. 276.
11. Lull, Ibid., p. 275. "Gilmore has just described a form, which he calls Alamosaurus, from
the Ojo Alamo beds of New Mexico, an undoubted sauropod, but in inexplicable association
with Lance forms, long after the general extinction of the race. He compares measurements
with those of Brontosaurus; the scapula of Alamosaurus was 65 inches long to 45 inches for
that of Brontosaurus; the ischia, on the other hand, were nearly equal, showing again a
brachiosaur-like beast . . ." - Lull, Ibid., p. 270.
12. [See I. Velikovsky, "Cosmos without Gravitation," Scripta Academica Hierosolymitana
(N. Y.,1946),p. 16. - The Ed.]
13. L. Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, I (Phila., 1942), p. 28.
14. Ibid., p. 4.
15. Ibid., pp. 4-5.
16. [See Science News, 3/15/75, p. 166 - The Ed.]
17. Ginzberg, I, p. 28.
18. Ibid., pp. 30-31.
19. C. O. Dunbar, Historical Geology (1949), p. 375.
21. S. Hubbard, The Doheny Scientific Expedition to the Hava Supai Canyon, Northern
Arizona, 1925 (1927), p. 5. (emphasis in text).
E. Georg, referring to these drawings in his The Adventure of Mankind (1931), says: "Dr.
Ales Hrdlicka, President of Anthropoloiccal Association, has given a lecture on these
discoveries. Though his facts seem almost fantastic, they demand attention. They are actually
nothing more or less than an image of a dinosaur supporting itself on its hind legs and balanced
by its enormous tail. And a second drawing shows a saurian attacking a man .... Third drawing
portrays a human figure beside a mastodon."
22. Hubbard, p. 7.
23. Ibid., p. 9.
24. Ibid. (emphasis in text).
25. Ibid., p. 15.
26. Ibid., p. 17, emphasis in text.
27. Ibid., p. 20.
28. Ibid., p. 9, emphasis in text.
29. Ibid., p. 36.