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Discovery Magazine 3/1/2019

Could Animals have Lived Hundreds of Years Like Humans Did?

Dear Digger Doug,

Since humans used to live to be hundreds of years old, could animals? Since lizards never stop growing, wouldn’t they grow to be huge if they were able to live longer?

—Daniel Hawn, Crossville, TN


Dear Daniel,

That is a great question. You are correct that many reptiles continue to grow throughout their lives, while mammals reach a final size and stop growing. Scientists used to think that’s how dinosaurs were able to get so big, but recent studies have shown that was probably not the case. Scientists studying bones have observed that bones have features, kind of like tree rings, that help show the age of the bones. After studying those features in dinosaur fossils, scientists think that the huge sauropod dinosaurs (like Apatosaurus) and theropod dinosaurs (like T-Rex) reached a maximum size after only 12-13 years for the sauropods and 20-30 years for the theropods! Of course, most dinosaurs never grew to be so large. Some were only the size of chickens. God made a lot of variation within the dinosaur kinds.

It is true, however, that many kinds of life (plants, insects, reptiles, and even humans) were able to grow to enormous sizes in the pre-Flood world (and after the Flood for awhile). The reason for the large size was probably not age but other features of the Earth and its atmosphere. These features probably included things such as oxygen level, less radiation, less disease and mutations in genes, the Earth’s magnetic field strength, etc. Still, isn’t it amazing that our great God made animals as large as dinosaurs? It reminds us that He is awesome!

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