A 500-Year-Old Engraving That Looks Like a Dinosaur

From Issue: Discovery 9/1/2008

Founded in the 12th century A.D., the Carlisle Cathedral has served as a meeting place for the people of northwest England for 900 years. One of the bishops of Carlisle in the 15th century was Richard Bell. History records that he served in this position for 17 years, resigned in 1495, and died one year later. Bell’s body was then laid to rest in a tomb along a main aisle inside the cathedral. So what does all of this have to do with dinosaurs?

On the edge of Bell’s 500-year-old tomb is a narrow strip of brass on which various animals have been engraved, including a bird, fish, dog, and pig. Most remarkable, however, is an engraving of two animals with long necks and long tails. Although some of the brass engraving is worn due to 500 years of wear, these curious creatures are clearly of some extinct animal. In truth, more than any other creature, they resemble the longneck dinosaurs that once roamed the Earth.

What do critics have to say about the engravings? After passing off the animal on the left as “some kind of big cat,” one popular skeptical Web site admitted: “The animal to the right, though, does look rather more like a quadrupedal dinosaur than any other sort of animal, past or present” (’s_Dinosaurs). The skeptics even recognized the unlikelihood of the engraving being a fraud: “In the case of Bishop Bell’s dinosaur, there is no corresponding profit motive, or any other apparent motive; and also, any tampering with the tomb would have to be done…in Carlisle Cathedral, and it is hard to see how a hoaxer could have gone about his work unobserved.”

It seems clear, even to skeptics, that at least one of the two curious engravings looks like a dinosaur. What is so spectacular about a dinosaur being engraved on a tomb built in 1496? Simply that the engraving is more than 300 years older than the first dinosaur fossils found in modern times. We have no evidence of humans finding dinosaur fossils and reconstructing their skeletons until the middle of the 19th century. So how did someone engrave such a convincing picture of a dinosaur in the late 15th century? The obvious, but often rejected, answer is men once lived with these creatures, and proof of their coexistence is found all over the world in the form of physical, historical, and biblical evidence. The fact is, evolution’s multi-million-year dinosaur timetable is wrong.


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