Frozen Mammoth Proteins

Today’s DpSU is more soft tissue stuff: Over 100 Frozen Original Mammoth Proteins Found. The age for this lot is 43,000 years, much younger than usual for a B.T. article on the subject.

Mammoth skeleton with outline

Why can’t these proteins be that old, according to Mr Thomas? Because the models say no:

Decay rate studies have clearly shown that proteins disintegrate after only a few thousand years. For example, one study by ancient protein expert Jeffrey Bada compared the collagen protein inside modern seashells with fossil seashells deposited during the Ice Age. It showed, based on an assumed 10,000-year-ago Ice Age, that collagen cannot last longer than 30,000 years.

I get the impression that we know a lot more about this kind of thing now than we did in 1999 when this study was done. And the environment he would have tested was completely different to the one in which the Mammoths were preserved – freezing does wonders for preservation.


Similarly, a 1959 study estimated protein decay rates by comparing the amount of water that ancient proteins of known age were still able to absorb with amounts that fresh protein could absorb. It also showed a shelf-life for protein of only a handful of millennia.

We certainly know more than we did in 1959. Did they even know what they were then?

So, scientists know full well that collagen protein should no longer exist in any sample that is 43,000 years old. And the problem is even more severe for other, less resistant proteins. For example, while collagen doesn’t dissolve in water, albumin does. And water dramatically accelerates the decay of biomolecules, causing “hydrolytic” and “oxidative” damage.

The researchers reporting on the mammoth proteins wrote, “Strong evidence was observed of amino acid modifications due to post-mortem hydrolytic and oxidative damage.” In other words, they captured these proteins in just the state of decay that one would expect to find them in if they were only about 4,000 years old, a figure consistent with the biblical record of early earth history.

How does he know that it is ‘just’ the right state of decay? Could it not have ‘just’ been the case of those old models being a little out? His thesis was weak enough as it was…


25 thoughts on “Frozen Mammoth Proteins

  1. Message as sent to the ICR and to ‘Eye on the ICR’
    “They said that the frozen wooly mammoth was 43,000 years old, but this is impossible to reconcile with the integrity and array of the discovered proteins.” No.
    “But in the process of reconstructing ancient proteins, this research is inadvertently uncovering evidence that these animal remains are not nearly as old as some say they are”. No.
    “One study by ancient protein expert Jeffrey Bada compared the collagen protein inside modern seashells with fossil seashells deposited during the Ice Age. It showed, based on an assumed 10,000-year-ago Ice Age, that collagen cannot last longer than 30,000 years”. The Abstract and Conclusion to the study say NO SUCH THING.
    “Scientists know full well that collagen protein should no longer exist in any sample that is 43,000 years old”. No they don’t. Only young Earth creationists ‘know’ that.

    This message is also being copied to ‘Eye on the ICR’ – just discovered – from within their website:
    I see that they have also commented on today’s pseudo-science article.

    Mr A Haworth-Roberts

    • So my contact form does work. I was beginning to wonder… 😀

      I will be interested to hear if you actually get a response to that. How did you find me, btw?

    • I googled Brian Thomas’ sentence “collagen cannot last longer than 30,000 years” and came across your blog.

      I’ve just sent ANOTHER email message – with wider circulation and also pasted in HERE – to the ICR (I couldn’t see how to copy it to you simultaneously):

      “According to an earlier ‘liar Thomas’ article, the Bada paper contains this sentence: “in bones, hydrolysis [breakdown] of the main protein component, collagen, is even more rapid and little intact collagen remains after only 1-3×104 [10,000 to 30,000] years, except in bones in cool or dry depositional environments.”

      I have verified that this sentence does occur within the paper’s Introduction. Of course that quote had some relevance in the earlier ICR blog – because the blog concerned dinosaur remains found in Montana. But it has NO relevance in the latest blog. Hence it was not quoted! Yet the deceitful footnote 6 and the lying sentence that links to it “It showed … that collagen cannot last longer than 30,000 years” are STILL included. In a blog about proteins found in a frozen woolly mammoth. Which lived in a cool environment during a cool period in Earth history.

      Strong evidence that scientific young Earth creationists (those who actually write the pseudo-science) are sometimes devious conmen? (Which is probably why, 9 times out of 10, they won’t debate with sceptics online.)

      A suggestion for YEC-debunking bloggers. Check what they say today against what they may have said previously on similar topics. Are they contradicting themselves or being ‘economical with the truth’?”


  2. I looked into this when the T-Rex proteins were found, and the creationists got all excited, saying the bone couldn’t possibly be millions of years old because proteins couldn’t last that long. Turned out the studies the creationists were citing as “proving” that proteins couldn’t last so long were solution studies. Proteins in solution were not stable enough. But the proteins in bone are not in solution, so solution studies are irrelevant. In bone, the protein is bonded to calcium which “vastly enhances its preservation potential” (M.J. Collins, A.M. Gernaey, C.M. Nielsen-Marsh, C. Vermeer and P. Westbroek, Slow rates of degradation of osteocalcin: Green light for fossil bone protein? Geology 2000;28;1139-1142). The fact is no one knows how long they can last, protected inside bone, stabilised by bonding to calcium, and isolated from bacterial action. Temperature, pH, availability of oxygen, and doubtless other variables, can all influence survival of protein too. The question of how long proteins can last, if all the right conditions are met, is still wide open. It is only creationists who are adamant they can’t survive for the times stated. In fact the argument can be turned around and fired back at the creationists. If fossil bones really were just 4,500 years old (the flood date) then they should be full of proteins, and DNA too! So why aren’t they? And if mammoth bones are the same age as the T-rex ones, why do they contain over 100 well-preserved proteins, whereas T-rex ones yield only a few severely degraded traces?

    • Turned out the studies the creationists were citing as “proving” that proteins couldn’t last so long were solution studies.

      That’s something I wasn’t aware of – I’ll keep it in mind when this stuff next comes up, thank you.

  3. “Decay rate studies have clearly shown…”

    It is amazing how every scientific comment is taken as gospel truth when it suits the creationist argument.

    The conjuror Is getting you to look at everything except the thing that he wants to hide. Brian Thomas is actually arguing that the age, 43000 years, is wrong by an order of magnitude; but he does not want you to look at that figure. He does not tell you where the number came from, instead he bamboozles you with smoke and mirrors.

    He is hoping that no one is going to notice that the age, 43000 years, was the result of a scientific measurement. If he wants to debate the accuracy of the measurement, he is free to do so. If, as he claims in his argument, the evidence does not support an age of 43000 years for this particular mammoth, then it follows that the measurement might be wrong. But that is not the only large number in the piece; there is another mammoth, dinosaurs, seashells, and an ice age. He also wants all the other ages to be wrong (even suggesting that the date of the ice age mentioned be replaced by an “assumed” biblically consistent figure). All the measurements would have been made by different people in different laboratories using different methods on different specimens. Yet Brian Thomas wants to demolish them all, he has no argument why every measurement is wrong, he is just sure that they are.

    Thus he is trying to draw your attention away from the important point that we know how old the specimen is because we have measured it. Instead he leaves the reader to assume that the age is just some number made up by by evil evolutionists.

    “Decay rate studies have clearly shown…” that the age of the mammoth is 43000 years.

    • There was a week a few months ago when one of these articles about soft tissues surviving longer than the models (thus the soft tissues were at fault) came right after one on another subject where, to them, it was clear that it was the models that were at fault (it was about astronomy I seem to recall).

  4. On Steve’s points (just spotted), for YECs ‘science’ is really ‘apologetics’. Hence it’s ALWAYS on their side! (Awkward counter arguments are not dealt with if they can be avoided – after all the YEC readership will probably not be motivated to think up or dwell on possible counter arguments.)

  5. NATURAL LIMITS TO EVOLUTION: Only evolution within “kinds” is genetically possible (i.e. varieties of dogs, cats, etc.), but not evolution across “kinds” (i.e. from worm to human). How did species survive if their vital tissues, organs, reproductive systems, etc. were still evolving? Read my article, THE WAR AMONG EVOLUTIONISTS published in The Mercury newspaper of Pennsylvania: I discuss: Punctuated Equilibrium, “Junk DNA,” genetics, mutations, natural selection, fossils, genetic and biological similarities between species. You may access the article here:

    • “Mutations only produce more variations of already existing genes.” I guess Babu thinks that’s an argument against evolution – but I think it’s just a statement of the ‘bleeding obvious’.
      “Even evolutionists realize that proteins and tissues cannot last millions of years!!” WRONG.
      “Natural selection wouldn’t preserve the evolution of new traits because they wouldn’t have any survival value.” Says who? I think you are envisaging a much faster process than proposed by most evolutionary biologists. Traits that confer an advantage may mean the individual is more likely to breed and pass on its genes (rather than its rival’s) to the next generation.
      “Yes, some galaxies are expanding, moving further away, but this is not the case with the entire universe.” WRONG. Most galaxies are moving further away from each other, and at an accelerating rate, and the universe is expanding. Have you not heard of ‘red shift’?
      Here’s a (very) recent news story mentioning dark matter.
      There are CHRISTIANS who believe the findings of genetics support evolution.
      Natural selection is only PART of evolution.
      There is NO compelling evidence that Earth is only 6,000 years’ old. The mineral zircon concentrates uranium to much higher levels than those in the magma from which it crystallises. Zircon crystals can be radiometrically dated using the decay of both uranium 235 to lead 207 and uranium 238 to lead 206 – allowing for two independent ‘daughter atom to parent atom’ ratios. It’s said that zircons are handy because whilst they can incorporate uranium atoms, the structure contains very little lead other than that produced by uranium decay. It is also extremely stable with a ‘tight’ molecular structure, into and from which atoms rarely move. Zircons in metamorphic rocks in northern Canada have been dated at 4 billion years’ old.
      “God says in Genesis1 ten times that life must reproduce after its own “kind””. NO – he doesn’t. That’s a (logical) creationist assumption based on Genesis.
      I DON’T trust information from Brian Thomas. The way he quoted Bada here – – was DISHONEST. Please READ my comment above – the one at 3.23 pm on 11 January.

      Bob Jones University is a CREATIONIST institution.

  6. ALTHOUGH I’M A CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN (Baptist), I no longer believe that the Bible teaches eternal torment or suffering. The Bible teaches eternal punishment, but it’s not eternal torment. In my popular Internet article, TRADITIONAL DOCTRINE OF HELL EVOLVED FROM GREEK ROOTS, I explain how and why teaching of eternal torment entered early into Christianity and how Scriptures have been misinterpreted and taken out of context to support that teaching.

  7. I HAVE GIVEN OVER A DOZEN LECTURES defending scientific creationism before evolutionist science faculty and students at colleges. At the end, I would open up for questions, comments, rebuttals. The science faculty, for the most part, was silent. They knew enough science to understand what I was saying was true. Some in the science faculty offered tricky rebuttals and I successfully answered them. It’s those who don’t know enough science that I’ve found the most challenging to convince.

    • Alternatively, the scientists were silent because they were just too astounded by your absurd ideas to think it worth responding. Did you spot any eye-rolling in the audience?

  8. WHAT IS SCIENCE? Science simply is knowledge based on observation. No one observed the universe coming by chance or by design, by creation or by evolution. These are positions of faith. The issue is which faith the scientific evidence best supports. Natural laws can explain how an airplane or living cell works, but it’s irrational to believe that mere undirected natural laws can bring about either. Once you have a complete and living cell then the genetic code and mechanisms exist to direct the formation of more cells, but how did that first cell originate when no directing code and mechanisms existed? All of the founders of modern science believed in God. Read my Internet article: HOW FORENSIC SCIENCE REFUTES ATHEISM

  9. NATURAL SELECTION IS NO BLIND WATCHMAKER because it can only “select,” not produce or arrange. If a variation survives, that’s called being “selected.” Natural selection operates only once there is life and reproduction, not before, so it couldn’t have been involved in life’s origins. A partially-evolved cell (an oxymoron) would quickly disintegrate. It couldn’t wait (“survive”) millions of years for chance to complete it and then make it alive! Read: HOW FORENSIC SCIENCE REFUTES ATHEISM

  10. SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST prevents macro-evolution. Natural selection wouldn’t preserve the evolution of new traits because they wouldn’t have any survival value. A partially-evolved hand evolving from a previous trait, partially-evolved tissues, organs, biological structures would make a species unfit for survival. There are no fossils of partially-evolved species. All species of plants and animals in the fossil record are complete and fully-formed. They came into existence as complete!

  11. ALL REAL EVOLUTION ( i.e. varieties of dogs, cats, etc.) in nature is the expression, over time, of already existing genes. Evolution is possible only if there’s information (genes) directing it. Only variations of already existing genes are possible, which means only limited evolution and adaptations are possible. Nature has no ability to invent new genes via random mutations caused by random environmental forces. That’s evolutionary faith, not science. Read my article, WAR AMONG EVOLUTIONISTS!

  12. NATURAL SELECTION DOESN’T PRODUCE ANYTHING. It can only “select” from what is produced that has survival value. If a variation occurs that helps a species survive, that survival is called being “selected.” That’s all it is. There’s no conscious selection by nature. It’s a passive process. Natural selection is a figure of speech. The term itself is a tautology. Natural selection only operates once there is life and reproduction, not before. Read my article: HOW FORENSIC SCIENCE REFUTES ATHEISM.

  13. “The Science Supporting Creation – The author, Babu G. Ranganathan, has his bachelor’s degree with concentrations in theology and biology from Bob Jones University….The author also has completed two years of full-time graduate study in law at Western New England College School of Law.”

    I have been wandering around the blogs of Mr Ranganathan. He does not know the first thing about science. All his so called ‘science’ consists of repetitions of old creationist arguments. His ‘education’ seems to have been entirely obtained from creationist ‘resources’.

    • Which is probably why nobody is bothering to respond to him —- except he probably imagines that he’s won the argument partially-formed hands down.


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