Shopping Cart -

Your cart is currently empty.
Upgrade to today
for only an extra Cxx.xx

You get:

plus This issue of xxxxxxxxxxx.
plus Instant access to the latest issue of 420+ of our top selling titles.
plus Unlimited access to 34000+ back issues
plus No contract or commitment. If you decide that PocketmagsPlus is not for you, you can cancel your monthly subscription online at any time. Auto-renews at €11,99 per month, unless cancelled.
Upgrade for €1.09
Then just €11,99 / month. Cancel anytime.
Learn more
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
IT
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the Italy version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Leggi ovunque Read anywhere
Modalità di pagamento Pocketmags Payment Types
Trusted site
A Pocketmags si ottiene
Fatturazione sicura
Ultime offerte
Web & App Reader
Regali
Loyalty Points
83 MIN READ TIME

Dead Varmint Vision at Its Funniest

PHILIP J. SENTER

A ninth-century carving on an English church depicts a carnivorous dinosaur with breasts, verifying human contact with dinosaurs and corroborating a biblical passage on dinosaurs suckling their young. Or not. ccording to the young-Earth creationist (YEC) worldview, God created the Earth, humans, A and all other kinds of organisms independently during the same week about 6,000 years ago, as described in the book of Genesis. This worldview rejects the overwhelming physical evidence that the Earth is over 4.5 billion years old (Gradstein et al. 2004), that all organisms on it evolved from a common ancestor (Prothero 2007), that non-avian dinosaurs became extinct about 65 million years ago (Wicander and Monroe 2016), and that humans (Homo sapiens) did not arise until about 0.3 million years ago (Hublin et al. 2017) and therefore are separated from non-avian dinosaurs by millions of years. To support the YEC view that humans and non-avian dinosaurs were contemporaries, YEC authors frequently claim that ancient or medieval artwork depicts dinosaurs. Investigation of such claims shows that they are usually based on ludicrous misinterpretations of the artifacts in question (Senter 2012a; 2013; Senter et al. 2013; Senter and Klein 2014).

Previously I introduced the terms dead varmint vision and apnotheriopia (literally, “dead-beast vision”) to denote the tendency of YEC authors to erroneously see dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals (dead varmints) in ancient art (Senter 2013). Here, I report a case in which dead varmint vision has presented itself with a particularly entertaining twist: a claim that a medieval carving depicts a dinosaur with breasts and that breastfeeding dinosaurs are mentioned in the Bible. From melon-eating tyrannosaurs (Senter 2012b) to fire-breathing duckbills (Senter 2017), the absurd dinosaur-related claims that the YEC movement regularly spawns often have particularly high entertainment value, but the notion that dinosaurs had breasts surely takes the cake. It could aptly be dubbed the voluptuous varmint myth.

To fully appreciate the voluptuous varmint myth, it is necessary to first grasp the elements of its backstory. These include the Beowulf epic and a biblical passage that mentions an animal that the ancient Hebrews called a tannîn. Beowulf, a medieval English narrative, includes a scene in which the hero, Beowulf, kills a monster named Grendel and another scene in which Beowulf kills Grendel’s mother. Grendel and his mother are described in the epic as humanoid creatures (lines 1350–1355). Grendel has head hair (line 1647) and carries a patchwork pouch (lines 2085–2092). Grendel’s mother wields a knife (line 1545), keeps a fire burning in her home (line 15516–1517), and is a descendant of Cain (line 1258–1268) (Alexander 1973; Swanton 1997). These are all traits that are consistent with the human body form and human behavior, and they are inconsistent with dinosaurs. Even so, some YEC authors absurdly contend that Grendel and his mother were dinosaurs (see Siebert 2013), and that contention is an important part of the voluptuous varmint myth.

READ MORE
Purchase options below
Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Skeptical Inquirer - July/August 2018
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
View Issues

About Skeptical Inquirer

Wildlife Apocalypse: How Myths and Superstitions Are Driving Animal Extinctions SkepticismReloaded Cell Phones, Cancer, and Chance Lotus Birth Fad

Single Digital Issue July/August 2018
 
FREE
Read Now
Getting free sample issues is easy, but we need to add it to an account to read, so please follow the instructions to read your free issue today.
This issue and other back issues are not included in a new Skeptical Inquirer subscription. Subscriptions include the latest regular issue and new issues released during your subscription.
Annual Digital Subscription €16,99 billed annually
Save
5%
€16,99

Other Articles in this Issue


Editor’s Letter
We were on a walking trek in wilderness Tanzania. Our
NEWS AND COMMENT
CBS is one of America’s premier television networks. It practically
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must take a much
In March 2018, a month after the fact, the FAA
Longtime radio talk show host and paranormal promoter Art Bell
“A lie can travel half way around the world while
The mystery of Ata the mini-mummy began when seemingly humanoid
With their book UFOs, Chemtrails, and Aliens, Donald R. Prothero
RESEARCH REVIEW
New NTP Results Inconsistent; Random Chance Likely at Play
SPECIAL REPORTS
In the 1970s and 1980s, belief in the paranormal was
On March 18, 2018, CBS Sunday Morning featured O an
The Halloween 2017 terror attack in New York brought forth
INVESTIGATIVE FILES
Joe Nickell, PhD, is CSI’s senior research fellow. He has
BEHAVIOR & BELIEF
Stuart Vyse is a psychologist and author of Believing in
SKEPTICAL INQUIREE
Benjamin Radford is a research fellow at the Committee for
FEATURES
Demand for wildlife body parts for scientifically unproven medicinal remedies and paranormal trinkets is causing a world-wide crisis for many endangered animal species, including rhinos and elephants
A leading skeptic addresses the essence of contemporary skepticism and highlights the vital nonpartisan and science-based role of skeptics in preventing deception and harm
An alternative birth practice called lotus birth—not cutting the umbilical cord after delivery—is a poorly studied phenomenon with high risks and low benefits. It’s also not traditional; the fad dates back only to the 1970s
Several years ago, I came across the manual for a
A nineteenth-century Spanish story offers a devastating critique of pseudomedicine. In at least twelve ways, it anticipates the bogus rationales offered for today’s quack medicine
FOLLOW UP
After my article “Twenty-One Reasons Noah’s Worldwide Flood Never Happened”
REVIEWS
In 1997, Michael Shermer wrote I one of the classics
Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst
NEW AND NOTABLE
AT LEAST KNOW THIS: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
In his survey of the academic backdrop to today’s rampant