The Rapid, Catastrophic Burial of Dinosaur Bones

Author: Stephen Caesar, M.A.
Subject: Paleontology
Date: 7/4/2003


By Stephen Caesar, M.A.

Associates for Biblical Research

All over the world, paleontologists have found caches of fossilized dinosaurs that were buried instantly in a catastrophic movement of water. Famed dinosaur hunter Paul Sereno, reporting on a dig in Africa, describes a dinosaur graveyard that he and his crew uncovered:

“As we brushed back the sediment, well-preserved white bones appeared. The skeletons, still arranged as they had been in life, looked as if they had been resting peacefully for millions of years. We guessed that the creatures had been buried in minutes, perhaps by a flash flood of an ancient river” (Sereno 1996: 116).

A similar deposit exists at Ukhaa Tolgod in Mongolia. Excavators Lowell Dingus, chief geologist of the American Museum of Natural History/Mongolian Academy of Sciences joint expedition to the Gobi Desert, and David Loope, a specialist in windblown sediment and Chairman of Stratigraphy and Professor of Geology at the University of Nebraska, report that

“the bones are in excellent condition. Skeletons range from twelve-foot remains of the armored dinosaurs known as ankylosaurs, with almost every piece of bony plate intact, to two-inch skeletons of early mammals, complete down to their fragile, microscopic ear bones. Dinosaur nests, eggs, and embryos have been preserved. Some of the animals have been captured not in death throes but in the ordinary (although last) acts of their lives—such as the theropod dinosaur Oviraptor sitting on its clutch of eggs.

“The unusual fidelity of fossil preservation and the articulation of the bones—they were not jumbled by scavengers or scattered by the elements—indicate that many of the animals at Ukhaa Tolgod were killed quickly and buried quickly in a catastrophic event” (Dingus & Loope 2000: 52).

After studying the fossil bed, Dingus and Loope realized that this catastrophe involved mass movements of water. They compared the site to recent mudslides in California and Central America that were triggered by heavy rainfall saturating topsoil that rested on mountainside bedrock. This saturation caused the soil to become mud, which slid down the mountainsides. They concluded that

“similarly weighty, water-saturated sand above the cemented caliche zone [bands of sand grains naturally cemented together] would have broken loose and quickly moved down the long dune slope, entombing any nesting Oviraptor, foraging ankylosaur, or small scurrying lizard or mammal in its path. In the process, the slide ensured the preservation of their remains” (Ibid. 55).

A similar situation is found in North America. Geologist Richard Orndorff (University of Nevada), biologist Robert Wieder (CA Department of Agriculture), and paleontologist Harry Filkorn (Kent State University) describe a deposit of fossil Shonisaurus, a type of ichthyosaur:

“Most of the Shonisaurus skeletons are articulated; that is, the bones are still in the correct anatomical position relative to one another. Strong ocean currents would have moved at least some of the carcasses during their decomposition, and the bones would have been scattered during their transport….[T]he relative completeness of the skeletons indicates that they were buried on the seafloor soon after the flesh had decomposed. One major unresolved problem concerns the explanation for exactly how so many ichthyosaur skeletons came to be preserved so close to one another….[T]his deposit of multiple ichthyosaur skeletons could represent a massive die-off” (Orndorff et al. 2001: 23).

These mass entombments are what would be expected if there indeed occurred something like the Biblical Flood in ancient times. This is particularly likely in light of the fact that these water-borne graveyards appear all over the planet.


Dingus, L., and D. Loope. 2000. “Death in the Dunes.” Natural History 109, no. 6.

Orndorff, R. L., et al. 2001. “How the West Was Swum.” Natural History 110, no. 5.

Sereno, P. 1996. “Africa’s Dinosaur Castaways.” National Geographic 189, no. 6.

Stephen Caesar holds his master’s degree in anthropology/archaeology from Harvard. He is a staff member at Associates for Biblical Research and the author of the e-book The Bible Encounters Modern Science, available at

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