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Expelled Professor and Microscopist Mark Armitage Responds to his Critics

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Mark Armitage has been recently noted here on UD for having possibly been fired from his job for reporting facts that others don’t like. In a recent podcast, PZ Myers takes Armitage’s findings to task:

The creationists are all on fire about this, and it’s been a big thing in the last couple of yearsI’ve been to a number of creation museums in Missouri and the one in Kentucky and so forth, and they all have big exhibits on this all throughout the world because there was something gooey find inside of a dinosaur bone.

It’s kind of nonsensical though, because Schweitzer’s observation was that when you dug deep into a bone, into the sheltered deep recesses of a fossilized bone, you could find these unusual structures, which when demineralized–I think that’s a very important point, is these were covered with all kinds of mineral deposits–when demineralized you’ve got something left that’s got kind of a spongy texture, and you look at it in the microscope, it looks vaguely like messotheial cells, cells that line blood vessels. Okay. Other people have said, well yeah, but they look more like bacterial biofilms anyway.

So it’s definitely biological material. It’s definitely soft. It’s buried in the bone. Now I don’t why they (creationists) think this is a big deal cause there’s nothing about taphonomy that says every single thing inside of a fossilized bone has to be replaced, it has to be completely replaced with some other mineral. And what these are are isolated bits that are very deep that… They’re carbon. What do you think happens to carbon over 70 million years? It doesn’t turn into lead or it doesn’t turn into calcium carbonate. It stays carbon.

So they found carbonaceous material that has a spongy texture. There’s nothing in that to contradict evolutionary theory. It’s an interesting phenomenon in fossil taphonomy. It says something interesting about preservation of tissues, but it’s not a strike against evolution.

Here is Mark’s response to PZ:

If you knew anything Dr. Meyers, about the microscopy of osteocytes – living osteocytes – (and we are not talking about epithelial cells) you would know that delicate ultrastructure – and I am talking fine filipodia approaching 500nm in width, decay WITHIN DAYS of the death of an organism. We microscopists have to use quick acting preservatives and process bone tissues immediately ON ICE to preserve the kinds of structures you can see on the Triceratops osteocytes in my paper:


The reason we creationists are very excited about this work – the reason you and Jack Horner and Mary Schweitzer are backpedalling FAST on this issue now is because EVERYBODY knows this kind of ultrastructural preservation is MIRACULOUS. Osteocytes do not sit around with these kinds of structures for 10,000 years – let alone 68 million years.

Secondly – you should resist the temptation to comment about things you have not done your homework on. Seriously, you are embarrassing yourself because Mary Schweitzer showed in her 2013 paper that these osteocytes contain HISTONES inside their nucleoli. This is direct evidence that there is MIRACULOUS preservation of autogenous molecules inside these bones – and in my case, inside a highly vascular, mud embedded Triceratops horn (not a deeply buried heavily encased limb bone).

Thirdly, (and once again) Schweitzer has completely blown away the biofilm argument….Seriously – STOP TALKING PZ – you are showing folks how little you know about the work that has been done by Schweitzer.

Fourthly PZ – this is not something small and isolated found in one or two bones here or there – this is EVERYWHERE – soft autogenous tissues are EVERYWHERE in the fossil record – it is THE NORM and we at the Creation Research Society are going to PROVE it. We are going to test fossils from as many sites as possible and we are going to document what you are trying to cover up – the fossil graveyard left all over the earth as a result of the Flood of Noah happened very recently. Just sit back and watch the show.

By the way, I loved you in Ray Comfort’s new film, “Evolution vs God.”

The point of this post is not to endorse Armitage’s opinion over others – I really know very little of the issue myself. However, PZ has a very large megaphone. Armitage does not, I thought it would be appropriate to post his responses to his critics here, especially since PZ is always a fun topic at UD.

(P.S. – the transcription of the podcast is Mark’s and not my own – I have better things to do with my time than listen to atheist podcasts – please let me know if I need to make any corrections)

UPDATE: The original title of the article said “expelled professor“. A commenter noted that Armitage is not a professor. From a comment in Sal’s original post, it said that Armitage “served as the Manager for the Electron and Confocal Microscopy Suite in the Biology Department at California State University Northridge.” I updated the title to say “microscopist” in hopes that this is a more correct term.

UPDATE 2: Mark Armitage confirmed that he was in fact a professor, so the title of the post is updated (yet again) to reflect this. Here is what Armitage said of his own position:

Some clarification…I was a professor at CSUN, as I was the sole instructor to dozens of MS candidates and professors on the biology faculty on scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, confocal microscopy and tissue processing and sectioning. I did not just “manage” the facility, although I did that and with many accolades from the dept. chair and other faculty members.

Also, Armitage continues to instruct students through the video series he made to introduce students to microscopy, which students are required to watch before using the microscopes. These videos are viewable here