At California State University.
Mr. [Mark] Armitage applied/interviewed/etc. for a position at CSUN in late 2009. During the interview process he informed the interview panel (two professors and Mr. Krohmer) that he had published positively about young-earth creationism. CSUN and/or the Biology Department and/or his interview panel and/or the Electron Microscopy/Confocal Committee apparently were okay with this, they offered him a two-day-per-week technician position deemed “permanent part-time” and he accepted. It sounds like things were going okay until some stuff started to happen in 2012.
In March of 2012, Dr. Oppenheimer, the Chair of the Electron Microscopy/Confocal Committee, sent an email to the Biology Department stating that Mr. Armitage was doing a good job. Mr. Armitage mentions in his lawsuit that, as of that time, his young-earth creationist beliefs were “generally unknown to students, faculty, and staff”.
In middle May of 2012, Mr. Armitage went to a dinosaur dig in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana. This dig was conducted with Dr. Kevin Anderson (fellow young-earth creationist) and guided by Mr. Otis Kline (also a young-earth creationist). The dig was being done expressly to find dinosaur bones to break them apart to find soft tissue. Pieces of horn, rib, and vertebrae, presumably from Triceratops, were discovered on this dig, and the specimens were studied at CSUN.
So YECs found soft tissue, and the one who worked at the State U was fired.
“Artiofab”’s account is reasonably fair, but, puzzlingly for these times, he writes as if it were unusual for people to be fired when they are discovered to have non-standard beliefs.
On the contrary, usually, such firings are accompanied by tortuous bafflegab about supporting a diversity of opinion. It is the natural accompaniment to the censorship of thought that philosopher of science Massimo Pigliucci was recently heard complaining about. Perhaps Artiofab doesn’t get out much?
The story has hit the legacy media (CBS):
Upon examination of the horn under a high-powered microscope back at CSUN, Dacus says Armitage was “fascinated” to find soft tissue on the sample – a discovery Bacus said stunned members of the school’s biology department and even some students “because it indicates that dinosaurs roamed the earth only thousands of years in the past rather than going extinct 60 million years ago.”
Maybe, but what’s really interesting to some of us is that finding soft dinosaur tissue doesn’t seem nearly as important at I09 as the question of Armitage’s religious beliefs. Just think of the long-running questions the find, if it holds up, would settle.
A paper on the subject was published in Elsevier peer-reviewed science journal, Acta Histochemica (Latin for “Cell Chemistry News”):
Soft sheets of fibrillar bone from a fossil of the supraorbital horn of the dinosaur Triceratops horridus
Mark Hollis Armitage, Kevin Lee Anderson
Abstract Soft fibrillar bone tissues were obtained from a supraorbital horn of Triceratops horridus collected at the Hell Creek Formation in Montana, USA. Soft material was present in pre and post-decalcified bone. Horn material yielded numerous small sheets of lamellar bone matrix. This matrix possessed visible microstructures consistent with lamellar bone osteocytes. Some sheets of soft tissue had multiple layers of intact tissues with osteocyte-like structures featuring filipodial-like interconnections and secondary branching. Both oblate and stellate types of osteocyte-like cells were present in sheets of soft tissues and exhibited organelle-like microstructures. SEM analysis yielded osteocyte-like cells featuring filipodial extensions of 18–20 μm in length. Filipodial extensions were delicate and showed no evidence of any permineralization or crystallization artifact and therefore were interpreted to be soft. This is the first report of sheets of soft tissues from Triceratops horn bearing layers of osteocytes, and extends the range and type of dinosaur specimens known to contain non-fossilized material in bone matrix.
I don’t currently have any information that the findings are doubted or have been retracted. It’ll be suspicious if they suddenly are. (If it happened on a science basis, it should have happened before.) The way things are now, however, no one wants to talk about the science if they can express religious bigotry instead.
See also: Expelled Professor and Microscopist Mark Armitage Responds to his Critics (August 2013)
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