Creationists thought this was a cave painting of a dinosaur. It isn't

There is a rock painting at Black Dragon Canyon in Utah, discovered in the 1920s, which is thought to have been painted between sometime between 1-1100CE.

Some Young-Earth creationists have argued that this painting depicts a winged monster or pterosaur, and is therefore proof that humans and dinosaurs once coexisted.

The painting was found in 1928 and outlined in chalk (which is now illegal), suggesting it depicted a pterosaur-like creature.

However, researchers have refuted this suggestion using methods which remove interpretational bias.

The study, “The death of a pterodactyl”, published in the August’s volume of the Journal Antiquity, outlines their methodology and reveals the painting actually depicts a scene of anthropomorphic figures, a snake and agricultural animals.

A computer programme highlighted the original pigments in the art and also removed pigments that may have been added later.

The researchers also scanned the painting with X-ray fluorescence, which revealed where paint would have been painted on before it deteriorated due to rain.

The researchers concluded:

In contrast to previous approaches, we have analysed this panel using two different methods that exclude the intervention of any personal bias and in accordance with a methodology that is fully replicable.

The results obtained definitively refute the readings that are based on a single image, and objectively confirm the presence of several distinct subjects.

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