Mark Meadows and the Dinosaurs: Trump’s Chief of Staff and His Dino Scam
Before he was Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows was involved in a Young-Earth-Creationist Dinosaur Dig with homeschooled children. The expedition turned up several incredibly rare fossils – a newsworthy story that led to a documentary, “Raising the Allosaur: The True Story of a Rare Dinosaur and the Home Schoolers Who Found It.” But did the politician and the people who led the expedition lie about their claims?
You may have heard of Mark Meadows. Even if you don’t follow politics, you’ve likely seen him on TV. He was named Chief of Staff to former President Donald Trump during his last year in office. He appeared regularly on the news to support the former President, from questioning the effectiveness of masks in fighting COVID-19 to questioning the results of the 2020 Presidential election. At the time of the recording of the episode, Meadows has been held in contempt of congress for refusing to cooperate with the January 6th Committee. It’s worth noting that in the infancy of the committee, Meadows was cooperative, but stopped cooperating at some point. It’s also worth noting that in between the time when Meadows was cooperating and not cooperating, Donald Trump’s political action committee donated a million dollars to the Conservative non-profit where Mark Meadows works. Just interesting and worth noting that’s all. BUT I don’t want to digress.
This episode is NOT about current politics. It’s not about Donald Trump. It’s not even about how this guy Mark Meadows was once forced to pay $400,000 back when he was a Congressman because his chief of staff was sexually harassing women. It’s not about how his comments that bordered on “birtherism” during the Obama administration, or how he lied about what kind of degree he received from The University of South Florida. And it’s definitely not about how he aided Trump in his efforts to overthrow the 2020 election. It’s about dinosaurs. Yep. Dinosaurs.
This headline appeared in 2002. It was a press release that read “Home School Expedition Uncovers Rare Allosaur and Giant Sauropod.” The article goes on to explain how a group of homeschooled children went on an expedition in Colorado and the children and their parents stumbled upon and excavated these amazing groundbreaking fossils in just 4 days. And one of those children was the nine-year old daughter of Mark Meadows. It went much further. The article went on to describe how the fossils were found along with plant and tree debris proving that the animals had been buried by a biblical flood just 6,000 years ago.
But we now know the truth. And it didn’t go down like they reported.
So we know there was this article with the headline “Home School Expedition Uncovers Rare Allosaur and Giant Sauropod” and a few months after that, there was an accompanying documentary titled: “Raising the Allosaur: The True Story of a Rare Dinosaur and the Home Schoolers Who Found It.” And Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows appears in this documentary several times. In one scene, he excitedly says, “We were working towards the end of the day here, just trying to get one last bit of rock out before, you know, before we finished when, all of a sudden, we spotted a little bit of bone, we thought—and we found a claw.”
The dig and the documentary were products of a group known as Vision Forum Industries – they were a group for home-schooled evangelical children. They called the it the “Dragon’s Den Dig.” The promise was that it would provide the excitement of hunting for dinosaur bones while teaching them that fossils provide evidence for the flood described in the Book of Genesis.
Well we later found out a few things about the dig. First of all, it was conducted on a 134-acre property in Dinosaur Colorado – yes that’s the actual name of the city. And that ranch was sold three years ago to Ken Ham. And if that name sounds familiar, that’s the young-Earth creationist that runs the Ark Encounter in Kentucky – a $100 million dollar replica of Noah’s Ark. He’s also the author of countless books that teach children that Dinosaurs and man roamed the Earth at the same time. Here’s a little bit of Ken Ham.
So this is the guy that bought the Dinosaur dig ranch 3 years ago. But who did he buy it from. Well – this is interesting. The person who sold him the ranch was none other than Mark Meadows. It turns out Meadows had purchased the property a few months after the dig.
Of course – that’s not a problem – selling a property isn’t illegal. That is, unless then-the Congressman didn’t disclose the sale on his Congressional Financial Disclosures, which he’s required by law to file. And that’s what happened – or what didn’t happen.
So was the discovery of these dinosaur bones completely made up? Yes and No. This ranch is known for being a rich source of dinosaur fossils. That’s why Ken Ham and his Answers in Genesis group paid $200,000 dollars for the property. And the fossils that of the Allosarus and the Sauropod were real too. But when the press release came out about these home-schoolers and their parents finding the fossils, the Paleontology world buzzed with skepticism. Even in the world of Creationist dinosaur hunters, they were skeptical. It was reported that these fossils, including a 12 foot section of an intact Allosaur spine were discovered, dug and completely excavated in just 4 days – a feat that would be absolutely incredible if performed by a huge team of the most experienced paleontologists in the world. So how could this have been accomplished in just 4 days. Well the truth is, it wasn’t. It turns out these fossils had been discovered and excavated 2 years prior – in 2000. The ranch was owned at that time by a school teacher named Dana Forbes and the bones were excavated by a young-earth Creationist named Joe Taylor. Taylor is an experienced fossil hunter and it took him two-weeks to recover the fossils.
Along with Joe Taylor, a guy named Pete DeRosa took part in the real dig. And it was DeRosa who worked out a deal to start leading the Young-Earth Creationist Dino Digs for children. But he never got permission to take claim for the discovery and give it to home schoolers or to create a documentary about it. Joe Taylor, who had done most of the discovery work, found out when he saw this press release about it. And he was rightly upset about someone else taking credit for the work he did. This is where it gets kinda weird. Okay, well this whole story is weird, but another level of weirdness. Instead of a lawsuit, the involved parties took part in a Christian Mediation – which is this thing where a third party helps mediate the dispute according to Biblical principles. Because, I guess according to these people, the American court system doesn’t do that? I don’t know. And another third party stepped in – this politician named Michael Peroutka, and he helped them work out that Taylor would be paid $125,000.
Taylor was never happy with the deal and still ended up in debt. The documentary ended up getting pulled because of its obvious ethical concerns. Near the end of the documentary, you hear them talking about how the ranch has recently been purchased for future Creationist Dinosaur Expeditions. They don’t say it, but that’s Mark Meadows. He’s the one that purchased it at that time. You can still find this documentary around the Internet if you really want to see it. And as for the skeletons, they are now being displayed at the Creation Museum, which is owned by Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis. It’s displayed alongside other fossils and falsehoods about their origins like a model of a dinosaur wearing a saddle. No. That exists. And we all know what happened to Mark Meadows. He continued his troublesome relationship with the truth and even in 2022, continues working with Dinosaurs.
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