1 Corinthians 1:20
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?Ă‚Â
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“The idea of feathered dinosaurs and the theropod origin of birds is being actively promulgated by a cadre of zealous scientists acting in concert with certain editors at Nature and National Geographic who themselves have become outspoken and highly biased proselytizers of the faith. Truth and careful scientific weighing of evidence have been among the first casualties in their program, which is now fast becoming one of the grander scientific hoaxes of our ageĂ˘â‚¬â€ť-the paleontological equivalent of cold fusion. If SloanĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s article is not the crescendo of this fantasia, it is difficult to imagine to what heights it can next be taken.Ă‚Â 1 November 1999, Storrs L. Olson, Smithsonian, Curator of Birds
National Museum of Natural History
Washington, DC 20560
Feathers Are No Such Thing, ABC Science Online Ă‚Â
The theory that dinosaurs gave rise to birds has been dealt a blow by palaeontologists who have examined critical evidence from a Chinese fossil.Ă‚Â The theory that dinosaurs gave rise to birds has been dealt a blow by palaeontologists who have examined critical evidence from a Chinese fossil.Ă‚Â The discoverers of the turkey-sized dinosaur Sinosauropteryx say it would have had primitive feathers, supporting the bird-from-dinosaurs theory. But the latest research says these Ă˘â‚¬Ëśproto-feathersĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ are really frilly structures on the creatureĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s back.Ă‚Â
Researchers led by South African academic Professor Theagarten Lingham-Soliar at the University of KwaZulu-Natal publish their study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The debate focuses on Sinosauropteryx, a fossil found in 1994 by a farmer in Liaoning province, northeastern China. This region is a treasure trove of the Early Cretaceous period some 130 million years ago.The long-tailed, meat-eating dinosaur was covered with a down of fibres that its Chinese researchers said were primitive feathers. Although the Ă˘â‚¬ËśfeathersĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ were clearly not capable of flight, their existence dramatically supported a theory first aired in the 1970s that birds evolved from dinosaurs. As a result, a once-outlandish notion has become the mainstream concept for the ascent of Aves, as birds are classified.
But when researchers examined a recently discovered specimen of Sinoauropteryx, also from Liaoning, they came to very different conclusions.
When they examined the fossil under a high-powered microscope, the researchers said the two-branched structures, called rachis with barbs, are really the remains of a frill of collagen fibres that ran down the dinosaurĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s back from head to tail.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“The fibres show a striking similarity to the structure and levels of organisation of dermal collagen,Ă˘â‚¬Âť the kind of tough elastic strands found on the skin of sharks and reptiles today, the investigators say.
The fibres have an unusual beaded structure, but this most likely was caused by a natural twisting of these strands, and a clumping together caused by dehydration, when the dinosaur died and its tissues started to dry. The tough fibres could have been either a form of armour to protect the small dinosaur from predators, or perhaps had a structural use, by stiffening its tail.
From the first known bird
The first known bird is Archaeopteryx, which lived around 150 million years ago. What is missing are the links between Archaeopteryx and other species that would show how it evolved. But the fossil record is frustratingly small and incomplete and this is why debate has been so fierce.
The birds-from-dinosaur theory is based on the idea that small, specialised theropod dinosaurs gained an advantage by developing plant-eating habits, growing feathers to keep warm and taking to the trees for safety. From there, it was a relatively small step for these carnivorous, bipedal dinosaurs with three-toed feet to developing gliding skills and then the ability to fly.
Lingham-SoliarĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s team does not take issue with the theory itself. But they are dismayed by what they see as a reckless leap to the conclusion that Sinoauropeteryx had the all-important proto-feathers, even though this dinosaur was phylogenetically far removed from Archaeopteryx.
The evidence in support of the primitive feathers lacked serious investigation, Lingham-Soliar says. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“There is not a single close-up representation of the integumental structure alleged to be a proto-feather,Ă˘â‚¬Âť Lingham-Soliar says.
Given that the evolution of the feather is a pivotal moment in the history of life, he says Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“scientific rigour is called forĂ˘â‚¬Âť.