March 25, 2017 | David F. Coppedge

The Great Dinosaur Mix-up

Evolutionists seem to enjoy rearranging branches on the Darwin tree, not to find the truth, but to fool the public into thinking they’re getting warmer.

Alas, everything you were told about dinosaur evolution is wrong! That’s the impression from the headline hype. We’ll get to what’s actually happening below.

  • We might have to completely redraw the dinosaur family tree (The Conversation). Michael J. Benton (University of Bristol) warns that new dinosaur research “threatens to change our understanding of how dinosaurs evolved at a much deeper level, and blow aside 130 years of agreement on the topic.”
  • The Dinosaur Family Tree Has Been Uprooted (Live Science). Laura Geggel, not to be outdone, opines that “we may have to revisit what we think we know about the first dinosaurs, what features they evolved first, and where in the world they came from.” (Who’s we, Paleface?)
  • Dinosaur family tree poised for colossal shake-up (Nature News). A “‘textbook-changing’ analysis of dinosaur bones upends long-accepted relationships among major groups,” Sid Perkins says.

OK, what’s the hubbub about? Some evolutionists at Cambridge decided to rearrange some early branches on the dinosaur ancestry chart. Live Science quotes Steve Brusatte from London’s Natural History Museum:

The change may seem small, “as only a few branches are being reshuffled,” said Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, who was not involved in the study. “But because these are the big branches right near the root of the tree, changing them around is huge. It’s saying that much of what we thought about the origins and early history of dinosaurs, going back to the late 1800s, is wrong.

Basically, they’ve united the two major classes of dinosaurs we were taught about in school, and split off a branch somewhere else. Geggel explains,

In the old family tree, there are two major groups of dinosaurs: the bird-hipped ornithischian dinosaurs (such as duck-billed dinosaurs and stegosaurs) and the reptile-hipped saurischians, which include the theropods (such as Tyrannosaurus rex) and the sauropods (the long-necked, long-tailed herbivorous giants).

The new study completely reorganizes this setup. According to new analyses, theropods and ornithischians are more closely related than scientists previously thought, and both fit into a previously unknown group called Ornithoscelida, the researchers said.

Matthew Baron and 2 colleagues from Cambridge looked at 457 anatomical characteristics from 74 different dinosaur species on four continents, assigned each trait a binary number, and entered the resulting ‘barcode’ scores into a computer program that builds evolutionary trees. The computer output told them the tree needs a good shaking. They published their new tree this week in Nature. But notice: the work wasn’t independent of evolutionary theorizing (see DIGO in the Darwin Dictionary). Geggel continues,

The team plugged these bar codes and various evolutionary parameters into a computer program that builds family trees. No matter how many times they changed the parameters and ran the program, they still got one main and “quite shocking” result: a “previously unexpected pairing of theropods and ornithischians,” Baron said.

On the other branch, they grouped sauropods with herrerasaurs, early meat-eating dinosaurs that were difficult to classify, though some previously thought they were theropods. This grouping suggests that features shared by the carnivorous herrerasaurs and mostly carnivorous theropods likely evolved independently through convergent evolution, the researchers said.

The new grouping allows all the ‘feathered dinosaurs’ to perch on the same branch, whereas before evolutionists had to invoke extreme convergence to explain feathering. But to solve that problem, they had to put the convergent evolution somewhere else. It’s a bit like tying the ends together and finding it causes a new break in the middle.

Sid Perkins mentions other ramifications of the new tree, ramping up the perhapsimaybecouldness index:

Besides upending decades of accepted wisdom about the relations among various dinosaur lineages, the new study hints that the first dinosaurs might have appeared around 247 million years ago, slightly earlier than previously suspected. They may also have originated in what is now North America, rather than in Gondwana — the southern portion of the supercontinent Pangaea — which was presumed to have been the dinosaur cradle.

Reactions of other scientists give proof that evolutionists enjoy playing Fruit Basket Turnover (or rearranging the deck chairs, whichever metaphor you prefer):

The new finding about the new Ornithoscelida group is a “bloody big deal,” said Thomas Carr, an associate professor of biology at Carthage College in Wisconsin and a vertebrate paleontologist.

“This knocked the wind out me,” said Carr, who was not involved in the study. “This is a fundamental shake-up of Dinosauria.”

Brusatte, however, is not ready to re-write the textbooks. And Benton is even less ready to get his wind knocked out of him.

Is this new paper the true answer for the evolutionary origins of dinosaurs? The data we have is riddled with question marks, and so the algorithms still struggle to calculate the one true tree. This is no criticism of the researchers, just a statement of the practicalities. We don’t know yet whether we can see the wood for the trees.

Hans Dieter-Sues of the Smithsonian even thinks that further dinosaur finds might send evolutionists back to the traditional classification.

The discovery of new dinosaur species or more complete specimens of those already known might also drive future analyses back toward more currently accepted arrangements of dinosaur lineages, Sues says. In recent years, South America has yielded a flurry of new dinosaur discoveries. And, he says, North American rocks laid down during the dinosaurs’ earliest days have yet to be explored as thoroughly as South American rocks of the same age.

“For many regions of the world, there’s so much we don’t know about the fossil record,” he notes.

One thing to realize is that this tree is floating in the air. It has no root. The Nature paper by Baron et al makes this admission in the ending discussion:

Our hypothesis forces a re-evaluation of previous scenarios of early dinosaur evolution and diversification. The recovery of two distinct clades, Ornithoscelida and Saurischia, provides several challenges to established hypotheses concerning the anatomy, palaeobiology and palaeobiogeography of early dinosaurs. For example, there has been much debate concerning the appearance of the common ancestor of the dinosaurs and its way of life, and recent discoveries have shed some light on these matters. However, a number of key issues remain hotly contested, including the ancestral dinosaur’s body plan, size, stance, method of locomotion and diet, as well the clade’s centre of origin.

So they haven’t solved the problem of dinosaur origins. They have just provided a new plot twist for the storytellers who cannot bring themselves to consider even the possibility that dinosaurs might have been designed.

Our hypothesis for dinosaur relationships and evolution, with the recovery of two new, major clades, reframes the debate about dinosaur origins. The timing and geographical setting of dinosaur evolution may require reappraisal and our proposal raises numerous questions about the ancestral dinosaur’s body plan, the sequence of evolution of key anatomical features within the clade, and the timing of this radiation. This work provides a new framework for addressing fundamental questions regarding these iconic animals.

That should keep the storytellers busy for another 130 years.

Update 3/25/17: In Nature, noted paleontologist Kevin Padian says that the Ornithschia have long been the “weirdest of all” to try to fit into a family tree. He also fails to identify a common ancestor, but alleges that it included pterosaurs (which also lack a common ancestor in the fossil record). Science Magazine says that the new tree is “likely to be debated for some time to come.” Evolutionists have lots of time. Millions of years, in fact.

In other dinosaur news, the BBC indicates that there’s plenty of storytelling potential at Chicxulub, that Yucatan crater of the asteroid that supposedly wiped out mighty dinosaurs but left butterflies flapping on dainty wings. Reporter Paul Rincon is puzzled by that. But on the bright side, puzzles to evolutionists are opportunities to carry on their favorite pastime: confabulating.

But why this environmental cataclysm killed off some groups such as the dinosaurs, while allowing birds and mammals, for example, to survive remains unclear.

“The differential survival of animals on the planet – we don’t know why birds survived and why turtles and some types of reptiles survived,” pondered Dr Kring. “But based on this borehole, we are going to get some limits on important parameters like energy, like trajectory – and all of that is data that will carry us towards those answers.

Rincon was glad to hear that the Chicxulub borehole shows possible evidence of hydrothermal activity. That really set him and the evolutionists he interviewed into storytelling mode! Now they had the hydrobioscopy meme to work on: “we think these kinds of systems might have been crucibles for pre-biotic chemistry and the habitats for the evolution of the earliest life on our planet.” Might have been. Pigs with wings, you know. Bigfoot. Fairies. Multiverses.

We’re not right sure why Astrobiology Magazine is saying that Mars volcanoes were erupting when the Chicxulub meteor hit. Is there a way to tie those two plots together? Sounds like fun.

For those who want to learn how to ‘walk the tree of life,’ Harry Greene will be glad to teach you. Phys.org shows that his method is more like ‘talking’ the tree of life. He has a course called “Walking and Talking the Tree of Life: Why and How to Teach About Biodiversity.” He thinks by talking to students as they walk outside and pick up salamanders from the mud, he will have good opportunities to inculcate the initiates into the dark secrets of Darwin.

Ahem. Dinosaurs were intelligently designed on Day Six of creation week. That’s why their soft tissue still remains after the Flood. Now, after reading about the situation with evolutionists preaching fake science for 130 years, and still being clueless, who can possibly label that account pseudoscience? Dr. Quack, heal yourself.

Darwin stole the tree of life from Christians and made it into an idol. It’s time to take it back and clean it up.

 

 

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