April 10, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

Imaginary Feathers Found on “Turkey” Dino

Last month, we reported on announcements of a dinosaur fossil with imaginary feathers (02/08/2006); at least, all the news stories mentioned feathers and some had pictures of them, but the original paper said nothing about feathers.  Now, National Geographic has done it again: “Giant Turkey-Like Dinosaur Found in Utah,” the title reads, with a picture of a blue-feathered dinosaur complete with fantail.  Were feathers found?  “Only fragments of the animal were discovered—a fearsomely clawed hand and foot,” the article states, but then quickly adds, “But the dinosaur probably stood seven feet (two meters) tall and ran as fast as an ostrich” (emphasis added in all quotes).  Presumably, if it could keep up with an ostrich, it must have worn the same racing plumage.
    They quote a researcher saying, “We don’t know if Hagryphus would have had a feather fan on the back of its tail [characteristic of turkeys], but its close cousins did, so it’s possible.”  The close cousins are oviraptors, which the article states, “had simple feathers, winglike arms, powerful legs, long claws, and powerful, toothless beaks for shearing through food.”  Yet these “simple feathers,” we have seen, were integumentary structures surrounding some bones that others have concluded were flayed skin, and contained no vanes and barbs characteristic of bird feathers.  The choice of words, images and comparisons to ostriches and turkeys blurs the distinction between dinosaurs and birds, but without actual fossil feathers to confirm the connection.

What do you expect?  The National Geographic Society of Judas-Lovers (see next entry) has mastered the power of the big lie, half-truth and visualization.  Remember its “Was Darwin Wrong?  No!” propaganda? (02/15/2005).  We hoped Chris Johns would tone down the rhetoric after Bill Allen left, but his biggest lies have been “Always be honest and tell the truth…. Be humble, there is no room for arrogance.”  National Geographic is a lost cause.  It’s been that way for a long time; good for lurid pictures of ethnics in their native dress, but not much else.  If you want facts, get your news from sources that care about the truth.

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Categories: Birds, Dinosaurs, Fossils

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