Big Dino Found, But How Did it Eat?
December 21, 2006
A few interesting dinosaur stories came to light this month. I was a Spanish monster: A new giant sauropod has been found in Spain, reported EurekAlert based on a paper in Science.1 Named Turiasaurus riodevensis by the discoverers, it ranks among the largest of dinosaurs and is the first giant sauropod found in Europe, weighing […]
How Does the Emperor Penguin Dive So Deep?
December 1, 2006
Using a small recorder mounted on an emperor penguin, researchers at Scripps Institute measured the bird diving as deep as 1,800 feet – six times the depth any human has survived unassisted. This is much deeper than scientists had expected. Live Science surmises that if we could figure out how they do it without getting […]
Dinosaur Bone Soft Tissue Questioned, Defended
November 11, 2006
The subject of soft tissue in dinosaur bones came up at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Meeting earlier this month, reported Science.1 Mary Schweitzer was there, defending her spectacular claim that she had discovered both medullary bone (06/03/2006) and soft, pliable blood vessels and cartilage in a T. rex leg bone (03/24/2005). Doubters, however, brought […]
Big Bad Bird: Ten-Foot Terror Bird Found
October 26, 2006
What would a “terror bird” look like? Imagine a ten-footer, able to disembowel you with a single kick and crush your skull in its jaws. That’s what scientists from the Dinosaur Institute of the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History described in Nature1 after finding the largest-ever skull of a flightless phorusrhacid (‘terror bird’) in […]
Was Archaeopteryx a Biplane?
September 22, 2006
A U of Calgary PhD student thinks Archaeopteryx flew on all fours. Nick Longrich thinks the early bird had feathers on its legs that gave it additional lift. The discovery of some Chinese fossil birds with feathers on the legs lends support to his interpretation, he says. “The idea of a multi-winged Archaeopteryx has been […]
Birds Excel in Distance, Harmony
August 9, 2006
Bird feats are outstanding. Two notable cases were announced this week: Air Marathon: The longest animal migration in the animal kingdom is performed by the sooty shearwater, reported National Geographic News. They migrate 40,000 miles a year from New Zealand to the North Pacific, in complex figure-eight patterns that touch the coasts of South America, […]
Darwinism Confirmed! How? Finch Beaks Got Smaller!
July 14, 2006
Randolph E. Schmid of Associated Press (see ABC News) seems hardly able to contain his excitement. “Finches on the Galapagos Islands that inspired Charles Darwin to develop the concept of evolution,” he wrote, “are now helping confirm it by evolving.” This sounds like big news. How, exactly, are they evolving? “A medium sized species of […]
How Can They Call This Duck a Missing Link?
June 16, 2006
The news media are abuzz with the phrase “Missing Link” again. This time, it’s about a fossilized duck or loon found in Early Cretaceous strata in China, announced in Science.1 The article calls it a “nearly modern” bird with soft-tissue preservation, including webbed feet, wing feathers and downy feathers. They said it “possesses advanced anatomical […]
More Darwinian Assumptions Shot Down
June 14, 2006
Here are two articles that appear to kick out some once-solid props from evolutionary theory. Readers are encouraged to get the details from the original papers, listed in the footnotes. Environmental Impotence: Many evolutionists have claimed that the environment produces strong selection effects. Indeed, the fitness landscape itself evolves, carrying with it the constraints driving […]
Hummingbirds: Small Wonders
June 5, 2006
Do you enjoy watching the world’s smallest birds, right from your backyard? Susan Healy and T. Andrew Hurly provided interesting tidbits about them in a Quick Guide to Hummingbirds in Current Biology this week.1 There are 330 species of these small flyers noted for their aerobatics and iridescent colors. Typically, they weigh a […]
What Use Is Half a Wing?
May 1, 2006
Ken Dial is at it again, trying to explain bird flight from the ground up with his own version of a Darwinian story (see 01/16/2003). The title of his paper in BioScience1 harks back to an old criticism of Darwin’s theory: “What use is half a wing?” Well, half a wing could be a half […]
Imaginary Feathers Found on Turkey Dino
April 10, 2006
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 […]
Experimental Biologists Look to Animals for Inspiration
April 5, 2006
Whether insects, fish, birds or mammals, animals have a lot to teach scientists and engineers. Here are some recent stories that begin to answer, “How do they do that?” with hopes that humans might be able to mimic their feats. Hard sponges: Aimee Cunningham in Science News (03/25/2006; 169:12, p. 184) described the astonishment Joanna […]
This Is a Problem: Dino-Feather Story Gets Scaly
March 15, 2006
Just when proponents of dinosaur-to-bird evolution were getting agreement on their story, along came Juravenator. Announced in Nature,1 this new dinosaur fossil from Germany is dated later than the earliest alleged “feathered dinosaur,” but had no feathers. The finely-preserved specimen, in the same Solnhofen limestone that preserved Archaeopteryx (dated 2-3 million years later), had clear […]
March of the Selfish Darwinians?
February 23, 2006
Penguins: are they moral models, or evolutionary examples? Ever since last year’s surprise blockbuster documentary March of the Penguins, the well-dressed seabirds and their harsh lives have provoked empathy and commentary. Marlene Zuk (UC Riverside) took issue in Nature1 with those who try to moralize about monogamy from taking their cues only from the movie. […]