Ho-Hum, Another Feathered Dinosaur
Another Chinese fossil its discoverers are calling a “feathered dinosaur” has been announced by Nature News. It is ostensibly a more complete specimen of Anchiornis huxleyii that was announced last January (see 01/21/2009). The full paper on this specimen is to be published in Nature next week.
The fossil is said to have four feathered legs and probably glided rather than flew. What is most interesting to the discoverers is that it predates Archaeopteryx by one to 10 million years, according to the dating of the strata. The article announced confidently, “The report is seen as wiping out the last vestige of an argument by a handful of scientists that birds couldn’t have evolved from such two-legged dinosaurs.” Those arguments were not based entirely on sequence however. Even if this specimen is earlier, it does not follow that it was an ancestor of birds.
Last January when the most recent flap about feathered dinosaurs made the rounds (01/21/2009), we listed 18 questions that should be asked before believing the claims made about bird and feather evolution. It would be a good time to review those again (see also footnote 3). The rush to judgment and eagerness to prove dinobird evolution should raise red flags.
This new story has several potential pitfalls. For one, it was presented to paleontologists by a farmer. Even if their detective work recovered the correct site, that opened the door to tampering en route. Chinese peasants know they can get a lot of money or fame for finding high-interest specimens (remember the Archaeoraptor fraud?). Second, the dating of these strata is all based on evolutionary assumptions. It’s a case of circular reasoning. Third, the classification of animals into schemes that include birds and dinosaurs together (maniraptorans) is contrived and artificial. Even if this creature glided with some kind of integumentary covering, that doesn’t make it a bird ancestor any more than a flying squirrel is ancestral to bats. We’ll have to wait and see how good the data is next week when the paper is published.
Fourth and most important, evolution has already been falsified, so Darwin has nothing to say about this fossil. The Cambrian Explosion (watch the movie) renders all Darwinian explanations for the origin of animal body plans superfluous. That applies to birds and dinosaurs as well. And since soft tissue and blood vessels have been recovered from dinosaur bone, the dating of specimens labeled Jurassic and Cretaceous has been falsified, too. (See the bonus features in the film The Voyage That Shook the World where evolutionary paleontologist Phil Currie makes a stunning admission about how his colleagues refused to believe that evidence when it was announced, because their preconceptions rendered it impossible.)
So what was Anchiornis? We’ll have to look at the details in the paper next week to evaluate the claims, but keep in mind that the earth has been blessed with a much richer variety of life in the past than we have today. If there was some strange four-legged, feathered glider, great; we have learned about a previously-unknown extinct animal that is interesting. You can find gliders among mammals, insects and reptiles now. It doesn’t mean they descended from one another. Look how the evolutionists wave their magic wand of “convergent evolution” to explain the independent emergence of flight in insects, birds, reptiles (pterosaurs) and mammals (bats). If Anchiornis was not capable of powered flight, did it lose that ability? The amount of new genetic information required to reorganize its lungs and muscles and brain to make it a true flyer exceeds the power of natural selection to achieve.
For background information, the reader may wish to search on the phrase “feathered dinosaur” for previous fantastic claims made over the years about bird evolution from dinosaurs. The claims usually don’t fly when the whole story comes out. In evaluating science news reports, it has become a necessary skill to remove layers of crusty Darwin barnacles to get an unbiased look at the evidence, but it always pays off.