July 14, 2012 | David F. Coppedge

Birdifying Dinosaurs

Birds and dinosaurs have oval eggs and big eyes.  Does this necessarily  mean they evolved from a common ancestor?

Hopeful ovals:  Intent on evolving sparrows out of T. rex kin, some paleontologists are selectively basing arguments for common ancestry on similarities that do not seem all that impressive.  For instance, a report on PhysOrg allowed researchers from Barcelona to claim common ancestry based on oval egg shape.  “Researchers from Spain identified in Lleida a series of dinosaur eggs with a unique characteristic: They are oval in shape,” the subtitle announced.  “The discovery represents proof in favor of the hypothesis that birds and non avian theropods, dinosaurs from the Cretaceous Period, could have a common ancestor.”  The reporter later downgraded from proof to the milder phrase that it “suggests a connection with bird eggs.”  If such a shape had been found in an unrelated animal group’s eggs, Darwinists would have undoubtedly attributed it to “convergent evolution.”

Peter Pan evolution: Nature on July 12 declared that “Birds have paedomorphic dinosaur skulls” (paedomorphic referring to “retaining a morphology as adults that resembles that of the juveniles or embryos of most other archosaurs”).  The team of Bullar et al. (Nature 487, 12 July 2012, pp. 223–226, doi:10.1038/nature11146) performed detailed measurements of skulls of birds and theropods, and hypothesized that bird skulls represent a stage of arrested development of dinosaur skulls.  Are they implying that a dinosaur didn’t finish maturing, and became a bird instead?  Apparently so, and don’t think for a minute that we humans are exempt from this kind of hypothesis.  They added, “Heterochrony—change in the timing or rate of developmental events—has been implicated in the evolution of major vertebrate lineages such as mammals, including humans.

They didn’t even try to hide their evolutionary dogmatism.  The first sentence begins, “Birds are living theropod dinosaurs“.  Yet they recognized the uniqueness of birds, too: “The unique bird skull houses two highly specialized systems: the sophisticated visual and neuromuscular coordination system allows flight coordination and exploitation of diverse visual landscapes, and the astonishing variations of the beak enable a wide range of avian lifestyles.”  Still, they stuck to their story that “the heterochronic process of paedomorphosis, by which descendants resemble the juveniles of their ancestors, is responsible for several major evolutionary transitions in the origin of birds,” counting at least four episodes of arrested development (except for bird beaks, which advanced beyond dinosaur developmental stages).

They boasted that “Evidence for heterochrony is clear.”  The array of skull diagrams, phylogenetic trees and other scientific apparati seem convincing.  Yet to believe their hypothesis requires, first, accepting common ancestry as a given, and second, rejecting prior evolutionary theory: “Strong support for a progenetic paedomorphic origin of the bird skull seemingly contradicts early work suggesting that simple paedomorphosis in the form of having ‘retained a juvenile shape’ was not involved in the origin of the bird skeleton” – i.e., the rest of the body below the skull does not show heterochrony.  It would indeed seem strange if the skull stopped developing while the rest of the body went on to maturity.  But that’s what they suggested, tossing those hot potatoes to the references: “Cranial evolution is modular with respect to the rest of the body and it is not unusual to find divergent rates of transformation between crania and postcrania, for instance in the origins of pterodactyloid pterosaurs19 and the origin of mammals20, 21.”  Not only that, they have to explain why the beak and brain proceeded well beyond whatever evolution had cooked up for the long reign of the dinosaurs.  “In addition, birds do not have embryonic brains,” they confessed.

To explain this, they came up with a novel idea for evolution: “The brain emerges in this analysis as a major driver of theropod cranial anatomy.”  Isn’t that the responsibility of mutation and natural selection?  Calling the brain a driver smirks of intelligent design, as if the evolving theropod was planning out the rest of its skeleton.  Surely that is not what they meant.  To remain consistent with neo-Darwinism, it would have to mean that brain mutations at random resulted in all the specializations enjoyed by birds: their wings, unique flight muscles, avian lungs, and modifications to every physiological system.

From there, the rest of the paper collapsed into complete speculation with a series of maybes, perhapses, suggestions and imaginary possibilities:

Cranial transformations driven by optic elaboration during the origin of birds parallel olfactory elaboration during mammalian origins23. The brain is an early signalling centre during facial development25 and it is possible that the posteroventral rotation of the brain is in part responsible for the collapse of the facial region in birds. Archaeopteryx-like elaboration of visually associated brain regions also appears in Eumaniraptora and may be correlated with some degree of volancy26 [i.e., gliding or flying].  Although it has been suggested that reduction in body size, which we show accompanied heterochronic transformation I, was associated with the advent of dinosaurian flight16, our results agree with work suggesting that size reduction preceded powered flight18. This reduction may, however, have been a necessary precursor to flight exapted [i.e., function not acquired by natural selection] in its service. The origin of flight was a multistep process and it remains unclear precisely when volancy and powered flight respectively originated18. Finally, the peramorphic enlargement of the premaxilla to form a long, pointed beak (Fig. 5 and Supplementary Movie) is coupled with progressive loss of manual grasping ability as digits became bound into the wing27. Modern birds are known to perform fine manipulations with the precision tips of their beaks28. It may be that the beak evolved in part as a replacement for the eponymous raptorial hands of maniraptoran dinosaurs.  [Definitions added in brackets.]

In short, ascribing a few similarities in skull shape to heterochrony as an explanation for the origin of birds from dinosaurs leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

The desire to force data into evolutionary stories is overpowering to Darwin disciples.  It has come to the point where they are willing to deploy the fallacy of suggestion recklessly to support their belief.  Look how many times they used it in that one paragraph above.  The sprinkling of observational data is a distraction.  Remember when 19th century evolutionists meticulously measured skulls to support their racial biases?  Evolutionists need to explain much, much more than minor changes to skull shape to make their case.  The carelessness of their hypothesis is also seen in its selective application: the eyes evolved by heterochrony, but the beak and postcranial skeleton are the opposite–they are peramorphic (advanced beyond the adult stage).  That’s a convenient dodge that makes no sense unless you start and end with assuming evolution.  If we were to apply their method as recklessly as they do, we could claim (since humans exhibit heterochrony, too), that our noses are heterochronic elephant trunks, but our femurs are peramorphic dog legs.

Evolution is a gimmick where data are only props to support a belief.  You can pick props at will; use the ones that support the belief, discard the ones that don’t.  When you can’t avoid the obvious, toss your hot potatoes (difficult questions and anomalies) to other evolutionists by referring to their papers in your references.  The times we have checked those references, we find those evolutionists doing the same thing: making bold claims by the power of suggestion with little data to support it, then tossing their hot potatoes to the next guy in line.  It’s like a large circle of evolutionists tossing their hot potatoes round and round, never holding onto one long enough to show they can take the heat of serious objections.  Another trick is the futureware excuse: offer a suggestion and promise that confirmation will come with further study.  It gives the illusion of progress.  But that’s all it is—an illusion.  If you need proof, look at how evolutionists have been using this gimmick for over 150 years since Darwin taught them how to get away with it, yet they still have major unanswered questions about the evolution of anything and everything.

Don’t confuse precision measurement of skulls with scientific progress.  Evolutionists need to explain every complex life form by an unguided, purposeless process of mistakes.  Evolution is NOT PROGRESSIVE.  Progress implies a goal, an end point, a purpose, a plan.  Natural selection is not progressive.  There is no selector!  That is the personification fallacy.  A selector implies purpose, choice, plan, a goal.  The adaptability of living things is evidence of design, not evolution.  Why?  Because evolution, being pointless and aimless, is a restatement of the Stuff Happens Law – whatever happened, happened.  That’s an abdication of scientific explanation.  It’s a gimmick masquerading as science, as shown here.  When you remove the assumption of evolution, their research, their papers, their work collapse into a pile of non-explanations.  The assumption is the superstructure that holds the house of cards together.

Exercise: Look at the indented paragraph above again.  Look for all the gimmicks that dodge explanation.  These include weasel words like suggest, may, and might and grammatical tricks like passive voice (it appeared, it originated).  Cross out any sentences that use these gimmicks.  Next, cross out any sentences or clauses that assume evolution is true.  See if there is anything left.  If there is, evaluate its connection to actual scientific observation, and see if it necessarily supports evolution, or might better support intelligent design: i.e., one sentence that might remain is, “Modern birds are known to perform fine manipulations with the precision tips of their beaks.”





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