Cretaceous Starling Flew Over Feathered Dinosaurs
A beautifully-preserved fossil from China shows a full-fledged bird doing just fine 60 million years before T. rex walked.
A USC press release spills the beans about a fossil that could undermine the consensus view of dinosaur-to-bird evolution. Titled “When Dinosaurs Flew,” it says:
A team of paleontologists affiliated with USC Dornsife and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has determined that birds were capable of modern flight patterns much earlier than previously suspected — at least 60 million years before T. rex stalked the land.
The new findings have added a layer of understanding to the evolution of birds from dinosaurs, as researchers explore how early birds took flight.
A study published online by PeerJ on Jan. 2 detailed the examination of a startlingly complete and pristine specimen of an ancient, dinosaur-era bird: Hongshanornis longicresta, which flapped throughout what is now China roughly 125 million years ago during the early Cretaceous Period.
This particular specimen, discovered a few years ago in rocks from northeastern China, is the latest example of the unexpected diversity of primitive birds that have been unearthed from that part of the world.
The paleontologists still believe in bird evolution, thinking “well-preserved specimens like this one give us a wealth of information about the early evolution of birds.” But they’re going to have a hard time explaining this fossil – not only for the early date, but its similarity to living birds.
Roughly 90 percent of the skeleton is complete, with wings and tail so finely preserved that the outlines of feathers and what may be dark color bands on the tail can still be seen. That high level of preservation — particularly around the wings and tail — has allowed the team to perform an aerodynamic analysis of the bird, revealing how it likely flew….
The flying style is far closer to that found in modern birds than what was supposed of ancient flyers — which have been thought to rely more on gliding due to a lack of enough muscle mass in flying appendages to achieve flapping bursts.
“This isn’t a mode of flight we expected from Cretaceous birds,” [Michael] Habib said, adding that its small size and overall shape are comparable to that of modern birds. “It was pretty much a Cretaceous starling with a larger tail like a mockingbird.”
Transported to the modern world, it wouldn’t look like anything special to the casual observer, until a closer examination revealed claws at the end of the bird’s wings and tiny teeth in its beak.
The new fossil is dated to the same evolutionary age as Protarcheopteryx (12/03/12), which is commonly portrayed as a theropod dinosaur running on the ground with feathered arms too useless for powered flight. That shows that it could not have been an evolutionary ancestor of Hongshanornis, which was already flying overhead, indistinguishable from modern birds to a casual observer. That supports Alan Feduccia’s idea it was a secondarily flightless bird (4/27/12), not an ancestor to birds.
Speaking of starlings, evolution defender Jerry Coyne fell into a trap recently, posting a clip of starling murmurations from the acclaimed intelligent-design documentary Flight: The Genius of Birds. His faux pas was gleefully pointed out by Evolution News & Views. Coyne hastily backpedaled, telling the ID proponents to “Stuff it.”
The story of dinobird evolution continues to unravel. If a modern-looking bird resembling a starling or mockingbird was flying overhead its presumed primitive ancestors, the ancestors were contemporaries, not ancestors. Who knows they may have been doing murmurations over the head of their presumed ancestors.
What’s funny is to watch the evolutionists continue to believe their myth in spite of this evidence. They say euphemistically, this adds “a layer of understanding to the evolution of birds from dinosaurs, as researchers explore how early birds took flight.” They say fossils like this “give us a wealth of information about the early evolution of birds.” They say this fossil allows them “to explore new questions about long-extinct species.” Yeah, right. Stuff it. The only value evolutionists offer is a lesson in spin doctoring.
Even if the evolutionists had a sequence that looked like a lineage, there’s enough irreducible complexity in a bird to discount its emergence by unguided natural processes. Watch Flight for good reasons why, and listen to the mockingbird. (It’s mocking Charlie).
When charms of spring awaken, awaken, awaken,
When charms of spring are awaken and the mockingbird is singing on the bough,
I feel like one so forsaken, so forsaken, so forsaken
I feel like one so forsaken, since my Darwin is no longer with me now.
Listen to the mockingbird, listen to the mockingbird
The mockingbird is singing o’er his grave
Listen to the mockingbird, mocking Charlie Darwin’s word,
Still singing where his weeping fellows rave.