Real Feathers Found on Imaginary Dinosaur
We’ve reported “imaginary feathers” on dinosaurs over the years, but this new fossil bird could fly.
Scientists and reporters have lost any hesitancy to call fossil birds “dinosaurs.” This is evident in a BBC News article by James Morgan, “Four-winged dinosaur is ‘biggest ever’,” and the Nature Communications paper on which it is based, “A new raptorial dinosaur with exceptionally long feathering provides insights into dromaeosaurid flight performance.”
The new early bird, however, is just an enlarged relative of Microraptor gui, a similarly-fledged flyer previously found in the same strata in Liaoning province, China (11/16/05, 1/29/10). At 52″ in total length, Changyuraptor yangi would have been bigger than an eagle or albatross. The artist reconstruction shows it decked out with flight feathers on its front wings and smaller ones on its hind legs. It also sported a 30-cm feathered tail a third of the creature’s entire length. The tail had a function in flight, the BBC says: “The low-aspect-ratio tail of the new fossil would have acted as a pitch control structure reducing descent speed… which could be critical to a safe landing or precise attack on prey,” the researchers explained. The artist drawing seems to also show an alula that functions to reduce speed on descent.
Morgan admits that this creature was not on an evolutionary path to modern birds. The microraptorines were “an evolutionary side-branch,” evolutionists now believe. Multiplying the challenges to natural selection by random mutations, Morgan reiterates the audacious claim that flight evolved many times:
But recent fossil discoveries suggest that microraptorines were an evolutionary side-branch.
Flight probably evolved many times in different feathered species – not only the lineage which ultimately became birds.
Nothing in the BBC article disputes the interpretation that the creature was capable of powered flight—with all the coordinated systems that flight entails (see Flight: The Genius of Birds). It’s not clear, therefore, why C. yangi should be called a dinosaur at all. Did any dinosaurs have feathers? That’s a question Brian Thomas and Frank Sherwin asked in ICR’s latest Acts & Facts magazine, surveying the fossil evidence.
The clueless keep looking for clues to support their game of Clue that never resolves. Morgan says, “These ancient creatures offer clues to the origin of flight – and the transition from feathered dinosaurs to birds.” That’s the card you are given to play in the endless storytelling game. Stuck within the strict Darwinian rules, you win if you dream up imaginary feathers on real dinosaurs (4/10/06, 9/29/08 etc.) and real feathers on imaginary dinosaurs.
Drinking some Darwine at the start of the game helps lubricate the imagination. When the unforgiving requirements for powered flight disturb your stupor, you take another swig of Darwine, until you can imagine unguided processes handling all the design details. When the uncooperative fossil dates start giving delirium tremens, you keep drinking to the dregs until you can imagine flight evolving many times. (This is how science is done, you see.) By the time soft tissue evidence (see ICR article) tries to shock you back into sobriety, it’s too late: you’ve already passed out. Now you have an excuse for ignoring the evidence.