May 15, 2017 | David F. Coppedge

Pin the Feather on the Dinosaur

Once again, careless artists and reporters have put imaginary feathers on a three-ton dinosaur that couldn’t fly.

Baby Louie is not a new fossil; it was discovered 25 years ago in China. “Although the fossil of the infant dinosaur is small, it would have grown into an adult weighing more than 1,000kg,” reports Helen Briggs for the BBC News. What is it? It’s a hatchling of an oviraptorasaur, a type of dinosaur well known from eggs but rarely found as an adult. Specifically, this one they call a “caenagnathid oviraptorosaur.” It is named Beibeilong sinensis, or “baby dragon from China.”

Briggs goes out of her way to make sure readers know this big creature was very much like a bird. The artist reconstruction, prominent at the top of the article, shows the hatchling’s body covered in downy feathers. Its doting mother has striped feathers, with special feathers lining its arms as if trying to evolve flight. Briggs says,

  • The fossil of a baby dinosaur discovered in China more than 25 years ago has formally been identified as a new species of feathered dinosaur….
  • They say it is the first known specimen of a gigantic bird-like dinosaur belonging to the group known as oviraptorosaurs….
  • ”It stretches the mind to imagine these wee little embryos growing into a one-ton feather-covered dinosaur that would have looked quite a bit like Big Bird,” he [Stephen Brusatte] said.
  • ”And they were weird – with feathers and beaks, but no teeth.”

Surely the paper in Nature Communications will illuminate us about these feathers. Let’s look. Veteran dinosaur expert Philip J. Currie is a co-author. He ought to know.

  • Search on feathers: zero mentions.
  • Search on integument: zero.
  • Search on quill knobs: zero.
  • Search on bird: zero (except in the references).
  • Search on ostrich, emu, cassowary: zero
  • Search on wing, flight, or flying: nothing.
  • Search on evolution: none, except in the references, and a phylogenetic chart.

If this creature had feathers, the paper says nothing about them. It would seem an important trait to mention, if they were present.

A look at photos of the fossil seems to show only bones. The only place where possible feathers can be seen is in an artist’s drawing of the embryo in its egg. It appears to be covered in some kind of downy material (not shown on the actual bones). Some have suggested that things that resemble fuzz might be decayed collagen, or integumentary structures that had only stems, like hair: no branches like those on true feathers. “All bones of the skeleton show fibrous juvenile bone texturing,” the paper says, but nothing like fuzz or hair is apparent on the bones. “Most of the forelimbs, feet and tail are missing or not visible.” Yet those are prominently feathered in the BBC’s artwork.

Live Science doesn’t mention feathers on this fossil, but twice makes it seem like a bird. New Scientist says, “Flightless Beibeilong sinensis, which lived around 90 million years ago, had feathers, primitive wings and a beak, but dwarfed any of its modern bird relatives.” Both articles reproduce the artwork, imaginary feathers and all.

Another creature from China is clearly a bird, but National Geographic calls it a dinosaur. Jianianhualong had asymmetrical flight feathers like Archaeopteryx, which clearly had aerodynamic capabilities. It looked like a bird, it walked like a bird, and it flew like a bird. So why are evolutionists calling it a dinosaur? This fossil shows that flight evolved earlier than evolutionists had believed, forcing them to push featherhood into the more distant past:

But finding asymmetrical feathers in a species that holds Jianianhualong’s unique place in the phylogenetic tree suggests that such feathers might be present in the common ancestor of both birds and troodontids—placing this link further back in the tree than previously thought, to about 160 million years ago.

Live Science repeatedly calls this fossil a dinosaur, and makes the preposterous claim that aerodynamic feathers evolved in dinosaur ancestors before they could fly. That’s right; the paper in Nature Communications begins, “Asymmetrical feathers have been associated with flight capability but are also found in species that do not fly, and their appearance was a major event in feather evolution.” Phil Currie was a co-author on this paper, too.

This type of shoddy science reporting is comparable to Haeckel’s embryos. When they don’t have evidence, they just draw it or paint it on. If this oviraptorosaur had feathers, show the feathers! Where are they? They’re imaginary. So is the reporters’ credibility. If Jianianhualong had wings and flight feathers, why are they calling it a dinosaur?

Henry Gee said in Nature in 1999, “The attribution of ancestry does not come from the fossil; it can only come from us. Fossils are mute; their silence gives us unlimited license to tell their stories for them, which usually take the form of ancestry and descent…. Everything we think we know about the causal relations of events in Deep Time has been invented by us, after the fact.” (cited by Tom Bethell in Darwin’s House of Cards, p. 29). With that in mind, analyze this paper in Nature (April 27, 2017) about some supposed common ancestral tree of birds and dinosaurs, and look at all the Darwin Flubber they cook up in their storytelling lab.

In his new book Zombie Science, Jonathan Wells says this about the dinosaur-to-bird evolution story:

“Dino-bird advocates base their view on cladistic analyses of various skeletal features shared by dinosaurs and modern birds. But as we have seen there are no ancestors in a cladogram, so the idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs is only a hypothesis. Nevertheless, the dino-bird party has declared itself to be The Scientific Consensus. As far as they are concerned, the debate is over, and Science Says birds are dinosaurs” (p. 62)….

“Meanwhile, both sides in the dino-bird controversy must invent ghost lineages to connect the fossils with each other. Neither has found the ancestor of modern birds. But one thing is sure: Archaeopteryx is not it” (p. 63).

If evolutionists insist on playing pin the feather on the dinosaur, we’re going to pin the blame for fake science on them when this dino-bird story collapses.


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