The Dinosaurs That Didn’t Evolve
Everyone is understandably fascinated by dinosaurs, but we must separate the empirical facts of their nature from evolutionary stories told about them.
Currie favor: Renowned dinosaur hunter Philip J. Currie got another new species named after him, says Science Daily. Albertavenator curriei, complete with imaginary feathers, is very similar to Troodon—so similar, in fact, that researchers had to perform “detailed anatomical and statistical comparisons of the skull bones” to distinguish them. “Both dinosaurs walked on two legs, were covered in feathers, and were about the size of a person,” the article says. No actual feathers are reported in the article.
Laura Geggel is even more bold about the imaginary feathers in her report for Live Science, headlining her article, “‘Stalker’ Velociraptor Relative Sported Feathers, Serrated Teeth.” Although she is mighty sporty about those imaginary feathers, details of actual feathers found with the fossil are not provided. The idea makes for a nice story, though: “About 71 million years ago, a feathered dinosaur that was too big to fly rambled through parts of North America, likely using its serrated teeth to gobble down meat and veggies, a new study finds.” Currie is probably happy to hear that his namesake dinosaur ate its veggies.
T. rex slow treks: The pendulum has swung back again. Tyrannosaurus rex was fast, like a speedy predator. No, it was slow, like a lazy scavenger. No, it was fast (about the time the Jurassic Park movies came out). Now it is slow again. The slow-runner meme has spread like a seasonal virus through Science Daily, National Geographic and the BBC News. Fox News Science even calls Jurassic Park a ‘lie’—”T. rex couldn’t run fast, scientists say.” NG assures readers that they could have outrun T. rex, since “Cutting-edge simulations suggest the mighty dinosaur wasn’t capable of more than a light jog.” At least that’s what they say today until they change their mind again. None of this has anything to do with evolution.
The predator races: Speaking of speed, T. rex shows up in another meme about the physics of predators. In “Why Tyrannosaurus was a slow runner and why the largest are not always the fastest,” Science Daily reports on work by Germans about the limits of speed for large animals. The work was published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, but there’s no mention of evolution in this article; just constraints on how fast an animal of a given mass can run or fly. The BBC News imports Darwin into the story: “Speedy animals like the cheetah have evolved bodies primed to catch prey. They are the optimal size for maximum speed.” It appears that readers will have to wait for the Darwin futureware to arrive, though: “With this refined explanation of why animals move as fast as they do (or don’t), we can expect to gain further insight into how locomotion and ecology has evolved in various groups throughout the history of life.” Insight into why evolution made cheetahs fast and humans slow (and sloths slower still) may have to await further elaboration.
Convergence crock: A crocodile had teeth like a T. rex, says the BBC News. So was it becoming one? No, this “top predator in Madagascar 170 million years ago” has dimensions “comparable to those of modern relatives” of its type, the article says. So over 170 million years, crocodiles did not evolve into non-crocodiles. In fact, living salt-water crocodiles reach similar size as this fossil.
Hey Judy: Australia celebrates the discovery of a sauropod named Judy, says Phys.org. So did this dinosaur evolve? The article talks about its size, its possible stomach contents and other facts, but doesn’t mention anything evolutionary. “This new specimen will probably prompt more questions than it answers, but it will still provide us with a unique snapshot of the life – and death – of at least one sauropod individual that roamed Australia 95 million years ago.” Even if one accepts the moyboy date, that’s not evolution.
Empty promises? An article on Phys.org promises insight into dinosaur evolution: “Paleobiologists make intriguing new discoveries about dinosaur ancestors.” So what’s inside the package? “An international group of researchers has discovered that the most ancient dinosaurs’ ancestors were quadrupedal.” Why is that evolutionary, when many dinosaurs walked on all fours? The article proceeds to tell an old tale about the ancestor of dinosaurs splitting into bird-hipped and lizard-hipped groups. “However, this logical construct was recently upended by the research group, which found a new candidate for an early dinosaur predecessor: Teleocrater rhadinus, whose bone fragments were discovered in Tanzania in the 1930s.” Time to re-write the textbooks:
Sterling Nesbitt, assistant professor at Virginia Tech, said that this discovery dramatically changed the current picture of early dinosaur evolution. Judith Skog, program director at the National Science Foundation, added that the research makes everyone rethink their ideas about dinosaur ancestry…. Sennikov added that this research showed the more complex diversity of early archosaurs than had previously been considered.
So who is the ancestor of whom? On The Conversation, Richard Butler, one of the discoverers of Teleocrater, tries to put a happy face on the situation. Admittedly, this “Dragon-like fossil discovery could change our view of dinosaur origins,” but he is here to tell you what traits are primitive and which ones shed light on evolution. It takes a special kind of vision to see Darwin in the bones:
Teleocrater seems to be highly similar to a number of other reptile species that have been named previously from rocks of similar age in India, Russia and Brazil. Most of these species have been enigmatic and difficult to understand, but our work suggests that together they form a previously unrecognised group of dinosaur cousins. We named this group Aphanosauria, or “hidden lizards”, referring to the fact that these animals have been hiding in plain sight. They had been given scientific names by palaeontologists, but their evolutionary importance for dinosaur origins had not been realised.
Do you see the visage of Darwin yet? No? Well, you can trust the experts. They have the training to see his bearded face in the data. That is, they see him in the future.
Our work is part of a number of recent discoveries and analyses that suggest that we might have to completely rethink our models of dinosaur origins. Teleocrater raises the possibility that dinosaur ancestors might have been considerably larger than previously thought, slower moving, and quadrupedal rather than bipedal.
As so often in palaeontology, sorting through alternative theories about what dinosaur ancestors looked like will probably require additional fossil discoveries. These may come from new fieldwork, but it’s also possible that the answers might already be lying in a museum drawer somewhere, waiting to catch the right palaeontological eye. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take another 80 years.
This implies that in 80 years, scientists of the future will have to completely rethink our year-2017 models of dinosaur origins. Evolution marches on.
Update 7/31/17: Phys.org discusses the rediscovery of a dinosaur dig site in Australia, where a long-necked sauropod named Austrosaurus, said to be 104 million Darwin Years old, was found in 1932. More rib bones were dug up in 2014-2015. The only statement about evolution is this: “Because of its age, Dr Poropat says Austrosaurus might reveal something about the evolution of other sauropods in Australia.” He can come back when he has something.
It is SO tiring to see the dirty tricks evolutionists play with the data, using divination methods on bones to conjure up Darwin. They get away with it because they have ruled all criticism of evolution out of court. Creationists are screaming ‘Foul! Foul!’ behind the soundproof one-way glass, but only the Expelled can see or hear it. Mainstream reporters and Big Science institutions commit Fake Science in the name of Darwin without any fear of being shamed. Their propaganda, repeatedly proved wrong in their own writings, is fed to impressionable students as “science” when it is really Darwin worship.
We will continue exposing this propaganda to those not yet brainwashed. Mr. Darwin, tear down this wall!