August 1, 2017 | David F. Coppedge

The Birds that Didn’t Evolve

Birds live and birds die, but they have a hard time following Darwin’s dictum to evolve or perish.

A new species of bullfinch that humans drove extinct has been found in the crater of a volcano in the Azores, reports Science Daily. This beautiful bird, with its distinctive feather patterns of a black mask over the eyes on a beige-colored face, is no more. Another lost species, reported by New Scientist, is the black “mega-swan” that humans drove extinct on New Zealand. We know extinction all too well, but can Darwinian evolution give rise to birds from pre-birds? Can a scaly reptile grow feathers and take flight through a series of genetic mutations?

Grounding is not evolution. Charles Darwin used his theory to explain flightless birds, like the pitiful flightless cormorant on the Galapagos Islands, but loss of function cannot be encouraging to evolutionists. No corporation wants to show all expenses and no income. quips, “Discovery of why emus are grounded takes flight.” Funny, but sad. Some flightless birds are successful in their niche despite being grounded. Researchers at Monash University, the article says, compared emu genes to chicken genes. They found one gene that “is turned on during the development of wings in emu embryos, but not in chickens or other birds, leading to greatly reduced wings.” The study “may have application to humans born with limb abnormalities.” Darwin is not smiling.

Instinct is not evolution. “Music can be a powerful form of expression,” begins a cheery article in Science Daily. “It’s especially important for songbirds such as zebra finches, which learn the songs of their fathers in order to court mates.” The article, “How songbirds teach themselves songs,” focuses on research by a physics prof and by “Bence Ölveczky, a professor of organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard University.” The professor may believe in evolution, but does his work on how finches learn their songs provide evidence for evolution? His colleague weighs in on that, but only re-breathes the same Darwin air (cf. DIDO in the Darwin Dictionary) as he speculates about possibilities for futureware:

Over eons, structures in the brain have adapted to each other to produce function,” he said. “I suspect it’s just the case that brain areas are adapted to send messages to each other in ways that make themselves work well. I think it’s a new handle or lever for investigation to think about that: How a tutor area of the brain should structure its signals so that a student area can profit from the signal as best as possible given its constraints and its learning rule.”

Siberian Jays. Credit: Fabrizio Moglia

Cooperation is not evolution: It is not evidence to assert a belief. asks, “How did bird babysitting co-ops evolve?” The question should remove the “How” and ask,”Did bird babysitting evolve?” Otherwise, it is another statement of circular reasoning (DIDO), re-breathing Darwin air by assuming, “If something exists, it evolved.” This article is adorned with a lovely picture of Siberian jays with wing feathers outstretched as they exercise good parenting skills. But deeper down, we see that standard Darwinism has a serious problem with explaining the observations. Some urgent theory rescue is required:

The common understanding of evolution is that it is a battle for survival: one must either “scrunch or be scrunched,” as Nicodemus Boffin, the Dickens’ character, famously says.

So it is intriguing that many birds will forgo reproduction to assist other birds in the care and protection of young. Cooperative breeding, as this behavior is called, is an apparent evolutionary paradox since helpers seem to be acting in ways that increase the fitness of others at their own cost.

To the rescue! Further down in the article, we find numerous controversial attempts to save Darwinian theory from the evidence. But it gets worse, because now evolutionists have to explain two things: the origin of family groups as a prerequisite, followed by the origin of cooperative breeding. “Their analysis showed that direct transitions from non-family living to cooperative breeding are indeed exceedingly rare, and that the evolution of family living is most likely a precondition for the evolution of cooperative breeding in most birds.” Why not save a step and say that birds come fully equipped with cooperative breeding installed and ready to use? What’s Darwin got to do with it?

Have these birds been misclassified as dinosurs?: Look what Live Science says about a new fossil they insist on labeling as a dinosaur: “A Chinese farmer has discovered the remains of a dinosaur that could have passed for the ostrich-like cassowary in its day, sporting the flightless bird’s head crest and long thunder thighs, indicating it could run quickly, just like its modern-day lookalike, a new study finds.” Maybe it’s time to re-assess what evolutionists are calling these ‘oviraptorosaur’ (egg-stealing hunter lizard) dinosaurs. “The newfound dinosaur’s 6-inch-tall (15 centimeters) head crest is uncannily similar to the cassowary’s headpiece, known as a casque, the researchers said.” Just because it is bigger than living cassowaries doesn’t mean it is a different kind of animal. Reporter Laura Geggel notes that the crests on some duck-billed dinosaurs is different from the crest on this oviraptorosaur. It seems to have more in common with the cassowaries alive today than with dinosaurs.

Abrupt appearance is not evolution. Helen Briggs at the BBC News re-uses a common Darwinian boilerplate theme for her headline, “Fossil sheds light on bird evolution after asteroid strike.” Trouble is, from the artist’s drawing, it looks like a very modern bird that dates from 62.5 million Darwin Years ago. By all appearances, it was a sparrow-like tree dweller most people would not be surprised to find in their gardens. “The fossil of a tiny bird that lived 62 million years ago confirms that birds evolved very rapidly after the asteroid strike that wiped out the dinosaurs.” That’s merely a restatement of Darwinian assumptions, like re-breathing the same air. Does she or any of the evolutionary scientists she relies on point to specific mutations acted on by natural selection? Does she identify any transitional sequences? No, and no. The empirical data present a gallery of fully-functional, unique, beautiful birds, like owls, woodpeckers and sparrows.

Here’s what Daniel J. Field says about this particular sparrow-like fossil in PNAS. Watch for any actual evidence of natural selection innovating something by chance mutations. (Saying ‘it exists, therefore it evolved’ is not evidence.)

  • In fact, Tsidiiyazhi’s broad evolutionary implications are far from obvious from a casual glance at its broken and incomplete skeleton.
  • Attempts to correlate the geological time scale with important events early in modern bird evolutionary history are often controversial.
  • Tsidiiyazhi’s age implies not only that the lineage leading to mousebirds had diverged from its closest living relatives by 62.5 Ma but also that a host of other deep divergences within the neoavian tree of life had taken place by this early time as well.
  • The evolutionary insights yielded by Tsidiiyazhi do not end there, however; this discovery also enhances our understanding of the biogeographic history of mousebirds and is part of a broader evolutionary picture.
  • ….we may gain insight into how bird biogeography may evolve in response to our planet’s current climatic trajectory.
  • Ksepka et al. confirm the presence of this flexible foot condition in Tsidiiyazhi, illustrating that this specialization evolved early in mousebird evolutionary history.
  • Surprisingly, however, they illustrate that such “semizygodactyly,” although present in several living neoavian families, including owls and the Madagascan endemic courol, likely evolved independently in these different groups.
  • This inference is only supported in analyses that incorporate fossil information, providing another example of the potential for fossils to reveal unforeseen complexity in the evolutionary history of birds.
  • Despite the largely uniform structure of living mousebirds, the fossil record reveals a surprising menagerie of highly divergent stem group forms, suggesting a considerable amount of ecological experimentation throughout their evolutionary history.
  • It is true that Tsidiiyazhi represents only a single data point, and future refinements of the avian evolutionary time scale, models of biogeographic change, and anatomical evolution must await additional fossil discoveries.
  • However, the question of why the early Cenozoic avian fossil record is so poor is one that is in need of attention.
  • The value of tiny Tsidiiyazhi is underscored considering this general lack of evolutionary information from such an important stage in the history of bird life.
  • One hopes that the discovery of this little morning bird will usher in the dawn of a new phase of fossil bird discoveries from the early Paleocene that will help to clarify the earliest stages of bird life in the Cenozoic. Our understanding of the origin of modern birds, as well as our understanding of Earth’s recovery from the devastation of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction, will depend on it.

That’s about all Field has to say about evolution from this highly pro-Darwin article. Clearly, he relies more on vaporware, futureware, circular reasoning, proof by assertion, and a high perhapsimaybecouldness index than empirical evidence. Would a Darwin skeptic find this article convincing?

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