December 18, 2018 | David F. Coppedge

Darwinists Imagine Feathered Crocodiles

Fuzz has been found on a pterosaur. That’s not news. But split ends on some fibers are electrifying the evolutionary imagination.

The media are in a flap about “feathers” on a pterosaur. Here are some of the breathless headlines, built on the assumption “Whatever exists, it evolved.”

Stunning fossils show pterosaurs had primitive feathers like dinosaurs (New Scientist). “The finding suggests that feathers evolved far earlier than we thought.

It’s Official: Those Flying Reptiles Called Pterosaurs Were Covered in Fluffy Feathers (Live Science). “There’s no doubt anymore: Pterosaurs — the flying reptiles that zipped through the skies during the dinosaur age — sported feathers, a finding that pushes the origin of these fluffy structures back 70 million years.”

New discovery pushes origin of feathers back by 70 million years (Science Daily). “Therefore, because they are the same, they must share an evolutionary origin, and that was about 250 million years ago, long before the origin of birds.”

Fossils tell a colourful tale (Nature). “Fluffy pterosaurs offer vibrant insight into Mesozoic evolution.”

Fur flies over new pterosaur fossils (BBC News). “This means feathers were not a bird innovation, not even a dinosaur innovation, but evolved first in a much more distant ancestor.

The Chinese fossil was written up in Nature Ecology and Evolution. The paper calls the filaments “integumentary structures” or pycnofibres, with “complex feather-like branching” – not feathers as people commonly understand the term. Here’s the Abstract:

Artist rendition of “feathered” pterosaur by Yuan Zhang

Pterosaurs were the first vertebrates to achieve true flapping flight, but in the absence of living representatives, many questions concerning their biology and lifestyle remain unresolved. Pycnofibres—the integumentary coverings of pterosaurs—are particularly enigmatic: although many reconstructions depict fur-like coverings composed of pycnofibres, their affinities and function are not fully understood. Here, we report the preservation in two anurognathid pterosaur specimens of morphologically diverse pycnofibres that show diagnostic features of feathers, including non-vaned grouped filaments and bilaterally branched filaments, hitherto considered unique to maniraptoran dinosaurs, and preserved melanosomes with diverse geometries. These findings could imply that feathers had deep evolutionary origins in ancestral archosaurs, or that these structures arose independently in pterosaurs. The presence of feather-like structures suggests that anurognathids, and potentially other pterosaurs, possessed a dense filamentous covering that probably functioned in thermoregulation, tactile sensing, signalling and aerodynamics.

Interpreting the Evidence

maybe, just maybe, a palaeontologist will one day find a fossil croc with feathers.

It is clear these are not like bird feathers. They are “non-vaned” filaments, without the complex hook-and-branch vanes that adorn birds. Some of them branch into filaments like the split ends that some humans worry about, and look like loose bristles from a paint brush. From the published information, we can see that the fuzz resembles that on some theropod dinosaurs, but lacks the complex structure of bird feathers. The fibers are “small and tufty,” New Scientist says. They may have existed as insulation for the animals, or for color. There are aspects of the observations, however, that do not help the evolutionary story.

The fuzz is not news. Other pterosaurs with fuzz have been known since the 1840s. The only news is that some of the pycnofibers have split ends, making them look branched or brush-like.

  • The articles hint that the widely-touted “dinosaur feathers” were fuzzy filaments like these.
  • If they are to be considered “feathers,” then the origin of feathers gets pushed back 70 million years: from 170 million Darwin years ago to 250 million.
  • If they come from common ancestry, then these structures become another “earlier than thought” case the Darwinians will have to deal with.
  • If not, they form another case of “convergent evolution” for Darwinists.
  • The filaments have a purpose: insulation and coloration. Why not say they were designed for that?
  • It’s another case of soft tissue preservation, with melanosomes and fibers being present in something said to be 250 million years old.
  • There’s no lineage evident. New Scientist says that these pterosaurs “lived around 160 million years ago, alongside early birds and feathered dinosaurs” that evolutionists insist were not on the same branch of the family tree. They were all part of the same ecosystem, not an ancestral lineage.
  • The only thing linking pterosaur fuzz with dinosaur fuzz and feathers and birds is the imagination of evolutionists.

Given these facts, is there any scientific justification for what evolutionary paleontologist Stephen Brusatte imagines in the New Scientist article?

“The most logical conclusion is that feathers go all the way back, beyond even dinosaurs, to a more distant ancestor,” agrees Brusatte. “The next step out on the family tree is crocodiles, so maybe, just maybe, a palaeontologist will one day find a fossil croc with feathers.

Even Nature is more reserved than to say such a silly thing. Speaking of pterosaur evolution, their article says, “Many things about these creatures remain mysterious, not least their origin — the earliest pterosaur fossils found so far seem to have been fully capable of flight, and there is no confirmed transitional fossil to show from which reptilian group they emerged.”

The same could be said of the other groups of animals having powered flight: insects, birds, and bats.

Caudipteryx and True Feathers

On a related subject, six authors of a paper in Nature Scientific Reports claim that the extinct bird Caudipteryx may have been able to gain aerodynamic forces with its feathered wings. This creature has been classified as a a Pennaraptoran, a member of a class of extinct birds with pennaceous (bird-like) feathers, coupled with several ostrich-mimic dinosaurs like Oviraptor. The classification is heavily theory-laden with the Darwinian belief that birds evolved from dinosaurs, so let the reader beware. Some taxonomists believe that Caudipteryx was a secondarily-flightless bird, like the kiwi or ostrich are today. The authors use their analysis of the skeleton to speculate that it might support Ken Dial’s old partridge-in-a-pear-tree “wing assisted incline running” theory for the evolution of flight (see 25 June 2014 and 19 July 2016). For problems with that view, see Illustra Media’s film Flight: The Genius of Birds.

A crocodile with feathers! Oh, that’s rich. What did that look like, a dragon? What a crock… in more ways than one. Hey Darwin Party, better watch “How to train your dragon.” Are you LOL (laughing out loud) yet? If not, LOL (lots of luck) trying to defend Darwinism now. Better use lots of Darwin Flubber.

 

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