July 8, 2020 | David F. Coppedge

Evolutionists Connect Dinosaur Dots with Puny Fossil

Leaping lizards! Evolutionists make extravagant case for ancestor of dinosaur and birds based on widely distant, unique fossils.

Whenever the science media announces some ‘missing link’ that gets echoed thoughtlessly through the internet (17 June 2020), readers should be wary. It usually means some institution is bragging on one of its scientists who found a shiny puzzle piece to hold up (see “How Not to Work a Puzzle,” 5 Feb 2013). The Darwin Party is giving 15 minutes of fame to the discoverer, like seniors shouting Bingo! without telling you the Bingo card has millions of squares on a side and they got 5 to match in the middle in a game that never ends.

In this case, a diminutive lizard-like fossil named Kongonaphon kely (“tiny bug slayer”) is getting its time in the limelight. Ignore the artwork, since only a femur and maxilla were found; the rest is artistic license (license: “exceptional freedom allowed in a special situation”). In order not to influence our readers with suggestion and visualization, we are showing only the bones, not the artwork. Darwinists were able to stuff this rare, unique fossil into a point on their timeline where they think dinosaurs and pterosaurs were just beginning to evolve on their own separate paths.

The question to focus on is whether their evolutionary tale is justified based on these small bones. As we shall see, it is like trying to match a piece of clay in Africa with a pot in Argentina.

The bones were found on Madagascar in 1998, so why did it take 22 years for this claim to be made? The discoverers have been busy, they say, and the bones were in a collection of other bones and they didn’t realize their significance until now. That could be an excuse, but now that the missing-link status has been trumpeted, the media are going nuts (as if that is not a redundant characterization).

Tiny Ancient Relative of Dinosaurs and Pterosaurs Discovered (American Museum of Natural History). “Dinosaurs and flying pterosaurs may be known for their remarkable size, but a newly described species from Madagascar that lived around 237 million years ago suggests that they originated from extremely small ancestors,” this article begins. Notice how they hedge their bets: this fossil “suggests” something, indicating it could suggest other things.

“Recent discoveries like Kongonaphon have given us a much better understanding of the early evolution of ornithodirans. Analyzing changes in body size throughout archosaur evolution, we found compelling evidence that it decreased sharply early in the history of the dinosaur-pterosaur lineage,” Kammerer said.

A pterosaur is more different from Tiny Bug Slayer than it is similar.

It may seem odd to call a four-inch tall creature (if one can tell from the femur and jaw) the ancestor of all dinosaurs, some of which shook the earth with their footsteps, all birds, including ostriches and hummingbirds, and all pterosaurs, some of which rivaled giraffes in height. It’s not like they were expecting the ancestor to be teeny; they half expected such a grandparent of T rex to be a big dude among the archosaurs, at least as hefty as a crocodile. But these bones had to fit, because there’s nothing else, so they just modified the story plot with Darwin Flubber to fit the puzzle piece into the grand evolutionary scenario. They call this “extreme miniaturization.” Now, the kiddies can get wide-eyed at the new, exciting sub-plot: dinosaurs evolved to be tiny before they evolved to be huge.

Dinosaur ancestors ‘may have been tiny’ (BBC News). This article never questions the position of this fossil at the base of an imaginary tree that split into dinosaurs and pterosaurs. And since there’s an imaginary tree, they decorated this fossil with imaginary feathers.

The work also suggests that fuzz over the skin, ranging from simple filaments to feathers, known on both the dinosaur and pterosaur sides of the ornithodiran tree, may have originated for regulating body temperature in this small-bodied ancestor.

That’s because heat retention in small bodies is difficult, and the mid-late Triassic Period, when the animal lived, was a time of climatic extremes. Researchers think there were sharp shifts in temperature between hot days and cold nights.

If you weren’t blinking, you may have noticed that there was no actual evidence for fuzz, filaments, or feathers on Tiny Bug Slayer. The only basis for the claim is that the creature might have gotten cold at night if it did not have fuzz. Artist Alex Boersma was happy to oblige by supplying a coat of warm fuzz to Tiny Bug Slayer in the painting. (The painting, remember, dates from 2020, not from 237 million years ago.)

The Evidence, Please

A tiny ornithodiran archosaur from the Triassic of Madagascar and the role of miniaturization in dinosaur and pterosaur ancestry (PNAS). The paper by Kammerer et al. admits plainly that the origins of dinosaurs and pterosaurs are clouded in mystery.

Fossil of Kongonaphon: broken femur and partial jaw. Tail, arms, backbone and the rest shown in silhouette not found.

Although body size evolution has been studied extensively within Dinosauria (2, 3, 7, 8, 13, 15), the lineage leading to dinosaurs has received less attention. This largely reflects the paucity of fossils of early members of the dinosaur stem lineage, Avemetatarsalia, which includes dinosaurs (including birds), pterosaurs, and all taxa more closely related to them than to crocodiles. Although avemetatarsalians must have diverged no later than the Early Triassic (∼251 million years ago) (16), avemetatarsalian body fossils are rare prior to the radiation of saurischian dinosaurs at the end of the Carnian (Late Triassic), roughly 20 million years later (17, 18). Historically, early-diverging members of the dinosaurian stem lineage were known only from the Upper Triassic Los Chañares Formation of Argentina and consisted solely of members of Dinosauromorpha (avemetatarsalians more closely related to dinosaurs than to pterosaurs) (19, 20). Although the enigmatic Scleromochlus taylori from the Upper Triassic Lossiemouth Sandstone of Scotland has been interpreted as an early-diverging member of the pterosaur line (Pterosauromorpha) (21), the relationships of this taxon are uncertain, and some analyses have recovered it as a dinosauromorph (22).

Think about this. One couldn’t hardly get farther apart than Argentina, Scotland and Madagascar, and yet those are the only places where putative ancestors of dinosaurs or pterosaurs have been found. If these missing links were so widespread around the globe, wouldn’t more examples be expected? The other two besides Tiny Bug Slayer are questionable in the first place, and Tiny Bug Slayer is only known by a femur and part of a jaw. Even so, they cannot agree on the date of this animal.

The shared presence of the distinctive cynodont Menadon in the basal Isalo II and the Santacruzodon Assemblage Zone (Santa Maria Supersequence) of Brazil suggests that the former is early Carnian, based on biostratigraphic and radioisotopic analyses of South American tetrapod-bearing beds (38, 39). However, additional research is needed to confirm this age, considering the sometimes lengthy stratigraphic ranges of Triassic tetrapod genera and the paucity of robust dates for other Triassic cynodont-bearing beds worldwide. Here, we retain Flynn et al.’s (37) circumspect treatment of the basal Isalo II deposits as Ladinian–Carnian (Mid-to-Upper Triassic) pending further study.

Look how much weight is being put on Tiny Bug Slayer to make it the father of all dinosaurs, pterosaurs and birds. Is that reasonable? They get away with it because they are so certain of Darwinian evolution over hundreds of millions of years, they are required by their worldview to force these two little bones into a slot that helps the tale, even if the fit is bad. So consider the questions that the Darwin-drunk news media would never think to ask the authors of the paper:

  1. Why is this the only specimen in the whole world?
  2. Why is it on the other side of the globe from the next two nearest candidates?
  3. How do you know what it really looked like?
  4. How do you know it was not a juvenile form of a different animal?
  5. How do you know the fossil was not distorted since it was buried, or represented a diseased animal?
  6. Where is the evidence for fuzz? Why did you let the artist paint it, when there is no fuzz on the fossil?
  7. Are you really believing that powered flight came out of this ancestor twice? —first in pterosaurs, who lost it, then independently in birds later on?
  8. What mutation occurred in this ancestor that created wings on pterosaurs and the knowledge to use them?
  9. Do you have any evidence for half-wings on a pterosaur? Is it not true that every fossil pterosaur was already a competent flyer?
  10. How did two different types of hip designs emerge from this Tiny Bug Slayer?
  11. Aren’t you just trying to force-fit these bones into your worldview?
  12. Why aren’t you letting others with different worldviews than Darwinian materialism interpret the fossil, so that there can be debate?

The authors said up front,

Reptiles of the Mesozoic Era are known for their remarkable size: dinosaurs include the largest known land animals, and their relatives, the pterosaurs, include the largest creatures to ever fly. The origins of these groups are poorly understood, however.

It is not clear how the new fossil alleviates that poverty of understanding at all.

What it does add is more understanding of the flexibility, gullibility, and creativity in Darwin storytelling. Darwinists cannot tell where dinosaurs and pterosaurs came from. They cannot tell how dinosaurs and pterosaurs and marine reptiles disappeared. They cannot tell how sophisticated systems, like flight, locomotion, respiration and digestion originated by chance. They cannot tell how one fully-adapted creature evolved by unguided processes into completely different types of animals. The sophistication of their ignorance, though, is astonishing.

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