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Ho-Hum, Another Feathered Dinosaur

Another Chinese fossil its discoverers are calling a “feathered dinosaur” has been announced by Nature News.  It is ostensibly a more complete specimen of Anchiornis huxleyii that was announced last January (see 01/21/2009).  The full paper on this specimen is to be published in Nature next week.     The fossil is said to have […]

Feather Technology Resurrected in Printer After 40 Million Years

A fossil bird feather from Germany still shows that melanosomes – the cell organelles that produce iridescent colors in feathers – are still visible after an alleged 40 million years.  The structures were long thought to be remnants of bacteria that fed on the organic matter, but now are seen to consist of original feather […]

Does Evolution Produce Winners?

Referees at UCLA are calling the shots in an unusual sport: the evolution game.  Mammals, birds and fish swept the medals.  The losers?  crocodiles, alligators, and a “living fossil” reptile called the tuatara.  According to the judges, the more the biodiversity, the more a group wins points; the more their species go extinct or remain […]

Crow Fulfills Aesop Story

The fabled intelligence of the crow has been tested, and the crows passed.  Bird and Emery tested an old Aesop fable and were amazed: In Aesop’s fable The Crow and the Pitcher, a thirsty crow uses stones to raise the level of water in a pitcher and quench its thirst.  A number of corvids have […]

Sexual Selection Discounted in Toucan Bill

Darwin thought that the large bill of the toucan might be an ornament produced by his theory of sexual selection.  A new study says, rather, that the bill serves as a heat radiator the bird uses to control body temperature.  National Geographic News summarized a paper in Science that explained the process.1  The authors studied […]

How the Animals Learned to Count

Any evolutionary article that begins with “How…” should be checked for Kipling-style just-so storytelling.  Characteristics to watch for include (1) fanciful speculation without evidence: i.e., “made-up” tales that provide an answer to a childish question without appeal to rigorous proof, and (2) statements made with dogmatic authority, like a parent would explain to a child […]

Dino Fossils Generate Overblown Claims

04/10/2006), inventing feathers out of thin air.  This time, it was justified on the basis of a new paper in Nature that claims to remove an obstacle in the dinosaur-bird evolution story.1  Doubters had pointed to differences in the three forward-pointing toes.  With dinosaurs, it was toes 1, 2 and 3 that were retained; while […]

Fighter Jet of the Animal World

A male hummingbird in its aerial display achieves speeds proportionally faster than a jet fighter with its afterburners on, reported the BBC News – and that’s on nectar and wings, without jet fuel.  The tiny birds even resemble top-gun fighter jets in the pictures accompanying the article.     It took a camera shooting 500 […]

Birds Didn’t Evolve from Dinosaurs

June 9, 2009 — “The findings add to a growing body of evidence in the past two decades that challenge some of the most widely-held beliefs about animal evolution.”  That statement is not being made by creationists, but by science reporters describing work at Oregon State University that cast new doubt on the idea that […]

Another Crow Species Impresses Scientists with Tool-Making Skills

Who would have thought that crows rival chimpanzees in intelligence?  Members of the corvid group, which includes crows and ravens, are amazing researchers with their ability to make tools.     Previous studies with New Caledonian crows (08/09/2002, 10/07/2007, 02/23/2007) impressed researchers with the birds’ abilities to fashion simple tools out of available materials to […]

Cool Bird Tricks

Evidence continues to mount that a lot of capability is packed into a little bird’s brain.  We should use the phrase bird-brain to honor smart animals. I C U:  Mockingbirds can recognize individual humans.  Disturb a mockingbird nest, and the parents will single you out from a crowd and go into attack mode, researchers at […]

Is Darwinism Useful Explaining Cognition?

One would think the evolution of mind involves a straightforward account of improving cognition as one progresses up the evolutionary tree.  It’s not so simple, said two researchers in a Nature essay:1  Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is broadly accepted among biologists, but its implications for the study of cognition are far from […]

Animal Flight Control: Where’s the Evolution?

A couple of articles in Science last week discussed the marvels of flight control in birds.  “Being earthbound save for the ability to fly airplanes and helicopters, humans stand in awe of animals that power their own movement through the air by flapping their wings, and of the spectacular maneuvers that some of these animals […]

Amazing Fossils: Do They Help Darwin?

Some remarkable fossils have been found recently.  According to the reports, scientists are not sure what to make of them, even though evolutionary language is liberally applied to the interpretation. Octopus:  The earliest fossil octopus is 100% octopus.  A rare well-preserved octopus fossil, as unlikely as finding a fossilized sneeze according to Live Science, shows […]

Songbirds Sing on a Fast Wing

Purple martins and wood thrushes are common songbirds of the eastern United States.  Until recently, it has not been possible to follow their movements accurately.  Now, a team of biologists in Toronto, Erie and Cambridge was able to track them with tiny geolocators.  They found that the little birds fly farther and faster than previously […]
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