Scientists Track Homing Pigeons with GPS
April 24, 2007
How do homing pigeons find their way? Scientists are still not sure. They know that the birds use a sun compass and magnetic fields, but what other cues guide them back to the specific roost they know as home? A new study shows they are smarter than we thought. They use multiple cues and weigh […]
The Amazing Pigeon Techno-Beak
March 15, 2007
How do homing pigeons find home? Scientists at University of Frankfurt may have found the answer: magnetic minerals in their beaks. A press release from Springer Publications describes the amazing pigeon techno-beak: In histological and physicochemical examinations in collaboration with HASYLAB, the synchrotron laboratories based in Hamburg, Germany, iron-containing subcellular particles of maghemite and magnetite […]
Evolutionary Predictions Fail Observational Tests
March 8, 2007
Lately, some expectations by evolutionists have not been fulfilled. Here are several recent examples of evolutionary upsets: Dinobird genes cook up scrambled eggs: Scientists expected that the dinosaurs presumed ancestral to birds would show a decreasing genome size. The thinking was that the cost of maintaining a large genome takes its toll on flight. In […]
Woodpecker Heads Absorb Shocks
January 9, 2007
Pounding a tree with your head 12,000 times a day would tend to give one a headache, but for woodpeckers, it’s all in a day’s work. How do they manage? Corey Binns on Live Science interviewed Ivan Schwab (UC Davis) who explained some of the specialized adaptations in a woodpecker head: thick muscles, spring-like bones, […]
Big Dino Found, But How Did it Eat?
December 21, 2006
A few interesting dinosaur stories came to light this month. I was a Spanish monster: A new giant sauropod has been found in Spain, reported EurekAlert based on a paper in Science.1 Named Turiasaurus riodevensis by the discoverers, it ranks among the largest of dinosaurs and is the first giant sauropod found in Europe, weighing […]
How Does the Emperor Penguin Dive So Deep?
December 1, 2006
Using a small recorder mounted on an emperor penguin, researchers at Scripps Institute measured the bird diving as deep as 1,800 feet – six times the depth any human has survived unassisted. This is much deeper than scientists had expected. Live Science surmises that if we could figure out how they do it without getting […]
Dinosaur Bone Soft Tissue Questioned, Defended
November 11, 2006
The subject of soft tissue in dinosaur bones came up at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Meeting earlier this month, reported Science.1 Mary Schweitzer was there, defending her spectacular claim that she had discovered both medullary bone (06/03/2006) and soft, pliable blood vessels and cartilage in a T. rex leg bone (03/24/2005). Doubters, however, brought […]
Big Bad Bird: Ten-Foot Terror Bird Found
October 26, 2006
What would a “terror bird” look like? Imagine a ten-footer, able to disembowel you with a single kick and crush your skull in its jaws. That’s what scientists from the Dinosaur Institute of the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History described in Nature1 after finding the largest-ever skull of a flightless phorusrhacid (‘terror bird’) in […]
Was Archaeopteryx a Biplane?
September 22, 2006
A U of Calgary PhD student thinks Archaeopteryx flew on all fours. Nick Longrich thinks the early bird had feathers on its legs that gave it additional lift. The discovery of some Chinese fossil birds with feathers on the legs lends support to his interpretation, he says. “The idea of a multi-winged Archaeopteryx has been […]
Birds Excel in Distance, Harmony
August 9, 2006
Bird feats are outstanding. Two notable cases were announced this week: Air Marathon: The longest animal migration in the animal kingdom is performed by the sooty shearwater, reported National Geographic News. They migrate 40,000 miles a year from New Zealand to the North Pacific, in complex figure-eight patterns that touch the coasts of South America, […]
Darwinism Confirmed! How? Finch Beaks Got Smaller!
July 14, 2006
Randolph E. Schmid of Associated Press (see ABC News) seems hardly able to contain his excitement. “Finches on the Galapagos Islands that inspired Charles Darwin to develop the concept of evolution,” he wrote, “are now helping confirm it by evolving.” This sounds like big news. How, exactly, are they evolving? “A medium sized species of […]
How Can They Call This Duck a Missing Link?
June 16, 2006
The news media are abuzz with the phrase “Missing Link” again. This time, it’s about a fossilized duck or loon found in Early Cretaceous strata in China, announced in Science.1 The article calls it a “nearly modern” bird with soft-tissue preservation, including webbed feet, wing feathers and downy feathers. They said it “possesses advanced anatomical […]
More Darwinian Assumptions Shot Down
June 14, 2006
Here are two articles that appear to kick out some once-solid props from evolutionary theory. Readers are encouraged to get the details from the original papers, listed in the footnotes. Environmental Impotence: Many evolutionists have claimed that the environment produces strong selection effects. Indeed, the fitness landscape itself evolves, carrying with it the constraints driving […]
Hummingbirds: Small Wonders
June 5, 2006
Do you enjoy watching the world’s smallest birds, right from your backyard? Susan Healy and T. Andrew Hurly provided interesting tidbits about them in a Quick Guide to Hummingbirds in Current Biology this week.1 There are 330 species of these small flyers noted for their aerobatics and iridescent colors. Typically, they weigh a […]
What Use Is Half a Wing?
May 1, 2006
Ken Dial is at it again, trying to explain bird flight from the ground up with his own version of a Darwinian story (see 01/16/2003). The title of his paper in BioScience1 harks back to an old criticism of Darwin’s theory: “What use is half a wing?” Well, half a wing could be a half […]