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20 November 2010 / Liz Johns

Bird Evolution – Dinosaurs Not The Solution???

PLEASE READ MILOS BABIC COMMENT BELOW – It gives a different and what I believe now, more accurate viewpoint on the bird-dinosaur debate.

Sometimes, a ‘fact’ comes into human knowledge and, for some unfathomable reason, takes root as a certainty. And few think to dispute it. Take for example the concept that a swan can break your arm. I’ve heard people say this with absolute belief, but come on – a swan breaking a human limb? What does it do, twist its neck around your arm, conduct a clever twisting movement and snappity-snap, one arm broken? Seems a tad difficult to believe.

Hearing is believing

Another piece of information that has been taken up with enthusiasm without any regard for evidence is the idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs. The concept of the ‘dino-bird’ is very popular, not only with the common man, but with much of the bio-scientific community as well. I have to admit, it does sound great, birds evolving from dinosaurs, and I’d love it to be true that our feathered companions were once our dinosaur predecessors, but it is in fact, unproven, and quite likely, totally false.

What, no dino-bird?

The idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs has been around a long time, but was recently promoted due to the ‘discovery’ of a fossil in China called Shenzhouraptor sinensis in 2002 . This fossil depicted a feathered dinosaur dated 140-million years old and was hailed as the missing evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds. Darwinists have always theorised that scales developed into feathers, hence reptiles (dinosaurs are a descendent of the diapsid reptile) developed into birds, but, as yet, there has been no fossil evidence found to support this theory.

What a great discovery then with the Shenzhouraptor to be able to confirm that those scaly dinosaurs of Jurassic fame have become the birds of the 21st century. Well, it would have been great except for a few important and brushed-aside observations that the evolutionary theorists don’t want to hear.

Why birds aren’t dinosaurs

1) The oldest known bird is the Archaeopteryx and is no different in structure to birds today. It lived 150-million years ago making it older than the Shenzhouraptor sinensis, which therefore means that the Shenzhouraptor sinensis cannot be a transitional form. Also the theropod dinosaurs, deemed the Archaeopteryx‘s ancestor, appear later in the fossil records.

2) Feathers are too complex to have come from scales. As A. H. Brush, professor of physiology and neurobiology, University of Connecticut states, “Every feature from gene structure and organisation, to development, morphogenesis and tissue organisation is different [between feathers and scales].” The protein structure of bird feathers is also quite unique amongst vertebrates. And there are no fossils showing intermediate states of development, feather fossils appeared suddenly with no apparent precursor.

3) Lungs and breathing differ radically between birds and land animals. In land animals, the air is inhaled and exhaled from the same place. In birds, the air follows one direction through the lungs and leaves by a different exit. Evolution between these mechanisms is said to be impossible as a reversal of the lung structure (required to change breathing mechanism) would prove fatal to the evolving creature.

4) Every ‘dino-bird’ fossil put forward in the last ten years has been unproven. Most of their ‘feathers’ have turned out to be collagen fibres (hair). Some fossils even turned out to be fakes, like the Archeoraptor (a generic name for a dino-bird fossil) revealed in 1999 from China, but subsequently found to be made up of pieces of other animal fossils.

Where does this leave us?

Taking all those facts above into consideration, the notion that birds came from dinosaurs doesn’t hold well. Disappointing perhaps as the dinosaur-bird evolution is a great idea, which is probably why so many people believed it (or still do believe it). After all, when you want something to be true, it doesn’t take much for the mind to convince you that it is actually so.

“The human understanding is like a false mirror, which, receiving rays irregularly, distorts and discolours the nature of things by mingling its own nature with it.” [Francis Bacon].

So where do birds come from then? Ah, I can answer that one. No one knows. Not yet anyway. Until then, birds will remain the evolutionary mystery of our time.

If this has evolved your interest *groan*, check out these great sites:

The Myth of Bird Evolution http://www.harunyahya.com/articles/70myth_bird_evolution_sci33.php

Photoshop’d Dino-Birds http://www.freakingnews.com/Dino-Birds-Pictures—-2367.asp

On a final note – Many thanks to Jim Balfour for letting me use his tremendous photoshop’d dino-bird pic. It was photoshop’d wasn’t it??  😉

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13 Comments

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  1. Arkdesign Ishida / Nov 20 2010 12:23 pm

    nice picture the iguana-parrot… very funny and well done!

    Like

    • Liz Johns / Nov 20 2010 12:25 pm

      Credit goes to Jim Balfour who created the iguana-parrot. I agree, it’s fantastic.

      Like

  2. Jim Balfour / Nov 20 2010 12:32 pm

    Thanks Liz 🙂

    Like

  3. Kristina / Nov 23 2010 5:23 am

    Extremely interesting article, Liz. I have assumed for the past few years that there was indeed a bird- dino evolutionary link (though I don’t remember actually reading/hearing about the theory anywhere). Your evidence to the contrary is certainly going to make me dump that belief in the bin! I’ve actually spent moments watching chickens, thinking “wow, they’re little dinosaurs.” Now I realize that most of the depictions of dinosaurs I’ve seen in the past decade or so MUST be influenced by the belief that they are the ancestors of birds, thus the chicken-esque depictions of dinosaur locomotion that got wedged into my mind. Thanks for another wonderful moment of insight into the animal world!

    Like

    • Liz Johns / Nov 27 2010 7:33 am

      Thanks for those comments Kristina. Appreciate you reading my post. Maybe one day someone will find the missing link, but until then I’m happy just to enjoy our strange and wonderful bird friends.

      Like

  4. homeschooledjunglefreak / Dec 5 2010 9:58 pm

    That does my head in.
    Like Kristina said, I’ve always connected chickens to dinosaurs…. like the T-Rex! they look the same, I swear, lol.

    Like

    • Liz Johns / Dec 6 2010 4:46 pm

      They do bear a certain resemblance, I agree. But I’m glad I’ve got a coop full of chickens out the back and not a coop full of T-Rexes.

      Like

  5. Wazeau / Dec 17 2010 7:59 am

    I guess I will have to stop calling my Nanday Conure my little dinosaur… and it so suited his personality 🙂

    Thanks for the well-written post.

    Like

    • Liz Johns / Dec 17 2010 11:10 am

      Thanks for the comment.

      That’s a good nickname for a parrot, he won’t mind if it’s not quite true.

      Like

  6. Wildbird / Mar 15 2011 7:29 am

    Back in 1999 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC had one about the so called mission link between birds and dinasours which was later proven a fake

    Like

  7. Liz Johns / Mar 15 2011 9:41 am

    You got me searching on the net for ‘mission link’, I was wondering what it was. Now I know – missing link – hahaha. Thanks for the comment, yes, there have been a few fake missing links over the years.

    Like

  8. Milos Babic / Jun 30 2011 6:02 am

    Hi Liz,
    I’m a scientist (neurobiology), and found this post of yours while looking for images. Since you seem open to evidence, I decided to comment as to why dino-bird link is now considered proven, and why your arguments against it are a bit misguided.

    1) The theropod dinosaurs appear many millions of years before Archaeopteryx. I don’t know where you found the conflicting information, but it is incorrect.

    2) The feathers did not develop from scales. They developed from filamentous structures (probably sensory) that grew between dino scales (similar structures grow between the scales of some modern reptiles). We have now several dozen transitional fossils that show slow, stepwise development of feathers from filament to modern form. See here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feather#Evolution

    Especially note the phylogenetic tree, showing how early the primitive feathers are found – way before birds!

    3) We now have several fossils of feathered dinosaurs, far older than Archaeopteryx. The sequence is complicated, but does not contradict the origins. Many feathered theropod species lived in parallel with evolving birds, and many lived on long after first birds showed up. When we find a feathered theropod dinosaur that is “younger” than birds, we are finding a descendant of the common ancestor.

    For an example of a feathered dinosaur (which has full, completely developed feathers, but isn’t a bird at all), see for example Anchiornis huxleyi.

    Just like we have chimpanzees and humans living in parallel: humans did not evolve from chimps, we both came from a common ancestor. The situation is the same as if some future scientist found a fossil of an early human and a fossil of a modern chimp – while the characteristics may seem reversed in time, they really aren’t. It is an expected complexity of the fossil record.

    4) We now have substantial genetic evidence placing the birds on the right place in the tree of life. Moreover, a few groups managed to extract small sequences of structural proteins from dinosaur bone, and compare phylogenies. It comes smack-dab into the bird territory.

    5) Yes, there was a famous faked fossil. A fossil-finder wanted to make extra money, so he combined two real fossils of known transitional forms into another. National Geographic (which is a pop sci magazine, with no peer review) embarrassed itself by publishing a large story on it. The actual scientific community was skeptical, and quickly (within a few weeks, in fact as soon as the fossil was directly analyzed by a professional) saw through the ruse.

    This is an ugly thing, but it is something that can happen in any field where you have tens of thousands of people working. A few will be corrupt. But that does not mean we can ignore hundreds of other real fossils, or the story they very clearly tell us.

    For more detail, see here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origin_of_birds

    Like

    • Liz Johns / Feb 26 2016 11:20 am

      Thank you for that information. It’s very informative and I had reconsidered my belief of the dino-bird link to match yours. I appreciate your time in writing a clear explanation. If it’s okay, I’d like to include your answer as a new post on this blog (with your name/details against it).

      Like

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