Janice Boekhoff
 

Dinosaur to Bird Evolution, Part 1

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 ID 32027033 © Skripko Ievgen | Dreamstime.com

I have loved dinosaurs since I was a kid. I know, it’s weird. Because I’m a girl and I’m not supposed to love big, scaly critters with lots of teeth, but that’s okay, I’m fine with being weird (used to it, in fact). So, out of my love and devotion for dinosaurs, I have decided to call the month of May, Dinosaur Month on my blog.

Yes, I am aware that International Dinosaur Month is in October (although nobody seems to know who started this), and National Fossil Day is also in October (Oct. 15th), but I don’t want to wait. And it’s my blog, so you can’t stop me (no, I’m not sticking my tongue out).

If you happen to not like dinosaurs, you can still visit here on Mondays for the devotions (I can’t do all this month’s devotions about dinosaurs, sorry, it’s just too hard). Or you can feel free to visit here again in June, I won’t hold it against you.

Now, on to dinosaur related things. In school, I remember being taught about the general theory of evolution when I was pretty young, maybe in grade school, but certainly by junior high. And it actually made me love dinosaurs more. To think they had one ancestor, from a group called the Archosaurs, whose DNA changed and morphed into all the different amazing creatures we see at dusty dig sites or in museum displays. The idea itself seemed fantastical, and I love ideas.

The hypothesis of dinosaurs changing into birds came into fashion sometime while I was in college. I accepted it without question. For me, it meant that in a small way dinosaurs lived on, that somehow they outsmarted the gigantic meteor or the climate change or whatever actually killed them all off.

Skip ahead many years and I became a Christian. I continued to believe in evolution for several more years until I took a church class about creationism. I went into that class with the attitude of “prove this creation stuff to me.” And I was surprised by the evidence. In the next several posts, I’d like to share some of this evidence as it relates to dinosaurs. Some of this information has come from classes I’ve taken with creation scientists, some from creation magazines, and some of it from a presentation prepared by Helmut Welke, President of the Quad Cities Creation Science Association (thanks, Helmut). For more on the Quad Cities Creation Science Association, visit their website, http://www.qccsa.org/.

I’ll do my best to keep this down to earth because I’m sure most of you out there aren’t geologists. So, here are a few of the issues with the theory of dinosaur to bird evolution:

1)      Lack of transitional forms

This means scientists don’t see bird-dinos or dino-birds. If evolution gradually changed dinosaurs into birds, there should be intermediate forms between the two. These transitional forms just aren’t found in the fossil record. Back in the day of Darwin, paleontologists said we simply hadn’t found enough fossils and that transitional forms would turn up. Millions of fossils later, we still have no transitional forms.

Archaeopteryx is sometimes heralded as the missing link between dinosaurs and birds, but there isn’t any evidence this animal was anything more than a bird. It has the characteristic longer forelimbs and shorter hind limbs of a bird, but its supposed dinosaur ancestors show no evidence of their body proportions transitioning in this way.

A few dinosaur fossils have been found with fuzzy material on the bone, which some paleontologists have interpreted as left over feathers. However, further study has shown this material to be fossilized collagen filaments from skin not feathers.

2)      Feathers versus scales

Feathers differ markedly from scales in structure and growth. Feathers grow from tube-like follicles similar to hair follicles and are attached at knobs on the bone. Scales are not individual structures like feathers, but rather comprise a continuous sheet on the surface of the body. When scales shed, they shed as an entire sheet. In contrast, feathers grow and are shed in matched pairs. The structure is very different, as well. The feather vane is made up of hundreds of barbs, each bearing hundreds of barbules interlocked with tiny hinged hooks. This structure is much more complex than the relatively simple structure of reptilian scales. Is it reasonable to believe one evolved into another?

3)      Dinosaur digits

At first glance, dinosaur and bird hands look similar in that they both have three fingers, but the problem is they aren’t the same three fingers. As the embryo develops in both birds and dinosaurs, two of the five fingers are lost and three are retained. Dinosaurs retain digits one, two and three (digit one is the thumb), while birds retain digits two, three and four. So, birds and dinosaurs have mismatched fingers. If they evolved from each other, you’d expect their fingers to have evolved together, as well. This difference suggests it’s almost impossible for them to be related.

In the post next week, I’ll discuss more problems with the hypothesis of dinosaur to bird evolution. For now, what do you think? Does it sound possible for dinosaur scales to evolve into bird feathers? How would you account for the difference in finger development?

Additional Resources: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/did-dinosaurs-turn-into-birds

Dinosaurs Rock?

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 ID 19038214 © Andrey Troitskiy | Dreamstime.com

Dinosaurs Rock! Literally, all the dinosaurs we are ever going to know are rock–their remains have turned to stone. Or have they?

Turns out, some specimens aren’t completely fossilized. Yes, the bones of some dinosaur fossils aren’t as rocky as we once thought.

In 2005, Dr. Mary Schweitzer, a molecular paleontologist at North Carolina State, found soft tissue preserved inside the femur of a T-Rex. This soft tissue included a stretchy matrix, later identified as collagen, and cells shaped like red blood cells. It was a shocking scientific find, considering the bones were supposed to be 65 million years old.

You might ask, why hasn’t anyone found soft tissue before? The answer is simple. Nobody looked. Scientific thought over the centuries has been that fossils are all rock. And because scientists didn’t believe there would be any soft tissue inside their fossils, why destroy the fossils looking for it?

Scientists have this image of being unbiased observers, but I can tell you from experience, scientists are not immune to the same herd mentality which affects so many people. And the effect can be magnified by the way our scientists decide what to research. If you’re seeking funding for something no one believes exists, then you’ll have a hard time getting any money. This means that, out of self-preservation, you will move toward a research subject you know will bring funding. So you don’t get to reserch what you want, you research what benefactors are willing to pay for. Sound very scientific to you?

Back to Dr. Schweitzer. She only found the soft tissue inside the T-rex femur because paleontologists in the field had to break it to transport it off site. When the bones came to the lab, she thought they had a cadaverous smell. This caused her to look at them under a microscope where she found what looked like red blood cells. Later, she found the stretchy collagen after dissolving away the surrounding fossilized material.

Since her initial discovery, Dr. Schweitzer has spent a lot of time trying to understand how the soft tissue could have been preserved for so long. Recently, she released research which indicates the iron in the T-rex’s blood could have caused the unusual preservation. In laboratory conditions, she has demonstrated that red blood vessels soaked in a hemoglobin solution were preserved for two years, while red blood vessels soaked in water degraded within days. Is this really what we’re considering science these days? Dr. Schweitzer can make the conclusion that soft tissue is preserved by iron for 65 million years because it was preserved for 2 years in her lab?

Paleontologists are desperate to show how this soft tissue could have survived intact because they can’t explain it using an old-earth time frame. They’d rather hunt for extreme methods of preservation than consider revising their assumptions about the age of the earth. I don’t think even formaldehyde could preserve something for millions of years. Do you?

 

References:

  1. http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v8/n1/iron-key-dinosaur-tissue
  2. http://news.discovery.com/animals/dinosaurs/mysteriously-intact-t-rex-tissue-finally-explained-131127.htm
  3. http://discovermagazine.com/2006/apr/dinosaur-dna

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