Although the BAD group (Birds Are Dinosaurs) are in the ascendancy, the small BAND (Birds Are Not Dinosaurs) of dissidents has many reasons to think that currently it has the better arguments. The latest broadside has come from Professor Lingham-Soliar, who has spent a lot of time researching the processes of decay of modern-day organisms in order to better understand partial decay of fossilised animals.
The latest research concerns the skin of the dinosaur Psittacosaurus, a bipedal, plant-eating, ceratopsian dinosaur. This fossil material provides "a deep cross section through the dermis, which includes multiple layers of collagenous fibres in excess of 25, among the highest recorded in vertebrates, with a further 15 more layers (poorly preserved) estimated for the entire height of the section." This is a remarkable find and, as the author writes, it gives us an "unprecedented understanding of the dinosaur skin". The animal was very well protected by this covering:
"These fibre layers comprise regularly disposed fibres arranged in left- and right-handed geodesic helices, matching the pattern at the surface and reasonably inferred for the entire section. As noted from the studies on modern-day animals, this fibre structure plays a critical part in the stresses and strains the skin may be subjected to and is ideally suited to providing support and protection."
Now, Psittacosaurus was a ceratopsian dinosaur "occupying a phylogenetic position far removed from theropod dinosaurs and bird origins". Nevertheless, some have suggested that the bristle-like structures adorning the tail of Psittacosaurus were prototype feathers. Lingham-Soliar considers it significant that no traces of protofeathers could be found in the skin. The structures interpreted by others as protofeathers are actually post-mortem collagen degeneration features. Also, he makes a link between this fossil and the therapods:
"How would the dermis of a theropod dinosaur compare structurally with that of Psittacosaurus? Notwithstanding probable differences in thickness, it is reasonable to think that there would not have been fundamental differences in structure between the dermis of a theropod and that of a non-theropod dinosaur in so far as protection and support are concerned."
A report in The Daily Telegraph quotes the author at some length.
"Scientists must really now choose - belief in the nebulous idea of protofeathers or the reality of collagen, the dominant protein in vertebrates. I am convinced from the nonsense spouted by many of the people who denounce collagen in favour of protofeathers that they have never actually seen collagen in its natural or decomposing state."
"What is highly significant in the present study are the masses of collagen fibres found - over 40 dermal layers seen for the first time in a fossil animal, which shows how vitally important collagen was in providing support and protection of the enclosed body mass of dinosaurs per se. It is hardly surprising that the Chinese dinosaurs, as they decomposed, exposed quantities of these structures."
This new work is not an isolated finding, but it builds on a substantial body of published research (e.g. Feduccia et al. 2005) showing that the popular theropod dinosaur to bird transformation really is a BAD theory.
A unique cross section through the skin of the dinosaur Psittacosaurus from China showing a complex fibre architecture
Proceedings of the Royal Society B, FirstCite Early Online Publishing; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2007.1342.
Abstract: This paper reports on a unique preservation of soft tissues in the ventrolateral region of the plant-eating dinosaur Psittacosaurus from the Jehol biota of China. The preservation is of a deep cross section through the dermis, which includes multiple layers of collagenous fibres in excess of 25, among the highest recorded in vertebrates, with a further 15 more layers (poorly preserved) estimated for the entire height of the section. Also, for the first time in a dinosaur two fibre layers parallel to the skin surface are preserved deep within the dermis at the base of the cross section. These fibre layers comprise regularly disposed fibres arranged in left- and right-handed geodesic helices, matching the pattern at the surface and reasonably inferred for the entire section. As noted from the studies on modern-day animals, this fibre structure plays a critical part in the stresses and strains the skin may be subjected to and is ideally suited to providing support and protection. Psittacosaurus gives a remarkable, unprecedented understanding of the dinosaur skin.
Feduccia, A., Lingham-Soliar , T. and Hinchliffe, J.R. Do feathered dinosaurs exist? Testing the hypothesis on neontological and paleontological evidence, Journal of Morphology, November 2005, 266(2): 125-66.
Highfield, R. Bald truth about dinosaur feathers, The Daily Telegraph: 09/01/2008
|<< <||> >>|
Evolution has become a favorite topic of the news media recently, but for some reason, they never seem to get the story straight. The staff at Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture started this Blog to set the record straight and make sure you knew "the rest of the story".
A blogger from New England offers his intelligent reasoning.
We are a group of individuals, coming from diverse backgrounds and not speaking for any organization, who have found common ground around teleological concepts, including intelligent design. We think these concepts have real potential to generate insights about our reality that are being drowned out by political advocacy from both sides. We hope this blog will provide a small voice that helps rectify this situation.
Website dedicated to comparing scenes from the "Inherit the Wind" movie with factual information from actual Scopes Trial. View 37 clips from the movie and decide for yourself if this movie is more fact or fiction.
Don Cicchetti blogs on: Culture, Music, Faith, Intelligent Design, Guitar, Audio
Australian biologist Stephen E. Jones maintains one of the best origins "quote" databases around. He is meticulous about accuracy and working from original sources.
Most guys going through midlife crisis buy a convertible. Austrialian Stephen E. Jones went back to college to get a biology degree and is now a proponent of ID and common ancestry.
Complete zipped downloadable pdf copy of David Stove's devastating, and yet hard-to-find, critique of neo-Darwinism entitled "Darwinian Fairytales"
Intelligent Design The Future is a multiple contributor weblog whose participants include the nation's leading design scientists and theorists: biochemist Michael Behe, mathematician William Dembski, astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, philosophers of science Stephen Meyer, and Jay Richards, philosopher of biology Paul Nelson, molecular biologist Jonathan Wells, and science writer Jonathan Witt. Posts will focus primarily on the intellectual issues at stake in the debate over intelligent design, rather than its implications for education or public policy.
A Philosopher's Journey: Political and cultural reflections of John Mark N. Reynolds. Dr. Reynolds is Director of the Torrey Honors Institute at