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Re: PRE-OLSHEVSKY BCF



This may be coming a bit late, since the topic seems to have been passed 
by, but the discussion of prescience about feathered dinosaurs before the 
discovery of feathers preserved on Chinese dinosaurs reminded me of a 
letter I received several years ago (1990) from Nils Johansen, then a 
professor of geological engineering at the University of Alaska, and now 
here at USI in a post-early-retirement position.  Nils, a native of Oslo, 
Norway, told me of a book by a Swedish paleontologist named Axel 
Klinkowstrom (I don't know his credentials) titled _Sagor om 
forvandlingens lag--Fran djur til manniska_; in English, _Tales from the 
Saga of Evolution_.  Nils' copy, a Norwegian translation, was published 
"around" 1947; I don't have a year for the Swedish original (Nils 
misplaced it somewhere upon his move to the warm latitudes
of Evansville).  The book was written for 14-year-olds.  On page 69 the 
author illustrated a dinosaur, clearly a small coelurosaur, covered with 
downy feathers, and sporting a rooster-like comb and wattle.  The animal 
is somewhat misproportioned, in having a longer neck then hind legs.  The 
author makes other errors in anatomical detail revealing he was not a 
dinosaur specialist.  Nevertheless, his discussion shows what apparently 
a number of people (as evidenced from the discussions on this list) had 
speculated about feathered dinosaurs long before we had the fossil 
evidence to support the truly scientific inferences.  Nils provided loose 
translations of several passages, which I have reproduced below:

"But the name "frightening lizard" (dinosaur) is not a fortunate name. . 
. . What is true, however, is that "frightening lizards" have nothing in 
common with today's reptiles whether we think about snakes, lizards or 
turtles, whether in the tropics or here in the North.  If we want to know 
about the nearest relatives of the "frightening dragons" today, we must 
seek elsewhere, namely the birds.  There is reason to believe that all 
birds today, from the tiniest hummingbird to the giant ostrich are 
descendants of the "frightening lizards" or at least their immediate 
predecessors.  Birds of course are not descendants of the giants 
directly, but from smaller groups.  There were
groups of small "frightening lizards" that we call "bird lizards" that 
walked on their hind legs and we can find their tracks in shale.

"Because of the close relationships between the "bird lizards" and the 
"frightening lizards", one could have the right to draw some conclusions, 
especially when it comes to their appearances.  In books about the Earth 
and its inhabitants you often find pictures of "frightening lizards".  
But since the word has great power over the mind, the word "frightening 
lizard" has led the illustrator's fancy to come up with frightening 
iguana or crocodile like creatures.  It is certain that the early 
bird-like lizards did NOT look like the pictures you see in books.  They 
probably looked quite different.  First, we shall notice that it is 
probable that the "bird lizards" and possibly also the "frightening 
lizards" were warm blooded.  Birds have warm blood, you know.  It is even 
warmer than ours.  I find it not likely that evolution gave them warm 
blood after they started to fly.  I find it more likely that the birds 
inherited their warm blood from their nearest relatives, from the "bird 
lizards" or of you wish, from the common ancestor of both "bird lizards" 
and "frightening lizards".  If the "bird lizards" had warm blood, and I 
am sure they did, then we can almost believe that their skin had a cover 
of some kind that kept in the warmth.  This is the way it is with mammals 
and birds.  It is not likely that it was hair, and even less likely that 
it was feathers.  Feathers we must believe belong with the ability to 
fly.  But it is a good possibility that it could have been down.

"Some birds are born naked, but others have a covering of down when they 
emerge from the egg.  Feathers come later.  The down cover of birds is 
peculiar, and is difficult to explain unless we look at it as inherited 
from past ancestors, "downy lizards".

"When you think of these animals, then you must imagine them as covered 
with down, just like goslings or ducklings.  They were different from 
birds, the fact that they had teeth rather than a beak does not mean 
much.  In the old days there were real birds with teeth.  We should 
rather notice that they had forelegs rather than wings and on these they 
had five toes and claws.  But these front feet were too small to walk 
with.  They could be used to put
food into the mouth just like the kangaroo today.  And then they had a 
real tail.

"But by now you have probably had enough of guesses and probabilities.  
Let us continue with our story where we left off.  [end of passage]


Of course, Klinkowstrom can hardly be given any sort of academic credit 
for this, but it is an interesting discussion from more than 50 years 
ago.  It does not SEEM to favor the BCF idea, but that is not entirely 
clear from certain passages. 


*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Norman R. King                                       tel:  (812) 464-1794
Department of Geosciences                            fax:  (812) 464-1960
University of Southern Indiana
8600 University Blvd.
Evansville, IN 47712                      e-mail:  nking.ucs@smtp.usi.edu