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Re: Dinosaurs and birds

Stephen V. Cole" <adbinc@arn.net> wrote:

> Ok, I really don't want to touch off a creationist mess 

Anyone who might consider setting off such a mess should please see:


I'm considering Mr. Cole's message to be a "teachable moment" with
respect to list policy.  Many people in the past have been under the
impression that they could write about Creationism as long as they
didn't use the word "Creationism" or its derivatives.  But our policy
bans the introduction of Creationist *arguments*.  Mr. Cole's message
raised a red flag when I read the first line (quoted above), but the
only argument he introduces is a legitimate scientific question.
Hence I'm ruling it as acceptable.  I would have preferred it if he
had asked the question without reference to his reason for asking it,
but that's mainly because I fear the direction responses will take.
If you wish to respond to his message, please tread carefully...

> Now, I've been gone from the hobby for a while, but did I really miss
> this?
> Do you real VPs ((I mean, other than Olshevsky) no longer believe 
> birds descend from Archy and his cousins?

Tom Holtz already gave a partial answer, but there are two specific
points I think should be clarified (dang it, Scott Hartman beat me to
one of them already :-).  First a relatively minor point... the exact
position of Archaeopteryx in dinosaur phylogenies is a bit unsettled.
As I understand the trend in analyses, though, most people looking
into the matter think it was not the direct ancestor of living birds.
Second, and more to the point of the question, there was no "fake
feather scandal" in 1999.  There was a scandal perpetrated upon
Stephen Czerkas, who purchased "a" fossil that turned out to be a
composite of at least two different animals.  Both animals were
dinosaurs.  At least one of the animals would probably be considered a
"bird" by anyone.  So you might have missed a big brouhaha, but its
implications were not as grandiose as your friend has suggested.  For
more, do searches on "Archaeoraptor".  Here's a particularly relevant
article for you:


Hope that helps,

Mickey P. Rowe     (mrowe@lifesci.ucsb.edu)