Dinosaur Genome?

Dinosaur Genome?

A recent study out of the University of Kent claims to have pieced together a portion of the genome of dinosaurs. If their claim is true, that is a massive accomplishment. However, the team of researchers made a critical assumption that led them to this conclusion. This assumption laid a shaky foundation for the research to build upon and thus invite others to challenge the research. Doing so merely requires challenging the assumption upon which it is based.

Before getting into the assumption, some background needs to be established.  To perform this research, the scientists attempted to deduce the genome of a precursor to the dinosaurs. This precursor, they postulated, originated around twenty million years before the dinosaurs themselves existed. Using this deduced genome, the researchers then worked forward, tracing the changes in chromosomes up the accepted evolutionary tree of life. This tracing continued until they reached birds, believed to be descendants of dinosaurs.  The original study, published in the peer-reviewed science journal Nature Communications, made the following claim: “Given our data, it is perhaps not an unreasonable speculation that, if we had the opportunity to make metaphase chromosomes from tissue of non-avian theropods, both karyotypic and molecular cytogenetic analysis (genome size aside) would reveal little difference from a modern chicken, duck or ostrich (or at least a spiny soft-shelled turtle)”. The studies authors basically made the claim that a Velociraptor would have similar DNA to a modern chicken if viewed under a microscope.

This study would be a major breakthrough if it were accurate. However, the underlying assumption makes the research vulnerable to being overturned.  If the assumption proves to be wrong, the research is suddenly suspect. The major assumption that this study makes is that birds and dinosaurs have a common ancestor.  While this is central to the evolutionary philosophy, evidence for its veracity is scarce.  Evolutionists will cite Archaeopteryx and dinosaur fossils believed to have been found with feathers as evidence for their theory. These examples are certainly not definitive and come with their own problems. Dr. Michael Denton paused to explain why in his book Evolution, A Theory in Crisis. “However, in one respect, flight, the most characteristic feature of birds, Archaeopteryx, was already truly bird. On its wing, there are flight feathers as fully developed as any modern bird, and recent research reported in 1979 suggests that it was as capable of powered flight as a modern bird.” Further, while it does have teeth, which most birds do not, they do not resemble reptilian teeth at all.

Feathered dinosaurs present the second problem to evolutionists. The first issue with the feathers found on dinosaur fossils is that many of them are found in China. China has a history of falsifying fossils and selling them to unsuspecting western scientists. This has been reported extensively, even by mainstream media sources. Further, many of the supposed feathered dinosaurs probably could be classified as birds just as easily as they are classified as dinosaurs. Third, and most troublingly, just about any projection from a fossils body resembling a feather has been classed as a feather, thus leading to the dozens of feathered dinosaurs.  Many of these filamentous projections could reasonably be classified as hairs or bristles rather than feathers. Even Nation Geographic admits this in an article entitled ” Fluffy Dinosaur Raises Questions About the Origin of Dino Fuzz” published in 2014. The article says ” If the structures are superficially the same, but not truly equivalent, then feather-like structures either evolved more than once or diverged from some earlier, as-yet-unseen type of integument. For the moment, there’s still no way to distinguish between these alternative scenarios.” This statement puts a different perspective on feathered dinosaurs.

The lack of evidence for dinosaurs being ancestral to birds heavily undermines the assumptions underlying the attempt to find the dinosaur genome.  If dinosaurs are not ancestral to modern birds, then the researchers attempt to work backward from modern birds is useless. This leads to the implications of making that assumption

The underlying assumption to this study causes it to reason in a circle. The way the study was reported, it appeared that the genome of a dinosaur was discovered. However, this is not the case. The scientists extrapolated backward from existing information. The original study used the chicken genome as its primary source, although other sources, including reptilian and mammalian variants, were used. The chicken was chosen as the basis because its genome had purportedly changed the least from its reptilian ancestors. This is an assumption, which ties back the assumption that birds are descended from dinosaurs.  No one knows for certain what a dinosaur genome looked like. It has never been observed, simply because no dinosaurs are currently alive. The researchers had to assume that the chicken had changed the least from its purported ancestors because they had no hard evidence that this was the case. They then took that assumption and used it to build a genome for a hypothetical dinosaur ancestor.  It should surprise no one that the dinosaur genome they postulate as a result of the study closely resembles that of a bird when they used several bird genomes as part of the basis for the study.

Assumptions are not necessarily bad things, but they should be based on facts. In constructing the dinosaur genome, the researchers made an assumption that was based on controversial discoveries and faulty logic. Assuming a common ancestor between dinosaurs and birds is based largely on a few fossilized creatures.  Since fossils like Archaeopteryx and others show the major characteristics of birds, there is no reason to consider them anything other than birds. While some scientists refer to the feathered dinosaur fossils as evidence for evolution, there is significant debate as to whether the supposed feathers are actually feathers at all. If they are not feathers, then this assumption becomes even weaker and less factually based. Further, the study results suggesting that the chicken and the theropod dinosaurs share similar DNA is unproven. Theropod DNA has never been seen or sequenced. Comparing it to chicken DNA is thus impossible.

It might seem strange that a group of educated, intelligent scientists would make assumptions that appear to fly in the face of facts, but unfortunately, it is all too common. The assumption is made because the scientists are believers in a secular worldview. This worldview excludes any possibility of a God or Designer existing and thus is forced to rely on wholly naturalistic mechanisms. When the data does not support these mechanisms, assumptions must be made because the alternative is a God, to whom the evolutionists must answer. This option is intolerable to the evolutionist, so much so that noted evolutionist Dr. Richard Lewontin has been quoted as saying “It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” Dr. Lewontin is admitting here that many evolutionists, himself included, will always look for a materialistic explanation, no matter how great a weight of evidence is against them. This effectively explains why the authors of the aforementioned study made such a dramatic assumption. They had to make it or else risk acknowledging the possibility of a divine entity, which creationists know to be the God of the Bible.

 

Peer Reviewed Article in Nature Communications

 

Original Kent State Article

Article in Science Daily

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