Running, Flapping Dinosaurs

One of the most persistent myths that plague paleontology is the spurious idea that dinosaurs evolved into birds. However, frustratingly, it continues to persist in the scientific peer-reviewed literature, even to the point of influencing experimental design. The most recent example of this I’ve come across as of this writing is an article from PLOS that discusses the body structure of Caudipteryx. The researchers designed an experiment that looked at how flight might have evolved in this smaller organism.  However, they made some key assumptions that significantly undermines the validity of their research. This article will address some of the issues with this study.

As part of this study, the researchers built a life-size model of Caudipteryx. They estimated that Caudipteryx would have weighed about eleven pounds and been able to run at a maximum speed of around 8 kilometers an hour. Based on this reconstruction, the researchers postulated that Caudipteryx evolved flapping flight without the previously envisioned gliding intermediate. Their idea was that since Caudipteryx had wings, and mathematical calculations showed that these wings could have caused these wings to flap at speeds slower than the robotic model could run, the wings on Caudipteryx were capable of flapping.

These conclusions are very interesting and I would have no problem accepting them, were it not for a few major issues with the study. First of all, if you examine the Caudipteryx skeleton, it is very bird like. When reconstructed by these researchers, and every other secular source, it is reconstructed incorrectly.  In birds, for balance, the knees are drawn up inside the body.  This moves the balance point forward. Since bird tails are almost always either absent or very low on muscle and tendon which would provide weight, it is necessary for the bird to have the balance point further forward. I cover this topic in much more detail in my presentation on feathered dinosaurs but because there is no real muscle or tendon present in bird tails, the tail bones lack special spines that serve as attachment points for those bones, making it easy to distinguish between them and reptile tails, which do have the attachment points. Caudipteryx tail lacks these attachment points, and thus had little muscular weight. Therefore it could not have been used for balance.  Therefore the reconstructed robot was reconstructed incorrectly

If, as I argued above, the robot was reconstructed incorrectly, then the entire experiment these researchers performed goes out the window.  However, by accident, they may have stumbled on at least a few minor truth gems. For example, the article argues that Caudipteryx had wings. Based on the images I’ve seen, I’m inclined to agree. In fact, I’d be willing to potentially go a step further and suggest that Caudipteryx might have been capable of powered flight over at least short distances. However, I do not believe it was a feathered dinosaur.

Confused yet?  If you are, don’t feel bad, so are most paleontologists which study “feathered dinosaurs.” There are no “feathered dinosaurs”. Instead, there are birds, dinosaurs, birds misclassified as dinosaurs and dinosaurs mistakenly believed to have feathers. The first two self-explanatory, but the third and fourth categories need to be explained further.

When I speak of birds misclassified as dinosaurs, I refer to groups like Caudipteryx and Aurornis.  They clearly have a lot of bird-like features but are found in the wrong strata for birds so they are assumed to be dinosaurs on the path to becoming birds.  They are then misconstrued as being feathered dinosaurs, rather than simply being acknowledged as birds.  However, there are also true dinosaurs being misclassified as “feathered”. This is due to the discovery of filaments or “protofeathers” attached to some of these dinosaurs.  As I’ve discussed in a previous article, filaments are not feathers. Instead, they are collagen fibers left over from breakdowns of the skin layers during fossilization.  And this is not something proposed by creationists; it’s something proposed by numerous paleornithologists including noted luminaries Dr. Alan Feduccia and Dr. James Hinchcliffe.  While I would strongly disagree with both men on their evolutionary dogma, they make valid points regarding the difficulties facing the feathered dinosaur myth.

Unfortunately, men like Dr. Feduccia and Dr. Hinchcliffe are in a minority of evolutionists willing to be at least partially open and honest about the problems with some of their ideas.  Most simply continue to spout the party line and spin their research to fit the narrative, never mind what the facts actually say.  Until such time as scientists are willing to consider the possibility that evolution is not true, I do not see that changing.  Therefore, hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent yearly to promote the accepted narrative, that dinosaurs somehow evolved into birds, despite a complete lack of observable evidence for this position.

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