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Author Topic:   Transitional fossils and quote mining
Augray
Junior Member (Idle past 3438 days)
Posts: 9
From: Toronto, Canada
Joined: 09-15-2009


Message 26 of 210 (524249)
09-15-2009 10:34 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Arphy
09-13-2009 7:14 AM


As I said in my post about Feduccia, the opinion that Archaeopteryx is a bird was also the consensus opinion at the International Archaeopteryx Conference. So I don't think that it is a minority view.

I'm not sure that this is saying what you think it says. Calling something a "bird" doesn't mean that it's like birds alive today, and in fact the participants of the conference you refer to made this point again and again (by the way, I have a copy of the proceedings).

As for Feduccia, he's on record as saying that:

Creationists are going to distort whatever arguments come up, and they've put me in company with luminaries like Stephen Jay Gould, so it doesn't bother me a bit. Archaeopteryx is half reptile and half bird any way you cut the deck, and so it is a Rosetta stone for evolution, whether it is related to dinosaurs or not. These creationists are confusing an argument about minor details of evolution with the indisputable fact of evolution: Animals and plants have been changing.

- Alan Feduccia, quoted in Svitil, K. A. 2003. Plucking Apart the Dino-Birds. Discover 24(2):16.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Arphy, posted 09-13-2009 7:14 AM Arphy has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 27 by greyseal, posted 09-15-2009 11:14 AM Augray has not yet responded

    
Augray
Junior Member (Idle past 3438 days)
Posts: 9
From: Toronto, Canada
Joined: 09-15-2009


Message 28 of 210 (524259)
09-15-2009 11:31 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Arphy
09-13-2009 7:14 AM




The facts are that Archaeopteryx has:
* a long bony tail
* teeth
* claws
and other non-avian traits.

Even so, why should this mean that birds evolved from dinosaurs? You first assume evolution and then see if you can make it fit.

Let me revise that list:


  • Unfused bones in the skull.
  • Antorbital fenestra.
  • Teeth.
  • Cervical vertebrae articular surfaces not saddle-shaped.
  • Coracoid is not strut-like.
  • No carpometacarpus.
  • Unfused trunk vertebrae.
  • Gastralia.
  • Only 5 sacral vertebrae.
  • Fused pubic bones.
  • Fibula reaches ankle.
  • Fifth Metatarsal.
  • Long bony tail.

Strange as it may sound, a large number of birds have vestigial claws on their wings, so that's not a significant claim, but I'm unaware of any living bird that has claws on all three digits, as was the case in Archaeopteryx and theropod dinosaurs.

And just to further emphasize the point, here's a list of traits shared by coelurosaurs (a group of theropod dinosaurs) and living birds:


  • Postfrontal bone in skull absent.
  • Prefrontal bone in skull absent.
  • Epipophyses on cervical vertebrae.
  • Wishbone.
  • Deltopectoral crest distally projected.
  • Bowed ulna.
  • Perforate acetabulum.
  • First metatarsal does not reach ankle.
  • Bipedal.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Arphy, posted 09-13-2009 7:14 AM Arphy has not yet responded

    
Augray
Junior Member (Idle past 3438 days)
Posts: 9
From: Toronto, Canada
Joined: 09-15-2009


Message 52 of 210 (524544)
09-17-2009 12:18 PM
Reply to: Message 33 by Arphy
09-16-2009 7:32 AM


Re: Lies, Damn Lies and Creationist Quote Mines

What you have not demonstrated is that Feduccia believes archaeopteryx to be anything other than an important transitional fossil. His opinions are of no aid to creationist arguments unless taken out of context.

Then why did he say the things he did? He knew that creationists would pounce on them (message 26).

I doubt that he did. The "paleobabble" quote is from 1993, and the one I provided is from 2003.

Actually lets also bring in the quote supplied by Augray from Feduccia (message 26)

Creationists are going to distort whatever arguments come up, and they've put me in company with luminaries like Stephen Jay Gould, so it doesn't bother me a bit. Archaeopteryx is half reptile and half bird any way you cut the deck, and so it is a Rosetta stone for evolution, whether it is related to dinosaurs or not. These creationists are confusing an argument about minor details of evolution with the indisputable fact of evolution: Animals and plants have been changing.
- Alan Feduccia, quoted in Svitil, K. A. 2003. Plucking Apart the Dino-Birds. Discover 24(2):16.

His two quotes just don't make sense when put next to each other.

In fact, they do if you don't assume that he's arguing against evolution, which is what creationist would want you to think.

first he says "Paleontologists have tried to turn Archaeopteryx into an earth-bound, feathered dinosaur. But it's not. It is a bird, a perching bird." and then he says "Archaeopteryx is half reptile and half bird any way you cut the deck". What the...?? Of course he may be of the opinion that birds did not evolve from dinosaurs but some other reptile, which i guess might accomadate the two quotes but that doesn't help you guys because you seem to suggest that you believe that birds did evolve from dinos.

Well, he's wrong about that, and I can go into extreme detail as to why he's wrong.

And you have to keep in mind the context of Feduccia's "paleobabble" comment. It was given in an interview, and was quoted in an article (Morell, V. 1993. Archaeopteryx: Early Bird Catches a Can of Worms. Science 259:764-765) that appeared in the same issue of a journal that contained a new paper by him (Feduccia, A. 1993. Evidence from Claw Geometry Indicating Arboreal Habits of Archaeopteryx. Science 259:790-792). Feduccia (and seemingly everyone else at that time) had the idea that dinosaurs never climbed in trees, and so John Ostrom, the leading proponent of the birds-are-dinosaurs camp, advocated the idea that flight had evolved from the ground up. Feduccia's statement that "Paleontologists have tried to turn Archaeopteryx into an earth-bound, feathered dinosaur. But it's not. It is a bird, a perching bird" is a direct response to that idea, as is the paper he wrote.

To cap it all off, he says "These creationists are confusing an argument about minor details of evolution with the indisputable fact of evolution: Animals and plants have been changing." Great, so evolution from goo-to-you-via-the-zoo is proven because "animals and plants have been changing". This is just a ridiculous defense.

Not really. Feduccia immediately follows that statement with:

The corn in Mexico, originally the size of the head of a wheat plant, has no resemblance to modern-day corn. If that's not evolution in action, I do not know what is.

And then there's all the other evidence for evolution, some of which can be found here.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 33 by Arphy, posted 09-16-2009 7:32 AM Arphy has not yet responded

    
Augray
Junior Member (Idle past 3438 days)
Posts: 9
From: Toronto, Canada
Joined: 09-15-2009


Message 61 of 210 (524597)
09-17-2009 5:35 PM
Reply to: Message 39 by Arphy
09-17-2009 6:11 AM


Re: Lies, Damn Lies and Creationist Quote Mines
What you will not find is a derived bird trait in a platypus.

Tell me something new. you won't find a derived trait from reptiles either.

Sure you will. For instance, a soft, leatherly-shelled egg.

Also yes I did get it from an article at creation.com, thank you. Here is original source "Genome consortium, Genome analysis of the platypus reveals unique signatures of evolution, Nature 453:175-183, 2008." So maybe you should stop embarrassing yourself and not be so quick to call me a liar, when you don't seem to know what you are talking about.

That paper doesn't support your claims. It states that

The platypus genome, as well as the animal, is an amalgam of
ancestral reptilian and derived mammalian characteristics.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 39 by Arphy, posted 09-17-2009 6:11 AM Arphy has not yet responded

    
Augray
Junior Member (Idle past 3438 days)
Posts: 9
From: Toronto, Canada
Joined: 09-15-2009


Message 62 of 210 (524600)
09-17-2009 6:13 PM
Reply to: Message 58 by Granny Magda
09-17-2009 3:12 PM


Re: Lies, Damn Lies and Creationist Quote Mines
I do know that in his book entitled "Evolution" (bit of an odd title for someone who doesn't believe in evolution isn't it?) Patterson said "[The] "misprints" shared between species ... are (to me) incontrovertible evidence of common descent."

He also stated in that book that

There are many other examples of fossil 'missing links', such as Archaeopteryx, the Jurassic bird which links birds with dinosaurs...

Edited by Augray, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 58 by Granny Magda, posted 09-17-2009 3:12 PM Granny Magda has not yet responded

    
Augray
Junior Member (Idle past 3438 days)
Posts: 9
From: Toronto, Canada
Joined: 09-15-2009


Message 67 of 210 (524829)
09-19-2009 10:35 AM
Reply to: Message 65 by Arphy
09-19-2009 6:42 AM


Re: Lies, Damn Lies and Creationist Quote Mines
The book "evolution" by colin patterson was written BEFORE his interaction with creationists and his lecture on "Evolutionism and Creationism". yes he certainly used to have the view as in your quote, however this changed as seen by the quotes i have supplied.

Yes, the Patterson book "Evolution" was indeed written before his "Evolutionism and Creationism" lecture, but the second revised edition of his book came out after that lecture, and it still contains this passage:

There are many other examples of fossil 'missing links', such as Archaeopteryx, the Jurassic bird which links birds with dinosaurs...

And then there's this to consider.

As for Olsen, is he really just a fringe scientist? He holds quite a high position at a reputable institute for being a fringe scientist, especially when his area of expertise is Birds.

Olson's area of expertise is Cenozoic birds, and within that area he holds an enviable reputation. But as far as I'm aware, he's only had three papers on Mesozoic birds published out of roughly 200 in total. And in the case of his opposition to a dinosaurian origin of birds, he's simply wrong, and in another post, I'll explain why.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 65 by Arphy, posted 09-19-2009 6:42 AM Arphy has not yet responded

    
Augray
Junior Member (Idle past 3438 days)
Posts: 9
From: Toronto, Canada
Joined: 09-15-2009


Message 68 of 210 (524841)
09-19-2009 2:45 PM
Reply to: Message 63 by Arphy
09-18-2009 9:38 PM


Re: Lies, Damn Lies and Creationist Quote Mines
Feduccia: His quotes which were against the ground dweller dino bird to bird theory is just "another feather in the cap" in what creationists are saying. Namely that there is great difficulty as to how Reptiles could evolve into birds.

How can that be, when Feduccia has no problem with the idea that reptiles evolved into birds??? I mean, creationists are claiming the exact opposite of Feduccia's position, so how can they claim his quotes as "another feather in the cap"???

As to the purported "great difficulty", Feduccia has stated that

Without the presence of feathers, indeed, the bones of the early birds are impossible to separate from those of their reptilian ancestors.

- Feduccia, A. 1980. The Age of Birds. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, pg. 24.

So why is it a "great difficulty" to believe that reptiles evolved into birds? Feduccia certainly doesn't think it is.

You (and others) seem so sure that the scientific community supports them in the dino to bird model and yet here is a nice open letter which shows that the layman's view of scientist's opinions is often very different from the actual experts (note letter is in full, no quote mining, and don't come back saying "It doesn't say they don't believe in evolution", I know, as I have said before,the underlying dogma is never challenged)

Then why is it that I can cite twenty scientists who support the dinosaurian origin of birds for every one that you produce who is against it?

And now, to Olson's letter:


Dear Peter,

I thought that I should address to you the concerns expressed below because your committee is at least partly involved and because you are certainly now the most prominent scientist at the National Geographic Society.

With the publication of “Feathers for T. rex?” by Christopher P. Sloan in its November issue, National Geographic has reached an all-time low for engaging in sensationalistic, unsubstantiated, tabloid journalism. But at the same time the magazine may now claim to have taken its place in formal taxonomic literature.

Although it is possible that Mr. Czerkas “will later name” the specimen identified on page 100 as Archaeoraptor liaoningensis, there is no longer any need for him to do so.

Because this Latinized binomial has apparently not been published previously and has now appeared with a full-spread photograph of the specimen “accompanied by a description or definition that states in words characters that are purported to differentiate the taxon,” the name Archaeoraptor liaoningensis Sloan is now available for purposes of zoological nomenclature as of its appearance in National Geographic (International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, Article 13a, i). This is the worst nightmare of many zoologists---that their chance to name a new organism will be inadvertently scooped by some witless journalist. Clearly, National Geographic is not receiving competent consultation in certain scientific matters.

There's a lot of debate about this, especially since the specimen is now known to have been a forgery, consisting of two different and unrelated fossils artificially pieced together.

Sloan’s article explicitly states that the specimen in question is known to have been illegally exported and that "the Czerkases now plan to return it to China." In Washington, in June of 1996, more than forty participants at the 4th International Meeting of the Society of Avian Paleontology and Evolution, held at the Smithsonian Institution, were signatories to a letter to the Director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences that deplored the illegal trade in fossils from China and encouraged the Chinese government to take further action to curb this exploitation.

There were a few fossil dealers at that meeting and they certainly got the message. Thus, at least since mid-1996 it can hardly have been a secret to anyone in the scientific community or the commercial fossil business that fossils from Liaoning offered for sale outside of China are contraband.

Most, if not all, major natural history museums in the United States have policies in effect that prohibit their staff from accepting any specimens that were not legally collected and exported from the country of origin. The National Geographic Society has not only supported research on such material, but has sensationalized, and is now exhibiting, an admittedly illicit specimen that would have been morally, administratively, and perhaps legally, off-limits to researchers in reputable scientific institutions.

No disagreement here.

Prior to the publication of the article “Dinosaurs Take Wing” in the July 1998 National Geographic, Lou Mazzatenta, the photographer for Sloan’s article, invited me to the National Geographic Society to review his photographs of Chinese fossils and to comment on the slant being given to the story. At that time, I tried to interject the fact that strongly supported alternative viewpoints existed to what National Geographic intended to present, but it eventually became clear to me that National Geographic was not interested in anything other than the prevailing dogma that birds evolved from dinosaurs.

It's not "dogma" if it's got facts to support it. If Olson and Feduccia (and creationists) are unaware of those facts, or choose to ignore them, it's nobody else's problem. As I mentioned in message 52, I can go into extreme detail as to why Olson and Feduccia are wrong, and I've yet to hear any disagreements with my lists of common traits in message 28.

Sloan’s article takes the prejudice to an entirely new level and consists in large part of unverifiable or undocumented information that “makes” the news rather than reporting it. His bald statement that “we can now say that birds are theropods just as confidently as we say that humans are mammals” is not even suggested as reflecting the views of a particular scientist or group of scientists, so that it figures as little more than editorial propagandizing.

But it does reflect the views of a particular group of scientists. How can Olson imply that it doesn't?

This melodramatic assertion had already been disproven by recent studies of embryology and comparative morphology, which, of course, are never mentioned.

But since this letter was written, it's become obvious that comparative morphology is irrelevant to the question, since creatures that were once grouped with dinosaurs are now claimed to be birds. For instance, in 2002, Olson's colleague Feduccia captioned an illustration with the text:

tooth of cover theropod Microraptor showing the typical nonavian tooth morphology of dromaeosaurs;

- Feduccia, A. 2002. Birds are Dinosaurs: Simple Answer to a Complex Problem. The Auk 119(4):1187–1201.

Yet in 2005 he stated that:

...these microraptors are almost certainly remnants of the early avian radiation and are thus birds and not true theropod dinosaurs.

- Feduccia, A., T. Lingham-Soliar, & J. R. Hinchliffe. 2005. Do Feathered Dinosaurs Exist? Testing the Hypothesis on Neontological and Paleontological Evidence. Journal of Morphology 266(2):125–166.

and:


The microraptors of China are birds, regardless of their ancestry.

- Feduccia et al. 2005.

This should put to rest any claims that morphology is relevant to the question, at least for Feduccia.


More importantly, however, none of the structures illustrated in Sloan’s article that are claimed to be feathers have actually been proven to be feathers. Saying that they are is little more than wishful thinking that has been presented as fact. The statement on page 103 that “hollow, hairlike structures characterize protofeathers” is nonsense considering that protofeathers exist only as a theoretical construct, so that the internal structure of one is even more hypothetical.

Olson is completely ignoring the fact that the covering of a related dinosaur has been found to be chemically identical to feathers. This was known before he wrote his letter! See:

Schweitzer, M. H., J. A. Watt, R. Avci, L. Knapp, L. Chiappe, M. Norell, & M. Marshall. 1999. Beta-Keratin Specific Immunological Reactivity in Feather-Like Structures of the Cretaceous Alvarezsaurid, Shuvuuia deserti. Journal of Experimental Zoology. 285:146-157.

The hype about feathered dinosaurs in the exhibit currently on display at the National Geographic Society is even worse, and makes the spurious claim that there is strong evidence that a wide variety of carnivorous dinosaurs had feathers. A model of the undisputed dinosaur Deinonychus and illustrations of baby tyrannosaurs are shown clad in feathers, all of which is simply imaginary and has no place outside of science fiction.

But surprisingly, the "undisputed dinosaur Deinonychus" is now suspected to be a flightless bird by Feduccia, based on recent discoveries of dromaeosaurs (the group containing Deinonychus) with flight feathers. Similarly, a close relative of Tyrannosaurus was found with "protofeathers" after Olson wrote this.

The idea of feathered dinosaurs and the theropod origin of birds is being actively promulgated by a cadre of zealous scientists acting in concert with certain editors at Nature and National Geographic who themselves have become outspoken and highly biased proselytizers of the faith. Truth and careful scientific weighing of evidence have been among the first casualties in their program, which is now fast becoming one of the grander scientific hoaxes of our age---the paleontological equivalent of cold fusion. If Sloan’s article is not the crescendo of this fantasia, it is difficult to imagine to what heights it can next be taken. But it is certain that when the folly has run its course and has been fully exposed, National Geographic will unfortunately play a prominent but unenviable role in the book that summarizes the whole sorry episode.

As noted previously, Feduccia now promotes the idea that certain groups of dinosaurs, specifically dromaeosaurs and oviraptors, are actually flightless birds, after years of criticizing the idea. The only "dogma" in play here is that of the Birds Are Not Dinosaurs sect (BAND), who have no problem reclassifying dinosaurs as birds based on a single character: the presence of feathers. Anything else is irrelevant to them.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 63 by Arphy, posted 09-18-2009 9:38 PM Arphy has not yet responded

    
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