Scales to Feathers

    Many have heard of the theory that Theropod dinosaurs evolved into birds and that modern day birds are in reality the decendants of dinosaurs or their closest living relatives. This theory is of course based on the "feathered dinosaurs" that have been heralded as trophies of evolutionary proof.

    The portrayal of Theropod dinosaurs covered with feathers or with feathers extending off of their forearms is most likely a familiar to anyone who frequents scientific literature or websites, especially those covering the topic of dinosaurs in particular. The belief that dinosaurs and birds are somehow connected has been around for some time, thanks to the famous Archaeopteryx from Germany that was long held as a proof of change from one kind of animal to another. The story seems fair enough with plenty of corrborating evidence, but when things are "put under the microscope" they tell different story that doesn't start with dinosaurs and end with birds.

 *Archaeopteryx depicted alive

    Some Evolutionary scientists have been depicting dinosaurs with feathers since at least the 1970's, so this idea of scales to feathers is not necessarily brand new, but the theory did not truly take flight until the 1990's when several fossils in China were unearthed. As it has turned out, the fossils excavated were both birds and dinosaurs, some were actual birds known as Microraptors and the rest were not discernable as birds in any way and therefore should not have been calimed as such and certainly not used as evidence for transition from dinosaurs to birds. The fossils that were used to proport transition sported a layer or "coat" of filamentous structures that were quickly interpreted as feathers. However, studies have since been done by Dr. Alan Feduccia of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his team. They studied the decomposition of modern reptile scales and comparing the findings to the fossil evidence from the specimens that were claimed to exhibit "protofeathers", which are the theoretical early feather structures of bird ancestors. The structures that covered the specimens were found to closely resemble structures that also occur in fossil specimens of organisms that are known to not have feathers eamning that they are more than likely skin based structures, namely collagen fibers.


    Dr. Feduccia went on to say "Collagen is a scleroprotein, the chief structural protein of the connective tissue layer of skin"..."Naturally, because of it's low solubility in water and its organization as tough, inelastic fiber networks, we would expect it to be preserved ocassionally from flayed skin during the fossilization process".

    Much of the hype about the "proof" of the dino to bird lineage were based on simply physical examination of some of the supossed links and even on mere photos of the specimens by some. This means that basically all they did was look at the fossils and ran to the press making wild claims of establsihed facts of the lineage between birds and Theropod dinosaurs. Dr. Feduccia again made statements regarding this "proof".

    "The photo subsequently appeared in various prominent publications as the long-sought 'definitive' evidence of dinosaur 'feathers' and that birds were descended from dinosaurs"..."Yet no one ever bothered to provide evidence-either structural or biological-that these structures had anything to do with feathers. In our new work, we show that these and other filamentous structures were not protofeathers, but rather the remains of collagenous fiber meshworks that reinfrce the skin."

    So it seems that the feathers, also aptly named "dinofuzz", are in actuality frayed collagen fibers that have been preserved along with the bones of some animals. The fact that it can be and has been cross referenced to other fossil organisms should be another, if not the final nail in the coffin of the scales to feathers theory for dinosaurs, yet some are more eager to publish claims than to do extensive testing on specimens in their race to make headlines. The "dino fuzz" on reported specimens such as the famous Sinosauropteryx have been claimed by others besides Dr. Feduccia to be not "protofeathers" or feathers but collagen fibers. However such extensive testing was not done. Congrats to Dr. Feduccia and his team for questioning such outlandish claims for the biological link between such differing types of animals. The feathered dinosaur theory is also one reason that some have come to believe that at least some dinosaurs were warm blooded, a topic that is continually debated based on a number of claims and assertions, however many are based on the hypothetical lifestyles and actions of dinosaur species and not on evidence or observations.

    It should be noted that if one looks at pictures of specimens of "feathered dinosaurs", there are no strucutres that are actually discernable as feathers, but only as "fuzz" (hence the name "dino fuzz"). These fossil specimens are simply the result of the collagen fibers that hold together their skin being exposed from lack of skin recently after death. One may ask "how do Creationists account for this if the animals were buried so rapidly as the flood?". It is impossible to know how each animal died in the flood, yet it is still very possible to have an animal missing enough tissue at the time of burial to expose the frayed network of collagen fibers. This may be expalined in several scenarios. Perhaps the animals that exhibit the exposed collagen fibers were already dead and decomposing at the time of burial. Animals were killing one another as well were humans so perhaps some animals were simply buried after being abandoned as meals while the predators attempted to escape the flood waters. We may not know for some time, but the presence of collagen fibers being preserved on dinosaurs is certainly not a problem for Creationists.

    Although Dr. Feduccia and his team are in the minority group regarding feathered dinosaurs, it seems that they have more findings than those who support the theory of Theropod to bird descendence.

    Aside from the examination of collagen fibers that have been reported as feathers, there is another problem in the theory of birds coming from dinosaurs. That is, that modern birds have been found below the supossed transitional forms such as Archaeoraptor, a specimen now known to be a hoax and not a transitional form of anything. It is the bird equivalent to Piltdown man. The problem here seems to be that unless any of the supossed transitional links, be it Archaeoraptor, Archaeopteryx or some other feathered dinosaur, have access to a time machine and therefore the ablity to go back in time, known modern style birds predate the creatures said to be transitional forms. If true birds were in existance before feathered dinosaurs then how could Theropod dinosaurs have given rise to true birds? Clearly the the finished product cannot come before the the individual pieces.

    It seems that if the examples of Theropod to bird evolution are either carefully made fakes, misidentifications or have yet to be found, then the theory has no place in the realm of established scientific facts and still little place in the realm of theories. In this embarassing quote we see how some are far too quick to try to prove Evolution in some way and too bias to take a skeptical look at the proposed evidence.

    ‘If proof were still needed about the truth of evolution, the treasure trove of feathered dinosaurs found at Laioning [sic—Liaoning] in China would definitely be the clincher. … Laioning was created by God to show us all how much he hates Creationists.’ (China’s Fabulous Dinobirds, The Science Show, ABC, 9 November 2002).

 In fact, many Evolutionists reject the theory of dinosaurs evolving into birds saying that the evidence doesn't fall on the pro side of the argument.

    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. .. Storrs L. Olson, Smithsonian

    If indeed many evolutionist scientists regard the scales to feathers theory as failing scientific scrutiny and lacking examination, the argument cannot be made that "the fact that dinosaurs evolved into birds" is strictly a Creationist argument based upon philosophical differences and a blind rejection of evidence simply because it has come from evolutionary scientists saying the findings support Macro Evolution. A rejection of the scales to feathers theory is not Bible thumping. An argument that has been mad about virtually every Creationist or Intelligent Design claim yet made in the scientific community.

    Interestingly enough, a new study released by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science has stated that a series of tests of the evidence has consistently shown that birds could not possibly have evolved form Theropod dinosaurs.

    “Pesky new fossils . . . sharply at odds with conventional wisdom never seem to cease popping up,”...Given the vagaries of the fossil record, current notions of near resolution of many of the most basic questions about long-extinct forms should probably be regarded with caution.”
John Ruben, Oregon State University

    This challenges the popular belief that many hold regarding not only dinosaur evolution, but bird evolution as well. If this common knowledge is shown to be wrong and the theory thrown out, then the science of Animal origins may be greatly helped by shedding off such an unscientific theory. Perhaps one day the debate will be settled with facts, not fiction.


*The following is a article submitted by Evolutionary scientists saying that neither birds nor feathers started with dinosaurs.