Dinosaur-era bird wings found in amber


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #1

I’m going to play @beaglelady’s role here and post a link to a fascinating pop-science story:

Amazing! And sure to be of general interest to our crew here. A 100-million-year-old feathered wing was found preserved in amber in Myanmar.

"While the fact that many, if not nearly all, dinosaurs were feathered has been generally accepted since the 1990s, our knowledge of prehistoric plumage until now has come from feather imprints in carbonized compression fossils and individual feathers fossilized in amber.

But while feather imprints in compression fossils may show arrangement, they generally lack very fine detail and rarely preserve information on color, while individual feathers in amber cannot be associated with the animal they originally came from.

The two new samples […] contain bone structure, tracts of feathers, and soft tissue. They are the first Cretaceous plumage samples to be studied that are not simply isolated feathers, according to study co-author Lida Xing of the China University of Geosciences. […]

Skin, muscle, claws, and feather shafts are visible in both samples, along with the remains of rows of primary asymmetrical flight feathers, secondary feathers, and covert feathers. All are similar in arrangement and microstructure to modern birds. Although the feathers appeared black to the naked eye, microscopic analysis revealed that the flig ht feathers were mostly dark brown, while the covert feathers ranged from a slightly paler brown to silver or white bands."

That last paragraph is mind-blowing.

While the study clearly shows how this find fits within current evolutionary models, I imagine that it’s only a matter of time before YEC sites start posting about how this shows evolution is wrong somehow… [sigh]


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #2

I knew it wouldn’t be long…

It’s amazing… the author’s spin on this discovery amounts to the following:

Common Sense: “Well duh, these million-year dates have to be wrong, look at the thing, the poor bird might have got stuck yesterday!” (Well, except for independent geological and radiometric dating data that agree with one another and prove otherwise)

Trivializing, misrepresenting: “Watch how they obsess over trivia like digit arrangements instead of the bigger stuff like powered flight!” (Well, it’s because that stuff you call “trivia” is what helped them place it in enantiornithes instead of the true birds, and the authors specifically do address powered flight in their article, saying that the specimen isn’t complete enough to know yet.)

Claiming Bad Faith: “These scientists like to obfuscate with their ‘scientific names.’ Why don’t they just call it like what it is?” (Sure, it wouldn’t have anything to do with honoring a hundreds-of-years-old tradition of using Latin names. You’d think YEC folks would be big on upholding tradition…)

Disproven Yet Oft-Repeated Arguments: “Soft-tissue preservation proves a young age for dinosaurs!”

Plain Old Poking Fun: (This is an actual quote, not a paraphrase) “Knowing that it’s impossible for a scientist to experience a million years, they use time as a magic wand for their miracles (mutations leading to powered flight being a prime example).” (Magic wand? Miracles? That’s all you’ve got? No data-based arguments, eh?)

[sigh] I guess seeing that there are websites that provide anti-spin to every amazing and beautiful new scientific discovery in real time just serves to remind me there’s still a huge need for BioLogos to keep putting this conversation in front of people. Lord give us all grace.


#3

I think you would love this outstanding online course on Theropod Dinosaurs and the Origins of Birds offered by coursera.


(system) #4

This topic was automatically closed 6 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.