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Remember the Icon of the First Bird, Archaeopteryx? Word is, it’s not a bird

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File:Archaeopteryx lithographica (Berlin specimen).jpg
Knocked off its historic perch/H. Raab

After analysing the traits present in Xiaotingia and its relations, Xu and his colleagues are suggesting that the creatures bear more resemblance to the dinosaurs Velociraptor and Microraptor than to early birds, and so belong in the dinosaur group Deinonychosauria rather than in the bird group, Avialae. Many features led the team to this decision, but the most immediately noticeable are that Xiaotingia, Archaeopteryx and Anchiornis have shallow snouts and expanded regions behind their eye sockets. Microraptor has similar traits, but the early birds in Avialae have very different skulls.

But what if they find a fossil that looks like those ones, but has a bird-like skull? Can they say why they are sure they won’t? Is that a prediction?

The first Archaeopteryx specimen was discovered in 1861, just a few years after the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Its combination of lizard-like and avian features made it the ideal ‘missing link’ with which to demonstrate evolution from non-avian dinosaurs to birds. But the latest rearrangement knocks it from its position as the earliest bird. “I think Archaeopteryx ‘s placement was the result of both history and relatively poor sampling at the dinosaur–bird transition,” explains Xu.

Translation: The classification was embraced for ideological, not science reasons.

Even so, he acknowledges that the move is bold. “Because it has held the position as the most primitive bird for such a long time, I am kind of nervous about presenting this result,” says Xu. But immediate responses from others in the field suggest that the decision will be widely embraced.

Mmmm. People have lost their jobs for less. Depends, really, on how fast new Darwinfacts can be manufactured for the museum docents, like here.

9 Replies to “Remember the Icon of the First Bird, Archaeopteryx? Word is, it’s not a bird

  1. 1
    scordova says:

    Can we save this in some “Gaffes of the NCSE” repository. 🙂

    Archeopteryx

    Archaeopteryx: The fossil

    Contrary to Wells’s subtitle, Archaeopteryx is not a “missing link.” The term “missing link” is an outdated term that does not accurately reflect the way biologists and paleontologists think about fossils. We prefer not to talk about “missing links” or “intermediate forms,” but rather intermediate features. Archaeopteryx has features intermediate between those of living birds and ancient reptiles; along with many other fossils, it preserves ancestral features while it shows descendant novelties. Archaeopteryx retains the ancestral “reptilian” features of a long bony tail, clawed hands, teeth, and many others. It also has the derived “avian” features of feathers and powered flight. Archaeopteryx, along with other dinosaur fossils, shows the evolution of avian features and flight. These fossils show that many features thought of as unique to a certain group of animals were also shared by some of their ancestors; this helps paleontologists to reconstruct the evolutionary history of living animals.

    Looks like the NCSE owes an apology to a the good biologist Dr. Jonathan Wells. 🙂

  2. 2
    SCheesman says:

    Well, I wouldn’t crow too loudly; I remember quite well that twenty or thirty years ago the default YEC position (and I was one) was that Archeopteryx was clearly a bird, sharing a number of features with modern birds – for instance read Duane T. Gish’s “Evolution – The Fossils Say No! (circa 1972)

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Here are a couple more flying creatures that have driven Darwinists ‘batty’:

    Bat Evolution? – No Transitional Fossils! – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6003501/

    The Unknown Origin of Pterosaurs – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XP6htc371fM

    ======================

    Archeopteryx: Updating Icons of Evolution – Jonathan Wells – video
    http://www.cross.tv/58093

    But Is It Evolution ? – February 2011
    Excerpt: Airplane wings exploit some of the same aerodynamic tricks. But a bird wing is vastly more sophisticated than anything composed of sheet metal and rivets. From a central feather shaft extends a series of slender barbs, each sprouting smaller barbules, like branches from a bough, lined with tiny hooks. When these grasp on to the hooklets of neighboring barbules, they create a structural network that’s featherlight but remarkably strong. When a bird preens its feathers to clean them, the barbs effortlessly separate, then slip back into place.
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20110218a

    further notes:

    “Feathers give no indication that they ever needed improvement. In fact, the “earliest known fossil feather is so modern-looking as to be indistinguishable from the feathers of birds flying today.”

    Yale University’s Manual of Ornithology—Avian Structure and Function
    “The first and most complete fossil of archaeopteryx, found in 1855, was misidentified as a flying pterodacylus for 115 years. The newest finding, though, demonstrates that our understanding of even well-studied fossils like archaeopteryx — scrutinized, measured, modeled for 150 years — can still be upended.”

    Bye Bye Birdie: Famed Fossil Loses Avian Perch – Oct. 2009
    “The whole notion of feathered dinosaurs is a myth that has been created by ideologues bent on perpetuating the birds-are-dinosaurs theory in the face of all contrary evidence”

    Storrs Olson, the curator of birds at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History

    The Archaeoraptor Fraud of National Geographic Magazine (In 1999)
    Excerpt: “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.” = Storrs Olson

    Discovery Raises New Doubts About Dinosaur-Bird Links – June 2009
    Excerpt: “one of the primary reasons many scientists kept pointing to birds as having descended from dinosaurs was similarities in their lungs,“ Ruben said. “However, theropod dinosaurs had a moving femur and therefore could not have had a lung that worked like that in birds. Their abdominal air sac, if they had one, would have collapsed. That undercuts a critical piece of supporting evidence for the dinosaur-bird link,,, “The findings add to a growing body of evidence in the past two decades that challenge some of the most widely-held beliefs about animal evolution.” —-“For one thing, birds are found (many millions of years) earlier in the fossil record than the dinosaurs they are supposed to have descended from,” Ruben said. “That’s a pretty serious problem,”…
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....092055.htm

  4. 4
    Mission.Impossible says:

    It looks like archaeopteryx is evolving right before our eyes. How much more evidence do we need?

  5. 5
    David W. Gibson says:

    I must admit I don’t see the problem here. At some point in the past, there were no modern birds. Today, there are plenty of them. So at one point, SOME lineage experienced the beginning of SOME sequence of branching, which resulted in modern birds. It may or may not have been the sequence of which Archaeopteryx was a member.

    I think we can be fairly sure that this sequence included organisms that had only a few features similar to modern birds, followed by organisms that had more, etc. Presumably, at some halfway point lived an organism that was roughly half progenitor and half precessor.

    But from various sources, it seems that this picture is made more difficult to get into focus because MANY lineages had birdlike features, but never evolved into modern birds. Only one did. But THAT lineage almost surely had many branches of birdlike organisms, which in turn had many OTHER such branches, none of which survived to this day. Evolutionary history is like a very dense bush. ONE branch exists today, but hundreds of branches left suggestive fossils.

    I think it’s safe to say that the exact derivation of birds is simply not known today, and may never be known, and that there are plenty of false alarms in the fossil record.

    So the number of possibilities, the number of actual pathways followed at least for a while, is so very large that it’s dangerous to become convinced that THIS one or THAT one must lead to today’s biosphere. Anyone who marries ANY particular historical sequence risks serious correction.

    But plenty of people mis-identifying the needles in that haystack, shouldn’t be interpretated to say that there IS no haystack. In reality, the haystack is huge, and contains many many straws that LOOK like needles (that is, organisms that exist today). Most such needles aren’t direct ancestors of anything alive today, but so what? Building a complete picture of past evoutionary branchings is a daunting and fascinating task, and errors are easy to make. That’s what makes it so challenging and fun!

  6. 6

    BBC News last night (via NPR) had a brief interview with a professor from the UK talking about the new view of archaeopteryx. When asked whether any of the changes in thinking were a challenge for evolutionary theory he proclaimed no, in fact, said he, archaeopteryx now more than ever proves just how incredible evolution is and strengthens the case.

  7. 7
    junkdnaforlife says:

    “When asked whether any of the changes in thinking were a challenge for evolutionary theory he proclaimed no, in fact, said he, archaeopteryx now more than ever proves just how incredible evolution is and strengthens the case.”

    Translation: “I want to keep my job I have bills.”

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Crevo has a article up on this:

    Archaeopteryx Reclassification Raises Fear of Creationists
    http://crev.info/content/11072.....eationists

  9. 9
    melvinvines says:

    “When asked whether any of the changes in thinking were a challenge for evolutionary theory he proclaimed no, in fact, said he, archaeopteryx now more than ever proves just how incredible evolution is and strengthens the case.”

    Sir! Put down the shovel and move away from the hole…

    http://www.cryosites.com/share.....nnfsm.jpeg

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