Evolution Intelligent Design

Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig offers ten reasons birds are not living dinosaurs

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Here. Lönnig is reviewing a book by Alan Feduccia, Romancing the Birds and Dinosaurs: Forays in Postmodern Paleontology (2020)

From the book’s blurb:

Evolutionary biologist Alan Feduccia is S. K. Heninger Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where as Chair of Biology he pioneered the UNC Genome Sciences Building, dedicated in 2012. In the mid-1970s he was the first to propose an explosive evolutionary model for birds following the Cretaceous extinction event, now known as bird evolution’s Big Bang, and confirmed by whole genome analyses. He was also first to discover a vestigial first digit (thumb) in an avian embryo, a problem dating to the 1820s. Feduccia is the author of eight books, including notably the popular The Age of Birds (Harvard, 1980), and the award-winning The Origin and Evolution of Birds (Yale, 1996,1999), as well as numerous research papers, and is a popular lecturer. In 2014 UNC established the Alan Feduccia Distinguished Professorship.

Life would be simpler and more emotionally satisfying if birds were surviving dinosaurs but maybe they aren’t.

Readers may remember Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig from the time that carnivorous plant tried to eat Nick Matzke.

See also: Remember that Darwin-eating plant? Now threatening to eat Nick Matzke …

Carnivorous plants: After eating Darwin, they couldn’t resist further culinary adventures

The plants that eat vertebrate animals

Carnivorous plants: The 200-year headache.

10 Replies to “Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig offers ten reasons birds are not living dinosaurs

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Lonnig is working at the level of fine specialized detail. The non-synorganistic cladistics (or whatever) might be wrong, but broad scientific literacy needs a different type of decision. The real dividing line is just one question: Did dinosaurs die out? And the broad answer is NO. Some of the animals we call dinosaurs turned into birds, some died. This differs from the older view that all of the animals classified as dinosaurs died.

  2. 2
    jerry says:

    It takes 32 million years to make a new bird species. (Rosemary and Peter Grant)

    Somehow that doesn’t seem enough time to get from a dinosaur to the complexity of the bird world

    Is this OP about birds or carnivorous plants. Audrey II where are you?

  3. 3
    Jonathan11 says:

    Nice book review. However, I do not get why he keeps using colored text…
    Do we have a clear fossil transition from dinosaurs to birds? Clearly no. Do we have a clear understanding and anything close to a plausible model of how all the systems adapted to flight? No.
    You have to be a Darwinist to believe in that transition…

  4. 4
    Bob O'H says:

    Jerry – can you give a source for that claim by the Grants? It seems wildly off, so I’d be interested to see what they actually said, and in what context.

  5. 5
    jerry says:

    can you give a source for that claim by the Grants? It seems wildly off, so I’d be interested to see what they actually said, and in what context.

    in late 2008 Stanford held a series of presentations in honor of Darwin’s birth. One was by the Grants and obviously focused on their work on finches in the Galapagos.

    At a couple points they discuss what speciation means and seemed to have settled on inability to cross breed as the basis of species. (I realize and so did they that this term is sometimes contentious) At which point Rosemary cited the research that showed how long it took for this to happen. She cites 32 million years. The YouTube video is at

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMcVY__T3Ho

    The video is almost 2 hours long so the relevant parts to your specific question are at 1:11:00 and is mentioned again at 1:43:00. Before this for a few minutes, I said there was a discussion on the nature of a species.

    The whole presentation is interesting and informative so I recommend setting aside a time to watch the entire video. You can skip the first 12-13 minutes till the Grants begin.

  6. 6
    tjguy says:

    Feduccia is an evolutionary biologist and bird expert, but he has always been a dissenter concerning the evolutionary story of dinosaurs to birds. It’s nice to see him getting some good press. The molecules to man evolutionary hypothesis has LOTS of problems in it. I’m not willing to just look to God to continually miraculously supply whatever was needed to enable evolution or to justify that story. Why can’t the problems with the story be seen as falsification?

  7. 7
    Bob O'H says:

    Jerry – ah, thanks. So what Rosemary Grant actually said was very different: it takes 32m years (on average) to achieve complete genetic incompatability. She references this paper from 1975. I would be sceptical about the timings. For example, the paper lists a mallard/canada goose hybrid, but they only diverged 10mya (I suspect the other Anseriformes hybrids are from more closely related species, but I haven’t checked). Similarly, in the Galliformes the chicken/quail hybrid is has a divergence time of 18m years. So these look less than claimed. They also don’t stop rapid evolution in other clades.

    (My divergence times are all from OneZoom, so other sources my give different dates)

    https://www.nature.com/articles/nature15697

  8. 8
    jerry says:

    actually said was very different: it takes 32m years (on average) to achieve complete genetic incompatability

    Yes, but that is a frequent characteristic used to distinguish between species. Maybe you should offer a different definition.

    It seems if there is the ability to inner breed, there cannot be that much difference between the mating pairs. Do they represent the same gene pool?

    Would anyone be pointing to a meaningful difference between the two to say they are really different species and examples of evolution? Darwin’s finches were once example number 1 for proof of his ideas on evolution. And not too long ago. Using these examples today would probably not show up in the evolution debate. But they were held in high esteem just 12 years ago.

    I’m sure some would still use these birds as examples but then isn’t this getting into trivialities not the heart of the evolution debate?

    Here is a course from about 10 years ago

    https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/theory-of-evolution-a-history-of-controversy

    Darwin’s finches are on the cover of the booklet that comes with the course and are central to the arguments supporting naturalized evolution. From course

    The best field evidence for neo-Darwinian evolution in action came in 1947 from David Lack’s study of finches on the Galapagos Islands, the same birds that inspired Darwin. These birds differ primarily in the size and shape of their beaks.

    Beginning in 1973 and continuing ever since, field biologists Peter and Rosemary Grant have studied the Galapagos finch population. They have watched average beak shapes and sizes evolve in response to changed conditions.

    So this is the best that is offered. Based on this I would classify belief that all evolution was natural is unjustified or to use the term de rigueur, it’s not warranted,

  9. 9
    Bob O'H says:

    Jerry –

    Yes, but that is a frequent characteristic used to distinguish between species.

    No quite – there is also the bit about offspring being fertile.

    It seems if there is the ability to inner breed, there cannot be that much difference between the mating pairs. Do they represent the same gene pool?

    Well, no, as there is almost no gene flow between the different species. Yes, species can hybridise, but the hybrids would need t be fertile. And for them to be part of the same gene pool, there would have to be enough fertile hybrids to allow measurable amounts of gene flow.

    Would anyone be pointing to a meaningful difference between the two to say they are really different species and examples of evolution?

    Well if you can’t tell the difference between a mallard and a Canada goose…

  10. 10
    ET says:

    The paper “Waiting for TWO Mutations” says that if speciation takes more than two specific mutations it is beyond the reach of blind and mindless processes in a reasonable timeframe.

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