Was Velociraptor a Dragon?

first_imgAs if Velociraptor, the terror of Jurassic Park, was not scary enough, some scientists are now saying it was feathered.  (This, of course, does not imply it could fly after its human prey like some movie dragon.)  The latest claim in Science is based on the apparent presence of “quill knobs” on the radius bone of a specimen found in Mongolia.  In their “Brevia” article, the authors claimed this is direct evidence that the dinosaur had quilled feathers.  Other science reporters took up the claim without a flap, among them Science Daily, the BBC News and National Geographic News, which may feel some relief after its Archaeoraptor embarrassment (11/21/2002, 09/27/2000).1Alan H. Turner, Peter J. Makovicky, Mark A. Norell, “Feather Quill Knobs in the Dinosaur Velociraptor,” Science, 21 September 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5845, p. 1721, DOI: 10.1126/science.1145076.Since nobody else seems to be asking the hard questions, let’s take a look at this claim.  The paper and its photos do not appear convincing to a skeptical eye.  Consider these points:The evidence is circumstantial, not definitive.The claim came from one bone, not from multiple samples of Velociraptor.  The first thing they should have done was examine other specimens.No feathers or feather imprints were found (see 09/06/2007, footnote 2).There were only 6 of the structures, and they looked like dimples, not knobs.The dimples followed a curve, not a straight line as on the vulture bone shown for comparison.The putative quill knobs were in the middle third of the bone but did not continue to the right or left; why would an arm have only six feathers in the middle of the arm?  The vulture bone showed the knobs all the way along the bone.They did not show similar knobs on the other arm, or on any of the other parts of the skeleton.Not all birds have quill knobs.  Eagles, for instance, do not.  The authors admit that lack of the knobs is not evidence for lack of feathers, but argue that presence of knobs is direct evidence for feathers.  This is an argument from silence, because there might have been non-feathered animals with knobs.  Their ending statement, therefore, is unsupportable: “Whether this feature represents retention of an ancestral function or the cooption for other purposes, the presence of quilled feathers on the posterior of the arms in a medium-sized derived, clearly nonvolant dromaeosaur can now be established.”These structures might have had a different function than supporting feathers.Velociraptor had no use for feathers.  The authors admit that the skeleton of the creature did not allow it to fly; the arms are too short to serve as wings.The authors could only speculate what feathers would be used for: perhaps sexual display or downward lift while running.  For this they referred to Ken Dial’s ridiculous hypothesis about the origin of flight (see 05/01/2006, 12/22/2003, 01/16/2003).The paper claims that Velociraptor descended from more bird-like feathered dinosaurs that might have been capable of flight.  Not only is there no evidence for this, it would represent devolution, not evolution.Feathers are very different from scales.  The existence of pits along an arm bone falls far short of explaining how complex feathers could have evolved.  The authors said, “This report of secondaries in a larger-bodied, derived, and clearly flightless member of a nonavian theropod clade represented by feathered relatives is a substantial contribution to our knowledge of the evolution of feathers.”  Such a claim vastly oversteps the evidence.The introduction said, “Some nonavian theropod dinosaurs were at least partially covered in feathers or filamentous protofeathers.”  But the reference was to a paper by one of the coauthors, not to an independent source.  It would have been a more solid argument to cite a critic of dinosaur-to-bird evolution as a hostile witness.They said “We present direct evidence of feathers” but did not show any feathers!  The evidence, therefore, was indirect.Quill knobs are usually indicative of secondary feathers, i.e., those with vanes and barbs used for flight.  None of the other “feathered dinosaur” candidates have advanced feathers like this, unless they were arguably true birds.The bone was found in isolation and “possesses several characteristics” of Velociraptor.  This allows for the possibility this bone was misclassified.This claim cannot be taken in isolation from the other controversies about dinosaur-to-bird evolution (see 09/06/2007 and its embedded links to previous entries; see also the four Dinosaur chain links in the Oct. 2005 page).Paleontologists with more experience, with access to this bone, will need to weigh in on this claim.  But even if definitive evidence were to be established for feathered Velociraptors, what would this mean for creationists?  Nothing.  It would mean that extinct creatures were more varied than previously thought.  Some birds and reptiles had teeth, and some did not.  Some birds and reptiles flew, and some did not.  Some birds and reptiles had different numbers of toes.  The morphological differences within class Aves and within class Reptilia is enormous even today (picture ostrich vs hummingbird, alligator vs turtle).  The diversity was even much more so in the past.  Creationists allow for a Designer who could use His designed structures where needed.  There are many other cases where common structures are found in different groups; evolutionists explain them away with their miracle phrase, “convergent evolution.”  Feathering would just add one more example.    Feathered Velociraptors would also mean that the scientists were wrong, and the animators of Jurassic Park were wrong.  It would not establish a link between dinosaurs and birds, because this creature was not on the line leading to birds.  Even the authors admitted that the Velociraptor lineage must have been in the process of losing its feathers (if these members indeed had any), while the ancestors (according to the story) would have had functioning feathers, with no ancestors before that showing how the feathers evolved.    Evolutionists are in a frantic campaign to support their theory.  That’s why this circumstantial evidence is getting so much press.  But at best, it’s merely another argument from homology.  As Jonathan Wells pointed out so well in his book Icons of Evolution, homology does not prove evolution; it can just as well support common design.  Give them all the feathered dinosaurs they want; it will not prove that one kind of animal evolved into another kind.  Until then, we’d like to see a lot better evidence than this one bone.    Notice one other thing about scientific papers in this vein.  Its authors referenced Ken Dial’s absurd just-so story suggesting that flight evolved when baby dinosaurs held out their arms as stabilizers while running uphill.   These guys used Dial’s paper for support rather than laughing at it as they should have.  This would be a good time to re-read the entry from 03/17/2006, in which a team of social scientists demonstrated that scientific papers can actually perpetuate false ideas rather than build up knowledge.    On the History Channel tonight, a documentary was shown that illustrates how vastly different interpretations can come from the same evidence.  A 2005 program about dragons was rerun.  It acknowledged that dragon legends exist worldwide, crossing all cultures around the world: Maya, Chinese, American Indian, European.  The similarities between these legends is striking.  Also, each culture believed that these creatures really existed, and some claimed that they were witnessed in recent times.  How is this to be explained?    Creationists have used these facts to support the idea that humans and dinosaurs coexisted till recent times, and the memory of the awesome beasts was perpetuated in dragon legends.  The secular TV program admitted that dragons bear striking resemblances to dinosaurs, but it put forth a completely different explanation.  Assuming in advance that the existence of humans and dinosaurs was impossible, the commentators made up explanations out of thin air: for instance, that humans are hard-wired to imagine dragons in their evolved brains, such that instinctive fear of predators (eagles, snakes and lions) combined into one imaginary creature, the dragon.  The program also suggested that primitive peoples found dinosaur bones in the ground and projected them into their mythology as large, fearsome monsters.  “Instincts that kept our evolutionary ancestors from being eaten,” combined with the human capacity for vivid imagination, produced dragon myths around the world, independently, with striking similarities in many details.  The program, as could be expected, claimed ownership of “science” as its superior alternative to any other explanation.  This is not about science.  It’s about the science of one world view arguing with the science of another.    According to Dykstra’s Law, everyone is someone else’s weirdo.  Creationists will surely laugh as hard at the evolutionary explanation as the evolutionists would about the creation alternative.  This is not to say that all weirdos are equally weird, or that all weird ideas have equal validity, or that world views are arbitrary.  It does illustrate, though, that evidence does not interpret itself.  Presuppositions and biases cannot be avoided.  They need to be acknowledged and can, to some degree, be kept under control by honesty and love of the truth.  Claims about Velociraptor feathers need more control than we are seeing today.(Visited 66 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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11th Annual Soweto Career Day and Expo

first_imgThe 11th Annual Soweto Career Day and Expo took place on 25 and 26 May 2018 at the Orlando Community Hall in Soweto. Held since 2004, the Expo has been a platform that gathers about 40 000 learners and job seeking community members to present to them career pathways and education and training opportunities.This year, exhibitions by government departments and agencies, non-governmental organisations, private sector organisations, colleges and universities covered a range of careers available in many different sectors of education, training and employment in South Africa.Every year, the event aims to encourage and empower learners and community members to better themselves and their communities by making informed choices on their education, training and careers; and each year, the guidance provided at the exhibitions proves to be invaluable and informative to learners and job seeking community members from and around Soweto.The annual event has gone a long way in addressing South Africa’s socioeconomic challenges of inequality, poverty and unemployment by creating a platform where underprivileged future and present job seekers can build relationships and network with further education and training institutions and potential employees.It is important to create economic opportunities for those who were previously excluded from participating in the economy due to the country’s history. This initiative contributes to the country’s economic growth by equipping learners with the necessary tools to accelerate progress.Many walked away inspired to fulfill their potential and informed about the countless opportunities available for them to contribute to South Africa’s economy.last_img read more

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Prayer should be offered in mosques instead of public places, Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar

first_imgFollowing instances of disruption while namaz (prayer) was being offered in open spaces in the National Capital Region over the past few days, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said on Sunday that it should be offered in mosques or ‘eidgahs’ instead of public places.“We are of the view that namaz should be offered at mosques or ‘eidgahs’… In case of shortage of space, it should be offered at a personal place. These are issues which should not be put for public display… It should be avoided at public places for the convenience of all,” he told journalists here.Mr. Khattar said directions had been issued to officials to take precautionary measures to ensure harmony. Some organisations had submitted complaints regarding namaz at public places, he added.Mr. Khattar said his government ensured law and order in the State so that the people could live peacefully. “…no criminal can escape after committing any crime.”The Chief Minister said Haryana Police Cadet Corps, on the lines of the National Cadet Corps, was being set up, involving students from Class XI to graduation.Mr. Khattar urged the Punjab government to join hands with Haryana to check wasteful flow of Ravi waters to Pakistan because of the unprecedented water crisis looming in both States.“I have written to Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh to direct the officers concerned to take up the proposal in right earnest. Quoting from the letter, he said: “More and more blocks of Haryana and Punjab have anyway been slipping into the category of over-exploited blocks even as our hard-working farmers toil in the face of a stressed farm sector. I think the time has come when we must join hands in checking the wasteful flow of Ravi waters to Pakistan.”Khattar’s statementIn a late evening statement, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar clarified that in his statement regarding offering Namaz at public places, he had never said anything regarding stopping anyone from offering Namaz.He said if anyone had any problem regarding offering Namaz at public places, he/she could inform the administration and the police. “It is the responsibility of the administration and police to maintain law and order and the state government is bound to maintain peace,” he added.PTI adds:Hindutva organisations have been trying to stop Friday prayers in Gurgaon over the last two weeks alleging that some people were trying to grab land in a bid to merge it with a mosque. There were disruptions caused at Wazirabad, Atul Kataria Chowk, Cyber Park, Bakhtawar Chowk and at South City, the police said.last_img read more

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