Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Early Bird Catches the Creationist Worms


Archaeornithura meemannae
Credit: Wang et al., Nature Communications
The oldest record of ornithuromorpha from the early cretaceous of China : Nature Communications : Nature Publishing Group

A team of Chinese paleontologists has discovered a spectacularly well preserved fossil bird from 130 million years ago which neatly fills the gap in the fossil record between proto-birds such as archaeopteryx and modern birds.

This pushes the earliest known ancestor of modern birds back 5 million years and, because it has several well-developed adaptations, shows the main features characteristic of modern birds must have evolved several million years earlier. This specimen not only shows the bird was capable of expert flight but it had long legs adapted for wading, much like today's plovers. These show that the avian order had already radiated to fill the new niches feathers and flight had opened up.

This finding is important because it comes from such old rocks and the species is already quite advanced in its group. It suggests that in the early Cretaceous, all the major groups of birds had already evolved and diversified.

Gareth Dyke, palaeontologist,
University of Southampton, UK.
Only 20 million years earlier, small, carnivorous feathered dinosaurs had begun diversifying into two evolutionary branches: one leading to modern birds or ornithuromorphs (bird-shaped) and one to what has been termed 'opposite birds' or enantiornithines. The latter had a shoulder joint which connected in an opposite way to the ornithuromorphs, an adaptation which suited them to scrambling about in trees and gliding flight but not the sophisticated flight that the other group soon developed.

The enantiornithines became extinct tens of millions of years later along with the dinosaurs, probably because they were unable to cope with the catastrophic effects of a meteor impact. It may have been their ornithuromorphic adaptations which enabled the ancestors of modern birds to survive this mass extinction in the Cretaceous.

Archaeornithura meemannae (artist's impression)
So these fossils fill both the anatomical and time gaps in the record. Those 'absent' fossils just keep turning up all over the place and those 'permanent' gaps in the record keep getting filled, but creationists have a sacred dogma to help them cope:

By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record.

Answers in Genesis

By a simple, man-made 'definition', every scrap of evidence can be defined away and deemed to be non-existent even when it can be picked up, turned over, looked at from every angle and subjected to any imaginable test. Just say it isn't there and away it goes, even when it doesn't.

Delusion and deliberate self-deception are by no means unknown in human psychology, but to declare in advance that every possible piece of evidence is going to be deemed absent and to make this a proud article of faith is surely a profound form of intellectual dishonesty, bordering on psychosis if not completely over the line. Yet you see these poor, gullible idiots daily swarming the Internet to proudly announce their delusion to the world, as though someone has even fooled them into thinking it's something to be admired as though delusion and wilful ignorance have somehow given them an insight beyond anything achievable by actually learning things.

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