Thursday, 20 March 2014INDEX

Flights of fancy

The Ostrich is described as a flightless bird but anyone who's ever taken a look at those birds must wonder just how many generations, how much evolution, must it have taken to transform a graceful, flighted creature into this over weight, blob with giant drum sticks?

Of course, the ostrich was just one of a number of giant birds (including the Moa, from New Zealand, and Elephant Birds from Madagascar: see this web site for details ).

All these creatures existed long after the extinction of the dinosaurs. This extinction happened 66 million years ago and is associated with the impact of a giant meteorite or asteroid in the Gulf of Mexico.

Despite the fact that it is well know that dinosaurs laid eggs and some of them had feathers, dinosaurs were not birds and could not possibly be birds because the dinosaurs were extinct and birds were not. QED.

Of course, there were some inconvenient facts. Several much older types of animals survived the impact (notably crocodiles and frogs). Even mammals (which had been around for a long time before the extinction) managed to get through.

Another group of animals that made it through were the descendants of the Archaeopteryx (a link between the birds and dinosaurs in that it is clearly a dinosaur yet appears to have feathers and might have been able to fly). The Archaeopteryx is even more famous these days than that other link used to be, the Piltdown Man.

Of course, there's nothing fake about Archaeopteryx, but there is a clear desperation in the scientific community to hang on to the idea that the dinosaurs became extinct. If that desperation didn't exist then it would be acknowledged that the ostrich is just a modern dinosaur, or to put it another way there isn't all that much difference between birds and dinosaurs.

The subject is topical again because a new dinosaur has been discovered in America called the chicken from hell. It lived about 66 million years ago (ie right at the end of the age of the dinosaurs) had feathers and is described in the press as having legs like an Ostrich. See report in the Daily Telegraph.

For yet more evidence of how absurd it is when scientists grandly pronounce an idea that the rest of us have to accept, this dinosaur is said to be part of the Oviraptor group. Oviraptors were so named because an early specimen was discovered close to a nest full of eggs. At the time they didn't realise dinosaurs laid eggs so they assumed the dinosaur wanted to eat the eggs and called it an egg thief or Oviraptor.