Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Another Chinese Feathered Dinosaur

Well, here's another transitional fossil for the creationists to pretend doesn't exist:

"China has uncovered the skeletal remains of a gigantic, surprisingly bird-like dinosaur, which has been classed as a new species.

Eight meters (26 ft) long and standing at twice the height of a man at the shoulder, the fossil of the feathered but flightless Gigantoraptor erlianensis was found in the Erlian basin in Inner Mongolia, researchers wrote in the latest issue of Nature."

It's bigger than expected, but it's still a clear link between dinosaurs and birds.


Ian said...

It's not a transitional fossil, it's a bird...I mean, a, wait, it's a bird...

How can it be a transitional fossil - the bible says nothing about transitional fossils!!! ;)

Very cool.

Chris Harrison said...

They're not entirely sure Gigantoraptor had feathers. The supplementary material from the paper reads:

The evidence supporting the presence of feathers on arms and tail of Gigantoraptor is mainly derived from the fact that basal oviraptorosaurs bear pennaceous feathers on their arms and tail5. There is no persuasive evidence to expect a loss of arm and tail feathers in the gigantic Gigantoraptor as in some large mammals and possibly tyrannosaurs6 because arm and tail feathers’ primary function is not insulating the individual and their development is probably less affected by large size. Additional indirect evidence for the presence of feathers on Gigantoraptor comes from oviraptorsaur’s brooding behavior. There is direct fossil evidence supporting the presence of bird-like brooding behavior in oviraptorosaurs7. The arm feathers are suggested to be used to brood the nest 8 in oviraptorosaurs. If Gigantoraptor retains this behavior from its ancestry and the Hopp and Orsen’s hypothesis holds true, Gigantoraptor would be expected to bear feathers on its arms. Nevertheless, the presence of feathers in Gigantoraptor needs additional confirmation by empirical evidence.

But it's a cool find nonetheless.

ScienceAvenger said...

Yes Ian, isn't it amusing that the IDers/creationists on the one hand claim that transitional fossils are really either one or the other (bird or dinosaur, human or ape), yet there are disagreements between creationists as to where the line is drawn. Given their view you'd think they'd all agree.

Chris, I haven't had time to read through it all yet, but even featherless, it's still a link in the chain somewhere, as your post nicely illustrates. Dinosaurlike bird, or birdlike dinosaur?

GUI said...

There's a transition all right, but I wonder if it's in the OTHER direction:

"Study challenges bird-from-dinosaur theory of evolution - was it the other way around?"