Discovery of ‘Feathers’ On Dinosaur Rises Questions

There is a pattern emerging about this latest and surprising discovery which will be discussed in a moment. Most of these discoveries come from either Germany or China, and often times involve the same fossil-hunters, and often times come from private collectors!

Giving the name, Sciurumimus which was discovered in Germany in the hands of a private collector which means “squirrel-mimic.” The fossil is a juvenile in a typical “dinosaur death pose” found globally in other places which creationists believe suggests a rapid suffocation in  water caused by a global flood.

Why all the fuss over Sciurumimus? Here is what they say in Nature News

“Palaeontologist Paul Barrett of London’s Natural History Museum agrees that the structures on Sciurumimus are probably protofeathers. Although additional geochemical work is needed to study the features’ details, Barrett says, the fossilized wisps are very similar to the fuzz seen on other dinosaurs.”

“But he notes that the presence of these filaments among all dinosaurs is “speculation”. Feathery structures might be a common feature of dinosaurs, but it’s also possible that they evolved multiple times.”

“We need more examples in both non-coelurosaurian theropods, and particularly in the other big dinosaur groups, before we can really speculate that these features are a character of dinosaurs as a whole,” Barrett says.”

Nature News dubs this discovery as having “protofeathers” but one would be looking in vain to find feathers with barbs and barbules as found in birds! You see, type 1 protofeathers are also found on you, horses, dogs, cats, and other animals who have hair!

Science Daily calls it a surprising find…

“This is a surprising find from the cradle of feathered dinosaur work, the very formation where the first feathered dinosaur Archaeopteryx was collected over 150 years ago,” said Mark Norell, chair of the Division of Palaeontology at the American Museum of Natural History and an author on the new paper along with researchers from Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Geologie and the Ludwig Maximilians University.”

One of the reasons for the surprise is that the fossil appears in the same limestone in northern Bavaria as Archaeopteryx  which was discovered 150 years ago, that was fully fledged with flight feathers: meaning, at the very least, that this creature and birds with powered flight were already contemporaries. This rises questions and causes additional complexity in the evolutionary story.

“Repeat evolution” is being invoked in order to connect this dinosaur with evolving feathers that can be eventually used for flight within in future  creatures, but not all are sold on the idea that this dinosaur is related to birds.

This rising another question, if a fossil was found exquisitely preserved and its tail was clearly seen but none of the internal organs were not observable, would you then postulate that dogs were evolving flight?

There are complications with this discovery if one attempts to connect it with evolving flight…The  “protofeathers” are on the wrong animals! Their dates overlap, or belong in the wrong eras.  The discoveries do not demonstrate a  progression in complexity over time till true powered flight is thought to have evolved.  They are either simple protrusions, or complex feathers found on animals that clearly used them for flying or gliding or perhaps were even secondarily flightless!