Diplodocus, And Other Non-Avian Dinosaurs

It must have been a month now since Brian Thomas last showed his ignorance of the process of Natural Selection. Today’s post is called Nature Article Inadvertently Confirms Dinosaur Design. Only in La-la land. The ‘nature article’ is in Nature News (not to be confused under any circumstances with NaturalNews) and is called Dinosaurs: Rise of the titans, by Fredric Heeren.

Diplodocus, from Wikimedia

Sauropods, such as Diplodocus (my favourite kind of dinosaur) and Apatosaurus (formally popularly known as Brontosaurus), were very big. This gave them near-total immunity against the predators of their day. They also grew very fast to take advantage of this and had lightweight, hollow bones to support this.

Brian Thomas wishes to claim that this situation could not have evolved. After all, if sauropods are big to escape predation, then any ancestral species would have been smaller and thus killed off by said predators, and would not have been able to evolved into Diplodocus etcetera.

Which is silly. For one it is not a case of all organisms below a certain size will get killed by predators – even a much smaller species would still have members that could survive and reproduce, it’s just that larger individuals would have had an easier time of it. This means that there would have been selection pressure in favour of alleles that gave an animal the potential to grow larger. And an evolutionary arms race between predator and prey could easily have helped here as well. This is not hard. Apparently this guy was once a biology teacher – the poor students…

He also tries to argue that there are no transitional “semi-sauropods” (Prosauropods or Sauropodomorpha to the rest of us). This is apparently because:

  • The prosauropods given in the article have “just one or merely a possible part of one” of the “uniquely sauropod features,” rather than “at least two, three, or four.”
  • “[T]he candidate “prosauropods” [were]  perfectly developed creatures of their own types, just like sauropods were, with no hint of evolutionary experimentation among the fossils.”

For the first, perhaps with time we will have better evidence. We have animals which have one of the features that otherwise only sauropods have – it’s not an all-or-nothing jump.

As for the second, I had hoped – as a mentioned in my last post – that Brian Thomas would someday learn that a transitional fossil is just a fossil that is found after those temporally nearby, and fills in the gap to a certain extent. They will be no less “developed” than any other fossil you see.

So, yeah – if there was any doubt about it, the creationists just don’t get natural selection.

For further amusement:

Leonerosaurus, another two-legged dinosaur, had extra sacral vertebrae like sauropods. And though they are considered by some to have been “near-sauropods,” Heeren noted that they “were not the ancestors of sauropods.” Why even mention them in the context of sauropod evolution if they were not part of sauropod evolution? Heeren wrote, “Near-sauropods of the Jurassic preserve information about the adaptations that appeared among the unknown ancestors of sauropods.”

Thus, after presenting a parade of dinosaur candidates with supposed sauropod precursor features, Heeren acknowledged that the ancestors of sauropods are still “unknown.”

So we don’t know everything – so we use every scrap of information we can find. Ah, Science.


I mentioned in the last post how I made a successful DpSU prediction, but forgot to put it out there before the article was posted. So I’ll mention now that I think that the subject of this tweet may turn up in future. Randi’s million dollar prize here I come!

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One thought on “Diplodocus, And Other Non-Avian Dinosaurs

  1. Pingback: The ICR’s Acts and ‘Facts’ – November « Eye on the ICR

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