It’s Dinofuz!

So, as I predicted in my DpSU Predictions post only a few days ago, Brian Thomas of the ICR has indeed written an article on the subject of the Mesozoic feathers preserved in Amber, called Have Scientists Finally Found ‘Dinofuzz’? Here’s a picture of what we’re talking about, which you will have already seen if you read the predictions post – go here for some more, even better ones.

Bird feather in amber

In the predictions post I made a number of more precise guesses as to what arguments would made by such an ICR article. Out of four I only got one right – the last one about the lack of oxidation of the amber (apparently) showing that the amber could not be millions of years old. As I said then, “I’d say that, due to it being under ground and all, there would have been less oxygen. If the Institute for Creation Research wants to look into this in more depth they may, but for now…” Mr Thomas gives this old DpSU as a citation for his claim (which I covered here), which in turn gives the Acts and Facts article I thought he might cite directly. Naturally enough, the AaF article has no mention of oxidation of amber anywhere. This, folks, is how creationists do research.

The other avenue of attack that I didn’t mention, but probably could have guessed in hindsight, is the whole ‘protofeathers’ aspect itself.

Ever trying to increase doubt and confusion about evolution, the ICR is an unexpected ally of Alan Feduccia, the most famous of the small group of scientists who still hold out against the idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs. To clarify, Feduccia still thinks that birds evolved, just from the group that dinosaurs also evolved from, rather than the dinosaurs themselves. See here for a summary of this controversy. Basically, B.T. is arguing that the protofeathers found were not really feathers at all – he randomly chucks in this, for example:

[The ‘protofeathers’ are] smaller than known feather shafts, being the same diameter as “peach fuzz” mammal hairs.

Evolution = change over time, mate.

An allied argument to this is his accusation that:

The research listed examples of all five proposed stages of feather evolution from different creatures that were living in the same environment and at the same time when the Canadian ambers were formed. But this is opposite to what one would expect if feather evolution was driven by natural forces such as changing environments and competitors over millions of years.

In other words: why are there still monkeys?
Basically, it is perfectly possible for trait A, which evolved from trait B, to co-exist with trait B. In this case, the ‘protofeathers’ probably evolved more for warmth than anything else. One group took this to the next level, and made feathers that could fly. Another group did not. That’s how it works (or thereabouts).

So, yeah – the creationists do seem rather predictable, though not so much that you could do a pre-rebuttal with a great chance of covering evidence.

There were a few more things I thought I’d add to my list of predictions in celebration, but it’s too late to remember them. I’ll see if I can try…

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