Defining Dinosauria

Owen and Dinornis 1879

Richard Owen poses next to a Dinornis (moa) skeleton in 1879—but is it a dinosaur?

This group, which includes at least three well-established genera of Saurians, is characterized by a large sacrum composed of five anchylosed vertebrae of unusual construction, by the height and breadth and outward sculpturing of the neutral arch of the dorsal vertebrae, but the twofold articulation of the ribs to the vertebrae, viz. at the anterior part of the spine by a head and tubercle, and along the rest of the trunk by a tubercle attached to the transverse process only; by broad and sometimes complicated coracoids and long and slender clavicles, whereby Crocodilian characters of the vertebral organs also exhibit the same transitional or annectent characters in a greater or less degree. The bones of the extremities are of large proportional size, for Saurians; they are provided with large medullary cavities, and with well developed and unusual processes, and are terminated by metacarpal, metatarsal and phalangeal bones, which, with the exception of the ungual phalanges, more or less resemble those of the heavy pachydermal Mammals, and attest, with the hollow long-bones, the terrestrial habits of the species.

That’s how, in 1842, Richard Owen described “a distinct tribe or sub-order of Saurian Reptiles, for which I would propose the name of Dinosauria“, a group of organisms which needs no further introduction. But what, 170 years later, can be properly classified as a dinosaur? Former highschool science teacher Brian Thomas thinks he knows better than today’s scientists. He wrote on Wednesday, in “Four-Winged Dinosaur Definition Doesn’t Fly“: Continue reading

Primitive Eggs

The Great 2013 Catch-upIn Evolutionists Scramble ‘Fossil-Egg Evidence’ (19 April 2013) Brian Thomas challenges the conclusions of a recent Nature paper, “Preservation of ovarian follicles reveals early evolution of avian reproductive behaviour” (not open access, but a Nature News article is).

Bird fossils do not generally ruffle paleontologist’s feathers, but some amazing specimens from China’s Jehol province—preserving eggs inside fossil bird bodies—might do just that. Researchers suggested that the bird egg features lend themselves to an evolutionary progression from crocodile-like reptile to chicken-like bird eggs. But if God made birds and reptiles according to separate kinds as clearly stated in Genesis, then they were and are unrelated. Which history does this recent evidence best match?

You can tell what he thinks the answer is right away, of course. Thomas explains the situation as he sees it: Continue reading

The Domesticated Red Junglefowl

A Red JunglefowlA new YOM post asks “which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

This age-old question really has a simple answer. However, attempts to answer it and to get around implications of the simple answer are often quite convoluted.

Yes, there is an answer: the egg was first, because there have been animals laying eggs for longer than there have been chickens. It’s simple, at least so long as you don’t specify that it must be a chicken egg. But for reasons that have been rather poorly thought out, the ICR insists the opposite was the case: Continue reading