Friday, 1 April 2016


Birds, they evolved from dinosaurs didn't they but that's a point subject to subject to controversy? No on both those counts, yes the evolution of birds is somewhat controversial but neither of the prominent theories state that birds evolved from dinosaurs. What one of those theories postulates is, is that birds are dinosaurs, the other competing theory is that birds evolved from a creature a bit like a pterodactyl. Not an actual pterodactyl because they'd have to grow their fingers back, but a critter somewhat similar that still had all the necessary digits.

But but but, pterodactyls are dinosaurs, I hear you say, and you know to me they are but that's not what the palaeontologists say and they're the ones who get to define such terms. Oh no, dinosaurs are a specific group of extinct or mostly extinct, depending on which theory you endorse, creatures. The thing is though, there are two major classifications for dinosaurs, ornithischian and saurischian, those are just fancy terms for bird-hipped and lizard-hipped respectively. Most dinosaurs fall into the second category, lizard hipped. Now here's where things start to get ironic, guess which group that, according to one of the theories, birds fall in. That would be, lizard-hipped, it's particularly ironic because the categories allude to the similarity in the structure of pelvic bones. So birds are dinosaurs excluded from a category, that was named after a similarity to birds, right that makes sense!

Now at one time, these categories, ornithischian and saurischian where somewhat deprecated within palaeontological circles but it's interesting to note that recently, so recently it's happened within the last couple of years, that these categories have made a bit of a comeback. Why that should be, I wouldn't know, i only take a passing interest in such matters and as for which theory I endorse, my bet goes on the birds are dinosaurs theory.


  1. Oh, the organic evolution theory. I think they just make it up as they go along. You can postulate just about anything when it supposedly takes millions of years to happen. Why are some people so afraid to say that they just don't know?

    1. Well, I think most people working in the field, if they're honest, acknowledge the appropriate degree of assurance or lack of such, that can be ascribed to their work. Just because a definitive answer is out of reach, shouldn't mean that working towards a workable theory is a waste of time.

      Problems arise, when individuals or institutions compete for accolades or funds and unfortunately a certain degree of hyperbole creeps in. There's a lot of that in palaeontology currently, there's pressure to generate revenue from museums and book sales. The result, I'm afraid, is somewhat fictional 'reconstructions' of creatures that probably never lived, are not that uncommon. The supposed Quetzalcoatlus, is the example I would cite, the evidence for such a creature, is so scant, it's almost non-existent. Yet in the public imagination, pterosaurs as big as buses (okay perhaps not really that big) flying through the air, seems to be confirmed as a concrete reality.

    2. Same thing happened with Nebraska Man. Pictures of what he looked like, how he would have lived, etc. - based on the evidence of one tooth. Which later turned out to be the tooth of an extinct pig. A workable theory is fine, but the emphasis should be on 'theory'; too often the word is misused as a polite stand-in for 'obviously a fact'.

    3. The thing to remember about extrapolation, is that the reliability of the results, depends on two things. One, the predictability or consistency of the thing you're studying, two, the size of your sample. When the size of your sample is one and it's an item with such variability as a tooth, guess how reliable your extrapolation will be?

      This kind of thing is quite a common problem and it's not just palaeontology and archaeology that are the disciplines stricken with it. Science, believe it or not, is difficult, that's the reason we leave it to smart people. Sure basic principles, the kind of stuff you learn as school, can be introduced to the broader population, which is all well and good. When it comes to more complex problems or subjects, it needs more commitment for understanding to occur. That's not to say the general population is too thick to understand science, the opposite is in fact true, generally people are quite smart. It's just that most people, don't have the time or inclination, to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to form a proper insight into difficult topics.

      By the by, I once dropped a query on one of Neal Adams's, how the world is growing Youtube videos and the great man replied. Not that I could make sense of his reply, I was just so chuffed at getting a reply from him.

    4. Where can I see it? The world deserves to witness your moment of glory.

    5. I haven't a clue where it is now, I think it's probably gone. I think YT culls comments beyond a certain age and it was quite a while ago. So my moment bathing in the reflected glory of the great man's beneficence, has most likely faded into oblivion.