Skip to comments.Missing Link Feather Fossils Found In France
Posted on 02/21/2008 6:17:58 PM PST by blam
Missing link feather fossils found in France
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
Last Updated: 6:01pm GMT 20/02/2008
Primitive feathers that represent a key missing link in their evolution have been found, fossilised in 100-million-year-old amber from France.
The fossils mark a step towards the shape of modern feathers
As long as scientists have studied birds, they have puzzled over that most intricate of avian features - the feather.
Because it is a marvellous feat of biological engineering, it has been siezed on by creationists trying to find evidence of designs that lie beyond the abilities of evolution. Scientists themselves have squabbled over whether they first emerged to keep warm, to enable the first airborne creatures to fly from the ground, or so they could glide from bough to bough in trees.
The new fossils were found in a quarry in Charente-Maritime, western France, by Vincent Perrichot of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, with Dr Loïc Marion and Dr Didier Neraudeau of the University of Rennes, France. The designs display a flattened primary shaft which has branches, called barbs, which have not yet been fused by sub branches called barbules, marking a step towards the flattened shape of modern feathers.
With Dr Paul Tafforeau, from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Grenoble, they conclude that structure represents "an intermediate and critical stage" in the evolution of feathers that had been predicted but was hitherto undocumented by evidence from the fossil record.
They report the work in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biological Sciences.
"What is very important in our discovery is that we have found a new clear example of the gradual trend of the evolution in general and in particular in the case of the transition between a primitive filamentous down and a modern feather," says Dr Neraudeau. "Moreover, it shows that in many cases, when an evolutionary stage is predicted by the theory, it can often be found in the fossil record. It is a question of time.
"Thus, it does not really change our picture of evolution but it gives for the first time a proof of the gradual evolution of feathers from the primitive filaments of some theropod dinosaurs to the modern feathers of Archaeopteryx and Cretaceous birds," he says.
Since these kinds of feathers occur in both early birds and some dinosaurs, the fossils could have come from either, though the site does contain the teeth of a known feathered dinosaur.
The widely accepted idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs is based on the idea that small, specialised theropod - two-legged - dinosaurs and carnivorous, bipedal dinosaurs with three-toed feet gained an advantage by growing feathers leading to three highly contentious theories.
First, that feathers developed from a novel protofeather, rather than scales; second, that they originated for retaining heat, with the implications that body heat was generated internally in reptiles; and third, that such feathers, primarily unconnected with flight, eventually enabled the ancestor of birds to fly from the ground up, defying gravity.
The alternative theory of the evolution of flight, bearing in mind that the structures associated with flight would have been very poorly developed at first, was that birds took to the trees for safety.
From there, it was a relatively small step to developing gliding skills and then the ability to fly.
The first known bird is Archaeopteryx, which lived around 150 million years ago.
Cool. Thanks Bill.
PS: I tried to resist my urge to imply that these were feathers from 100 million year old ancestors. Sorry. :O)
Fossilized French Feathers
Couldn't resist. I was just reading about the possible fabricator of the original Missing Link (human and ape bones put together), the French Jesuit Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, in 1908 or so. He is also suspected of being behind the similarly dubious "Pekin Man," whose remains were said to be lost in the War.
A modernist who hated Catholic teaching (and had several mistresses), Teilhard may have hatched the plot to find a transitional species in order to prove that man was descended from apes.
An early version of "fake but true"?
I wonder if he and Dan Rather were classmates?
Thanks Blam. Amber is fossilized tree resin. And these "feathers" look like pine needles. Weird coincidence. :')
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Evidently, for these kids, split ends were all the rage.
“The alternative theory of the evolution of flight, bearing in mind that the structures associated with flight would have been very poorly developed at first, was that birds took to the trees for safety.
From there, it was a relatively small step to developing gliding skills and then the ability to fly.”
What a gigantic crock! They flew up into the trees, and then they learned to glide, which led naturally to flying. Just more ludicrous circuitous reasoning by the crackpots who pose as biologists.
Want to know when Carl Sagan started believing in God and Creation? After 5 seconds in Hell!
There may be billions and billions of entities in Hell, but I don't think Carl Sagan is among them.
My personal opinion is that they used the feathers to climb trees faster than they would otherwise with just legs.
My birds do this all the time. They flap their wings and run up sheer vertical surfaces.
When they lose their balance, they also use their wings like hands to steady themselves.
No, he IS there. No doubt about it.
Now, the gays are going back to feather boas.
How did they confirm that the amber was 100 million years old?
Was it because it was found close to a fossil that was
supposed to be 100 million years old, or did they
use radiometric dating? How good is radiometric dating
on organic matter? I mean, what were the concentrations of
the mother atoms vs. the daughter atoms in a plant secretion
supposed to be? Does modern amber have the same ratio?...
Also, if the first bird or archeopteryx is 150 million years
old as the article states how is it that one can find
a “primitive” feather at 100 million years old?
I would guess it might prove the de-evolution of the
feather, if anything.Oh well....I’ll have to read the article...I hope I am
a bit more satisfied than when I read the articles about
the way left-handed racemization overpowered right handed
racemization, or how the planet Mars had evidence of life
(remember that in 1996?)
Oh, come on! "Cosmos" wasn't that bad.
God can change channels, you know.
Oh great! Another missing link.
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