Sunday, May 13, 2007


Another Booboo From Babu

Babu G. Ranganathan, who claims "academic concentrations in Bible and Biology" from Bob Jones University (guaranteeing he didn't get any of the latter and only got the most superficial of the former) is, if nothing else, consistent. He seems bound and determined to flaunt his ignorance right up front in anything he writes, a tactic that blessedly obviates the need to unduly wade through drivel. Consider these first two paragraphs from his latest screed, "Evolving Lizard: Can't Run, Can't Fly!":

Evolutionary theory teaches that millions of years ago a reptile, such as a lizard, evolved into the first bird. Imagine a lizard evolving into a bird. The lizard's front limbs are evolving into wings. The process will be completed over some millions of years. In the mean time, the lizard cannot run from its predators or fly away either.

How would it survive? Why would such a creature be preserved by natural selection over millions of years? Imagine such a species surviving in such a miserable state over many millions of years waiting for fully-formed wings to evolve!

Actually, Babu, scientists don't think it was "a lizard" or "a reptile." The best evidence is that birds evolved from (indeed, remain) dinosaurs. While we can't ever be sure of exactly which dinosaurs became birds, it was something rather like that fine fellow above, named Avimimus (meaning "bird mimic", because of its resemblance to a bird).

Really, Babu, didn't you ever see at least a trailer for Jurassic Park, with all those Velociraptors and the Tyrannosaurus rex? Remember how they ran around on two legs and had those little teeny front legs? I know you religiously refuse to think but can't you even see what's practically everywhere right in front of nose?

Tyranosaurus rex had very small front legs. Velociraptor had substantially larger ones. I had a post on this very subject in the most recent Tangled Bank. One likely feature that led to the evolution of wings is the long forearm and the overhead movement. This is seen in many dromaeosaurs. We also know from fossils that many of these animals also had feathers – most likely including Velociraptor. The feathers were more likely for thermoregulation than for flight, at first.

These guys were scarey. They could run on their hind legs, and were equipped with vicious claws on their feet and hands. They did not need their forearms to run; they were free to help in an attack with that slashing downwards stroke.

That reach out and strike movement is also just exactly what you need for developing a wing stroke in flight. For more, including some pictures and links, check out The Evolution of Wings at "Duas Quartunciae".
Amsthrwihchits ...

Oh, excuse me ... there, now I've rescued my tongue from my cheek. ;-)

Thanks for the nice article. One interesting point about Avimimus is that it has already developed the arm structure to permit it to fold its forelimbs up against its body the way birds do.
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