Evolution in the News - May 2017
by Do-While Jones

Dinosaur Delusions

Discover magazine documents many incorrect ideas about dinosaurs.

As soon as we finished this month’s feature article, Discover magazine gave us three more pages of dinosaur delusions! Here are the title and subtitle of their article in this month’s issue.

When Dinosaurs Went Bad
Today’s depictions of agile, often feathered animals are a far cry from the saggy tail-draggers of yesteryear. How did early research get it so wrong? 1

It isn’t really fair to say the dinosaurs “went bad.” It wasn’t their fault. A better title would have been, “When Paleontologists Went Bad.” That title invites the questions, “When, precisely, did paleontologists go bad? Were they wrong before, or are they wrong now? Will they ever get it right?”

Discover doesn’t actually blame Darwin, but based on what they say, it really was Darwin’s fault by being too late to the party.

“Remember the origin of the word dinosaur predates the theory of evolution,” Lamanna says. “Ideas about animal [species] being transitional had yet to materialize. Now we know that dinosaurs are sort of bizarre croc-birds, but back then the concept would have been very hard to imagine.” 2

Have they got it right yet?

Will future Iguanodon reconstructions sport feathers? Stay tuned. Despite having a beak and being an ornithischian, or “bird-hipped” dinosaur, the animal isn’t closely related to the lineage that evolved into birds. However, since 2002 paleontologists have unearthed a couple of other ornithischians with primitive bristle or furlike feathers. Iguanodon may get yet another makeover. 3

As long as paleontologists need more funding for research, there will be dinosaur makeovers.

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Footnotes:

1 Gemma Tarlach, Discover, “When Dinosaurs Went Bad”, pp.66-68, http://discovermagazine.com/2017/may-2017/when-dinosaurs-went-bad
2 ibid. ibid.
3 ibid. ibid.