Evolution in the News - December 2018
by Do-While Jones

Egg on their Faces

Colored eggs don’t prove evolution.

In this month’s feature article, we showed that there is a measurable positive correlation between the number of runs scored by the Los Angeles Dodgers and the high temperature at Sheremetyevo Station in Moscow. We did that to illustrate the fact that correlation does not prove causality. There is no Dodger-made Moscow warming, despite the correlation.

In that article, we claimed that evolutionists frequently use correlation for proof of evolution. Here is an example: Last month there was an article in the prestigious journal Nature,1 that was endorsed by the prestigious journal Science,2 and reported in the science tabloid New Scientist 3 that illustrates our claim. Normally, we would not bother to address the evolutionists’ ridiculous assertion that birds inherited colored eggs from dinosaurs; but in light of this month’s feature article, we can use it to prove our claim that evolutionists confuse correlation for causality.

Evolutionists have discovered that some dinosaur eggs were colored—and we all know some birds’ eggs are colored, too. Reptile eggs are all pure white. Using some fancy equipment, some evolutionists were able to measure the color of dinosaur eggs and found that the colors of dinosaur eggs correlate with the color of bird eggs more than reptile eggs. Therefore, they conclude, birds inherited their colored eggs from dinosaurs.

Yes, it sounds silly when we say it—and it doesn’t sound any less silly when they say it.

BIRD eggs come in an astonishing range of colours. And this variety all began with one dinosaur tens of millions of years ago.

Many modern animals lay eggs, but only birds lay colourful ones. As such, we used to assume that colourful eggs were a bird innovation.

But in 2015, Jasmina Wiemann, now at Yale University, and her colleagues discovered pigment in 66-million-year-old dinosaur eggs. They were blueish-green and probably laid by a type of oviraptor, a bipedal dinosaur that is a close relative of modern birds.

Now, the team has examined more dinosaur eggs, finding evidence that seven more dinosaurs laid colourful eggs – again mostly blue-green ones. 4

Seven more dinosaurs laid colorful eggs! What more proof could you demand that “this variety all began with one dinosaur tens of millions of years ago?”

The journal Science gushed over the report published in their primary rival journal.

As the researchers write today in Nature, the fact that they found colored eggs in so many carnivorous theropod dinosaurs that are closely related to birds—and exactly the same method of eggshell pigmentation—means colored eggs evolved “deep within the dinosaur tree and long before the spectacular radiation of modern birds,” likely more than 150 million years ago.

Tinted shells probably camouflaged dinosaur eggs from predators, as do the shells of today’s birds, whereas distinctive speckling patterns may have helped parents distinguish their own eggs from those of cuckoolike dinosaurian nest parasites, Wiemann says. Birds with white eggs today, such as ostriches, parrots, and some domestic chickens, must have later lost the trait of coloring their eggs through evolution, she says.

Traditionally, dinosaurs were thought of as reptilian-style breeders that dumped their eggs and left. But because egg color in birds is associated with complex nesting behaviors, this—along with existing fossil evidence—signals such advanced parental care may have also taken place among dinosaurs. Egg coloration as camouflage likely evolved soon after dinosaurs switched from burying their eggs to building open nests, Weimann adds, because from that point on, they needed to hide them from predators. 5

Based on egg color, “scientists say” they know these things: Egg color evolved more than 150 million years ago; modern birds with white eggs somehow devolved from birds with colored eggs; dinosaurs may have exhibited advanced parental care; and dinosaurs switched from burying eggs to building open nests. It is all speculation, and no science.

The actual article in Nature is full of basically unquotable paragraphs like this one:

Only biliverdin was detected in D. novae­hollandiae, whereas only protoporphyrin IX was present in the eggshells of the Mongolian microtroodontid (MAE 14-40 (specimen codes in parentheses)), the Chinese and Mongolian troodontids, the Mongolian enantiornithine, P. rothschildi and G. domesticus. Both egg colour pigments were detected in eggshells from H. huangi, the Mongolian microtroodontid (IGM 100/1323) and macrotroodontid (AMNH FARB 6631), D. antirrhopusR. americana and the North American ratite. The presence of eggshell pigments corresponds to (partially) open nesting habits (Fig. 1).

All eggshell and associated sediment samples were plotted on a whole spectra-based principal component analysis (PCA) (Extended Data Fig. 4 and its Source Data). 6

In other words, they measured the whole spectrum of colored light reflected from the eggs, and compared them. Then based on how well the various colors of eggs of extinct dinosaurs correlated with the various colors of eggs of modern birds, they drew unwarranted conclusions.

This is not science. It is the improper use of math to make speculation sound credible.

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Footnotes:

1 Wiemann, et al., Nature, 22 November 2018, “Dinosaur egg colour had a single evolutionary origin”, pp. 555-558, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0646-5
2 Pickrell, Science, 31 October 2018, “Dinosaur eggs came in many colors—just like birds’”, https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/10/dinosaur-eggs-came-many-colors-just-birds, published under the title “Dinosaurs began colored eggs” on page 506 of the 2 November, 2018, print issue.
3 New Scientist, 10 November, 2018, “Birds have their dinosaur ancestors to thank for their colourful eggs”, p. 18, https://www.newscientist.com/inbrief/?issue_num=3203
4 ibid.
5 Pickrell, Science, 31 October 2018, “Dinosaur eggs came in many colors—just like birds’”, https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/10/dinosaur-eggs-came-many-colors-just-birds, published under the title “Dinosaurs began colored eggs” on page 506 of the 2 November, 2018, print issue.
6 Wiemann, et al., Nature, 22 November 2018, “Dinosaur egg colour had a single evolutionary origin”, pp. 555-558, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0646-5