Sunday, April 8, 2012

Feathered Dinosaur Fossil = Boneheaded Creationists

First, some exciting dinosaur news.

Growing up, I was infatuated with dinosaurs. What kid wasn't? They were big, giant reptiles that walked the Earth millions of years ago. Some of them flew, some of them swam, most of them were larger than Teapublicans but without the diapers or the Medicare-paid electric scooters, and arguably a hell of a lot smarter.

So out of China, we get an exciting new discovery: A feathered dinosaur called Yutyrannus hali; which is the largest feathered dinosaur discovered to date. Y. hali is a tyrannosauroid, or a member of the Tyrannosauroidea superfamily/clade. As you can probably tell by the name, this includes one of the most famous dinosaurs of all time, Tyrannosaurus rex, but the family also included a number of other coelurosaurian theropods. The name means "hollow tailed lizards", and while not an official designation anymore, it's still used to encompass species like the compsognathids, tyrannosaurs, ornithomimosaurs, and maniraptorans, the last category of which includes another very famous dinosaur - Velociraptor (mongoliensis and osmolskae, the creatures in Jurassic Park were actually an amalgam of several different dinosaurs, and would more accurately be called Deinonychus antirrhopus, but Velociraptor sounds cooler). It also includes the smartest dinosaur to ever walk the face of the planet, Troodon formosus, a dinosaur with  EQ six times that of your other dinosaur species (which isn't saying much, considering that puts it roughly on the same tier as ducks).

The feathers on Y. hali are more like down than they are any rigid feather, so they resemble the fluff that baby chicks are born with. Because we have a rough idea that T. rex (more accurately, the family) evolved into birds, we can look at this fossil and we can compare it to new born birds and it just further backs up my notion that the development of an embryo from a single-celled organism up through to a complete organism is a replay of evolution. Every time you watch a child conceive, develop, and eventually arrive on the scene, it's reliving some stage of evolution - the entire process of conception to birth is about 6 billion years of evolution condensed into 9 months. It maybe inexact, but it's pretty damn close. After all, chicks are born with down that develop as they age into feathers, while many millions of years ago, dinosaur chicks might not have been born with the down at all, and developed it as they aged. Evolution is building blocks stacked on other building blocks. Somewhere inside of your chicken or turkey is the DNA to resurrect Velociraptor (in fact, if I were going to resurrect it, I wouldn't use frog DNA like they did in the movie. That's just stupid. You'd pick a species closer to the dinosaurs, like turkeys. Because God knows picking eagles or falcons is just asking for it).

Which brings me to my next issue:

Yahoo! comments are not a place one goes looking when they want intelligent commentary on an issue. That's like expecting a civil, intelligent YouTube conversation. So half the the time, I suspect that 90% of the comments are determined trolls trying to piss everyone off and the other 10% are idiots who actually believe the stuff the trolls are spewing. Anytime someone brings a science issue, you can break them down into predictable comments:

The "Yeah, this is cool" guy who adds nothing to the conversation but seeks to make it known that his opinion is most certainly, "this is cool." Capitalization is optional. May over lap with the same guy who says "this is boring, why don't you talk about REAL news" or "what happened to real news anymore" guy.

The "why the hell are they doing this when they should be curing CANCER" guy, who doesn't seem to understand that paleontology or cosmology doesn't have anything to do with genetics or biomedicine. This, however, will not stop him from accusing the scientists involved of lining their own pockets with the research money and then somehow giving kick backs to the guys in Washington D.C.

Related to the above is the "skeptic", who believes that they're just making this stuff up to get money. Because that's not how they remembered being taught back in High School. No sir.

The Mayan 2012/New Agey guy, who is certain that scientists believe they know everything and that by achieving quantum awareness with Ramthauxuamathamaxqkl, the 35,000 Lemurian Warrior who battled the Atlanteans with incredible magical powers that sound suspiciously like something out of Complete Arcane, Complete Divine, or the 3.5 Psionics Handbook, they can see the truth. Both sides are wrong, and everyone needs to shut up and listen to me and my batshit beliefs. Clearly you can't have evolution when humans came from fuzzy black egg laying hermaphrodites (Theosophy is like Tolkien on crack).

The "President Obama is fake!" guy. Usually overlaps with the "Ron Paul, 20XX" troll, who just randomly spams "Ron Paul iz teh BOMBZ" on all the boards. The topic could be about how cute panda bears in China are flying to the moon, you'll always find "Ron Paul, 20XX". This is amusing when you go back a few years and see "Ron Paul, 2008", proving it worked so well back then.  Sometimes they're also the "Lets see the Birf CertificATE" guy. Again, proper capitalization is option, but these posts usually work better with Random, unpredictable Capitalization of Unnecessary words, no Matter where they Are in The Sentence. 

The guy who takes all the comments literally and wastes his life trying to respond to each one, seriously, thinking it'll make a difference. In the same vein, the guy who takes the comments seriously, and tells everyone that they're getting off topic. A comment section open to anyone in the public is not a forum. Especially when there's no mods who go around and boot out the garbage post kids.

And lastly, the Creationist types, or the Bible thumpers, who think that by posting trite and tired arguments, they can magically "defeat" the theory of evolution, undermine the entire science of biology including all of the related sciences like genetics, microbiology, and biomedicine, and prove that JAYSUS existed 6,000 years ago and the world is only 10,000 years old. Again, it doesn't matter the topic, because you'll find these styles of posts anywhere, although actual reports relevant to paleontology, cosmology, or biology draw these people out in droves.

Creationists aren't a rare breed in the United States, sadly. We have more than enough of them, and the more we yield to the ones that already exist, the more we get. I keep hoping that science teachers will just stop telling the parents when they're going to be teaching evolution, or spend the entire year teaching it in small amounts (evolution is that important to biology. Without evolution, you have no biology), rather than building one unit around it and letting that be that. Thus, you get comments like this, made by boneheaded creationists:

Evolutionists; the most gullible individuals ever to walk the face of the earth.
dont know the difference between evolution (a fact that Christians are not only distinctly aware of, but was a creationist idea prior to darwin) and adaptation.
evolutionists cannot even keep a conversation going due to the fact they cannot define evolution intelligently. they must change its meaning during the conversation.

not one evolutionist will debate Jonathan Sarfati (who destroyed dick dawkins' books and ideas so thoroughly he refuses to debate anyone anymore, because is outclassed and lacks the well-rounded intelligence displayed by a great many other scientists) or any other Creation scientist because their evolutionary theory is so riddled with falsehoods, they cant make any sense of it on an intellectual level.
but, of course, they will claim to be "intellectually fulfilled" athiests. so clueless. ("John")
Sarfati is a New Zealand Christian apologist and a chess master with a PhD in Physical Chemistry. Surely the guy that I would want to get my information about biology from. That's like going to a dentist because you're having foot trouble. Also, the misspelling of "atheist". I would say that's a dead give away of a troll, but the reference to Jonathon Sarfati makes me think twice.

Regardless whether or not he's a troll, he's still talking about of his ass about how evolution hasn't been defined clearly. When you're jamming cotton in your ears so you don't have to hear what others are saying, you would never know.

And then there's this guy, Robby Rush:

The Tyrannosuar & human adult and child footprints in Glen Rose, Texas (USA) are real. I have seen them for myself. In fact, I spoke with Dr. Carl Baugh, the man who discovered them, while I was there in the early 1990's. It was not faked as it was unearthered LIVE! before TV crews and skeptical witnesses. They are human footprints. I have seen them personally and I actually took a photograph of them myself which I have to this day.

And to the guy that made the comment about life history origins of 6,000-years ago, the world we now live on WAS created on the evening of 22 October 4004 B.C. by God.

And as for Evolution, they 'theory' was drafted by a Christian Seminary drop-out by the name of Charles Darwin who made derogatory comments about Black people & Women in general in his book on the subject of his theory of Evolution. He was a racist and Misogynist.

And to the woman who wanted to 'see proof that God exists', all YOU have to do is examine all the lives that HE has touched over time for good. People do bad things because they are people. God does not do bad things. Satan does. Nobody ever had evidence that Jesus of Nazareth hurt anyone, made someone blind, etc... Jesus did exist. Plenty of Jewish and Roman writers who were NOT believers (Josephus, Pliny, etc...) who either saw Jesus or knew of Him during their lifetime wrote about it in their own writings we have to this day. Jesus still exists and he lives in the hearts of my wife, children, and my own heart.

And for those who live in Europe who do not believe in the Bible and what it says, that is one of the reasons why your side of the globe is rotten and falling apart... literally. Take God out of your lives/country, and all you are left with is Communism, Terrorism, sickness & death.
Lessee here:

Misunderstanding how the burden of proof works (hint: If you're making the positive claim, you're responsible for backing it up. If you're going to say "God exists" and expect me to take it a serious, meaningful scientific statement, telling me "Look around" is going to elicit a snarky comment about how God could've done a better job on his worshipers).

Human and T. rex footprints, found together. OMG. Therefor, they existed at the same time.  You know, like they did in the Flintstones.

God does not do bad things. As an omniscient, all-powerful entity he can do no wrong. No, he punts that off on Satan, the divine scapegoat.

Charles Darwin said bad things about blacks and women, and was a seminary drop out. Therefore, he can't be taken seriously. Now if only you bastards held Rush Limbaugh to this same standard...

'Theory' gets single scare quotes. "Theory? Isn't that a wild-ass guess? Like gravity?"

The world was created on October 22, 4004 BCE. That evening, the folks of Predynastic Egypt, and those living in the Ubaid Period watched on in amazement as God created the world. This came as news to them, seeing as how they'd been around since 5000 BCE. This news is also a shocker to John Lightfoot, the guy who, buy using the Bible, calculated the start date of creation at 3929 BCE. I'm sure if you round down you'll get 4004 (remember this is BCE; if you place it on a number line, these numbers would be negative; thus, -3,929 is larger than -4,004. This tripped me up, because prior to this, I was listing events that had taken place in around 3,500 - after the intended date), but I can't think of what system you're using to get there. Base 4, maybe? So it's totally Biblical, guys! It says right there in Genesis uh... Genesis uh... "Six days and nights" there we go. That right there totally says that it took place on October 22, 4004 BCE. Can't you read? Don't you know I take the book literally? ... James Ussher? Who the fuck is that? Some kind of rapper?

Remember kids! Dinosaurs and man walked at the same time together! Up until the 1800s, they dinosaurs were called dragons instead! Because it makes dragons anymore real!

Remember: any information that contradicts any of the above is the work of Satan. Because, while God is all power-full and all-knowing, he still tolerates some arrogant little angel out there mucking around his creation leading people astray so he can throw them in Hell for the rest of eternity where they'll be tortured in such a vicious way. He doesn't want to. He just enjoys it. Because that's totally in the Bible, too. Who the hell is Milton? And I've never heard of this "Dante" guy, either. So there.

Oh, and did I mention the fuzzy dinosaurs and the potential for fuzzy dinochicks? D'awww... so cute.


  1. How do the Creationists get away with it?

  2. "It just further backs up my notion that the development of an embryo from a single-celled organism up through to a complete organism is a replay of evolution."

    This is an old idea, going back to at least the 19th century, and is known by the catchphrase "ontogeny recapuitulates phylogeny."

    It turns out to not be true--it gets cause and effect exactly backwards. What turns out to actually be going on is much more interesting, and the booming field of evo-devo biology is all about it. What they've found is that evolution frequently operates by altering development--it does not create new structures so much as alter the ways in which existing structures develop. So, for example, rather than a series of mutations that erased the forelegs of our quadrapedal ancestors and replaced them with a whole new set of genetic instructions for building arms, there was a much smaller set of mutations that altered the way fundamentally the same bones grow, so that they end up as arms rather than forelegs. Put another way, evolution rarely writes when it can edit.

    The result is that there is a stage in development at which all vertebrates look similar, because most of the differences between their developmental processes have not started yet. This does not mean that we have an ancestor that looked like a pharyngula, just that we have common structures with our relatives before development adds in variation.

    "Somewhere inside of your chicken or turkey is the DNA to resurrect Velociraptor"

    No, it's really not. Evolution is not "building blocks on top of building blocks," and genes are not Legos. Even assuming turkeys are directly descended from a Velociraptor (which there is no reason to assume they are), many of the genes of that Velociraptor have been altered by mutations in the interceding generations. True, many of the ancestral dinosaur's genes probably are still there, but there is no way of knowing which until we check.

    Spot on with the critique of the idiot creationists, though.