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Feather Evolution - Comments

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 1 by crookedshoes

DAMMIT!!!! I just did a whole unit on this topic with my lowest level students. This article has so much in it; we could have dissected it and used it for a couple days of strong strong learning. Main idea, reading for inference, content. This is a great resource. I am going to turn my advanced kids on to it.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 14:06:18 UTC | #587339

Degsy's Avatar Comment 2 by Degsy

"In other words, feathers were not merely a variation on a theme: They were using the same genetic instruments to play a whole new kind of music."

Someone has been reading Dawkins me thinks.

I loved this article. Clear, concise and to the point. If only textbooks could be written in a similar style. This may be off topic, but I often wonder if the plight of students could be made, not necessarily easier but more enjoyable, when on their first point of contact with amassed knowledge (biology textbooks), they read in a similar style to this article. Just a thought.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 14:35:40 UTC | #587357

Hendrix is my gOD's Avatar Comment 3 by Hendrix is my gOD

I think Professor Dawkins should write grade school science texts. While it would be a burden on his time, with his many other worthy activities, I think the children of the world deserve it.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 15:06:01 UTC | #587380

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 4 by Alan4discussion

Comment 1 by crookedshoes

I thought you might like it!

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 15:29:09 UTC | #587394

ridelo's Avatar Comment 5 by ridelo

"Walking with Dinosaurs" has to be remade. This time with feathers. No shocking nudity any-more!

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 15:35:30 UTC | #587397

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 6 by Alan4discussion

I have brought up the article again - click here.

I found the first link had stopped working.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 16:30:18 UTC | #587428

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 7 by Alan4discussion

They discovered microscopic sacs inside the feathers, called melanosomes, that correspond precisely in shape to structures associated with specific colors in the feathers of living birds. The melanosomes are so well preserved that scientists can actually reconstruct the color of dinosaur feathers.

This seems to put a whole new aspect on the appearance of dinosaurs, their colouration and temperature control, covering new details of evolution simply explained. It also asks new questions about the ancestry of feathered dinosaurs and protobirds. A previous Nat Geog article suggested some feather colours were caused refraction, so patterned textures in fossils could be used to identify these.

Soon paleontologists were finding hundreds of feathered theropods. With so many fossils to compare, they began piecing together a more detailed history of the feather. First came simple filaments. Later, different lineages of theropods evolved various kinds of feathers, some resembling the fluffy down on birds today, some having symmetrically arranged barbs. Other theropods sported long, stiff ribbons or broad filaments, unlike the feathers on any living birds.

For those not familiar with the National Geographic layout -

clicking on the Feature Article | Photo Gallery links at the top of the page changes from the text to the photographs.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 16:53:07 UTC | #587442

kshaw's Avatar Comment 8 by kshaw

After a microscopic examination of ONE pigeon feather,it was revealed that it had "several hundred thousand barbules and millions of barbicels and hooklets".It's astonishing to think, some think this structural marvel could have evolved by chance.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 17:11:11 UTC | #587447

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 9 by Steve Zara

It also asks new questions about the ancestry of feathered dinosaurs and protobirds.

It does make me wonder if the term "bird" is really that useful. It seems to be a rather arbitrary term meaning "small kind of therapod that survived the mass extinction". I think it's pretty clear now that dinosaurs did not become extinct. They fill the air in great flocks. They zoom across the landscape on summer nights. They sing in Berkeley Square. They sit on the shoulders of pirates. They live in the far South and swim like small black dolphins in the sea. The age of the dinosaurs never ended, and it may continue long after the mammals cease to exist.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 17:23:13 UTC | #587456

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 10 by crookedshoes

kshaw,

It has not evolved by chance. It has evolved by selection, which is the opposite of chance. YOU are the only one asserting that it evolved by chance. No evolutionist would ever (if they were properly educated) say that this evolved by chance. So, you have set up a classic straw man. When you knock it down, do you expect me to say (forehead palm) oh, NOW I GET CREATION?????? Please start reading from some other book; the one you are using is making you look foolish here. Or, go post on some site where everyone is ignorant of facts. See, YOU ARE WRONG. The thing that is most vexing is that you are wrong about your wrongness.

Again, more clearly, EVOLUTIONARY THEORY DOES NOT STATE THAT THESE THINGS EVOLVED BY CHANCE.

You have been corrected, so please refrain from EVER proliferating these falsehoods again. Or, more true to the crookedshoes way, STOP BULLSHITTING.

I can go one further on you, though, I have personally seen stalactites, made completely by chance that are TRILLIONS of calcium carbonate molecules in precise arrangement. One could allude to crystals here.... I live 45 minutes from the famous "Crystal caves". Again TRILLIONS of molecules in precise arrangement... by chance... PROVES NOTHING.... Same as your silly post.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 17:29:54 UTC | #587461

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 11 by crookedshoes

SteveZara

They sit on the shoulders of pirates.

Two issues here:

  1. Are you alluding to FSM????
  2. Didn't you forget an "h"???

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 17:40:06 UTC | #587462

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 12 by Alan4discussion

Comment 1 by crookedshoes

DAMMIT!!!! I just did a whole unit on this topic with my lowest level students.

Hi Crooks,

I have just been having another look over the linked article. If you are using this for teaching, it might be worth getting hold of a copy of the Feb 2011 magazine. It has a fold out (3page) ancestry tree chart of the dinosaurs "Beasts of a Feather" which I can't find on the linked article. There is also a diagram showing feather evolutionary development from "single hollow filament forms" to "Asymmetrical vanes evolve aiding flight". It shows the evolution of barbs and barbules branches and hooklets.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 17:46:43 UTC | #587465

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 13 by crookedshoes

Alan4,

Great information! I am heading out after work today on a book purchasing shopping trip. I will make it a point to pick up Nat Geo. As usual, thank you for your input into my intellectual world; my future students will benefit. Maybe kshaw will buy the magazine and read the section on the evolution of the barbul....... no, wait, that would require effort and understanding and perhaps they would learn.... I doubt he/she will follow through. BUT I WILL!

Thanks again.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 17:53:54 UTC | #587471

mlgatheist's Avatar Comment 14 by mlgatheist

Like fossils of whales with legs, Archaeopteryx seemed to capture a moment in a critical evolutionary metamorphosis.

It appears, to me, that these would qualify as transitional species. Yet creationist keep claiming that there are no examples of transitional species.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 19:10:22 UTC | #587496

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 15 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 8 by kshaw :

It's astonishing to think, some think this structural marvel could have evolved by chance.

It would be astonishing if anyone thought that, but I'm not aware of anyone who does. Maybe you move in different circles to me.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 19:34:11 UTC | #587510

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 16 by Alan4discussion

Comment 14 by mlgatheist

Like fossils of whales with legs, Archaeopteryx seemed to capture a moment in a critical evolutionary metamorphosis.

National Geographic did one on whales earlier -http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/08/whale-evolution/mueller-text

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 19:57:17 UTC | #587523

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 17 by aquilacane

I don’t like the following language:

…a narwhal's unicornlike tusk…

That would make it nonexistent and not a tooth. Walrus or elephant would have been closer as all their tusks are teeth and narwhal can technically grow two of them.

dinosaurs using their feathers to fly…

Presumably on anglelike wings

…ingenious plumage that keeps them aloft.

Implies conception from intelligence otherwise known as creation

To withstand the force of the oncoming air, a flight feather is shaped asymmetrically,…

Wrong way around, should be The asymmetrically shaped flight feathers better withstand the force of oncoming air — which birds happen to have, for good or bad.

…they create a structural network that's featherlight but remarkably strong…

I had a car that was constructed out of steel making it carlight but remarkably strong.

They [feathers] were using the same genetic instruments to play a whole new kind of music.

the same genetic instruments were playing a whole new kind of music (known as Feathers)

Theropods have been found with their forelimbs spread over nests, and they may have been using feathers to shelter their young.

Theropods have been found with their forelimbs spread over nests, feathers may have provided greater shelter to their young.

Another hypothesis has gained strength in recent years: that feathers first evolved to be seen.

Feathers that could be seen continued evolving. I doubt any intent on the part of the feather to evolve.

In some cases their beauty [feathers] serves to attract the opposite sex.

In some cases, they [feathers] attract the opposite sex.

A peacock unfolds his iridescent train, for instance, to attract a peahen.

A peacock unfolds his iridescent train, for instance, peahens are attracted to this.

The possibility that theropods evolved feathers for some kind of display got a big boost in 2009, when scientists began to take a closer look at their structure.

The possibility that evolved theropod feathers are seen as some kind of display got a big boost in 2009, when scientists began to take a closer look at their structure.

Perhaps the males of the species flashed their handsome tails when courting females.

Perhaps the males were more likely to attract a female when they flashed their tails.

Or perhaps both sexes used their stripes the way zebras use theirs—to recognize their own kind or confuse predators.

Or perhaps their stripes made them harder to see or easier to identify by their own kind, similar to zebras.

Whatever the original purpose of feathers,

Feathers have no purpose only characteristics

they were probably around for millions of years before a single lineage of dinosaurs began to use them for flight

they were probably around for millions of years before a single dinosaurs flew because of them.

It now looks like bird flight was made possible by a whole string of such exaptations stretching across millions of years, long before flight itself arose.

Like everything else.

Winging it, so to speak, until it finally took wing.

While we were legging it, so to speak, until we finally got a leg up.

Junk

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 20:07:45 UTC | #587526

jonny5509's Avatar Comment 18 by jonny5509

Comment 17 by aquilacane :

I could argue with almost every point you just made, but to do so would require an equally pedantic argument - so, best avoided I'd say.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 20:35:12 UTC | #587542

jonny5509's Avatar Comment 19 by jonny5509

Comment 10 by crookedshoes :

Again, more clearly, EVOLUTIONARY THEORY DOES NOT STATE THAT THESE THINGS EVOLVED BY CHANCE.

Caps, bold and italic! You ran out of font embellishments there Crooks lol. I guess you really wanted to get that point across. :)

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 20:37:38 UTC | #587543

Chris Roberts's Avatar Comment 20 by Chris Roberts

Comment 14 by mlgatheist

Like fossils of whales with legs, Archaeopteryx seemed to capture a moment in a critical evolutionary metamorphosis. It appears, to me, that these would qualify as transitional species. Yet creationist keep claiming that there are no examples of transitional species

Personally, I tend to look at all species as transitional. Evolution has no discernable endpoint (barring extinction).

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 20:58:32 UTC | #587554

billzfantazy's Avatar Comment 21 by billzfantazy

Comment Removed by Author

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 21:21:28 UTC | #587563

billzfantazy's Avatar Comment 22 by billzfantazy

I can never get links to work properly on here... anyway just wanted to point out that the birds from dinosaur theory isn't settled and it may actually have been the other way round. I'll just paste the link & maybe it'll work this time.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100209183335.htm

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 21:30:14 UTC | #587566

valla's Avatar Comment 23 by valla

The fossile of archaeopteryx found just two years after the publication of the origin of species... It's all a conspiracy of god hating evolutionists!

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 22:19:11 UTC | #587588

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 24 by Alan4discussion

Comment 20 by Nails

Personally, I tend to look at all species as transitional. Evolution has no discernible endpoint (barring extinction).

When speciation happens due to a change of environment, transitional forms can be short lived in geological time compared to more stable conditions. As selection separates new evolutionary branches, the divergent gaps between the new species open up. It is comparative in terms of the pace of evolution. An example of this would be the diversity of species of Darwin's finches on different islands.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 22:19:44 UTC | #587589

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 25 by Alan4discussion

Comment 8 by kshaw

After a microscopic examination of ONE pigeon feather,it was revealed that it had "several hundred thousand barbules and millions of barbicels and hooklets".It's astonishing to think, some think this structural marvel could have evolved by chance.

The slightly longer hard copy magazine article explains this evolutionary process with some neat little diagrams, as I commented @12. About 200 million years gives plenty of time for selection to work. I though the text explained it quite clearly.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 22:30:44 UTC | #587592

SoHelpMeReason's Avatar Comment 26 by SoHelpMeReason

This is sooo serious. Now, whenever I encounter continued arguments for creationism, I actually will leave the room. I'm done. If you're not going to be serious, I'm not going to take you seriously. I think it's by far the best approach. People won't respond to logic, because it's not personal, but they will to embarrassment.

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 00:03:32 UTC | #587624

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 27 by Alan4discussion

Comment 17 by aquilacane

I don’t like the following language:

I have to say I agree with Comment 18 by jonny5509.

Some of these comments are pedantic and some actually lose or confuse meaning. We do not have to read creationism into all expressions of functionality.

To withstand the force of the oncoming air, a flight feather is shaped asymmetrically,…

Wrong way around, should be The asymmetrically shaped flight feathers better withstand the force of oncoming air — which birds happen to have, for good or bad.

...To withstand the force of the oncoming air, a symmetrical feather evolves to become a flight feather which is shaped asymmetrically,

Another hypothesis has gained strength in recent years: that feathers first evolved to be seen.

Feathers that could be seen continued evolving. I doubt any intent on the part of the feather to evolve.

..Another hypothesis has gained strength in recent years: that feathers first evolved to be seen (by other dinosaurs as some sort of camouflage or display).

Or perhaps both sexes used their stripes the way zebras use theirs—to recognize their own kind or confuse predators.

Or perhaps their stripes made them harder to see or easier to identify by their own kind, similar to zebras.

...

Whatever the original purpose of feathers,

Feathers have no purpose only characteristics

..Whatever the original function of feathers,

they were probably around for millions of years before a single lineage of dinosaurs began to use them for flight

they were probably around for millions of years before a single dinosaurs flew because of them.

..I think the point was that several lineages developed feathers without developing flight.

It now looks like bird flight was made possible by a whole string of such exaptations stretching across millions of years, long before flight itself arose.

Like everything else.

.. I read this as the specifics of exaptions - particularly the wing bone and feather structures.

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 00:53:49 UTC | #587634

Jono4174's Avatar Comment 28 by Jono4174

Theropods have been found with their forelimbs spread over nests, and they may have been using feathers to shelter their young.

So Fossil=Photograph

Archaeopteryx has been found with it's arms out and its head thrown back like Neo from the Matrix dodging bullets. But who was firing the bullets?

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 02:09:43 UTC | #587653

k_docks's Avatar Comment 29 by k_docks

by crookedshoes

kshaw,

It has not evolved by chance. It has evolved by selection, which is the opposite of chance. YOU are the only one asserting that it evolved by chance. No evolutionist would ever (if they were properly educated) say that this evolved by chance. So, you have set up a classic straw man. When you knock it down, do you expect me to say (forehead palm) oh, NOW I GET CREATION?????? Please start reading from some other book; the one you are using is making you look foolish here. Or, go post on some site where everyone is ignorant of facts. See, YOU ARE WRONG. The thing that is most vexing is that you are wrong about your wrongness.

Again, more clearly, EVOLUTIONARY THEORY DOES NOT STATE THAT THESE THINGS EVOLVED BY CHANCE.

Crookedshoes you are one who is WRONG!!! How does the 'selection' work???? RANDOM or CHANCE mutations either survive or die depending on weather they are of benefit to the creature or make the creature weaker and less likely to reproduce!!! DEATH before REPRODUCTION that is all 'natural selection' is!! Natural selection has no brain, no intelligence, it cannot foresee the future, it cannot make or read plans, nor follow instructions, all it is is natural forces causing the death of the 'weak' due to CHANCE or RANDOM mutations! The supposed GRAND mechanism of evolution is merely a dumb witless force causing DEATH! Oh, the greatest show on earth, a no chance fairytale called evolution!

kshaw, don't go out and read another fairytale about evolution, go out and do the science, collect the data, test and retest and observe that evolution is impossible.

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 02:58:06 UTC | #587672

DefenderOfReason!'s Avatar Comment 30 by DefenderOfReason!

Comment 29 by k_docks :

by crookedshoes

kshaw,

It has not evolved by chance. It has evolved by selection, which is the opposite of chance. YOU are the only one asserting that it evolved by chance. No evolutionist would ever (if they were properly educated) say that this evolved by chance. So, you have set up a classic straw man. When you knock it down, do you expect me to say (forehead palm) oh, NOW I GET CREATION?????? Please start reading from some other book; the one you are using is making you look foolish here. Or, go post on some site where everyone is ignorant of facts. See, YOU ARE WRONG. The thing that is most vexing is that you are wrong about your wrongness.

Again, more clearly, EVOLUTIONARY THEORY DOES NOT STATE THAT THESE THINGS EVOLVED BY CHANCE. Crookedshoes you are one who is WRONG!!! How does the 'selection' work???? RANDOM or CHANCE mutations either survive or die depending on weather they are of benefit to the creature or make the creature weaker and less likely to reproduce!!! DEATH before REPRODUCTION that is all 'natural selection' is!! Natural selection has no brain, no intelligence, it cannot foresee the future, it cannot make or read plans, nor follow instructions, all it is is natural forces causing the death of the 'weak' due to CHANCE or RANDOM mutations! The supposed GRAND mechanism of evolution is merely a dumb witless force causing DEATH! Oh, the greatest show on earth, a no chance fairytale called evolution!

kshaw, don't go out and read another fairytale about evolution, go out and do the science, collect the data, test and retest and observe that evolution is impossible.

Genetic mutations are random. Survival of a species is not. You equate the two when you should not. You're saying that because an organism with a mutated gene died - that it died randomly?? The mutation may have lead to the organisms death but surely not in a random way.
I would advise you to do a little more reading on the subject before you go off as if you know something.
Saying that "evolution is impossible" is probably one of the stupidest things I've seen someone write on here in awhile.
It is a scientifically proven fact backed up by mountains of evidence from just about every branch of science that exists! It is testable and has NEVER been proven to be wrong.

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 04:59:30 UTC | #587681