Sunday, April 1, 2012

Raptormaniacs Revamp

Well, this is embarrassing. Being a self-proclaimed maniraptor enthusiast I've always considered birds to be maniraptors and insisted on feathering maniraptor depictions, foolishly believing these to be the correct, mainstream view.

Having read the new paper Claw & Troll (2012) "The End of the Debate: Conclusive Evaluation of the Birds are Dinosaurs Hypothesis Theory Using SRC, with Further Comments on 'Feathered Dinosaurs'", published in Nowhere (which you can read if you pay a really, really, really high fee), however, I have realized that the Birds Are Not Dinosaurs (BAND) hypothesis is clearly more parsimonious than its oft-touted alternative. Far from having no good evidence or research on the subject at their disposal, BANDits are in reality the oppressed minority who are brave enough to challenge the oppressive majority view.

To summarize, in their new paper Claw and Troll demonstrate that they haven't read exhaustively review all pertinent literature on bird origins in the past two decades, providing the long-overdue 99999th first objective, unbiased look at the subject. Utilizing the extremely unscientific useful, universally applicable method SRC (Spewing Random Crap), they show that the actual ancestors of birds are thecodonts (monophyletic group™) crocodiles Longisquama pterosaurs anything as long as they're not dinosaurs. It's not like there are no better candidates than dinosaurs for which we can clearly trace the evolution of all avian traits through the fossil record. In any case, there just is absolutely no way in a zillion years that birds descended from dinosaurs, for lots and lots of good reasons Claw and Troll mention, which are all really complicated and make no sense so I won't discuss in depth here. Most of them involve poking massive holes in the fallacious birds are dinosaurs theory by pointing out the glaring lack of certain avian traits in theropod dinosaurs (the group of dinosaurs commonly and erroneously thought to have given rise to birds). The fact that all these traits are indeed known in non-avian dinosaurs is mostly ignored, but that's a mere minor setback. The BANDit view is still stronger by far. They also note that the possibility birds evolved from a tree-gliding ancestor indicates that birds can't have descended from dinosaurs because all dinosaurs lived only on the ground and would die immediately of spontaneous logic combustion if they left it even for a second, as is common knowledge for anyone well acquainted with 1970s children's books. There was also a complicated discussion on finger configuration that greatly supports the BANDit theory, but their reasoning appeared really flimsy sound to me so I'm running with it.

Furthermore, as a followup to their 2011 paper, Claw and Troll conclusively demonstrate that no actual feathered dinosaur fossils are known. Compsognathids only preserve long collagen fibers, which probably formed a basilisk-like ridge on the back, even though other animals found in the same deposits don't preserve "collagen fibers" and it's actually not that hard for professionals to distinguish between fossilized collagen and feathers. Oviraptorosaurs are obviously birds, not dinosaurs. Finally, Claw and Troll intentionally avoid discussing deinonychosaurs because deinonychosaurs are cool, which automatically excludes them from being feathered, fossils be damned. Beipiaosaurus and Dilong aren't mentioned, but whatever, they've already dismissed every taxon that matters anyway.

Given this highly convincing research, I have seen the light. This comic will have to go through a complete revamp.

Claw, A. & Troll, I. M. A. (2012) "The End of the Debate: Conclusive Evaluation of the Birds are Dinosaurs Hypothesis Theory Using SRC, with Further Comments on 'Feathered Dinosaurs'". Nowhere 0 (0): 0. DOI: 42.15854/4095922.2012.15588802.