According to Creationist Ken Ham, the dinosaur tail that is being praised for demonstrating a link between dinosaurs and birds isn't at all what scientists believe. Instead, he maintains, the tiny piece of appendage is from a mere bird, and the paleontologist team behind the study is misinterpreting the finding in order to promote an evolutionary world-view.
National Geographic recently carried the story, describing how paleontologist Lida Xing of the China University of Geosciences discovered the dinosaur tail in a lump of amber purchased at an amber market in Myanmar.
Xing's research team purchased more than a dozen samples in 2015 and published last week in a biology journal about the findings in this particular piece. Using CT scans and microscopic analysis, the team determined that the fragment likely came from the tail of a juvenile coelurosaur -- a broad group including many species of dinosaur, as well as modern birds. While the team wasn't able to definitively conclude that the entire dinosaur was covered with the same type of feathers, they say it would have been unlikely to use them for flying, if so.
Researchers determined that the small sample was from a dinosaur tail, rather than a bird, due to articulated vertebrae, where known Cretaceous-period birds had fused vertebrae instead.
The image below is the tail vertebrae of a Tyrannosaurus Rex preserved in the Chicago Field Museum. While much larger, this Rex would have belonged to the same coelurosaur group as the former owner of the amber-encased sample.
However, Ken Ham, who runs a museum based around the idea that the Earth is around 6,000-years-old, evolution is a myth, mankind was created in his current form, and man and dinosaur lived together in our shared history, spoke out this weekend to deny much included in these findings.In a blog post, Ham maintained that the presence of feathers indicated that the fragment came not from a dinosaur, but a bird. He maintained that, because the portion is from the middle of the tail, the assertions from paleontologists regarding a pygostyle --fusing of vertebrae that enables an entire tail to move as a single unit -- were incorrect, and do not rule out the fragment being from a bird.
Though researchers have previously found fossils that hold evidence of a dinosaur with feathers, Ken Ham dismisses all of this evidence. Referring to the mainstream scientists as "evolutionists," Ham says the fossils so far
"...only demonstrate what should be classified as a bird, if it weren't for the need to continue to force-feed the dino-to-bird link that many evolutionists seem to require."Instead, he promises he will have his own researcher, Creation scientist Dr. David Menton, who regularly contributes to the site, offer further analysis on Monday. At no time does Ham indicate that he, or Menton, have been or will be granted access to the dinosaur tail for study.
While his blog piece was brief, and merely engaged in denial of most of the findings by the paleontology team, on Twitter, Ham became more excited and lashed out fiercely, accusing "evolutionists" of "clutching at straws" to "justify their fictional belief dinosaurs evolved into birds" and "imposing a fictional story" on the preserved fragment, in an attempt to "brainwash" people into following the "blind faith religion" of evolution.Going still further in a longer-form social media post, Ken Ham compared the mainstream science position on the dinosaur tail to outdated misunderstandings, such as doctors who didn't wash their hands before delivering babies, and the former belief that the appendix served no purpose.
"They were wrong! The majority of scientists believe in molecules to man evolution. The majority is obviously wrong."Ken Ham's current project is Ark Encounter, a theme park designed as a replica of Noah's Ark, which includes displays ranging from demonstrations of how Noah and his family might have stored food to caged dinosaurs.
[Featured Image by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images]