Friday, December 17, 2010

The Basic Picture

The basic picture is that during the Cretaceous, separate primitive bird lines were established, each within its particular niche. And then each line transitioned into the corresponding modern bird orders of that niche.

  • A Dromaeosaurid* subgroup --> Ornithomimosaurids  --> Modern ratites (Ostrich (Struthio), Rhea (Rheidae), Cassowary, Emu (Casuariidae), Kiwi (Apteryx))

SEABIRDS (Ichthyornithes line)
  • A Dromaeosaurid* subgroup --> 
  • An Enantiornithes seabird subgroup --> 
  • An Ichthyornithes subgroup --> Gulls, Skimmers (Charadriiformes/Lari) 
  • AND
  • An Ichthyornithes subgroup --> Petrels (Procellariiformes), Sphenisciformes, Pelecaniformes

  • A Dromaeosaurid* subgroup --> 
  • An Enantiornithes shorebird subgroup --> Primitive shorebird (eg. Graculavus) --> Modern shorebirds - eg. plovers, oystercatchers, sandpipers (Charadriiformes/Charadrii)

AQUATIC BIRDS (Hesperornithes line)
  • A Dromaeosaurid* subgroup --> 
  • An Enantiornithes aquatic subgroup --> Baptornithidae (Hesperornithes) --> (primarily foot-propelled) WEB FOOT diving bird orders, eg. Cormorants (Phalacrocoracidae), Loons (Gaviidae)).
  • AND
  • An Enantiornithes aquatic subgroup --> Hesperornithidae (Hesperornithes) --> (primarily foot-propelled) LOBE FOOT diving bird orders eg. Grebes (Podicipedidae).


WATERFOWL (Anatidae)
  • A Dromaeosaurid* subgroup --> 
  • An Enantiornithes waterbird subgroup --> Presbyornithids--> Modern Anseriformes (eg. Duck, Geese , Swan)

  • A Dromaeosaurid* subgroup --> Primitive flying birds (Enantiornithes) --> Modern Land Bird Orders
Modern Land Bird

  • A Dromaeosaurid* subgroup --> Primitive flying birds (Enantiornithes) --> Modern "Galliformes" (eg. Chicken, Turkey, Pheasant, Quail) and Tinamiformes (Tinamou)


  • A Dromaeosaurid* subgroup --> 
  • Troodontid subgroup --> 
  • Primitive owls (eg. The supposed "Cretaceous owls"Bradycneme and Heptasteornis--> 
  • Strigiformes (eg. owls)
  • AND
  • Caprimulgiformes (eg. nighthawks)

*Dromaeosaurids developed from pterosaurs.

So far in the analysis, we have separate primitive bird lines leading to specific modern bird orders.
All the lines trace back to Dromaeosauridae (which then traces back to Pterosauria).
The primitive bird lines are based on:
  • Ornithomimosaurids
  • Enantiornithes
  • Ichthyornithes
  • Hesperornithes
  • Troodontids
  • Presbyornithids

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bird Groupings

Here is one study of how modern birds can be classified.

Hackett et al. cladogram

Click to enlarge.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Filling in the picture (2)

Consider all the taxa (gold bars) that extend to near the K/T extinction (65 mya). Those are Oviraptorids, Troodontids, Dromaeosaurids, Alvarezsaurids, Euenantiornithes, Hesperornithiforrms and Ichthyornis.
Each of those is a candidate for a euphyletic (ancestral) relationship with corresponding modern bird taxa.
For example the taxa labelled "modern birds" (which should read "Some modern birds") can represent the taxa of modern birds that developed from Ichthyornis.
The other modern birds that developed from the other taxa (eg from Euenantiornithes etc) are simply not shown on this chart.

Filling in the picture (1)

To repeat an important point, consider the time-based cladogram (above) that we saw earlier
Note that the group labeled "Modern birds" at the bottom right should say "Some modern birds" since modern bird taxa developed from the various taxa on the chart, such as Enantiornithes etc.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Additional fossils

Here are some additional fossils.
Notice the pteroid bone. In both pictures the pteroid bone is shown pointing back toward the body. It is more likely it pointed away from the body.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The primitive bird 1st metacarpal.

Here is the primitive bird Deinonychus hand: (figure 3)

Additional diagram of primitive bird hand (left picture):

Revised total progression

Total progression

2-3-4-4-x Pterosaur
x-2-3-4-x Primitive bird (maniraptors that are not modern birds)

"The wings of many diurnal birds of prey have a vestigial claw located at the end of the thumb bone."

Concerning the sesamoid:
"We propose instead that the sesamoid in question was originally embedded in the tendon of a pteroid extensor or flexor muscle where it passed over the medial carpal, [actually metacarpal] and that it was pulled into the fovea after death in some specimens as a result of disarticulation of the [meta]carpal–pteroid joint."

Pterosaur wrist (5)

More on the pterosaur wrist.

Fig. 4. (A) Lateral view of the right medial carpal in articulation with the distal carpal of the Cretaceous pterosaurColoborhynchus robustus. Scale bar, 25 mm. (B) Traditionally recognised articular surfaces of the right carpal-pteroid joint of Coloborhynchus, the medial carpal in distal (anterior) view showing the fovea (fov), and the head of the pteroid in proximal view. Specimen details can be found in Wilkinson et al. (Wilkinson et al., 2006Go). Scale as in A. (C) Reconstruction of the right wrist of Coloborhynchus in dorsal view according to descriptions provided by Bennett (Bennett, 2001Go; Bennett, 2006Go), with a sesamoid bone (ses) within the fovea, and the pteroid articulating on the side of the medial carpal. Note that the medial carpal has been rotated about its long axis by 180° with respect to A and B. The postulated trajectory of the wing-finger metacarpal extensor tendon (ten), in which the sesamoid is embedded, is also shown. Scale bar, 50 mm. (D) Reconstruction of the right wrist in dorsal view according to Wilkinson et al. (Wilkinson et al., 2006Go), with the pteroid at maximum elevation, and an alternative reconstruction of the sesamoid, which is shown in close association with the carpal-pteroid joint, embedded within a putative pteroid extensor tendon (origin and insertion points unknown). Scale as in C. Abbreviations as in Fig. 1. Broken line indicates a continuation of the extent of the tendon. Additional abbreviations: dc, distal carpal; f, femur; h, humerus; mc, medial carpal; pc, proximal carpal; r, radius; t, tibiotarsus; u, ulna; wf, wing-finger; wm, wing-finger metacarpal.

Summary of pictures:


FIGURE 5. Photographs of A, the left (above) and right (below) carpal regions of Anhanguera santanae, AMNH 22555, in dorsal view, slightly disarticulated but in situ during preparation; B, the right preaxial carpal, Sesamoid A, and pteroid of Pteranodon sp. indet., YPM 2300, in dorsal or lateral view; and C, non-rticular (left) and articular (right) surfaces, respectively, of Sesamoid A of Pteranodon longiceps, YPM 1175. Abbreviations: art, articular surface for fovea; asp, articular surface for pteroid; ds, distal syncarpal; mciv, metacarpal IV; pc, preaxial carpal; ps, proximal syncarpal; pt, pteroid; r, radius; str, striations for attachment to its tendon; u, ulna; and sesA, Sesamoid A. Photograph of AMNH 22555 courtesy of P. Wellnhofer.

The pterosaur forelimb. Black - humerus, yellow - radius & ulna, orange - pteroid, blue - metacarpals, white - phlanges of digit IV (4th phalanx not shown).


Left picture - Deinonychus antirrhopus:
PDF pictures cannot be copied here unfortunately.
Deinonychus antirrhopus: Page 97. 
Dinosaur hands Page 98
Notice how the dinosaur metacarpals are VERY similar
 to the pterosaur metacarpal. 

Series of primitive bird hands.


ALLOSAURUS  (dinosaur)


Arm section

1. Upper arm - humerus
2. Sesamoid bone - os sesamoides.
3. Ulna - ulna
4. Radius - Radius

Hand section (manus)

5. Wrist - radiale and ulnare
6. Metacarpal - carpometacarpus
7. Thumb - alula
8. Digits - phalanges

Metacarpal to phalanx articulation (hinge joint)
Unfortunately the picture from the pdf cannot be copied here. See drawing of bird wing - particularly the alula.


Diagram 4
1Ball and socket joint2Condyloid joint (Ellipsoid); 3Saddle joint4 Hinge joint; 5:Pivot joint;


Head of Metacarpal Bones:

The head is provided with a surface for articulation with the proximal phalanx. This area curves farther over its anterior aspect than the posterior. It is convex from before backwards and from side to side and is wider anteriorly than posteriorly. It is notched on its anterior aspect and its edges form two prominent tubercles, which are sometimes grooved for the small sesamoid bones.

First metacarpal bone:

The first metacarpal differs from the others in being free at its distal end. Its proximal end possesses only a carpal articular facet and is not articulated with other metacarpal bones. The first metacarpal bone is the shortest and stoutest of the series. Its body is compressed from before backwards. Its head is of large size and is grooved on its anterior aspect for the sesamoid bones. The base is provided with a saddle-shaped surface for articulation with the trapezius.
The wing of a modern bird, for example, has only two remaining carpals; the radiale (the scaphoid of mammals) and a bone formed from the fusion of four of the distal carpals.[14]
Drs. Alan Feduccia and Julie Nowicki of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have done just that. They opened a series of live ostrich eggs at various stages of development and found what they believe is proof that birds could not have descended from dinosaurs. They also discovered the first concrete evidence of a thumb in birds.

"Whatever the ancestor of birds was, it must have had five fingers, not the three-fingered hand of theropod dinosaurs," Feduccia said. "Scientists agree that dinosaurs developed 'hands' with digits one, two and three -- which are the same as the thumb, index and middle fingers of humans -- because digits four and five remain as vestiges or tiny bumps on early dinosaur skeletons. Apparently many dinosaurs developed very specialized, almost unique 'hands' for grasping and raking. "Our studies of ostrich embryos, however, showed conclusively that in birds, only digits two, three and four, which correspond to the human index, middle and ring fingers, develop, and we have pictures to prove it," said Feduccia, professor and former chair of biology at UNC. "This creates a new problem for those who insist that dinosaurs were ancestors of modern birds. How can a bird hand, for example, with digits two, three and four evolve from a dinosaur hand that has only digits one, two and three? That would be almost impossible."
If one views a chicken skeleton and a dinosaur skeleton through binoculars they appear similar, but close and detailed examination reveals many differences, Feduccia said. Theropod dinosaurs, for example, had curved, serrated teeth, but the earliest birds had straight, unserrated peg-like teeth. They also had a different method of tooth implantation and replacement.

Pterosaur wrist (4)

"The medial aspect of the left preaxial carpal is visible (upper right), whereas the right preaxial carpal somewhat below it presents its lateral aspect.The articular surface for the pteroid (asp) is faintly visible.
Abbreviations: art, articular surface for fovea; asp, articular surface for pteroid; ds, distal syncarpal; mciv, metacarpal IV; pc, preaxial carpal; ps, proximal syncarpal; pt, pteroid; r, radius; str, striations for attachment to its tendon; u, ulna; and sesA, Sesamoid A."

Pterosaur wrist (3)

"FIGURE 2. Skeletal reconstruction of Anhanguera (modified from Wilkinson et al., 2006) showing a medially directed pteroid and traditional propatagium (dashed line), the anteriorly directed pteroid and extensive propatagium advocated by Wilkinson and colleagues (2006; dashed line), and a longer anteriorly directed pteroid 76% ulnar length as in Cycnorhamphus and resulting larger propatagium (dotted line). See text for explanation. Abbreviations: ant-pt, anteriorly directed pteroid; bra, brachiopatagium; cyc, leading edge of larger propatagium; cyc-ant-pt, Cycnorhamphus-length anteriorly directed pteroid; ext, leading edge of extensive propatagium; fem, femur; hum, humerus; mc, metacarpus; med-pt, medially directed pteroid; pc, preaxial carpal; pro, propatagium; r+u, radius and ulna; tib, tibia; trad, leading edge of traditional propatagium; uro, uropatagium; and wp1-4, wing phalanges 1-4."

Pterosaur wrist (2)

Pterosaur wrist (1)

"Fig. 1. Skeletal reconstruction of the Cretaceous pterosaur Anhanguera santanae in dorsal view, showing the elongated wing-finger (wf) supporting the cheiropatagium (ch), the unique pteroid bone (pt) supporting the propatagium (pro) and the cruropatagium (cr) medial to the leg. Two possible reconstructions of the pteroid are shown, with corresponding outlines of the propatagium: a forward-pointing orientation (solid line), and a medial orientation (broken line). Scale bar, 200 mm. Additional abbreviations: dc, distal carpal; f, femur; h, humerus; mc, medial carpal; pc, proximal carpal; r, radius; t, tibiotarsus; u, ulna; wf, wing-finger; wm, wing-finger metacarpal."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

* Comparing dinos to birds

Many people think that birds evolved from dinosaurs.
To be more precise their claim is that birds evolved from non-maniraptoran coelurosaurs.
And yet when they compare a "dinosaur" to a bird, they do not take a drawing of a non-maniraptor coelurosaurian, (eg. tyrannosaur) but they take a drawing of a non-neornithine Aves (eg. Ichthyornithescreature and compare it with a modern bird.
This of course is irrelevant.
The issue is NOT WITHIN AVES but between non-maniraptor coelurosaurs and maniraptors.

Here are some non-maniraptor coelurosaurs.


These are believed to be sister taxa to the non-maniraptor coelurosaur ancestor of birds. But as we all know, the dino to bird theory enthusiasts never present any pictorial representation of any purported non-maniraptor coelurosaur, bird ancestor.
So who knows what it looks like.

But certainly if we want to understand what the dino to bird theory is actually claiming, we need to compare the non-maniraptor coelurosaurs to modern birds and not non-neornithine Aves creatures to modern birds.

Pterosaur Hand

Here is a great drawing of a pterosaur

It shows the "pteroid bone" which is a neomorph. It shows the other fingers including the extended 4th finger.
It shows that the pterosaurs bent their wings at the junction of the metacarpals and the fingers.
This is different than their descendant modern birds that have fused the hand so they no longer bend at the junction of the metacarpals and the fingers. Instead modern birds bend at the wrist.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Primitive to Modern Birds

Here is a first cut at the development of primitive bird groups to modern bird groups.

See the updated version here:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Prow Beaks

I have been analyzing the pterosaurs to see if they actually had beaks as we use the term "beak". Rhamphorhynchoid stands for "prow beaks". This kind of "beak" is not the extending kind of beak that we associate with the word "beak".
When the pterosaurs evolved into primitive birds, it may well be that the most basal primitive "beakless" birds had snouts, like prow-beaked pterosaurs.
And "beaks", as we use the word, evolved within the primitive birds.
This idea is in line with the fossil record.
This idea requires more analysis but it seems right to me at this point.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Protofeathers on the wing membrane

Here is a reference to the "pycnofibres"  - even as early as the Rhamphorhynchus.
If they are  related to feathers they correspond to downy feathers and not pennaceous (contour) feathers.
"The wings were long, and the wing membranes appear to have lacked the furry covering of pycnofibres present in some other pterosaurs (such as Pterorhynchus and Jeholopterus)."
"This type specimen consists of an articulated, nearly-complete skeleton with remains of the integument. These included the wing membrane, hair-like structures, a long version of the vane found at the end of "rhamphorhynchoid" tails, and a head crest with both a low bony base and a large keratin extension"
"The specimen is crushed into a slab and counterslab pair, so that parts of the specimen are preserved on one side of a split stone and some on the other. This includes exquisite preservation of carbonized skin fibers and, arguably, "hair" or "protofeathers." The fibers are preserved around the body of the specimen in a "halo." Wing tissue is preserved, though its extent is debatable, including the exact points of attachment to the legs (or if it attached to the legs at all). In 2009 Alexander Kellner published a study reporting the presence of three layers of fibres [actinofibrils] in the wing, allowing the animal to precisely adapt the wing profile.[3]"

Monday, November 1, 2010

Painten Pelican

Here is a reference to a very interesting picture:
"An unusual pterosaur skull, nicknamed the Painten Pelican, has caused a lot of discussion amongst pterosaur palaeontologists because it is, superficially at least, so danged weird (see image, above). The specimen comprised a complete skull, mandible and cervical vertebra and, if you’re around in Southern Germany, you can see it for yourself: it’s on display in the Solnhofen Museum. A cast and UV photographs of the specimen were making quite a buzz at the 2007 Flugsaurier Meeting, and, apparently, the specimen is very slowly being written up."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


If anyone has questions, comments or objections, feel free to post them. I will do my best to answer them

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Two Dimensions

In situations where we see contradictions, the answer is often that there are two dimensions that are involved but we are only acknowledging one of them.
That is what is going on with the subject we are looking at - the origin and development of species.
There are actually two dimensions. You could call one the horizontal and one the vertical.
Cladistics for example, does not acknowledge the vertical dimension and tries to collapse everything into the horizontal line of time. This can never be successful of course.
The Linnaean conception acknowledges the vertical dimension but not the horizontal dimension.
Both dimensions must be acknowledged because REALITY is in two dimensions.
It is only when we acknowledge both dimensions that we will understand the underlying reality.

For what it is worth, the closest we come now, is the conception of serial anagenesis with parallel evolution. That is the model I use in the pterosaur to bird theory.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

* Dino to Bird Theory (4)

"The congruence of other characters is sometimes
offered as justification for such assumptions:
birds are theropods because they share
other characters with theropods and, therefore,
must have the same digital identities as theropods
(e.g., Wagner and Gauthier 1999, Makovicky and
Dyke 2001, Padian 2001b). This reasoning is circular.
Synapomorphies are invoked to defend the
hypothesis; the hypothesis is invoked to defend
the synapomorphies."

* Dino to Bird Theory (3)

Here is a reference to what I am talking about:
"Unjustifiable assumptions of homology incorporated
into data matrices.—The most glaring example of
this problem is the coding of avian and theropod
manual, carpal, and tarsal characters as if they were
homologous, despite the ambiguity of the data,
and despite the assumption this coding entails that
the BMT [dino to bird theory] hypothesis is correct a priori
(Martin et al.
1980; Martin 1983, 1991; Martin and Stewart 1985;
Burke and Feduccia 1997; Feduccia 1999; Wagner
and Gauthier 1999; Feduccia and Nowicki 2002;
Kundrát et al. 2002; Larsson and Wagner 2002; Galis
et al. 2003, 2005; Mayr et al. 2005, 2007; Vargas
and Fallon 2005a, b; Welten et al. 2005; Appendix

Saturday, October 9, 2010

* Dino to Bird Theory (2)

Here is the larger context to put this in, related to "normal science".
"Textbooks, more than perhaps any other force in science, represent the bulwarks of existing paradigms. Students of science learn to deal with the world around them in the context of the paradigm they are taught. Ideally, students then grapple with the issues left unresolved within their paradigm and thus continue what Kuhn [Thomas Kuhn] calls the enterprise of "normal science"--"an attempt to force nature into the preformed and relatively inflexible box that the paradigm supplies". In dealing with nature through an existing paradigm, scientists are inherently conservative. They generally shun new theories that may shake their views of the world. According to Kuhn, however, this conservatism is not only inevitable, it is desirable: "By focusing attention upon a small range of relatively esoteric problems, the paradigm forces scientists to investigate some part of nature in a detail and depth that would otherwise be unimaginable". Normal science is essential for fact-gathering that may help confirm, clarify, or even extend paradigms. They also help to match facts with theory, and they even help to make theories more acceptable by, for instance, making them more aesthetically palatable. More fundamentally, normal science can be seen as puzzle-solving, where paradigms determine the parameters and rules for the puzzle. In other words, the paradigm sets the parameters in which scientists may view the world. Researchers must then attempt to solve the puzzles by looking for missing pieces and connecting them into a cohesive whole.

Where Paradigms Fail. This [normal science] period of puzzle solving, however, is often disrupted by discovery, at which point scientists must call into question the rules by which they were solving the puzzle. Restated, "Discovery commences with the awareness of anomaly, i.e. with the recognition that nature has somehow violated the paradigm-induced expectations that govern normal science". Anomaly must emerge within the context of an existing paradigm--otherwise, scientists would be unable to even recognize it."

* Dino to Bird Theory (1)

Here is a rather typical article on the dino to bird theory:

It purports to show the relationships between certain taxa and implies the validity of the dino to bird theory.
But what it actually does is, it assumes the validity of the dino to bird theory and then shows that if that theory is valid here is how the taxa would be related.
If only they would be honest and say that, things would be so much clearer.

This pattern occurs quite frequently. The authors of many, many studies and articles do not evaluate the validity of the dino to bird theory. THEY ASSUME the validity of the theory and then arrange things around that assumption.
And then people in this field say that the dino to bird theory is valid because look at how much validating material there is over the years. They forget (ignore) that those studies were based on the assumption of the dino to bird theory.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Anagenesis on the pterosaur line (2)

It is suggested you read the previous post before reading this one.

In the previous post we saw that there were anagenetic events/process on the pterosaur line. What prevents that line from continuing? Nothing actually. In fact it did continue. Through the processes of cladogenesis and anagenesis it continued on into the line of primitive birds, and then modern birds, just as this entire site has been presenting.
That being the case, we can correct the placement of birds on the cladograms. We remove them from where they are misplaced now and place them on the pterosaur line.

Anagenesis on the pterosaur line

Here is a standard cladogram.

This shows pterosaurs as a diverging line.
Let's consider that line in a bit more detail.
First let's review the general idea about what happens on a line (whether it be diverging or not).
Anagenesis is what happens on lines. (Which is perfectly reasonable).
Remember this cladogram?

Notice the short red horizontal lines. Each represents an event/process of anagenesis.
Notice that such lines appear on the diverging lines.

Putting these ideas together we can see that there were such anagenetic events/process on the pterosaur line. And we know that is the case, because there are the Rhamphorhynchoidea and the Pterodactyloidea (the pterodactyls). The pterodactyls developed as a result of anagenesis.
I will continue this in the next post.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Looking for an ancestor

In the earlier post I said:
"The reason this is very significant is because dino to bird enthusiasts have never offered any creatures (any taxa) as the actual ancestor of modern birds. If Senter had put modern birds on the scatterplot he would have faced that issue. But he did not face up to it.".

The idea that "dino to bird enthusiasts have never offered any creatures (any taxa) as the actual ancestor of modern birds" may have come as a surprise to some people. But that is a simple uncontested fact.

Here is a reference to that fact:
"First, no one has proposed that maniraptoran dinosaurs of the Cretaceous are the ancestors of birds. They have merely found that dinosaurs like dromaeosaurs, troodontids and oviraptorosaurs are close relatives of birds. "

It is not my intention to enter into an analysis here about cladistic analysis.
But what is relevant is the following:
We saw how the dino to bird idea does not stand up to the fact that the line would have to wander and backtrack all over the place from one unconnected group to another.
But the situation is actually worse than that (if such a thing is conceivable).
Evolutionists are not even saying that any of those groups actually evolved into any others of those groups. They are saying that there is a separate line of unfound fossils of different creatures that winds its way from dinosaurs to birds.

Thankfully that is not a part of the thinking I am presenting.