In the News: Dinosaurs Everywhere
Over the last couple of weeks, three new dinosaur finds were reported. A new kind of sauropod, named Suuwassea emilieae, was discovered in Montana. Estimated to be 50 feet long, this dinosaur is the first new sauropod ever described from Montana. Additionally, a “wrinkle face” abelisaurid dinosaur was found in the northern region of Africa. Prior to this discovery, this type of carnivorous dinosaur was unknown to the African continent. This discovery has researchers scratching their heads as to when Africa might have split from a supposed supercontinent.
And lastly, a perfectly preserved embryo of a pterosaur was found inside its fossilized egg in the Liaoning province of northeastern China. Not officially a dinosaur—since dinosaurs are defined as strictly land-dwelling creatures—this amazing flying reptile is the first pterosaur embryo ever located. Michael Hopkins noted: “...researchers in China have uncovered the remains of a life that was snatched away before it had ever begun” (2004). Scientists believe that the pterosaur was just about to hatch when something terrible happened. This discovery confirms the long-standing theory that these winged creatures laid eggs rather than giving birth to live young. The researchers who discovered this creature observed: “Preservation of such delicate tissues with the skeleton and eggshell probably indicates that the embryo was killed and deposited quickly as a result of a natural disaster, such as a volcanic eruption” (Wang and Zhou, 2004, 429:621).
Notice what these three reports did not contain. There were no feather-covered dinosaurs to support the dinosaur-to-birds theory. There were no transitional forms—no half scales, half feathers. All of the creatures were described as fully functional animals that were adapted to their environment.
Yet, just days before these discoveries were reported, Kyle Butt and Eric Lyons of our offices watched as feathers were being affixed to dinosaur replicas in the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding, Utah. Bones are interesting facts, but the evolutionary interpretations lack scientific verification. These discoveries show that there is much still to learn about these amazing creatures.
Hopkins, Michael (2004), “Perfect Pterosaur Found in Fossil Egg,” Nature, Science Update, [On-line], URL: http://www.nature.com/nsu/040607/040607-6.html.
Wang, Xiaolin and Zhonghe Zhou (2004), “Palaeontology: Pterosaur Embryo from the Early Cretaceous,” Nature, 429:621, June 10.