Whether by accident or design it’s hard to say, but the Musings has largely been free of creationist madness and incompetence over the (already) years (OK, only two) I’ve been writing. I tend not to delve into that side of things simply because more people do it better than I could, and I have no interest in engaging with people who don’t understand, or want to learn, the first thing about science. Even so, making the odd statement or correcting the more egregious public errors are hardly out of my realm and obviously the title of this post is rather relevant. Both the new UV paper and other recent papers on feather colour add to the general pattern of observations that Microraptor and other Lianoning feathered dinos are not fake so it is perhaps worth collating a few of them here.
Most obviously, these things look exactly like feathers and they appear in places we’d expect feathers to be and arrayed in the same way. This is no chance association. It would be easy to scoff and say that a good faker would go for this pattern, but that’s not actually necessarily true. The presence of different feather types in phylogenetically consistent and meaningful patterns is not the kid of thing one could fake easily, if at all without huge coordination of all those farmers and fossil dealers collecting and selling specimens. Not to mention you know, the actual researchers who go out and collect fossils firsthand themselves. We’re getting into ‘evolution ninja’ levels of conspiracy here to account for protofeathers being found only in earlier taxa and then more specialised and more derived feathers in more derived taxa, so best move on.
Secondly, the feathers are pretty much indistinguishable between the various birds and the feathered dinosaurs. If the dinosaurs truly are faked, then how come the feathers are apparently identical to the supposedly non-faked birds. The feathers are also pretty much identical to the apparently uncontroversial feathers preserved in the Solnhofen of Germany and the Crato of Brazil. And actually, more recent feathers that don’t date from the Mesozoic look the same too, again confounding the supposed difference between bird and dinosaur feathers.
Incidentally, none of these feathers form any of these formations look fake. Stick them under a microscope and they are (in most cases, obviously not all of them are perfectly preserved) very highly detailed (down to the sub-millimeter scale) and could hardly have been painted on. Of course, go a fair bit further with an SEM kit and we can see that these are indeed preserved in incredibly detail. They have the structure of composition of feathers (right down to identifiable melanosomes of different kinds) and are not fakes, the remains of bacteria, or for that matter, degraded collagen fibres.
Finally of course (though less critical than several of these points, but hell, it’s my research) we also see that under UV there is still so signs of fakery or other shenanigans, and of course there are now more feathers (or more accurately more bits of feathers) that could not seen before. Few people would go to the trouble of faking things that cannot be seen or even perhaps even detected using a technology they don’t even know about. These are not faked and there is no possible evidence or reason to suggest that they are or even could be or how on Earth this could be done.
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