The Art of Science: Giant “Bird Like” Dinosaur Discovered

Posted by Chris Parker | June 17, 2007 0

A recent science article was outlined thusly; “Neanderthals” probably didn’t suffer from schizophrenia and other mental disorders because they probably lacked the cognitive complexities of modern humans”.

Oh? Perhaps they (these authors) missed the results of the sequencing of Neanderthal DNA whose results were announced earlier this year: Neanderthal” DNA is identical to “modern mans” DNA. How do you conclude that humans with the same DNA as ours nevertheless had inferior mental capabilities?

One reason that this myth exists and persists is because of the “scientific” artist representations that accompany scientific articles and discoveries. Below are two artist representations of Neanderthal. The Neanderthal child is obviously more modern but if it had been the illustration used when Neanderthal was first mentioned in the scientific literature,  it would have shaped the way we think of Neanderthal.

This week it was announced that Chinese scientists had discovered a huge “bird like” dinosaur. With respect to the skull, there are at least some superficial resemblances to birds. However, the artists have really been allowed to let their imaginations go as far as their representation of the creatures. There is in fact absolutely nothing scientific about the representation of feathers on this dinosaur. One could almost say that the feathers are a whimsical addition. They are apparently meant to prop up the weak “evolutionary” connection between  dinosaurs and birds.

Perhaps they missed the results of a study by other scientists revealed in an article enititled   “Dinosaur feathers are no such thing”   that even that which had been thought to possibly be evidence of feathers on some dinosaurs was more likely dermal collagen.

In this case, in China, there was nothing that anyone could even suspect were feathers and they still had the artist include them. There is nothing to say that a drawing showing the dinosaur with hoop earrings would have been any less accurate.

Gigantic bird-like dinosaur found in China 

BEIJING, June 14 (Xinhua) — Chinese archaeologists have discovered a the remains of gigantic bird-like dinosaur in the Gobi Desert in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, which could overturn theories that dinosaurs became generally smaller as they evolved into birds. 

The animal, named gigantoraptor erlianensis, is believed to have been about eight meters in length, weighed 1,400 kg, and stood up to five meters high. 

Chinese archaeologists said that despite its enormous size, gigantoraptor erlianensis belonged to the oviraptorosauria, a group of smaller, feathered animals. 

In light of its size, the researchers performed two different tests to confirm that it belonged to the oviraptorosaur family. 

“The analyses strongly supported the oviraptorosaur affinity of gigantoraptor erlianensis and suggested this new dinosaur was in an intermediate position in oviraptorosaurian evolution,” Xu Xing, a researcher with the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleon anthropology with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. 

Researchers found that gigantoraptor erlianensis possessed many features unknown in other dinosaurs, such as highly specialized caudal vertebrae and the bizarre humerus, suggesting that morphological diversity among the dinosaurs is higher than previously known. 

Xu said normally when dinosaurs become so large, they had proportionally stouter limbs and shorter lower legs than their smaller relatives. However, gigantoraptor erlianensis has much more slender limbs and longer lower legs than similarly-sized theropods, suggesting that it might have been adapted for running. 

Early archaeological study has shown that in their evolution into birds, dinosaurs become smaller in size and within each dinosaur group smaller species are normally more bird-like than their larger relatives. 

But Chinese archaeologists said gigantoraptor erlianensis is more bird-like than its small relatives in many features such as a longer arm and a more bird-like leg. 

“This suggests that there are different underlying mechanisms along the line to birds in theropod evolution,” Xu said. 

Chinese researchers also found that the one-and-half-ton gigantoraptor erlianensis had no teeth, but was beaked dinosaur. 

Gigantoraptor’s diet remains unknown, but it shows both herbivorous features (such as small head and long neck) and carnivorous features (such as sharp claws). 

Other oviraptorosaurs are believed to have been plant-eaters, egg-eaters, mollusc-eaters, and meat-eaters according to various studies. 

Researchers deducted that the animal probably died in its 11th year based on the growth lines preserved in the fibular bone. 

They also inferred that the animal reached maturity within seven years and was still relatively young at the time of death. 

The bird-like dinosaur fossil was discovered in 2005 at Erlian Basin, known for its dinosaur fossils and other vertebrate fossils. 

The dissertation on gigantoraptor erlianensis will be published in Nature on June 14. 

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