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An artist's rendition of Haplocheirus sollers  (Source: Portia Sloan)

The skull of the beast shows similarities to its cousins, the ancestors of modern birds. However, the creature's lacks some of the bird-like features of later members of the family, showing that the features likely evolved in parallel in both birds and the related dinosaur group.  (Source: NSF.gov)
Newly discovered dinosaur shows that in evolution lightning can and does strike twice

A newly discovered dinosaur in the Alvarezsauridae group has revealed that bird-like features likely evolved twice, both in dinosaurs and in the ancestors to modern birds.  Previously, the group was thought to be ancestors of modern birds, rather than evolutionary cousins. 

Describes Jonah Choiniere from George Washington University in an interview with BBC News,  "Haplocheirus is a transitional fossil.  Previously we thought the Alvarezsauridae were primitive, flightless birds. This discovery shows they're not and that the similarities between them evolved in parallel."

Like birds, the group of dinosaurs has fused wrists and loosely assembled skull bones, leading many paleontologists to believe that they might be the ancestors of birds.  The beasts may also have had feathers, according to analysis in the late 90s and onward.

However, anatomical analysis of a 3-meter long nearly complete skeleton of a new species in the group indicates that the group likely diverged from the line of dinosaurs that evolved into birds, and that the bird-like features emerged in parallel, not in series.  The new skeleton was dubbed Haplocheirus sollers and was found in the China's Gobi desert.  The skeleton was noticed by a member of a team excavating in the orange mudstone beds in the Junggar Basin of the Xinjiang province.  The member saw the pelvis of the dinosaur sticking out of the ground -- and the rest of the skeleton was found soon after.

Professor Choiniere describes, the results of the subsequent analysis, stating, "The rest of the members of this group have really short forelimbs with huge muscle attachments, like body-builder arms. The fossil shows the first step in the evolution of this weird arm and claw."

The new dinosaur is thought to have lived 160 million years ago, making it the oldest member of the family found to date.  Birds and Alvarezsauridae likely split not long before the evolution of the new find, say researchers.  Both group s likely are descended from the bird-footed dinosaurs of the early Jurassic, which include such famous members as the T. Rex and Velociraptor.

The new find likely was primarily an insectivore (as evidenced by its small teeth).  Its small claws were quite agile and would have been ideal for digging, leading researchers to speculate it likely ate termites, which were plentiful in its era and locale.  However, that likely didn't stop the versatile reptile from trying different cuisine. Describes Professor Choiniere, "It may have had a very general diet, tackling smaller animals like lizards, very small mammals and very small crocodile relatives.  It was a lightly built animal and could run very quickly."

The new work was reported in the journal Science.

The truly fascinating thing about this find is that it fuels the theory that in evolution lightning can, and likely will strike twice -- similar designs can evolve in parallel out of a common need.  Thus much of the anatomy in science fiction -- such as teeth on the titular Alien or giant wings and feathers of the flying monsters of Avatar -- may be realistic.  If life is found on other planets similar to Earth, it may show striking similarities as our own planet's fossil record indicates.



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By JediJeb on 2/1/2010 2:32:36 PM , Rating: 2
I think it's funny that the Wiki there makes so much reference to Nobel Prize winners signing on, yet even Al Gore has won a Nobel Prize. Overall since they don't mention which 72 Nobel Prize winners signed on, it doesn't lend much power to their argument.

I will say that a majority of scientist do believe in evolution. There are also many that I personally know that believe in creationism but would not say it openly because of fear of being ostricized by peers. As long as there are "agendas" on either side it will be hard to know the truth of how the scientist are divided. Just as it was promoted by the UN that the majority of scientist backed human caused global warming, it is now becoming evident that the majority was not so solid and that those who promoted it most were using deceitful means to reinforce their position because they did not have the solid numbers they claimed. Even in the Wiki linked above one says 99.9% back evolution and another then says it is 95%. 5% of all scientist in the world is a fairly large number when you think about it, and I am sure there are more than 480,000 scientist in the world as the Wiki references.

The Wiki article also states that Intelligent Design is called a pseudo science because its theories can not be tested or proved. Yet if someone shows evidence that would question evolution then it must simply be an anomoly or bad data. As someone said above, if you refuse to hear the questions to you theory, then your science has become a religion. Any scientist who can not handle questions to his theories isn't much of a scientist.

Why not teach every idea on how life and the universe came into being, if one is scientifically sound and the other is not then the good one should win. If you are afraid to hear out the opposing sides then you must not have much faith in what you believe is true whether you are on the evolution side or the creationist side or the intelligent design side. Scientist not allowing debate kept us from teaching that the world was a sphere and not flat for many many years. And no it wasn't just the Church that kept that debate down, scientist from all over the world did not want to be proven wrong by a few new upstarts.


By VitalyTheUnknown on 2/1/2010 3:42:09 PM , Rating: 2
Forgive me for my curt response that may seem rude to you, but if you have any interest in evolution and science and you have 10 minutes to spend, just watch this short clip that has some of the answers as to why biologists, chemist etc. treat intelligent design proponents as cunning scam.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty1Bo6GmPqM&feature...

And that is just one example.


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