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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:
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 jahwarrior on 2/2/2010 5:14:33 PM , Rating: 2
"The driving force behind evolution is differential reproduction and survival". NO ITS NOT

.....differential reproduction or aka…natural selection only works on genetic material that already exists it does not create new genetic material or new species (classic peppered moth example, but no new species or genetic material was created, the moth is still a moth whether it is black or white, as the genes for the differentiation in color already existed in the moths genetic code) Natural selection just shows how species survive through breeding aka the environment favors certain genetic traits that ALREADY EXSIST IN THE GENTIC CODE, it does not create new species or create new genetic material

maybe it is you that should take some basic biology classes….and get your evolution story straight…

or you could be like my college evolutionary biology professor and say “evolution is just the rearranging of alleles” LOL

By tmradder on 2/2/2010 7:41:02 PM , Rating: 2
You IDiot... Just having a large amount of genetic variability does not drive evolution. Did they actually give you a degree at that college?

Natural selection is the driving force of evolution. It WORKS on the variability of the population. If you don't understand that concept then re-take that class with a better teacher as it is a foundation pillar of the science. I'm sure there are some community colleges around you.

Mutations and reorganization of parts of genomes create new traits in are more than welcome to look at current "evolve before your eyes" studies on HIV. Look at studies in protein folding with mutations in key areas of a genome. You must be incredibly foolish or arrogant to assume that

Get a subscription to Science or Nature if the language isn't too advanced.

By tmradder on 2/2/2010 7:43:07 PM , Rating: 2
Oh...and still waiting for that geneticist

By jahwarrior on 2/3/2010 1:16:26 PM , Rating: 2
The Mathematical Impossibility of Evolution (Henry Morris PHD)

According to the most-widely accepted theory of evolution today, the sole mechanism for producing evolution is that of random mutation combined with natural selection. Mutations are random changes in genetic systems. Natural selection is considered by evolutionists to be a sort of sieve, which retains the "good" mutations and allows the others to pass away.

Since random changes in ordered systems almost always will decrease the amount of order in those systems, nearly all mutations are harmful to the organisms which experience them. Nevertheless, the evolutionist insists that each complex organism in the world today has arisen by a long string of gradually accumulated good mutations preserved by natural selection. No one has ever actually observed a genuine mutation occurring in the natural environment which was beneficial (that is, adding useful genetic information to an existing genetic code), and therefore, retained by the selection process. For some reason, however, the idea has a certain persuasive quality about it and seems eminently reasonable to many people—until it is examined quantitatively, that is!

For example, consider a very simple putative organism composed of only 200 integrated and functioning parts, and the problem of deriving that organism by this type of process. The system presumably must have started with only one part and then gradually built itself up over many generations into its 200-part organization. The developing organism, at each successive stage, must itself be integrated and functioning in its environment in order to survive until the next stage. Each successive stage, of course, becomes statistically less likely than the preceding one, since it is far easier for a complex system to break down than to build itself up. A four-component integrated system can more easily "mutate" (that is, somehow suddenly change) into a three-component system (or even a four-component non-functioning system) than into a five-component integrated system. If, at any step in the chain, the system mutates "downward," then it is either destroyed altogether or else moves backward, in an evolutionary sense.

Therefore, the successful production of a 200-component functioning organism requires, at least, 200 successive, successful such "mutations," each of which is highly unlikely. Even evolutionists recognize that true mutations are very rare, and beneficial mutations are extremely rare—not more than one out of a thousand mutations are beneficial, at the very most.

But let us give the evolutionist the benefit of every consideration. Assume that, at each mutational step, there is equally as much chance for it to be good as bad. Thus, the probability for the success of each mutation is assumed to be one out of two, or one-half. Elementary statistical theory shows that the probability of 200 successive mutations being successful is then (½)200, or one chance out of 1060. The number 1060, if written out, would be "one" followed by sixty "zeros." In other words, the chance that a 200-component organism could be formed by mutation and natural selection is less than one chance out of a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion! Lest anyone think that a 200-part system is unreasonably complex, it should be noted that even a one-celled plant or animal may have millions of molecular "parts."

The evolutionist might react by saying that even though any one such mutating organism might not be successful, surely some around the world would be, especially in the 10 billion years (or 1018 seconds) of assumed earth history. Therefore, let us imagine that every one of the earth's 1014 square feet of surface harbors a billion (i.e., 109) mutating systems and that each mutation requires one-half second (actually it would take far more time than this). Each system can thus go through its 200 mutations in 100 seconds and then, if it is unsuccessful, start over for a new try. In 1018 seconds, there can, therefore, be 1018/102, or 1016, trials by each mutating system. Multiplying all these numbers together, there would be a total possible number of attempts to develop a 200-component system equal to 1014 (109) (1016), or 1039 attempts. Since the probability against the success of any one of them is 1060, it is obvious that the probability that just one of these 1039 attempts might be successful is only one out of 1060/1039, or 1021.

All this means that the chance that any kind of a 200-component integrated functioning organism could be developed by mutation and natural selection just once, anywhere in the world, in all the assumed expanse of geologic time, is less than one chance out of a billion trillion. What possible conclusion, therefore, can we derive from such considerations as this except that evolution by mutation and natural selection is mathematically and logically indefensible!

By tmradder on 2/3/2010 8:49:32 PM , Rating: 2
You just cited a hydraulic engineer....since when did someone with a degree in hydraulic engineering be considered a geneticist? Perhaps you don't under stand how degree and specialized knowledge works?

First of all he makes a critical error in his "math." He's stating that all 200 mutations occur at the SAME TIME in the same organism and cannot occur in a stepwise fashion over populations. If you understood evolution you would know that for mutations to create new genetic information they DO NOT have to occur at the exact same time. Maybe you need some statistical and mathematical refresher courses as well.

Next horrible creationist example please! You're making it too easy to show how awful the foundations of creation and id are.

If that is the best you can do maybe you should forego retaking college classes and reconsider high school biology.

Oh...and STILL waiting for that geneticist.

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