STL Science Center

STL Science Center

19 September 2012

Doing A Little Reading

Bambiraptor has a furcula, or a wishbone, and shares many other avian features with modern birds, almost more features than it shared with other dinosaurs. Much of the pelvic girdle and legs is highly reminiscent of other Dromaeosaurs like Velociraptor and Deinonychus. The fact that Bambiraptor has such a mixture of characteristics of both birds and dinosaurs is par of what has led to debates within the paleontology community, as well as outside, as to the exact nature and placement of birds in evolutionary history and their relationships to dinosaurs. There are those that claim all of the animals in the Dromaeosauridae as dinosaurs, and there are those that claim they are birds; some Creationists, by the way, claim that there is no argument and that no dinosaur ever had feathers, many citing Alan Feduccia's work and the argument in the paleontology community as 100% proof that paleontologists are making everything up. That is not really fair I suppose, it was mainly just this one article that claimed all that, but there are plenty that agree with the article. Feduccia's skepticism about the origin of birds lying in dinosaurs is supported by some prominent paleontologists in one fashion or another and Bambiraptor is one of those battlegrounds on which the two opposing sides fight, sadly. In part it is the make up of the bones of the Dromaeosaur family that help fuel arguments that they were only large flightless birds mimicking dinosaurs, which is an interesting argument, and part of the argument is much, much older and has to do with when and where dinosaurs and birds split originally in their independent evolutions.

The naming paper has a large section of the discussion devoted to discussing those bird-like elements possessed by Bambiraptor but, most likely due to the highly diversified authoring team, there is no directed dinosaur or bird conclusion as such. David Burnham would go on a few years later to present a thesis which presented the arguments for and against a dinosaur bird link, he also called Bambiraptor "a terrestrial runner" whereas the majority of other sources consider Bambiraptor an arboreal carnivore. His thesis, in the end, concluded the argument the way that Feduccia and Larry Martin have been siding on the argument; that dinosaurs and birds developed alongside one another and that birds did not come from dinosaurs. The evidence of the argument, we are, as the general public, assured exists, but we are not really granted access to the evidence either for or against this argument. The majority of what the public believes, therefore, must come either from the media, which is certainly dinosaur-bird heavy, or from reading or listening to the two sides of the argument and making our own opinions. I would like to keep the old theory as my own, but we will see what I see as I continue down this career path, and as such, I am trying to keep an open mind; though for now I still think of Bambiraptor as a dinosaur that may be a transitional form lingering on during the rise of true birds.

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