More dinosaur feather evidence, according to reports in New Scientist news 20 Sep 2007 and Science vol. 317, p1721. Scientists at the American Museum of Natural History and the Field Museum claim they have “direct evidence of feathers” in a small dinosaur named Velociraptor mongoliensis, which they estimate was about 1.5m (5ft) long and weighed about 15kg (33lbs). The evidence consists of “six low papillae on the middle third of the caudal margin of the ulna”. (This means six small bumps on the back of one of the arm bones) The bumps are approximately 1mm high. The researchers go on to say: “These are regularly spaced about 4mm apart. Topographically, these papillae correspond to the quill knobs in living birds.”

Quill knobs are bumps on wing bones where the bases of the secondary flight feathers are attached by ligaments to the bone. One of the researchers, American Museum palaeontologist Alan Turner commented: “A lack of quill knobs does not necessarily mean that a dinosaur did not have feathers. Finding quill knobs on Velociraptor, though, means that it definitely had feathers.” The dinosaur is too large, and its arms are too short, for it to fly, so the researchers suggested it had feathers “for display, shielding nests for thermal control, or creating negative lift during incline running.” Gerald Mayr at the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt, Germany has asked: “I wonder why the knobs are not visible on the other specimens (of Velociraptor)?” According to New Scientist: “Turner acknowledges that he could not find quill knobs on the other Velociraptor ulnas he examined. He believes that these bumps sometimes simply failed to fossilise because they are such fine surface features.”

New Scientist

Editorial Comment: We encourage you to look at the photo associated with the New Scientist article, which shows the fossil and compares it with a bone from the living bird with quill knobs. This study does not prove that Velociraptor had feathers. The only way to prove that is to find feathers attached to it. All they found were some small bumps on one bone, and at 1mm (1/25th inch) high they really are small.

Gerald Mayr’s question is quite valid, and points to how flimsy the evidence really is. We suggest the only reason it has been published in a prestigious Journal such as Science is that evolutionists already believe that dinosaurs had feathers and will grasp at even the weakest evidence. (Ref. therapods, reptiles, birds)

Evidence News 12 December 2007