Feather shaking dinosaurs, according to ScienceNOW, Wired Science and University of Alberta News 4 January 2013. Scott Persons of the University of Alberta has made a digital reconstruction of the tail of an oviraptor using data from several different species. He found the tail bones have lots of bony spines that would make good attachment sites for muscles. In some oviraptors the bones at the end of the tail were fused together to form a rigid structure like the pygostyle, or tail bone, of a bird. Scott Persons, who led the study commented; “The big muscles in the tail were those associated with swinging and swishing, pulling and tugging the tail up and down, and side to side”.

The researchers claim these dinosaurs had tail feathers attached to the rigid end of the tail and they used their tails in courtship displays. Persons explained: “Think of modern day birds that don’t use their tail feathers for flight. What do they use them for? They use their big tail feather fans for display”. He went on to say: “We’re starting to get to the point where we can move away from simple description. We’ve got enough information in front of us that we can start connecting the dots and thinking about more sophisticated things like behaviour”.

One specimen named Similicaudipteryx yixianensis has been found with tail feathers, but other oviraptors have not been found to have feathers. The University of the Alberta news article summarised the research: “A University of Alberta researcher’s examination of fossilized dinosaur tail bones has led to a breakthrough finding: some feathered dinosaurs used tail plumage to attract mates, much like modern-day peacocks and turkeys”.

University of Alberta, Wired Science

Editorial Comment: The specimen named Similicaudipteryx yixianensis was given this name because it has a close similarity to another fossil named Caudipteryx, which also had tail feathers. When Caudipteryx was first presented as a feathered dinosaur in 1998 we wrote in our print newsletter that it was probably a flightless bird, rather than a dinosaur. Since then others have agreed with us. (See Evolutionists Catch Up With Us here.) Similicaudipteryx yixianensis was most likely from the same Kind as Caudipteryx, and really was a bird that used tail feathers for courtship displays, and for other functions that flightless birds use them today.

However, the first named oviraptors are clearly dinosaurs, and do not have feathers. Therefore, to ascribe feather-shaking courtship displaying behaviour for dinosaurian oviraptors on the basis of a few bones at the end of a tail of an obvious bird is evolutionary wishful thinking, not a “breakthrough finding”. When the researcher stated he could now “move away from simple description” he was moving into the realm of interpretation, and that is never done in a mental vacuum. It is always done according to beliefs you already hold – in this case, the belief that dinosaurs evolved feathers and turned into birds. In spite of the way the popular media presents feathered dinosaur story as fact, there is much criticism of it, and not just from creationists. Read fossil bird expert Alan Feduccia’s critique of feathered dinosaurs here. (Ref. aves, reptiles)