Dino frills for flirting, claim scientists in reports in Natural History Museum news and Science Focus 3 February 2021, Live Science 5 February 2021, and Proceedings of the Royal Society B 3 February 2021 doi: 10.1098/rspb.2020.2938.

Dinosaurs known as Ceratopsians have distinctive bony frills projecting from the backs of their skulls.  This has been thought to be a protective covering for the neck, or to provide a large surface area for temperature control.  Other scientists have suggested it could be a “socio-sexual display trait” i.e. a feature that signals to other dinosaurs their identity and readiness to mate.  Features that have a socio-sexual display functions tend to grow faster than the rest of the body as the animal matures and show a lot of variation between individuals. 

Scientists at the Natural History Museum (UK) and Queen Mary University London have studied 3D scans of 65 skulls of a dinosaur named Protoceratops andrewsi to see if there is evidence that the frill had these characteristics.  The skulls included immature and mature individuals, ranging from hatchlings to fully grown adults, so the researchers were able to assess the pattern of growth through the lifespan, as well as the variation between individuals.  They found the growth and variation of the frills fitted with their being a display feature, and they concluded it was the result of socio-sexual selection. 

The researchers commented that “Socio-sexual selection is predicted to be a powerful driver of evolution” and suggest that their method could be applied to other ceratopsians to show that socio-sexual selection explained the evolution of frills.

Links: Live Science, NHM News, Science Focus 

Editorial Comment:  Darwin used sexual selection as part of his theory of evolution by natural selection, but evolution of one kind of living thing into another kind cannot happen by natural or sexual selection.  Socio-sexual selection, i.e. the choosing of mates, and other social behaviour within species based on appearance, is a real process, and the scientists’ conclusion that the Protoceratops frills are for socio-sexual signalling is a good one.  However, such signalling will not make anything evolve.  Unless the distinctive features, e.g. frills, already exist, they cannot be selected for or against. 

It makes far more sense to believe the Creator made living things with features such as frills, crests and colours that were designed to be used for communication between individuals of the same kind.  These were all part of the original very good world that God created, filled with fully functional creatures ready to reproduce after their kinds.

Creation Research News 17 March 2021

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