Romancing the Birds and Dinosaurs: Forays in Postmodern Paleontology

Romancing the Birds and Dinosaurs: Forays in Postmodern Paleontology

by Alan Feduccia

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Overview

Birds and dinosaurs have dominated human interest for decades. In this well-supported revolutionary view of the field, critical questions are explored with credible evidence and biological thought. Are birds derived directly from advanced dinosaurs, or are they closely related dinosaur cousins? Did flight originate via the natural "gravity-assisted" trees-down model, or from the improbable “gravity-resisted” ground-up model? Were the earliest birds ground-predators or trunk-climbing gliders? Were dinosaurs hot-blooded with insulating protofeathers, or highly active, cold-blooded reptiles? These are among the questions addressed in this path-breaking book.



Current consensus suggests that early birds were earth-bound and flight began on the ground. Reversing that logic, since birds are hot-blooded, by inference so too were dinosaurs, and extraordinarily complex feathers, flight brain and inner ear, evolved before flight in dinosaurs. The iconic early bird Archaeopteryx, despite innumerable flight and arboreal features, is now displayed as an earth-bound predator that could not fly. In reality, we have yet to provide satisfactory explanations for much of the biological origin and early evolution of birds. Among the questions addressed is whether truly feathered dinosaurs are in reality lost or "hidden birds?" The architectural complexity of feathers leads the author to the conclusion that if an animal has evolved extraordinarily complex, aerodynamically-designed feathers, an avian flight hand, flight membranes, and a flight brain, it's a bird.



Birds and dinosaurs captivate and enchant the human imagination. These intriguing animals have dominated the field of paleontology and evolution for the past half century, engendering heated debate on avian ancestry, the origin of flight and feathers, and the biology of their fossils. Are birds living dinosaurs? In this series of entertainingly contentious and captivating essays evolutionary biologist Alan Feduccia writes with verve and humor to expose major problems in the field and advocate liberation from the shackles of consensus thinking about birds and dinosaurs. He maintains that the euphoria of paleontologists claiming to have solved the major problems of bird evolution is premature, largely generated by the adoption of a rigid, cult-like methodology, heavily blended with ideology, and excluding many biological and geological principles. He adroitly exposes and elucidates major mistakes in the field and their aftermath.



Romancing the Birds and Dinosaurs is a lucid revelation of clarity and synthesis, a fascinating unveiling of the underlying science that has produced the good, but also often appalling fossil research and wild speculation in bird and dinosaur evolution. A must read for anyone interested in this rapidly evolving field, the short, concise and incisive essays provide the reader with access to this complex topic.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781599426068
Publisher: Universal-Publishers.com
Publication date: 11/15/2020
Pages: 338
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Evolutionary biologist Alan Feduccia is S. K. Heninger Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where as Chair of Biology he pioneered the UNC Genome Sciences Building, dedicated in 2012. In the mid-1970s he was the first to propose an explosive evolutionary model for birds following the Cretaceous extinction event, now known as bird evolution's "Big Bang," and confirmed by whole genome analyses. He was also first to discover a vestigial first digit (thumb) in an avian embryo, a problem dating to the 1820s. Feduccia is the author of eight books, including notably the popular The Age of Birds (Harvard, 1980), and the award-winning The Origin and Evolution of Birds (Yale, 1996,1999), as well as numerous research papers, and is a popular lecturer. In 2014 UNC established the Alan Feduccia Distinguished Professorship.

Table of Contents

Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix

1. Burning Dim: The New Theory-Laden Study

of Fossils . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

2. The Road to Paleontological Postmodernism . . . . . . . . 17

3. Make It New! The Dinosaur Renaissance . . . . . . . . . 25

4. New and Improved Dinosaur . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

5. The Hot-Blood Dinosaurs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

6. Methodology: The Endless Search for a Panacea. . . . . . 75

7. Dinosaur: What’s That? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93

8. Rise and Fall of Vicariance Biogeography . . . . . . . . 109

9. Peter Pan Evolution: Fast Track to Macroevolution . . . 117

10. You Can’t Go Home Again: Dollo’s Law. . . . . . . . . . 129

11. Rambo and Clementine: Thanks for the Thumb . . . . . 137

12. Topsy-Turvy Phylogeny . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155

13. Dino-Fuzz in the Jehol. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163

14. Collagen, Collagen, Everywhere! . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181

15. Iconic Urvogel: Bird to Dinosaur to Bird . . . . . . . . . 195

16. Confuciusornis: Earliest Known Beaked Bird . . . . . . 209

17. WAIR WAC-ked! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 219

18. The Mismeasure of Claws . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 231

19. Climbing Wings: The Arboreal Scansoriopterids . . . . 243

20. Caudipteryx: Feathered Dinosaurs Unveiled . . . . . . . 255

21. Pennaraptorans (“Feathered Raptors”): Dinosaurs

or Birds? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 273

22. The Day the Dinos Died . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 291

23. Epilogue: A Search for Consilience, Not Consensus . . . 309

About the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 315

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