Posts Tagged ‘birds’

Phil is a dinosaur– a type of modern theropod.

NB: Phil does not look like this now,

NB: Phil does not look like this now. He is in eclipse plumage and looks positively manky.

You know what wasn’t a dinosaur?

A plesiosaur:

heinrich harder plesiosaur

Plesiosaurs were more closely related to modern lizards and snakes than to dinosaurs, but we popularly think of them as marine dinosaurs.

Phil is actually a small aquatic dinosaur,who can fly (short distances and not when he’s molting).

Ivan actually fits the bill a bit better:


Somewhere a long the line people never learned that birds are living dinosaurs, and that all these bizarre expeditions to find living dinosaurs in remote parts of the world have been an utter waste of time.

Dinosaurs are all around us.

They crap on our cars.

They appear in our fast food.

And their songs wake us up in the morning.

If you have a dog that is used to hunt birds, you have a dinosaur hound.

And whether those bearded fellows from Louisiana want to admit it or not, they’ve spent their lives trying to understand how to attract and conserve several species of duck-billed dinosaur.

I don’t know why not knowing that birds are actually dinosaurs doesn’t just blow people away.






Read Full Post »

Know your heritage

My little quibble is that birds still are dinosaurs!



Read Full Post »

European starlings.



European starlings were introduced to New York’s Central Park in 1890.

It was an intentional introduction.

In the nineteenth century, introducing species was actually deemed a virtue.

The French zoologist Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire wrote a book on how wonderful an idea it was for different species to be introduced across the world.

He founded a society in Paris in 1854 called La Societé Zoologique d’Acclimatation, and its sole purpose was to breed and introduce foreign species to France.

A similar society was founded in New York in 1871, and one of its prominent members was Eugene Schieffelin.  A pharmacist by trade and an amateur naturalist and Shakespeare buff, Schiefflin thought it would be a grand idea to introduce European birds that had been mentioned in Shakespeare’s works to the United States.

Although he tried to introduce nightingales, bullfinches, chaffinches, and skylarks to the, only his release 100 starlings proved successful.  He turned out 60 birds into Central Park in 1890,  and then he released an additional 40 the following year.

It’s possible that all starlings in North America derive from these 100, but I would like to see some DNA analysis of some sort to confirm it.

The starling is unbelievably common in most of North America now.  It now competes with all the native birds that nest in holes in trees, and it has  implicated in the recent decline in purple martins in this part of the continent. When I was a child, it was not unusual to see intricately designed martin boxes in backyards, but it didn’t take long before they became starling boxes.

So now the horde feeds in the snow.

In the spring, they will expand.

And conquer more.





Read Full Post »


It’s a shame he’s not trying to clone a T. rex.  He’d probably figure out that they aren’t scavengers. (I always have to put that one in there whenever I do something with Jack Horner.)


Dylan Ratigan has a very hard time with phylogenetics, but most people do.

Alligators are archosaurs, as a all crocodilians. “Reactivating” dormant ancestral genes in alligator might develop a cursorial crocodilian, like the scaly coyote. (“Reactivating” in many of these cases is actually turning off or knocking out modern genes.)

Dinosaurs are also archosaurs. Birds are the only surviving dinosaurs.

That’s because “reactivating” ancestral genes actually means knocking out genes

That’s often hard for people to grasp, for it is often assumed that dinosaurs were actually something like lizards.  To quote creationist and tax fraud Kent Hovind: ” Dinosaurs were just big lizards that lived before the flood.”    Never mind the flood. Dinosaurs were and aren’t “big lizards.”  They are not closely related to lizards at all.

This video will explain it all:


Thinking of birds as dinosaurs is a difficult concept.  That means that it’s Kentucky Fried Dinosaur, and we have dogs that hunt dinosaurs. People go dinosaur watching all the time.  We have dinosaur for Thanksgiving dinner.

But once you realize it, it really changes your perspective. Then, you’re more open to the concept that dogs are wolves, and that people are great apes. And great apes are actually a type of Old World monkey, which means you are a monkey.


I hope that Jack Horner is successful with this project.  Not only is it hard for people to understand that birds are dinosaurs, the concepts in evolution are very hard to grasp without a concrete example.

A dinosaur-like chicken created in this fashion would be very good evidence for evolution, and it would be the closest thing to a concrete example that people could actually see and touch.


More info:


Read Full Post »

This is what happens when you evolve in the absence of mammalian predators. You aren’t scared of things that can easily kill you.


Read Full Post »


Curassows are Galliformes from the New World. This particular species is found in Colombia and Venezuela.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: