An article in Discover Magazine suggests that all dinosaurs may have had feathers. The article examines a new dinosaur, called Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus, and makes this grand claim based on fossils found in Russia, dated from the middle to late Jurassic (176-145 million years ago).
I remain skeptical that dinosaurs had feathers, and suggest that what these scientists are describing are not feathers, but dermal collagen, or frayed collagen fibers. This is consistent with what Theagarten Linghman-Soliar- a paleontologist who has examined the claims of dinosaur feathers- has said. In a previous study, Linghman-Soliar said: “Our findings show no evidence for the existence of protofeathers and consequently no evidence in support of the follicular theory of the morphogenesis of the feather. Rather, based on histological studies of the integument of modern reptiles, which show complex patterns of the collagen fibers of the dermis, we conclude that “protofeathers” are probably the remains of collagenous fiber “meshworks” that reinforced the dinosaur integument. These “meshworks” of the skin frequently formed aberrant patterns resembling feathers as a consequence of decomposition.”
Another expert, Alan Feduccia, says, “The major and most worrying problem of the feathered dinosaur hypothesis is that the integumental structures have been homologized with avian feathers on the basis of anatomically and paleontologically unsound and misleading information.”
I’ve tried looking at some of the fossils presented in this current study of Kulindadromeus, but I don’t see any impressions that would lead me to conclude that the fossils in question are of a feathered dinosaur. While I’m no paleontologist, I’ve seen fossil impressions of feathers and have a pretty good idea of what they look like. But after reading a number of related articles, it’s assumed that the impressions found in the fossils are feathers, and no one involved in the research seems to be questioning this.
The significance of the find appears to be wrapped around the desire to support dinosaur-to-bird evolution. It’s assumed by evolutionists that dinosaurs evolved into birds, and that many dinosaurs had feathers. However there was never any evidence that all dinosaurs had feathers, so it was assumed that feathers evolved at some point in some dinosaurs. But this new dinosaur (referred to as a basal neornithischian) is considered primitive (although not directly ancestral to birds), and supposedly had both scales and feathers that varied in size, location, and complexity. Because these “feathers” were found outside the branch of theropod dinosaurs (the supposed the direct ancestors of birds), it’s assumed that feathers may have existed in the earliest dinosaurs.
Then, when I looked at the abstract in the Science Mag journal, scientists called these feathers “monofilaments”, complex “featherlike” structures, and “branched integumentary structures”. I think this is further evidence that these were not really feathered dinosaurs at all, but the collagen fibers indicated by Linghman-Soliar.
I think it’s clear that this discovery falls prey to evolutionary assumptions that cannot be supported by the scientific method. No one is able to observe this dinosaur living in its natural habitat, examine its anatomy, or follow its ancestors or offspring through time. Scientists must make do with the evidence at hand, such as fossils, and paste together clues like a complex puzzle, similar to what forensic scientists do when piecing together a crime. One of the major differences between modern forensics and paleontology is that of time. Even though many crimes can’t be solved- despite occurring within our lifetime- scientists are attempting to solve mysteries that happened many millions of years ago, and they’re convincing people that their conclusions are true with certainly. After reading the actual article, notice that there’s no question that dinosaurs had feathers. The only debate is when and why they evolved feathers. But, supposedly, science isn’t about absolutes and proof, and that would leave room for uncertainty and the possibility that dinosaurs didn’t have feathers and didn’t evolve into birds. So I think it’s important to note that articles like this mix science with faith.
Therefore, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to believe the alternative- namely that God created all animals, including dinosaurs and birds, to reproduce after their kind. There’s no logical reason to believe that dinosaurs had feathers.