I love dinosaurs; always have. So when I saw a report that a “bizarre” new dinosaur had been discovered in Chile ( http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/apr/27/bizarre-jurassic-dinosaur-chilesaurus-diegosuarezi-discovered-in-remarkable-new-find ), I hastened to read all about it.
“New” dinosaurs are being discovered all the time. It’s exciting. This one, Chilesaurus, is neat because it has the skeletal structure of a meat-eating dinosaur (theropod) but the skull and teeth of a plant-eater (sauropod–and sauropods and theropods both belong to a larger group of dinosaurs, the lizard-hipped… but I digress).
OK, Chilesaurus is new. What’s old is the way “science journalists” and the alleged scientists they interview talk about it.
The creature’s odd mix of parts, says the article by The Guardian’s science editor, show “an extreme example of mosaic convergent evolution, where different parts of an animal adapt to the environment along the same path taken by other creatures.” You’d almost think he’d actually observed it. Lemme see, now–my nose is gonna follow this path of evolution, kinda like a tapir’s nose, and my neck wants to follow this other path, like a giraffe… man, am I a mess…
But a real scientist easily outdoes this bit of verbage:
“It shows that dinosaurs were experimenting with a wide range of body types…”
This is a singularly asinine group of words. The dinosaurs were experimenting? OK, first we’ll try this body type, and run it through a couple of tests, and then we’ll try that one…
None of this stuff, including the dinosaurs themselves, has ever been observed by a living human being. There are no records to consult. We have wonderful fossil remains which move us to speculate–wisely, we hope–as to what the animals were like when they were living. But we’re laden down with this old Theory of Evolution that has to be defended at all costs, lest the wise men of the world have to answer for the crimes committed in its name, and they keep shoe-horning the dinosaurs into it.
Maybe if scientists stopped talking through their hats, I might try listening to them again.