Distinguishing the dromaeosaurs

Thoughts from Steven: Science Marches on, Dromaeosaurs

Dromaeosaur 1 (2)

Dromaeosauridae is a group of dinosaurs that became popular thanks to Jurassic Park. Unless you are familiar with this group, you might not be familiar with the name because it was not used in the book or the movie. However, Velociraptor is a member of this group, and they certainly became popular thanks to Jurassic Park.

Here is a picture of Velociraptor. It is a model from Safari, Ltd. and it was made in 1993 (looks like somebody was trying to cash in on a certain blockbuster). This model is rather typical of what everybody thinks about Velociraptor: lean, long tail, large sickle claws, scaly body. There are two notable differences between it and the dinosaurs in the movie. First, the skull is shaped differently. This model has a narrow skull that curves upwards while the animals in the movie had shorter, straighter skulls. The model gets things right here as its head is a pretty good representation of a Velociraptor‘s skull. The second difference is the hands. This is much more subtle, but notice that the palms of the hands on the model face inwards. In the movie, the palms of the hands face downward. Turning the hand’s palms down is a condition known as pronate and it turns out that dromaeosaurs can not flex their hands that way. Once again, the model is more accurate.

The second picture is of Microraptor. This model is from the Carnegie Collection and is from 2005. Microraptor is also a dromaeosaur and the most notable difference between it and the Velociraptor is that Microraptor has feathers and wings. Even more unusual, it has two pairs of wings: one pair on the forelimbs, like a bird, and a second pair of wings on the hind limb.

Dromaeosaur 2 (2)

There are other dromaeosaurs that have been found with feathers, such as Chungyuraptor and Zhenyuanlong, which suggest that feathers are found on a wider range of these creatures. Moreover, other dromaeosaurs, such as Dakotaraptor and Velociraptor itself, have been found with small bumps on their radii. The radius is the outside bone of the lower arm, and such bumps on birds are called quill knobs and they anchor the large feathers of the forearm. Their presence on Dakotaraptor and Velociraptor suggest that they had some type of feather on their forearms, just like the feathers that have been found on Chungyuraptor and Zhenyuanlong. For these reasons, most paleontologists would reconstruct Velociraptor as a feathered beast rather than a scaly creature. This is also the reason why Jurassic World received a lot of flack because it did not update their Velociraptors with feathers.

To an evolutionist, they are to be expected, because he already thought that dromaeosaurs were closely related to birds, so it makes sense that they would have feathers as well. What is a creationist supposed to think about feathered dromaeosaurs? There are three ways to approach them.

The first is to distinguish between those dromaeosaurs that have been found with feathers and those that have not. In this idea, Microraptor, Chungyuraptor, and Zhenyoanlong would be thought of as birds and Dakotaraptor and Velociraptor would be thought of as regular, scaly dinosaurs.

The second approach is to accept all of the dromaeosaurs as feathered and to consider all of them as birds, birds as a separate and distinct group of dinosaurs. Not only is this an idea entertained by some creationists, it is also one that is promoted by a minority of evolutionists.

The final approach is to accept all of the dromaeosaurs as feathered and to consider them as dinosaurs. While we traditionally classify dinosaurs as reptiles, and we think of reptiles as scaly, it is still possible that some dinosaurs had feathers. We think of reptiles as scaly, but maybe there were exceptions that we have not discovered yet. After all, at one time, it was thought that all birds had toothless beaks until fossil birds, such as Ichthyornis and Hesperornis, were found to have beaks with teeth. Maybe we need to reevaluate what the skin of dinosaurs was like. Maybe we need to reevaluate what a bird is. Dromaeosaurs are easy to explain and understand in creationism, there just needs to be more research to determine which explanation fits the truth and facts best.

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