20 June 2006

Duck and cover - or not?

Dino duck OK, so we are getting ducks amongst dinosaur fossils reported as...

Because the bones were buried gently and slowly in mud, many of them remain uncrushed. Soft tissues were also preserved, including flight feathers and webbing—like a duck's—between the bird's toes.

...and as a “missing link” because...

the preserved skin of the webbed feet shows the same microscopic structure seen in aquatic birds today.
"It was unexpected to find a bird this advanced in rocks this old," Harris said. "It tells us that the anatomical features we use to characterize modern birds evolved very quickly."

...but, hey! Here’s a radical idea: let’s take a birds-eye view of the situation and evaluate the evidence again!

Why not face the probable fact that either the fossils were dated too early, and/or likewise for the rocks they were found in?

That might lead to real scientific progress, rather than constantly orbiting (as we are) the current (presumably wrong) assumptions which lead to all of this surprise might it not?

Yes, that’s a scary idea. New and interesting stuff often is, y’know? Yes, we might come a career cropper through doing so and offend some PowersThatBe — but: no pain, no gain; no guts, no glory; no risk, no reward. Clear enough?

Being famous for a massive and rewarding revolution in ancient dating schemes certainly beats a lifetime of hum-drum form-filling, no? Worth a try?


Major said...

I am not saying that you can't get real scientific progress by ignoring a million observations which are simply consistent with a theory and focusing your attention on one which needs a bit of shoe-horning (occasionally it does work, with Nobel prizes for all concerned) but in order to not be completely laughed out of court you first have to come up with a theory which accounts for the otherwise consistent results.

Leon Brooks said...

There are a couple of differences which I have with your clear and forthright approach.

One of them is that this effect operates to induce published observations to fit better with existing ("safe") theory (ie, "be consistent") regardless of the actuality.

Another is that until someone is willing to seriously consider using an occasional huge "shoehorn", that social hysterisis is gunna stick. Only a rare few dare to vote differently.