Saturday, June 2, 2007

Sinosauropteryx controversy: bald or feathered?

National Geographic has a really surprising news story today, apparently reanalysis of the infamous Sinosauropteryx fossil (showing exquisite preservation of feather structures) is calling the previous conclusions into question.

This should be taken with a grain/shaker of salt, however, since there have been dissenters from the very beginning claiming that the structures are actually collagen fibers, not feathers. The reason the news story is surprising, to me, is that NG chose to cover it, when the squabbling has been raging for years now, not that someone is actually claiming the fibers aren't feathers.

The whole topic is controversial because some scientists cling to the view that birds actually predate dinosaurs, and are not their descendants, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. There is a great summary of the debate here, and in the mean time it will be interesting to see if there is any rebuttal to this latest flare-up of criticism in the media.

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