Dinosaur-to-bird cladistics

At the Royal Ontario Museum’s exhibit on “Feathered Dinosaurs” we weren’t allowed to make drawings nor take photographs of the exhibits , but I did take notes, on which I base this diagram. I am no scientist and any mistakes or misinterpretations are mine, but this is how it looked to me.

dromeosaur in flight, seen from below showing long feathers on arms and hind legs NOTES:

  • Testudina = anapsids, possibly including Testudines. Maybe this should be “Anapsids = Anapsids, possibly including Testudines.” It’s unknown whether turtles and their relatives are basally anapsid or developed the trait secondarily.
  • Pterosaurs = flying reptiles
  • Ornithischia = bird-hipped, plant-eating dinosaurs
  • Saurischia = dinosaurs with gizzard stones
  • Sauropodomorpha = long-necked, plant-eating dinosaurs
  • Theropoda = bipedal dinosaurs, predatory, with wishbones, possibly feathered
  • Allosauroidea = allosaurs; hollow bones. All have wishbones
  • Coelurosauria = tyrannosaurs, Oviraptor, Velociraptor, & birds
  • Ornithomimosauria = ostrich-like dinosaurs
  • Pygostylia = birds with reduced stump of tail
  • Palaeognathae = rheas, emus, cassowaries et al.
  • Neognathae = more modern birds

As the exhibit progressed, various characteristics such as backward-pointing toes, ankle bone bracing the shin, hollow bones, fewer teeth, beaks, and, of course, feathers appeared and became more prominent.
On the Tree of Life Web site you can see a cladistic diagram for the group Aves.

See also Notes from the feathered dinosaur exhibit and Flight of the Microraptor.


Geoscape Canada

This is a lovely geology/geography reference, which lets you “drill down,” almost literally, to more and more information about an area. This is a federal site, so naturally there are English and French versions of it.

GIMP: GNU Image Manipulation Program

This program is GNU freeware. “GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages.” The link is to the official GIMP Web site, which offers downloads and documentation for the program.

I have no particular knowledge of this program, no expertise in it, and no financial interest. I do not endorse it. I merely think that it sounds interesting.

Circus of the Spineless #5 at Pharyngula

logo for Circus of the SpinelessPharyngula hosts Circus of the Spineless: the wordless edition.

Good heavens! Out of the 45 items, I provided 4 of the articles and 2 of the “cute picture” links.

Free version of DB2 database software

As of today, IBM offers an “express” version of its DB2 database software. The link is to an article in ComputerWorld.

I have no particular knowledge of this program, no expertise in it, and no financial interest. I do not endorse it. I merely think that it sounds interesting.

Laws of thermodynamics

Laws are not theories, but observations. Their results can be tested and a theory (explanation) formulated to explain why the results are as observed.

  • Zeroth law: “Temperature exists.” When two systems are in thermodynamic equilibrium with a third system, they are also in thermodynamic equilibrium with each other, i.e. they are all the same temperature.
  • First law: “Heat is work and work is heat.” Heat entering a system can do work or raise the temperature.
  • Second law: “Heat cannot of itself pass from one body to a hotter body.” In an isolated system, entropy increases. Heat available for work decreases as temperatures equalize.
  • Third law: You can not extract all the energy out of a system. Temperature can not reach absolute zero.

The 3 laws simplified:

  1. You can’t win.
  2. You can’t break even.
  3. You can’t quit.

Now, Creationists, please stop saying that evolution breaks the Second Law of Thermodynamics—that’s simply not true. The energy available for work in a closed system decreases. However, Earth is not a closed system. We have something called “the sun”—our local star, which pours vast amounts of energy into our system every day. It is perfectly possible to capture some of that energy and store it or create order. It is also possible to create order locally while decreasing it somewhere else: for example, when we heal a cut while digesting food for energy to build new protein. Thank you. Case closed. See the link for equations.

Reviews of Michael Behe’s “Darwin’s Black Box”

Darwin’s Black Box, has been reviewed at these sites:

  • CBS
  • Nature magazine: goes to a dead link on “Discovery Institute” Web site
  • The American Scientist (“the magazine of Sigma Xi”). Index of book reviews by issue back to 1998 does not have “Darwin’s Black Box.” It does have two negative reviews of ID books:
  • from The New Scientist: Page not found, A search for “Behe” on 60,000 articles and letters published since 1987, produced several results but no reviews of “Darwin’s Black Box.
  • from Scientific American: Page not found. A search on “Behe” anywhere in an article, going back to 1993 and forward to Jan. 2006, produced nothing.
  • from The American Spectator from 1996: an article from a non-scientist saying that it sounds plausible and that we don’t know the origins of any major mammal groups. I guess that fellow was behind the door in the early 90s when the magnificent series of whale fossils was discovered documenting their transition from land to water.
  • from Wall Street Journal: a dead link on the “Discovery Institute” Web site
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