No Evidence T. rex Hatchlings Had Feathers

The recent discovery of a tiny tyrannosaur jaw bone fragment and a claw has some scientists again pushing dinosaurs as birds.1 But is there any evidence that T. rex had feathers, as so often is portrayed, let alone as young hatchlings?

A group of paleontologists, led by Gregory Funston from the University of Edinburgh, have identified the first embryonic bones from a tyrannosaur, a tiny jaw fragment and a claw. The science team wrote:

An embryonic dentary (cf. Daspletosaurus) from the Two Medicine Formation of Montana, measuring just 3 cm [1.2 in] long, already exhibits distinctive tyrannosaurine characters like a “chin” and a deep Meckelian groove, and reveals the earliest stages of tooth development. When considered together with a remarkably large embryonic ungual [claw] from the Horseshoe Canyon Formation of Alberta, minimum hatchling size of tyrannosaurids can be roughly estimated.1

Although no eggs or shell fragments have ever been found for tyrannosaurs, the team used the fossil bones to estimate that tyrannosaurs likely had eggs about 17 inches long, making them some of the largest eggs of any dinosaur discovered thus far.2 The distinctive enlarged or pronounced chin was one of the key features in the tyrannosaur designation.2

For the past few decades, evolutionary scientists have claimed that dinosaurs evolved into birds, and some now declare that dinosaurs are birds. Even the artwork showing feathers on baby dinosaurs is becoming mainstream.2

But did the new discovery of a tiny jaw bone and a claw demonstrate that young T. rex hatchlings were covered in feathers, as artist Julius Csotonyi portrayed them?2 Or is this just a case of wishful thinking?

There is a strong disconnect between birds and dinosaurs. Dinosaurs had brains that looked more like an alligator than a bird,3 they walked balanced on their hips—unlike birds4—and there is no indisputable evidence that any dinosaur had feathers.5 In fact, there is a great amount of evidence that dinosaurs were cold-blooded unlike birds.6,7

Many skin impressions of other dinosaur species have been found over the past 100 years, all showing well-preserved scaly skin with no hint of feathers.8 Unfortunately, Funston and his colleagues found no skin imprint associated with the juvenile discoveries. But there have been skin imprints of other embryonic dinosaurs showing definitive scaly, reptilian-style skin.9 These were sauropod dinosaurs, not theropods like T. rex. So, is it reasonable to conclude tyrannosaur babies had feathers?

The answer is a resounding no. The confirmation came in 2017 when Phil Bell and an international team of paleontologists showed conclusively that all tyrannosaurs, including T. rex, had scaly skin with no hint of feathers whatsoever.10

God made birds on Day 5 of the creation week and the dinosaurs on Day 6. They are separate types of animals altogether. They did not evolve one into the other as evolutionists claim. Artwork of young tyrannosaurs with feathers is mere fiction.

Stage image: Illustration of juvenile tyrannosaur.
Stage image credit: Julius Csotonyi. Copyright © 2021. Adapted for use in accordance with federal copyright (fair use doctrine) law. Usage by ICR does not imply endorsement of copyright holders.


References
1. Gregory F. Funston et al. 2021. Baby tyrannosaurid bones and teeth from the Late Cretaceous of western North America. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. DOI: 10.1139/cjes-2020-0169
2. University of Edinburgh. 2021. Dinosaur embryo find helps crack baby tyrannosaur mystery. Phys.Org. Posted on phys.org January 25, 2021, accessed February 7, 2021.
3. Clarey, T. 2015. Tyrannosaurus rex Was No Birdbrain. Acts & Facts. 44 (8).
4. Thomas, B. 2009. Fixed Bird Thigh Nixes Dino-to-Bird Development. Creation Science Update. Posted on ICR.org June 22, 2009, accessed February 9, 2020.
5. Clarey, T. 2016. Dinosaurs Designed without Feathers. Acts & Facts. 45 (3).
6. Clarey, T. 2016. Dinosaurs Designed Cold-Blooded. Acts & Facts. 45 (1).
7. Clarey, T. 2015. Dinosaurs: Marvels of God’s Design. Master Books: Green Forest, AR.
8. Tomkins, J.P. and T. Clarey. 2019. Dinosaurs Had Reptilian Metabolic Adaptation. Acts & Facts. 48 (12).
9. Coria, R., and L. Chiappe. 2007. Embryonic skin from Late Cretaceous sauropods (Dinosauria) of Auca Mahuevo, Patagonia, Argentina. Journal of Paleontology. 81 (6): 1528-1532. Retrieved February 9, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4541270.
10. Bell, P.R. et al. 2017. Tyrannosauroid integument reveals conflicting patterns of gigantism and feather evolution. Biology Letters. 13 (6): 20170092.

*Dr. Clarey is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his doctorate in geology from Western Michigan University.

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Inside March 2021 Acts & Facts

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