Last week my boys went to the library and came home with a kids’ story about dinosaurs. As usual, the authors can’t resist having dinos and people interact with each other no matter what the scientists say, which is fine by me! We own a copy of another book in the series, so I didn’t think twice about it.
That is, until I started looking through it with them.
First, the artist made Dracorex look like a bumpy version of a T-Rex. Humph.
Then there was this super-feathered one, labeled Chirostenotes. I’d never heard of it before, but if it’s showing up in our kids’ books, it’s time to check out what’s going on.
Turns out that new Dino movie by Disney features this dino, with a feather palette to match a golden pheasant. It also plays a part in Dino Train. Seems like those who want our kids convinced dinosaurs turned into birds are rather fond of this particular dinosaur.
I had the hardest time finding a serious scientific site talking about Chirostenotes. Most of the pages talking about them are for kids or saying the same things as Wikipedia.
There was one kids’ page which was honest. The drawing didn’t show any feathers and this is what they had to say about it:
“Its long slender toes and fingers, along with what is believed to be a bird-like beak make this dinosaur very similar to early birds. It is possible (though unlikely) that this dinosaur even had feathers.”
That’s about the closest anyone online has been to saying why they like to cover it with feathers. It has a “bird-like” beak! I wonder when they’ll start drawing the Duck-billed Dinosaurs in feathers, too.
Actually, there’s another reason they are convinced Chirostenotes wore feathers. It’s classified as a theropod dinosaur:
“The Chirostenotes is an small theropod dinosaur. These small dinosaurs typically walked on two legs (Theropoda is Greek for “beast feet”) and often characterized by having feathers or feather-like structures.” Dinosaurs, Find the Data.org
Oh, well, I guess they’re right then, aren’t they? Have a good look at what we actually find in the fossil record. Is this argument strong enough to be spending huge amounts of money designing and selling this idea to our kids, or do they just want them to believe they know?
In all the pages I found, there wasn’t a whisper of any feathers found with Chirostenotes’ bones. Not even a bit of fuzzy down.
OK, there’s not much room left, but the little we do know about this dino is interesting.
The first fossils dug up were– slender hand bones. That was almost 100 years ago. Soon a skull was located, then a lower jaw took years for them to link together. They’ve found a couple “sturdier” and “more delicate” versions of hands and feet that seem most likely to be part of the same species
Basic stats using the few bones we have:
Height: 3.5 feet (1.1 meters)
Length: 7 feet (2.1 meters)
Bipedal: it walked on two feet
Perhaps some of the reason only a few serious websites talk about Chirostenotes is because it’s been really hard to decide which bones belong to the same group. Plus, we haven’t found very many either. You can read about it on a page with a beautiful drawing of Chirostenotes’ head dressed up with blue bird feathers.
Drop down, heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it. Isaiah 45:8