Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Jesus Christ hypothesis for the evolution of flight

The Jesus Christ hypothesis for the evolution of flight: "Did the ancestors of birds walk on water before they took to the air? This intriguing idea is known as the Jesus Christ dinosaur hypothesis.

It was inspired by the basilisk. Not the beast of the Chamber of Secrets, but the somewhat smaller 'Jesus Christ' lizard found in Central and South America, which can walk on water on its hind legs. Or rather, it can run very fast across the water's surface - if it slows, it sinks.

Now, my mental picture of the earliest known 'bird', Archaeopteryx, has always been of quite a large, hoatzin-like creature living in the depths of a rainforest.

In fact, all the fossils of this half-bird, half-dinosaur have been discovered in what was, 150 million years ago, a shallow tropical ocean surrounding an archipelago of coral islands. The absence of tree pollen suggests there were no forests in the region at all."