American Science on Feathered Dinosaurs

American Science is a group blog written by a historians of science that I just came across. It looks excellent! A recent post discusses the controversy over feathered dinosaurs and whether or not Ian Hacking’s ideas about dynamic nominalism apply to fossils:

You might ask yourself (as I often do): why were feathered dinosaurs (of the non-avian variety) not discovered until so recently? Prior to the discovery announced in Nature today, you might have said: perhaps because feathered dinosaurs are relatively modest in terms of their size and appearance. (Modest until you have the tools to reconstruct their plumage pattern, that is!) But as I’ve already noted, part of what makes this discovery significant is that Y. huali is a close relative of T. rex. The next obvious question, to my mind, is this: if big, impressive, therapod dinosaurs like Y. huali had feathers, why didn’t anyone notice until now? Is it because paleontologists have only begin to research the evolution of dinosaurs in China, which is where feathered dinosaurs tend to be found, relatively recently? Or is it because paleontologists simply weren’t looking for feathered dinosaurs during the early 20th century, when the Western United States was understood to harbor the world’s richest dinosaur quarries?

Highly recommended, and I look forward to glancing through their older posts as well.

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