Monday, June 7, 2010

Reading and Painting


The good news: this is quoted verbatim from an article describing landmark scientific findings in Australia:
"But I bit my tongue, and sent it off to a recognised authority, palaeontologist Peter Murray in Darwin, to see what he thought. When he confirmed that it probably was Genyornis, it was pretty exciting," Robert says.
The bad news: as quoted, the passage gives the misleading impression that someone bit off part of his tongue and asked scientists to evaluate whether it was an extinct flightless bird.

The truth is just as interesting and less crazy-sounding:
A rock painting appears to be of a bird that went extinct about 40,000 years ago has been discovered in northern Australia. If confirmed, this would be the oldest rock art anywhere in the world, pre-dating the famous Chauvet cave in southern France by some 7,000 years.
Suck it, Chauvet cave in France!

Here is the part of the article nearly everyone will ignore until and unless a creationist finds a way to use it to discredit science:
Bruno [an archeologist involved in the finding, not the Sasha Baron Cohen character] says it's important to be cautious. The features of the painted bird match the features of the extinct Genyornis very closely, but this might be a coincidence, he says. "It's possible that at some time in the past, people were painting animals that didn't necessarily match living species - or that the bird wasn't a physical bird, but an animal that was part of the local, ancestral Jawoyn Dreaming beliefs," he says. And if this is the case, the painting could have been made at any time in the past.
Or -- this is just off the top of my head here -- it's a not-so-accurate drawing of an emu or cassowary?

It's an interesting discovery, whatever creatures might be depicted. No one lost his tongue, and may they all live happily ever after.

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