"Inspired by the spectacular discoveries of the past two decades from the Age of Reptiles in China, Riddle of the Feathered Dragons explores how these miraculous fossils have transformed the contentious arena of bird and dinosaur evolution. Aside from being the most comprehensive discussion of these avian and associated discoveries, the author delves into the world of investigative journalism to expose the darker side of the world of fossil birds and dinosaurs. The book exposes the massive unfounded speculation that has characterized the field of vertebrate paleontology and published extensively in the world's most prestigious journals, including everything from supposed dinosaur protein to so-called feathered dinosaurs. The book questions the validity of the foundational tenets of the now "unquestionable orthodoxy" of bird and dinosaur evolution, including bird origins, feathered dinosaurs, flight origin from the ground-up and hot-blooded dinosaurs and their proteins. It exposes how speculation has gone far beyond the ability of the currently available evidence to yield answers. The author concludes that birds are best defined by a more traditional definition of the possession of feathers and avian flight architecture, that the so-called "feathered dinosaurs" are most likely derived avians, and that flight clearly originated from the trees-down, from ancestors that antedated the dinosaurs, rather than a direct linear descent"-- Provided by publisher. "Examining and interpreting recent spectacular fossil discoveries in China, paleontologists have arrived at a prevailing view: there is now incontrovertible evidence that birds represent the last living dinosaur. But is this conclusion beyond dispute? In this book, evolutionary biologist Alan Feduccia provides the most comprehensive discussion yet of the avian and associated evidence found in China, then exposes the massive, unfounded speculation that has accompanied these discoveries and been published in the pages of prestigious scientific journals. Advocates of the current orthodoxy on bird origins have ignored contrary data, misinterpreted fossils, and used faulty reasoning, the author argues. He considers why and how the debate has become so polemical and makes a plea to refocus the discussion by "breaking away from methodological straitjackets and viewing the world of origins anew." Drawing on a lifetime of study, he offers his own current understanding of the origin of birds and avian flight"-- Provided by publisher.