Evolution of Bird Flight

I’ve always had a love and fascination for dinosaurs. As a child I was amazed at their enormous size and strength, and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the latest books, movies, and T.V shows in which they starred. I looked forward to Saturday mornings so I could watch “Land of the Lost”, and as an adult I was totally enthralled with Jurassic Park. So it’s with great interest that I read various articles related to dinosaurs. Nonetheless, I’m always disappointed with the inevitable push for evolution and long ages.

In this article, titled “New Evidence on Dinosaurs’ Role in Evolution of Bird Flight, the author and scientists involved clearly link modern birds to dinosaurs via evolution. I find this interesting partly because, as a child, I never made any connection between dinosaurs and birds. Everything I had ever read indicated that dinosaurs were dinosaurs, and I don’t recall any mention of feathers or other links to birds. But at some point, as I grew older, I do remember hearing a connection, and I scoffed at the idea (imagine a T-Rex or Apatosaurus flapping it’s arms), but it seems to have flourished within the field of evolution and the minds of many scientists.

442605_velociraptor_in_park

Just for fun I pulled out an old book of mine- the Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs, dated 1985, and it says the following: “Finally there is the claim that birds (which are endothermic) evolved from dinosaurs.” I probably heard the connection earlier than this, but this paragraph demonstrates that dinosaur to bird evolution wasn’t accepted as fact, and was even presented with a healthy dose of skepticism and caution. In another chapter it even it states that birds “can hardly be compared to the ground-dwelling theropods of the dinosaur era.” But now, it seems, there is little skepticism left among evolutionists, and it’s nearly accepted as fact.

The article begins by claiming that a new study “looking at the structure of feathers in bird-like dinosaurs has shed light on one of nature’s most remarkable inventions– how flight might have evolved”. This statement is loaded with problems. First, it assumes evolution is true, and then assumes that dinosaurs evolved into birds in an attempt to shed light on the evolution of flight! So then, we need to figure out what these ‘bird-like’ dinosaurs are and what relationship they have to birds and dinosaurs, if any. And then we need to consider whether or not flight evolved, if it was an invention of nature, or if it was a design and creation by God.

I do find it revealing when evolutionists use terms that give human qualities to inanimate material (anthropomorphizing). Is it really appropriate to claim that nature has invented something- as if there were some kind of express purpose and expected result being directed by an intelligent source- or would flight be considered a byproduct of nature that just so happens to give the organism a survival advantage? Considering how complicated flight is, it’s miraculous that an organism could go through such a drastic change (bone structure, lungs, feathers, etc.) and end with what we see in birds today. But even assuming evolution, if there were any purpose, direction or expected result, this would support the existence of God, rather than blind evolution. Evolution is supposed to be random, unexpected, and without direction.

Next it’s claimed that it has been “shown that prehistoric birds had a much more primitive version of the wings we see today”. I dispute this on several grounds. First, how could they “show” such a comparison between prehistoric and modern birds? Prehistoric birds no longer live, so it’s impossible to observe and compare the two, except in superficial ways. Sure we can compare the skeletal structure and feathers of modern birds with fossils of extinct birds- if we have a complete enough fossil record for comparison- but comparing skeletal structures won’t tell us how those prehistoric birds behaved or flew, if they flew at all, what they looked like, or if they were even birds. That’s left up to the imagination of those involved. The academics point to “rigid layers of feathers” acting as “simple airfoils for gliding,” but there’s no way to be certain that this is what they were, or what they were used for without being able to observe the extinct organism. In other words, the birds these scientists are declaring to be prehistoric may not be “primitive” at all; they may have behaved exactly as they were intended and designed by God. Perhaps they’re only extinct because they couldn’t adapt and survive in a changing environment. Declaring these birds to be primitive is “evolution speak”. It’s just a superficial term used to advance the notion of evolution. Those birds are no more or no less advanced than any other bird, just as the birds we see today aren’t primitive, despite their many variations.

The article claims that a “close examination of the earliest theropod dinosaurs suggests that feathers were initially developed for insulation,” and then “evolved for display and camouflage”. This is all conjecture; there’s no proof that theropod dinosaurs had feathers. In fact, as I previously mentioned, it was believed that birds could hardly be compared to theropods.

Sinosauropteryx, for example, is often considered a dinosaur with feathers. But in reality it didn’t have feathers, primitive feathers or even protofeathers. According to South African researcher Theagarten Linghman-Soliar, it had dermal collagen- tough, elastic strands found on the skin of sharks and reptiles (frayed collagen fibers). Lingham-Soliar also says, “There is not a single close-up representation of the integumental structure alleged to be a protofeather.” And he agrees that the evidence in support of the primitive feathers lacked serious investigation. Alan Feduccia, a bird expert, says, “The major and most worrying problem of the feathered dinosaur hypothesis is that the integumental structures have been homologized with avian feathers on the basis of anatomically and paleontologically unsound and misleading information.” Further, fossil evidence of Sinosauropteryx outlines a lung similar to that of a crocodile, not a bird. This means that a radical transformation would have to occur in an organism that was already well adapted to its environment… or it could mean that the organism isn’t related to birds at all.

Another problem for evolutionists is that true birds, such as Confusciusornis sanctus, have been found in the same fossil layer as their supposed dinosaur ancestors, muddying any such transition between the two. And other dinosaurs that have supposedly had evidence for feathers have turned out to be flightless birds, such as Caudipteryx and Protarchaeopteryx. Scientists, in many instances, refer to dinosaurs as birds, or birds as dinosaurs, or they refer to them as “primitive” birds or dinosaurs- all in an effort to substantiate evolution. Illustrators also take creative license and exaggerate certain features to make the dinosaur appear more bird-like, or the bird more dinosaur-like.

In addition, there are fraudulent fossils, such as Archaeoraptor, which was once thought to be a transitional dinosaur to bird fossil. Alan Feduccia comments on this: “Archaeoraptor is just the tip of the iceberg. There are scores of fake fossils out there, and they have cast a dark shadow over the whole field. When you go to these fossil shows, it’s difficult to tell which ones are faked and which ones are not. I have heard that there is a fake-fossil factory in northeastern China, in Liaoning Province, near the deposits where many of these recent alleged feathered dinosaurs were found.” So it’s quite possible that some of the organisms being used to support dinosaur to bird evolution are fraudulent, just as Archaeoraptor was.

The article, then, compares Anchiornis huxleyi (found in Liaoning, China) to Archaeopteryx lithographica, and declares the former to be a dinosaur, and the later to be the earliest known bird with a combination of dinosaur and bird characteristics. It’s claimed that we can see early “experiments” in wing evolution because the wings of these specimens differ from modern birds. But the only reason to make this claim is based on faith… the belief that they’re related by a common ancestor and are transitional forms. If, however, they didn’t share a common ancestor, then there was no evolutionary “experiment” and no transition. The difference between their wings and feathers could simply be due to how they were designed by God for various functions in different environments, just as is the case for ostriches, falcons and penguins. Another problem is that evolution- as previously mentioned- is supposed to be built on blind mutations- not advancing in any particular direction via experimentation, which is exactly what happened if we’re to accept the evolutionary argument.

In short, it’s pure speculation that dinosaurs had feathers; that they initially provided for insulation, and later evolved for display and camouflage. And it’s a great leap of faith that dinosaurs’ forelimbs became modified into “highly-efficient, feathered wings that could rapidly change its span, shape and area… that allowed dinosaurs to rule the skies.”

But now that evolution has been assumed, it’s interesting to note that the “basic wing configuration has remained more or less the same for the past 130 million years.” In other words we’re not seeing any more evolution in wings and feathers, which is convenient for evolutionists. Real science involves observation, but since further evolution isn’t occurring, all observational evidence can be ruled out. The only observation occurring today is with contemporary birds. So these evolutionary tales are nothing more than modern day just-so stories or fairy tales. Now evolutionists can marvel at flight, while imposing their evolutionary views on dinosaurs and connecting them to modern birds based on faulty evidence.

I propose that the real history of these organisms is recorded in the Bible. According to Genesis 1:20-31, God created birds on day five, and then created land animals- including dinosaurs and man- on day six.

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One thought on “Evolution of Bird Flight

  1. Pingback: Did Dinosaurs Waggle Their Flashy Tails? « sixdaysblog

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