An article in Discovermagazine.com caught my attention regarding bird evolution earlier in the year, and I thought it was about time to take a closer look. The headline, “Ancient Bird Shakes Up Avian Evolution”, seems like a fairly common description of evolution.
My first thought was, how could that happen? How can evolution be shaken up? Evolutionists often seem certain that they know and understand evolution, and even make such grand claims as, “Evolution is among the most substantiated concepts in science and is the unifying theory of biological science”. So how could a fossil shake up bird evolution?
The fossil in question, Aurornis Xui (Latin name means “dawn-bird”), was the size of a modern-day chicken, and is described as the most primitive bird documented, but not necessarily the oldest. The word “primitive” is very subjective when used in evolutionary terms, and, from a creationist perspective, it isn’t very descriptive. The term implies that the organism is in the midst of a transitional state and hasn’t fully evolved to its latest stage of evolutionary development. It is supposedly still evolving into what we know as modern birds.
According to the article, researchers don’t even know the age of the fossil, which some claim to be about 160 million years old, while others claim it’s only 125 million years old. Yet they seem certain that the fossil tells us how dinosaurs evolved into birds.
The co-author of the study, Andrea Cau of the Museo Geologico Giovanni Capellini in Italy, says that most of the bird’s features “are in fact intermediate between other dinosaurs and more recent birds.”
The original study indicates that Aurornis Xui challenges another extinct bird, Archaeopteryx (150 million years), whom many describe as transitional between feathered dinosaurs and modern birds, as the oldest known bird. But the article never explains how dinosaurs evolved into birds even though it’s claimed that the fossil could help explain the evolution of birds. All it really does is make some unsubstantiated claims.
Further, some of the evolutionary surprises imply that typical bird flight has evolved at least twice, or was lost or modified in some dinosaurs. This is a problem for evolutionists because they argue that evolution is based on blind chance, isn’t goal oriented, and isn’t seeking any kind of outcome. But when we consider that flight keeps evolving independently in various organisms, it can’t be denied that we observe something that appears to be oriented towards flight. And if that’s what we observe, then evolution isn’t what it’s claimed to be, and perhaps evolution isn’t the answer after all. Perhaps dinosaurs didn’t evolve into birds, and perhaps these birds aren’t in transition, but are fully developed organisms that were well designed.
The last thing that stood out to me was the artwork attached to the article. The artist’s rendering of what this bird may have looked like is purely imaginary, and may not be true to what it looked like in real life. It has more to do with what they want it to look like than with what the evidence presents. Their intent is to cause the reader to see something that is evolving from a dinosaur into a bird, and that preconceived notion drives the conceptualization. Looking at the fossil itself, I don’t see anything that resembles feathers, so it’s hard to see how the artist came up with this particular rendition.
Other articles I read call into question whether or not Aurornis Xui was even a bird at all and acknowledge that it doesn’t have any feathers. It’s already known that a lot of fossil forgeries have come from China (such as Archaeoraptor), so there’s some justified skepticism, especially because the specimen is nearly perfect.
The fossil itself was even found by Chinese farmers and bought by a fossil dealer, so it was necessary to obtain a statement of authenticity in order to maintain some credibility. But the fact that Aurornis doesn’t have feathers should call this whole study into question. The idea that this organism is a bird comes from the “shapes of bones in the fossil’s pelvic region”. But others, like Luis Chiappe from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, is suspicious of the bird claims because of the short forelimbs, reptilian tail, and skull, in addition to the fossil’s questionable origin.
So rather than shedding light on how dinosaurs evolved into birds, I think the article does more to call evolution into question. Nobody really knows what this fossil is or what it means.