One of the modern icons of evolution is the idea that modern birds are the direct descendants of small, theropod dinosaurs. In the 10th grade California biology textbook, Biology by Miller & Levine, it is included, along with whale and tetrapod (4-legged animal) evolution, as one of the best examples of evolutionary transition in the fossil record.1
The three most-cited fossil evidences used to support this claim are (1) the fossilized bird Archaeopteryx, (2) theropod dinosaurs with ‘bird-like’ characteristics, and (3) many so-called ‘feathered dinosaur’ fossils. As we will see, this so-called ‘evidence’ is questionable at best.
Archaeopteryx was once (and still is by some) considered to be the ‘missing link’ between dinosaurs and birds. However, this fossil is now recognized by many scientists to be an extinct bird, possessing:
- Fully-formed wings and feathers for flying
- A bird-like skull and jaw
- Perching feet
- A robust wishbone
- An avian (bird) digit arrangement
- The size and overall appearance of a modern bird skeleton2
Despite these facts, evolutionists point to several so-called ‘reptile traits’ in Archaeopteryx that are claimed to be ‘primitive’, including clawed wings, a long, bony tail, and a toothed beak.It’s important to remember that when scientists analyze and form opinions regarding fossils, their personal worldview has a significant impact upon their interpretation of the evidence. The interpretation of these features as ‘primitive’ assume that its shared traits with reptiles are a result of evolutionary common ancestry.
An alternate interpretation is that the Creator equipped Archaeopteryx with a unique combination of traits to help it “fill the earth”.3 Archaeopteryx likely used its wing-claws to climb trees, like modern touraco and hoatzin chicks4, and its long, feathered tail may have been used as a lift generator, flight stabilizer, or landing mechanism.5 Archaeopteryx’s teeth also more closely resemble the grasping teeth of other fossil birds than the serrated teeth of dinosaurs.6
As evolutionist Dr. Alan Feduccia has said, “Paleontologists have tried to turn Archaeopteryx into an earth-bound, feathered dinosaur. But it’s not. It is a bird, a perching bird. And no amount of ‘paleobabble’ is going to change that.”7
Free Resources for Further Reading:
1Miller, Kenneth R., and Joseph S. Levine. Miller & Levine Biology. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2006. 467. Print.
2Gish, Duane T. Evolution: The Fossils Still Say No! El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1995. 132-35. Print.
3Wise, Kurt. “Mystifying Mosaics.” Answers in Genesis. N.p., 15 May 2008. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <https://answersingenesis.org/evidence-for-creation/mystifying-mosaics/>.
4Gish, Duane T., Earl Snellenberger, and Bonita Snellenberger. Dinosaurs by Design. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1992. 66. Print.
5Paul, Gregory S. Dinosaurs of the Air: The Evolution and Loss of Flight in Dinosaurs and Birds. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2002. 140-41. Print.
6Werner, Carl, and Debbie Werner. Evolution: The Grand Experiment: The Quest for an Answer. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf, 2014. 156. Print.
7Alan Feduccia, quoted in V. Morell, “Archaeopteryx: Early Bird Catches a Can of Worms,” Science 259:5096, February 5, 1993, pp. 764-765. Cited from Museum Guide: a Bible-based Handbook to Natural History Museums Answers in Genesis-USA, 2007. Print.