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The Creation Answers Book
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Living Dinosaurs or Just Birds?

Evolutionary enthusiasts today claim that you can see live dinosaurs hovering around the hummingbird feeder. What are the facts?

By Daniel Anderson

Published: 5 December 2006 (GMT+10)

So which is it? Kentucky Fried Chicken or Kentucky Fried Dinosaur? Should we actually refer to songdinos instead of songbirds? In short, did some dinosaurs really evolve into birds?

Theropod dinosaurs share many skeletal similarities with birds. In addition, fairly recent fossil discoveries in China have caused evolutionists to claim that several theropods may have possessed feathers. So what makes a bird a bird and what makes a dinosaur a dinosaur?

Before we analyze the facts about theropods and birds, we need to put on our biblical glasses. God’s Word tells us that He created all creatures as distinct kinds. Winged creatures, such as the various bird kinds, were created unique and fully formed on Day Five, while land animals, such as theropods, were created unique and fully formed on Day Six. Therefore, no evolutionary relationship exists between theropod dinosaurs and birds.

And there is an abundance of scientific evidence to substantiate this claim. There is a biological chasm separating these wonderful creatures, one that can never be crossed by the bridge of evolution. Let’s take a closer look!

Pelvis

There are two groups of dinosaurs: ‘bird-hipped’ or ornithischian (including Stegosaurus, Camptosaurus, and Triceratops), and ‘reptile-hipped’ or saurischian (including T. rex and Brachiosaurus). However, birds are alleged to have evolved from the reptile-hipped dinosaurs, not the bird-hipped ones!1 So the similarity of hips of birds to bird-hipped dinosaurs is called a homoplasy, and attributed to convergent evolution.

But it’s more likely that the ornithischian dinosaurs shared a similar pelvis design with birds because they all were made by the same Designer. This would be consistent with the biotic message theory, as proposed by Walter ReMine in The Biotic Message. That is, the evidence from nature points to a single designer, but with a pattern which thwarts evolutionary explanations, such as widespread homoplasies.

Keeled Sternum

Flying birds often possess a keeled sternum, which serves as an attachment point for the flight muscles. However, two non-flying terrestrial creatures have been discovered with keeled sternums. Mononykus, a theropod dinosaur, shares this bird-like feature, and some evolutionists got excited about this apparent support for their theories. However, so does the mole, a digging mammal, and many now believe that Mononykus was a digging dinosaur (see Flighty flap). Moles also have wrist bones that are very bird-like as well. It appears that a common Designer utilized a similar design in different creatures.

Wing Claws

Ancient birds such as Archaeopteryx, Sinornis, and Confuciusornis had wing claws. Living birds such as ostriches, emus, hoatzin, turacos, moorhens, and coots also possess wing claws, at least at some stage of their life, though they are different in shape and size.2 Theropods did not have wings, but they had long, sharp claws on their forelimbs. Claws do not define reptiles or birds.

Teeth

Theropods had sharp, serrated teeth, while many ancient birds had small, peg-like teeth. It is strange to think of birds having teeth, because no living bird exists with teeth. However, extinct birds such as Archaeopteryx, Sinornis, Confusiusornis, Hesperornis, and Ichthyornis all had teeth. Mutations can cause some living birds to develop teeth—see Chickens with Teeth.

Not all reptiles have teeth. Turtles are toothless. The Pteranodon, an extinct flying reptile, did not have teeth. Teeth are not defining characteristics of either birds or reptiles.

Beaks

It is a common notion that dinosaur jaws evolved into bird beaks in order to lighten the load for flying. However, we’ve already seen that some ancient birds possessed teeth. Bats are extremely capable flyers and they too have teeth. Obviously, the presence of teeth does not inhibit flight.

Beaks are lightweight, but some birds have huge, cumbersome beaks. The Indian hornbill, toucan, and pelican all have enormous beak sizes and they are still capable flyers.3

Beaks are unique structures and require a distinct genetic code to create. They are not modifications of scales around a reptile’s mouth.

Shoulder Joints

Theropod dinosaurs did not have the anatomical machinery in the shoulder joints to lift their forelimbs upward. Birds can take off effectively because of a sophisticated pulley system in their shoulder joints. Theropods did not have this machinery, because they were not designed to fly.

One dinosaur, named Unenlagia, did have a highly mobile shoulder joint that was quite bird-like. However, at over 2.5 m (8 ft) tall it was way too big to lift off the ground.4 Without observational evidence, it is not known how Unenlagia may have used its unique shoulder joint.

Feathers

Feathers are not modified scales, nor do they grow out of scales. They are truly unique biological structures that require their own special design template. (See the section on feathers in chapter 4 of Refuting Evolution.)

Today, we only see feathers on birds. Of course, this does not mean that in the past, only birds bore feathers. Some theropods may have possessed feathers as well, for all we know. However, despite enthusiastic evolutionary claims for ‘feathered dinosaurs’, to date no such claim has stood up; some so-called feathers are likely collagen fibres—see Dino feather folly). Note that if feathered dinosaurs were indeed to be discovered in the fossil record, this would not be proof for dinosaur-bird evolution (see for example ‘BPM 1 3–13’—have they finally found a true feathered dinosaur?). There are many creatures with unorthodox skin coverings. For example, the pangolin is a scaly mammal. The hairy frog is an amphibian that sports hair-like fibers on parts of its body during mating season. Some fish and crustaceans also possess hair-like filaments. It has often been claimed that extinct reptiles such as pterosaurs were covered in a thin layer of fur, though this view has been challenged. Why couldn’t a dinosaur with, say, a layer of insulating feathers still be a true dinosaur? A feathered dinosaur (if that were ever demonstrated) would be just another mosaic creature in God’s amazing creation.

Bipedalism

Like birds, theropod dinosaurs were bipedal. Based on skeletal design, theropods were likely fast and agile on their two legs. Once again, the Lord God utilized a common design blueprint when creating theropods and birds as distinct kinds. But as Alan Feduccia, an evolutionary paleo-ornithologist who scathingly rejects the dino-to-bird dogma, says: ‘It’s biophysically impossible to evolve flight from such large bipeds with foreshortened forelimbs and heavy, balancing tails’, exactly the wrong anatomy for flight.5 Many creatures are bipedal. Apes possess some degree of bipedality (although not even the alleged ape-woman Lucy walked in any human way). Bears, raccoons, kangaroos, and other animals can move bipedally in their own unique ways.

Lungs

“ The flow-through lung of a bird has no parallel in the animal kingdom. ”

The flow-through lung of a bird has no parallel in the animal kingdom. Its unique lung is vastly distinct from the bellows (in-out) lung of a reptile. The reptilian lung is similar to the amphibian and mammalian lungs, but the avian lung stands alone in the animal world. See also Blown away by design: Michael Denton and birds’ lungs.

The soft tissue remnants of a colon, liver, intestines, and abdominal muscle in the extinct theropod, Scipionyx, strongly suggest that theropods possessed a similar respiratory system to that of crocodiles and not birds. It is inconceivable how a reptilian lung could change into a bird lung—how would it breathe while the airflow direction changed? See also Dinos breathed like birds?

Reproduction

Dinosaurs laid eggs, as do birds. Fossil evidence also suggests that some dinosaurs may have brooded their eggs in a similar manner to birds.

There is another animal, not thought by evolutionists to be in any way related to birds, that shares several reproductive features and habits with birds. The platypus, a bizarre mammal, builds a nest, lays a small clutch of eggs, and broods its young like birds. In addition, the platypus possesses a system of ovaries that is very similar to that found in birds.6

Hand Digits

After analyzing ostrich embryos, some scientists discovered that only digits 2, 3 and 4 develop in the wings of birds. Theropod hands seem to have developed from digits 1, 2 and 3. This speaks strongly against one group being the ancestor of another. See Ostrich eggs break dino-to-bird theory.

Temporal Paradox

Using evolutionary methods and assumptions, the string of allegedly ‘feathered dinosaurs’ is dated as younger than birds such as Archaeopteryx, Sinornis, and even older than the ‘first bird’ (with a beak of the modern variety, minus teeth), Confuciusornis. Evolutionists have to do very fancy footwork to explain why we find the alleged transitional forms millions of years after their supposed descendants.

According to the Bible, birds and theropods were created as different kinds that lived contemporaneously.

The Final Answer

bird

We can safely conclude that people eat KFC, not KFD. We can still refer to songbirds, not songdinos. Birds are not ‘living dinosaurs’, nor did they descend from dinosaurs.

Birds and dinosaurs are similar in some ways, but vastly different in other ways. The overall picture confirms that birds and dinosaurs have always been distinct creatures, just as the Bible teaches.

References

  1. Sodera, V. One Small Speck to Man, p. 253 Return to text.
  2. Ref. 1, p. 239. Return to text.
  3. Ref. 1, p. 267. Return to text.
  4. Ref. 1, p. 247. Return to text.
  5. Cited by Ann Gibbons, ‘New Feathered Fossil Brings Dinosaurs and Birds Closer’, Science 274:720–721, 1996.
    Return to text.
  6. Erica Cromer, Monotreme Reproductive Biology and Behavior, 14 April 2004. Return to text.

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