Yet another new ‘feathered’ dinosaur?
c. October 1999
Recently, some researchers in China reported on a fossil, given the name Sinornithosaurus millenii. It is a member of a Velociraptor-like dinosaur type called a dromaeosaur, had a skull about 13 cm long, and was found in the Yixian formation in western Liaoning, China, and thought to be early Cretaceous. But the most exciting claim for the evolutionists is traces of supposed downy feathers, which are alleged to support the prevailing dogma that dinosaurs evolved into birds. This explains the name, meaning bird-like dinosaur of the millennium from China.1
What should creationists think about this?
- Start with the Bible, the word of the Creator God who was there, and never lies or errs. The Bible teaches that birds and other flying creatures were created on Day 5, while dinosaurs and other land animals, and man, were created on Day 6.
- Facts never speak for themselves; rather they are always interpreted within a framework, or paradigm. Most important are the two opposing frameworks of Christianity and materialism.
- Don't believe everything you read in the media. Mostly, the media are biased towards evolution and against God. We should not be surprised that they splash supposedly pro-evolution ‘evidence’ on the front pages, but when this ‘evidence’ is refuted, even by other evolutionists, this is either buried in an obscure place, or not reported at all. This has happened repeatedly— remember the alleged life from Mars in an Antarctic meteorite, now almost universally discounted? And it has happened with many other 'missing link' claims, including alleged ‘feathered dinosaurs’.
- Even within the materialistic paradigm, not all evolutionists believe the dinosaur-to-bird sub-paradigm. This includes Alan Feduccia, a world authority on birds at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and his colleague, University of Kansas paleontologist Larry Martin. Martin commented on the grip of the paradigm, in the context of another ‘feathered dinosaur’ claim: ‘You have to put this into perspective. To the people who wrote the paper, the chicken would be a feathered dinosaur’.2
- There is much evidence against the ‘dinosaurs became birds’ claim, including the different embryonic thumb, and the unique design of the bird’s lung. See Bird evolution falls flat.
- There is nothing in creationist theory forbidding dinosaurs from having feathers—it would not make them any more a transitional form than the egg-laying mammals, the platypus and echidna.
- However, we should still maintain a healthy scepticism—even some evolutionists, like John Ruben of Oregon State University in Corvallis, are sceptical about the claim of downy feathers. He believes that they are ‘just collagen’ — internal connective-tissue fibres left behind when the flesh decayed.3 Interestingly, he has made the same claim about another alleged ‘feathered dinosaur’ (see Bird evolution falls flat). Larry Martin pointed out that if the creature really did have feathers, one would expect them to be preserved under the same conditions that could preserve down, which is much more fragile.3 [Update: see Dr Feduccia’s recent research supporting the identification as collagen, ‘Do Featured Dinosaurs Exist?: Testing the Hypothesis on Neontological and Paleontological Evidence’, by Alan Feduccia, Theagarten Lingham-Soliar, and J. Richard Hinchliffe, Journal of Morphology 266:125–166, 2005; Published Online: 10 October 2005 (DOI: 10.1002/jmor.10382).]
- Feathers are completely different from scales in just about every respect, so the idea that feathers evolved from scales is based on faith, not fact—see Kentucky Fried Dinosaur?, Putting Feathers on Reptiles and Bird evolution flies out the window.
- Xing Xu, Xiao-Lin Wang and Xiao-Chun Wu, A dromaeosaurid dinosaur with a filamentous integument from the Yixian Formation of China, Nature 401(6750):262-266, 16 September 1999. Return to text.
- Cited on the CNN website, June 24, 1998. Return to text.
- Cited in Appenzeller, T, T. rex was fierce, yes, but feathered too, Science 285(5436):2052-2053. Return to text.