Another “missing link” takes flight

October 16, 2000

In a case that smacks of the Piltdown Man forgery early last century, National Geographic magazine has admitted to having egg on its face due to an item it published in November 1999. In a five-page article in the October 2000 issue that reads like a good mystery story, author Lewis M. Simons reveals a world of intrigue, deception, pride and money in the trafficking and promoting of a so-called link proving that birds “evolved” from dinosaurs. The article inadvertently demonstrates, if nothing else, the desperate desire of individuals to gain instant fame and fortune, and of the scientific community to grasp at any evolutionary straw that will bolster their already shaky house.

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The “dino-bird” in question was named Archaeoraptor liaoningensis. A Chinese farmer dug up the fossil in two separate areas of a shale pit, pasted the pieces together and sold the resulting composite clandestinely through a middle man for fear of his life (due to Chinese laws against such sales). It ended up in a gem and mineral show in Tucson, Arizona, where it was bought for $80,000 by the director of a small dinosaur museum in Blanding, Utah.

What “stunned” the purchaser, Stephen A. Czerkas, was that the fossil demonstrated not only feathering but also a beak lined with tiny teeth and a rigid, needle-like tail. To one with evolutionary presuppositions, that could only mean one thing: incontrovertible proof that dinosaurs evolved into birds. In his haste to hatch a golden egg for his struggling museum, Czerkas rushed to have the fossil validated through contacts in the scientific and publishing community, which included the scientific journal Nature, and National Geographic. While the former ended up rejecting the fossil as having not undergone enough testing and possibly being contrived, the latter, in a classic “I-thought-he-thought” blame shifting pattern, managed to let the truth fall between the cracks despite persistent questions about the fossil’s authenticity, and went ahead with publishing the article.

Answers in Genesis was already aware that Archaeoraptor was a not a missing link even before the hoax was exposed—see Archaeoraptor: Phony “feathered” fossil . Why? Although there were plenty of scientific problems, the bottom line is that we have a reliable eyewitness account that birds did not evolve from anything. They were birds when God created them, and they are still birds. See these links to web articles we published earlier this year (below, as well as in note 4 of the previous article). The search for a missing link between birds and dinosaurs, like that between monkeys and man, is an exercise in evolutionary futility.

Published: 15 February 2006