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Journal of Creation 21(3):11–12, December 2007

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Feathery flight of fancy

Alleged ‘protofeathers’ fail under close scrutiny


Photo: Don Batten Sinosauropteryx prima, an alleged feathered dinosaur.
Figure 1. Sinosauropteryx prima was a find hailed by evolutionists as evidence for feather evolution in dinosaurs.

Sinosauropteryx (figure 1) has been one of the stars of the evolutionary dino-to-bird story. First reported in Science in 1996,1 it was excitedly paraded (along with certain other fossils) with much fanfare by evolutionists, who declared that 1996 was ‘a good year for finding fossils that tell us about the origin of birds.’2 The cause of the controversy and media attention was hard, bristly fibres found in the skin on the back of the neck and on the tail of the Sinosauropteryx fossil.

Even then, there was much debate among evolutionists about whether these fossils, especially Sinosauropteryx, provided evidence for the dino-to-bird theory (see Dino-bird evolution falls flat!). However, just a year later, Larry Martin suggested that the fibres found on the back of the neck and tail of Sinosauropteryx were likely ‘frayed collagenous fibers under the skin’.3 Since then, further research has suggested that the ‘protofeathers’ of Sinosauropteryx were not protofeathers at all (see Dino feather folly).4

Now, a team of researchers led by Prof. Theagarten Lingham-Soliar from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa has added to the mounting body of evidence that shows that Sinosauropteryx is not a dino-to-bird intermediate fossil. They reported in Proceedings of the Royal Society B that the filamentous structures in the skin of a recently discovered Sinosauropteryx—often touted as ‘protofeathers’—are nothing more than structural collagen.5,6

These findings have sent orthodox dino-to-bird believers into damage control. David Unwin, dinosaur expert at the University of Leicester, UK, is convinced that the work of Lingham-Soliar et al. is solid. However, he also said ‘There’s no need to panic. This doesn’t in any way challenge the idea that dinosaurs had feathers and that dinosaurs gave rise to birds.’7 However, this completely flies in the face of the report by Lingham-Soliar et al.: ‘The pervasiveness of the beguiling, yet poorly supported, proposal of protofeathers in Sinosauropteryx has been counterproductive to the important question of the origin of birds.’

Lingham-Soliar et al. are more right than they would probably care to admit. Because, despite the fatal blows their latest paper inflicts on a widely-held evolutionary idea, they’re not about to question the evolutionary paradigm itself.8 This shows once more that evolutionists continue to deal fatal blows to one another’s pet theories, yet fail to come to terms with the underlying problem of their fossil investigations—the evolutionary worldview. Once again, these well preserved fossils prove to be wonderfully consistent with rapid burial in the global Flood.

Posted on homepage: 25 May 2007


  1. Gibbons, A., New feathered fossil brings dinosaurs and birds closer, Science 274:720-721, 1996. Return to Text
  2. Gibbons, ref. 1, p. 720, quoting Luis Chiappe, then paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History. Return to Text
  3. Gibbons, A., Plucking the feathered dinosaur, Science 278:1229. Return to Text
  4. Feduccia, A., Lingham-Soliar, T., and Hinchliffe, J.R., Do feathered dinosaurs exist? Testing the hypothesis on neontological and paleontological evidence, Journal of Morphology 266(2):125-166, 10 October 2005 (DOI: 10.1002/jmor.10382) Return to Text
  5. Lingham-Soliar, T., Alan Feduccia, A. and Wang, X., A new Chinese specimen indicates that ‘protofeathers’ in the Early Cretaceous theropod dinosaur Sinosauropteryx are degraded collagen fibres, Proceedings of the Royal Society B doi:10.1098/rspb.2007.0352, Published online 23 May 2007; Return to Text
  6. Lingham-Soliar et al., ref. 5, p. 1824. Return to Text
  7. Sanderson, K., Bald dino casts doubt on feather theory, Nature doi:10.1038/news070521-6, Published online 23 May 2007; http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070521/full/070521-6.html. Return to Text
  8. Sarfati, J., New four-winged feathered dinosaur? 28 January 2003, <creation.com/new-four-winged-feathered-dinosaur#postscripts>, 7 August 2007. Return to Text