This article is from
Creation 19(2):6, March 1997

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Kentucky fried dinosaur?


According to many evolutionists, this title is realistic—they believe that the dinosaurs didn’t become extinct, but that a branch of them evolved into birds. This idea was proposed by ‘Darwin's Bulldog’ T. H. Huxley last century, and revived by John Ostrom about 20 years ago. A recently discovered fossil of a ‘feathered dinosaur’ has hit the news because it supposedly supports this idea. One headline shouted ‘Feathered fossil proves some dinosaurs evolved into birds.’1 But do the facts fit the theory?

This fossil, found in China's rural Liaoning Province, is 121 million years old according to evolutionary dating assumptions.2 However, this fossil has not been formally described in the scientific journals, and there is no proof that the animal had feathers. The fossil contained impressions about half a centimetre long on the nape of its neck. Whether they are feathers, scales or something else is difficult to prove.2 University of Kansas paleontologist Larry Martin says: ‘We generally get more hard evidence with alien abductions than we have here.’3

Many evolutionists claim that dinosaurs developed feathers for insulation and later evolved and refined them for flight purposes. But this fails to explain how they evolved—scales are folds in skin; feathers are complex structures with a barb, barbules and hooks. They also originate in a totally different way, from follicles inside the skin in a manner akin to hair. There has been no report yet of a fossil showing scales turning into feathers or a leg turning into a wing.4

Another problem is that selection for heat insulation is quite different from selection for flight. The best insulators are downy feathers, which lack the special hooks which make flight feathers rigid. Therefore, selection would work against the acquisition of hooks, since imperfectly hooked feathers would be less efficient insulators, without the compensation of being good for flying.

The dinosaur bird–to–bird theory has its critics, even among evolutionists. University of North Carolina ornithologist Alan Feduccia 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.2

A big problem with this fossil ‘feathered dinosaur’ is that evolutionists date it 30 million years younger than the famous Archaeopteryx. This is probably the evolutionists' favourite claim of a transitional form, supposedly half-way between a reptile and a bird. But Archaeopteryx was a bird with fully-formed flying feathers and a wishbone.4,5 Obviously the 'feathered dinosaur' cannot be an ancestor if it is younger than its alleged descendants!

Feduccia and his co-workers have recently found another fossil of a sparrow–sized bird called Liaoningornis,6 which also shoots holes in the dinosaur-to-bird theory. This creature had foot bones and a keeled breastbone that resemble those of modern birds. This has been dated by evolutionists at between 137 and 142 million years. If modern–looking birds appear so soon after Archaeopteryx, then Archaeopteryx is unlikely to be their ancestor. Now they are looking for the common ancestor of birds in a lower part of the fossil record. But as always, the links are missing.

References and notes

  1. The Examiner, Launceston, Tasmania, 19 October 1996. Return to text.
  2. Gibbons, A., New Feathered Fossil Brings Dinosaurs and Birds Closer, Science 274(5288):720–721, November 1996 | doi: 10.1126/science.274.5288.720. Return to text.
  3. Monastersky, R., Hints of a Downy Dinosaur in China, Science News 150:260, 1996. Return to text.
  4. Menton, D., Bird evolution flies out the window, Creation 16(4):16–19, 1996; creation.com/bird-evo. Return to text.
  5. Feduccia, A., Evidence from Claw Geometry Indicating Arboreal Habits of Archaeopteryx, Science 259(5096):790–793, February 1993 | doi: 10.1126/science.259.5096.790. Return to text.
  6. Gibbons, A., Early Birds Rise From China Fossil Beds, Science 274(5294):1083, November 1996 | doi: 10.1126/science.274.5290.1083; a perspective on L. Hou, L. D. Martin, Z. Zhou and A. Feduccia, Early Adaptive Radiation of Birds: Evidence from Fossils from Northeastern China, Science 274(5290):1164–1167, November 1996 | doi: 10.1126/science.274.5290.1164. Return to text.

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