Rerun Article: Did Dinosaurs REALLY Evolve Into Birds?
I hope everyone had a terrific Harvest Day! As you might recall, last year I took part in the Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge, which requires me to write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. I am doing this challenge again this year, so I will be posting quite a few rerun articles this month. Don't worry though, I'll pick articles from a little ways back.
Anyway, Thanksgiving will soon be upon us? Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions? If so, leave them in a comment below.
It is: 16 days till The Good Dinosaur's theatrical release
It is: 17 days till Thanksgiving
It is: 45 days till Christmas
In the Spotlight:
Again, nothing of note to share this week.
Topic of the Week by Christian Ryan
Did dinosaurs really evolve into birds? What does the fossil record actually reveal?
Every Thanksgiving, people all over the United States cook and serve the American turkey. Despite not being part of the first Thanksgiving, the turkey is a symbol for this holiday. But for many Americans, they aren't merely eating a bird they're actually eating a dinosaur! Evolutionists believe that all birds, including the turkey, descended from small, feathered theropod dinosaurs; to be more accurate, they actually believe that birds are dinosaurs. Such a claim, if true, would be a major problem for creationists. How should a creationist respond to such this idea? What's the truth behind this belief?
Is this delicious Thanksgiving entree the descendant of dinosaurs?
The idea that reptiles evolved into birds isn't new. Not long after renowned naturalist Charles Darwin published his book in 1859 called On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life . . . it's easy to see why most people just call it The Origin of Species. In 1860, a feather was discovered fossilized in Germany and the species of which the feather belonged to was called Archaeopteryx. In 1863, Sir Richard Owen (the inventor of the name “dinosaur” and a creationist) described an entire skeleton of the creature; the fossils revealed a relatively small creature, with feathered and clawed wings, teeth and a long bony tail. In 1869, biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, often considered “Darwin's Bulldog” declared the animal as the missing link between reptiles specifically dinosaurs and birds. Ever since, most evolutionary scientists cling to the idea that theropod dinosaurs evolved into birds.
The similarities between dinosaurs like Compsognathus and birds led Huxley to believe that dinosaurs evolved into birds.
Before we go any farther, we must understand both perspectives of the origin of birds: the creation perspective and the evolutionary perspective. Let's look at them both now. Most evolutionists believe that sometime between the early to late Jurassic Period, about 201-145 million years ago, the scales of small theropod dinosaurs began evolving into fur-like proto-feathers for warmth. After millions of years of evolution, these proto-feathers evolved to be firmer and longer; dinosaurs began using their longer feathers for display purposes, perhaps to attract mates. Evolutionists are unsure as to how the power of flight came about. Some evolutionists believe these feathered dinosaurs were tree-climbers and began using their feathered limbs to glide through the trees; others believe they developed the power of flight from the ground up, using their proto-wings to increase their leaps into the air, perhaps after prey. Either way, these dinosaurs eventually were able to get airborne and were now technically birds.
An early conception of "proto-birds" from 1916.
What does the Bible say about the evolution of birds? Well, it says God created all the flying creatures on the Fifth day of the Creation week, 6,000 years ago, the day before He created dinosaurs.
“And God created...every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good...And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.” Genesis 1:21-23.
This is a major contradiction to the evolution story, which states that dinosaurs came about before birds. Meanwhile the Bible states that land animals dinosaurs included came after birds! And instead of evolving through the processes of natural selection and mutation like evolution teaches, birds appeared on earth fully-formed and ready for action.
Evolutionists commonly point to Archaeopteryx as being a transitional form between dinosaurs and birds.
Many evolutionists (specifically atheists) believe that there is too much evidence for evolution for creation to be true. I find it rather interesting how many evolutionists refuse to even consider creation an option; in fact, many will go as far as to say that creationists don't know science. I was browsing the internet and came across an article entitled Feathered Dinosaurs Drive Creationists Crazy by Brian Switek. “Oh, really?” I thought upon seeing this article; I was rather unimpressed by this evolutionist's attempt to denounce creationists. Curious, I read the article, expecting to find much criticism aimed at creationists. Much of the article was devoted to how our view of dinosaurs has changed over the years, but perhaps a quarter into the material, he talked about creationists and the “overwhelming evidence” that dinosaurs evolved into birds, in addition to his other criticisms about dinosaurs living with humans and dinosaurs living 6,000 years ago etc. He also spent a great deal of time talking about Answers in Genesis CEO Ken Ham and the Creation Museum. Here's an excerpt below:
“...dinosaurs with feathers are not welcome at Ham's amusement park [speaking of the Creation Museum]. Even though paleontologists have uncovered numerous dinosaurs with everything from bristles and fuzz to full-flight featherswhich document the evolution of plumage from fluff to aerodynamic structures that allowed dinosaurs to take to the aircreationists deny the clear fossil record.”
He had much more to say of course, some of which I'll get to in a minute. I must say that while reading the article, I was troubled how many misconceptions Switek has about creationism. What really ticks me off is when evolutionists try to make a case for themselves without actually doing the research. I find Switek's ignorance of what we creationists believe appalling. If only he continued to research and find answers to why creationists don't believe dinosaurs evolved into birds, then perhaps he would not have been so bold in his statements. Like any other fossils in the fossil record, even though the observable evidence dinosaur and bird fossils can point to or suggest a certain conclusion, they do not speak for themselves and are left to the interpretation of the individual based upon observable evidence. Evolutionists like to claim that creationists start from a presupposition and use that to base their opinions on, while they base their opinions on scientific facts. Now, it is true that we have presumptions, but so do evolutionists! They fail to realize is that they do the exact same thing. In this article, I plan to talk about the evidence for and against the dino-to-bird hypothesis and see what the evidence best suggests.
So what is the “evidence” for this belief in dinosaurs evolving into birds? Switek claims there is a “mountain of evidence that birds are living dinosaurs” and that we creationists deny the clear fossil record. Let's at the so-called evidence now and see whether we're the ones rejecting the clear fossil record. Before we go on though, let me explain that evolutionists do not believe all dinosaurs evolved into birds; they believe the ancestors of birds are maniraptorans, small theropod (meat-eating) dinosaurs. Some of these dinosaurs include Deinonychus, Troodon and the famous Velociraptor.
Dromaeosaurs, such as this Velociraptor, are commonly seen as relatives of modern birds.
Bird-hipped and Lizard-hipped Dinosaurs
Evolutionists are quick to mention that maniraptorans are very similar to modern birds anatomically. This is true. In fact there are over 100 skeletal features that dinosaurs share with birds; some dinosaurs such as Velociraptor even had a wishbone. But what is often not mentioned are the often quite significant differences between the two. Within the order Dinosauria there are two subcategories in which dinosaurs are divided, saurischians (lizard-hipped dinosaurs) and ornithiscians (bird-hipped dinosaurs). The dinosaurs in these two categories are divided based upon their hip shape. The difference between the two hip shapes is the pubis bone; the pubis bone in birds and bird-hipped dinosaurs points toward the rear instead of to the front as in lizard-hipped dinosaurs, modern reptiles and mammals.
Saurischian or lizard-like hip structure.
Ornithischian or bird-like hip structure.
Problem with dino-to-bird evolution? All the dinosaurs that evolutionists believe are related to birds (e.g. Velociraptor, Troodon, Sinornithosaurus) are lizard-hipped! Dinosaurs that are bird-hipped include Stegosaurus, Triceratops and Parasaurolophus. These dinosaurs bear very few bird-like features and are not believed to have evolved into birds. Yet the few times this is ever mentioned in secular literature, documentaries and etc. this problem is never presented any emphasis. And why would they?
The lumbering 4-ton Stegosaurus is a bird-hipped dinosaur, meaning it must have evolved into birds! Right? Of course not!
The hand bones of Dienonychus (left) and Archaeopteryx (right) are quite similar.
Evolutionists absolutely love to talk about how both theropods and birds have three-fingered hand bones. Evidence of a dino-bird relationship? Hardly. As birds supposedly evolved from theropods, you'd expect that the digits represented in the hand bones would be the same in both dinosaurs and birds. However, dinosaurs have the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd digits (the first being the thumb); birds have the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th digits in their hand. What happened?
Avian vs. Reptilian Lungs
The dinosaur Sinosauropteryx was so well preserved, that the reptilian-like lungs have also been fossilized.
If theropods are the ancestors of birds, you should find avian-like lungs in theropods. Of course, as most dinosaur remains are fossil bones, we can't know too much about their lungs and respiratory system. However, paleontologists have discovered the fossilized remains of a Sinosauropteryx, a small bird-like theropod from China, related to Compsognathus. This Sinosauropteryx specimen retains the outline of the visceral cavity, and it is very well preserved. Much to the dismay of evolutionists, they reveal that the lung is very much like that of a crocodile.
In Switek's article, he mentions how the Creation Museum didn't display feathered dinosaurs, nor does Answers in Genesis portray dinosaurs with feathers in books and DVD's. And he's right. But what if there's actually a scientifically good reason for this? Of course, failing to do his research to see why creationists don't portray feathered dinosaurs, he just scoffs and claims that “they take pride in promoting out-of-date, monstrous dinosaurs that more easily fit their contention that these animals were created separately from all other forms of life.” I'm very sorry Switek, but maybe you are the one who's trying to go against the fossil evidence. Like just about every other evolutionist out there, he claims that creationists just believe in non-feathered dinosaurs because we believe they didn't evolve into birds and then points to so-called “feathered” dinosaurs; no further explanation is given. He would have only had to read a few articles on the Answers in Genesis website to find their true opinion, which I will get to in a minute.
Is there actually evidence to support the belief that dinosaurs, like this Troodon, had feathers?
There are two types of “feathered dinosaurs” you'll hear about: dinosaurs with bird-like flight feathers and dinosaurs with proto-feathers. First let's look at the dinosaurs with “proto-feathers”. In 1996, evolutionists thought they found the amazing proof for their theory upon the discovery of Sinosauropteryx. This small carnivorous dinosaur is associated with the outline of what many believe to be fur-like proto-feathers. But upon looking at the “proto-feathers” closely, you can see that they really aren't that feather-like. They are much more similar to hair in appearence. In fact, it seems to some creationists that seems that these features are actually connective tissue fibers (collagen); this is found in the deeper dermal layers of the skin. These features have been found not only on other dinosaurs, but also ichthyosaurs, dolphin-like marine reptiles! Yet no one suggests these creatures were feathered. Another thing about the "fluffy-looking" structures that creation scientists have noticed is that many of these structures appear almost fur-like. Perhaps some of these dinosaurs were covered in something similar to pcynofibers, fur-like structures found on pterosaurs that are very similar to mammalian hair.
Dinosaurs like Sinosauropteryx might have been covered in a type of "fur".
In this article, Switek mentions this fossil discovery:
“Put feathers on a Velociraptorwe know it had feathers thanks to quill knobs preserved along its arm bonesand you get something disturbingly birdlike, revealing the dinosaur's kinship to the ancestors of Archaeopteryx and other early birds.”
In 2007, scientists published the find of a fossil arm bone of a Velociraptor. Along the forearm are six bumps that they claimed were very similar to those found on the bones of some modern birds. In modern birds the bumps are the quill knobs where feathers were once supposedly rooted. Is this proof of a feathered dinosaur? Perhaps, but sources that talk about this find give no details as to why the quill knobs don't extend further along this bone or if there were other fossils were also examined or how complete the find was. Who's to say this is even the arm bone of a Velociraptor? There are many uncertainties with this fossil. Keep in mind that I'm not doubting the validity of the scientists who studied the fossil, but we should also remember that we should be cautious about such claims based on scant evidence and the claims made by scientists with evolutionary presuppositions.
No feathers seem to have been present on Velociraptor, but pcynofiber-like fuzz is still a possibility.
What about “dinosaurs” that actually have fully-functional actual feathers? Archaeopteryx and Microraptor are two such creatures. Both of these animals bear toothy snouts, clawed and feathery wings and bony tails. They also both have a pair of enlarged retractable toe claws like those of raptor dinosaurs, such as Deinonychus and Velociraptor. Surely this is proof that these animals are the missing links between dinosaurs and birds.
Microraptor is a very unique creature with four fully-functional feathered wings.
First of all the feathers on the bodies of Archaeopteryx and Microraptor are actual feathers and not collagen fibers or fur-like structures. They also have the same digits configuration of modern birds (like modern birds they bear the 2nd, 3rd and 4th digits). Undoubtedly, these animals are birds. The fact that they have reptilian features does not make them half reptile/half bird. In fact, there are several actual birds that have reptilian features: ostriches and baby hoatzins also have clawed wings, and no one questions that these animals are birds; the extinct bird Hesperornis possesses teeth in its beak; and the seriema of today even has an enlarged second toe claw, similar to the ones seen in raptors. If you don't need a missing link between dinosaurs and birds (which creationists don't) then there's no need to call Microraptor and Archaeopteryx anything other than 100% birds.
The seriema is a medium-sized bird living today with an enlarged toe claw, similar to the ones found on dromaeosaurs.
If you look in dinosaur books, you've likely seen diagrams similar to the one below:
This is a typical chart showing the evolution of dinosaurs to birds.
This picture suggests that the fossil record wonderfully displays the evolution from dinosaurs to birds; with more dinosaur-like creatures in lower geologic rock layers and more bird-like creatures in higher layers, slowly evolving more complex feathers. Isn't it strange that we creationists reject the plain evidence in the fossil record as Switek states we do?
Unfortunately, this isn't what the fossil record represents at all! Despite this being portrayed in just about every secular dinosaur book, the “clear fossil record” (as Switek puts it) tells a different story. Archaeopteryx, the famed transitional between dinosaurs and birds is believed to have existed 150-148 million years ago, during the Late Jurassic Period. The problem? Most bird-like dinosaurs that are commonly said to be closely related to birds, according to this worldview, lived before Archaeopteryx! Sinosauropteryx, a dinosaur with “proto-feathers” is claimed to have lived 124-122 million years ago! In fact, most dinosaurs with so-called “proto-feathers” are found above rock layers with more bird-like animals! The only dinosaur with "proto-feathers" that evolutionists have that didn't live after Archaeopteryx is Juravenator. But according to evolutionists, Juravenator lived at the same time as Archaeopteryx! In addition to this, we find birds very similar to the ones we see today living with "dino-birds". A Microraptor skeleton described in 2011 was discovered with tree-perching bird fossils (more bird-like than Microraptor) inside of its abdomen! This animal didn't only live with modern-like birds it ate them! Even Velociraptor, a very bird-like dinosaur, is usually dated to live about 80 million years ago, long after birds has supposedly been flying through the skies for millions of years. These creatures were hardly ancestors to the birds. I for think the fossil record clearly demonstrates that dinosaurs evolved into birds, don't you? (That was sarcastic by the way).
Of course, I am not at all saying we should find all the transitional forms between dinosaurs and birds if this transition really did occur, but we should find a few. Evolution on this scale would take tens of millions of years and millions of generations between dinosaurs and birds. Where are these fossils? Surely some should have popped up if the "clear fossil record" suggests dinosaurs evolved into birds.
And to make matters even worse for evolutionists, extinct birds such as Anchiornis, Xiaotingia, Aurornis and potentially Protoavis are buried in sediment “older” than Archaeopteryx!
So, Switek, you believe the "clear fossil record" portrays dinosaurs evolving into birds? Hm...
Earlier, I mentioned how Switek claimed creationists don't like feathered dinosaurs. What if a feathered dinosaur with actual feathers were discovered? Would this prove that dinosaurs evolved into birds and that the Bible is untrue? Nope! In fact, nothing in the Bible goes against the idea that dinosaurs might have had feathers. Not only that, but I happen to like the look of feathered dinosaurs; I am not against the notion of feathered dinosaurs in the slightest, just the idea that they evolved into birds. Finding a feathered dinosaur would be no different than finding a mammal that lays eggs. which we actually have! The duck-billed platypus and porcupine-like echidna are monotreme mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young like all other mammals. Yet they aren't half mammals/half reptiles; they're mammals that lay eggs. We creationists aren't against the idea of feathered dinosaurs at all, it's just that so far, the evidence for feathered dinosaurs is missing in action.
Like Microraptor, the platypus bears characteristics of many different creatures, including the ability to lay eggs, a duck-like bill, a beaver-like tail and webbed feet, a mammal's fur, the ability to use a form of sonar and even a venomous spur. Yet it is not some evolutionary missing link, but a mosaic.
In order to prove that dinosaurs evolved into birds, one would need to find evidence of a transition between the two in the fossil record (like reptile scales evolving into feathers) and the fossil record would need to show dinosaurs and birds evolving in the right order. This is not what we find!
Why haven't evolutionists who love to talk badly about creationists bring up the points I made in this article? An even better question is why would they do such a thing? Never in Switek's article does he even mention these problems with the dino-bird theory (or solutions to them)! Like many other evolutionists out there, he decided to pick on the claim made by creationists rather than the evidence that backs up the claim in order to make creationists sound like unprofessional idiots. What he wrote in this article shows just how utterly and willingly ignorant he is of creationism and what we believe to be true (and more importantly why we believe it to be true).
As I hope to have made clear throughout this article, if one looks at the fossil record from an evolutionary perspective, we don't really learn about the origin of birds. It's really sad how little research Switek did on the truth about creationism, Answers in Genesis, dinosaurs, birds and the fossil record as a whole. I doubt hearing the truth would have actually change his mind, but at least he would have been more informed. Until he decides to learn what creationists actually have to say and only talking about evidence from his own side of the argument, he should avoid talking about creationism altogether. (Unlike him, I used information from both sides).
I do however hope that this article has enlightened you, my readers, and helped you understand that the fossil record doesn't support the belief that birds and dinosaurs didn't share the same lineage, but that they do share the same wonderful Creator God.
You can relax, dinosaur lovers! The turkey you'll have for Thanksgiving this year isn't the descendant of this Velociraptor!