Archaeopteryx

Archaeopteryx, which lived some 150 million years ago, is the species animal most often put forward by evolutionists as evidence for evolution. A great many of them suggest that Archaeopteryx is an extinct transitional form, exhibiting both reptile and bird characteristics. However, such modern evolutionist authorities as Alan Feduccia discount this claim as false.

The latest studies on fossils of Archaeopteryx have revealed that this was no transitional form, but a species of bird, with a few features slightly different from those of birds living today.

Herewith, some evolutionist claims regarding Archaeopteryx as a transitional form, and answers to them:

1. The subsequently discovered breastbone: Until recently, Archaeopteryx was portrayed as having no sternum or breastbone, which lack was put forward as most important evidence that it was unable to fly. (The breastbone lies under the rib cage and is where the muscles essential for flight are attached. All modern-day bird, flying or flightless, and even bats, which belongs to a family very different from birds, have breastbones.)

The seventh Archaeopteryx fossil discovered in 1992 proved, however, that this argument was false. That fossil did in fact possess the breastbone which up until then, evolutionists had discounted.[1]

This discovery removed the fundamental basis of the claims that Archaeopteryx was a semi-bird, and flightless.

2. The structure of its feathers: One of the most important pieces of evidence that Archaeopteryx was able to fly is the bird’s feather structure. Its asymmetrical feather structure, identical to that of modern-day birds, shows that it was capable of perfect flight. As stated by the well-known paleontologist Carl O. Dunbar, “because of its feathers [Archæopteryx is] distinctly to be classed as a bird.[2]

The paleontologist Robert Carroll offers this explanation on the subject:

The geometry of the flight feathers of Archæopteryx is identical with that of modern flying birds, whereas nonflying birds have symmetrical feathers. The way in which the feathers are arranged on the wing also falls within the range of modern birds . . . According to Van Tyne and Berger, the relative size and shape of the wing of Archæopteryx are similar to that of birds that move through restricted openings in vegetation, such as gallinaceous birds, doves, woodcocks, woodpeckers, and most passerine birds. . . . The flight feathers have been in stasis for at least 150 million years. . . . [3]

3. The claws on its wings and the teeth in its beak: Evolutionists formerly considered the fact that Archaeopteryx had claws on its wings and teeth in its mouth as one of the major proofs that it was a transitional form. Yet these features do not demonstrate any relationship between this animal and reptiles. Two modern-day species of bird, Touraco corythaix and Opisthocomus hoazin, also have claws that help them to cling onto branches. These animals are fully-fledged birds, with no reptilian features. The argument that Archaeopteryx must be a transitional form because it had claws is therefore invalid.

Neither do the teeth in Archaeopteryx‘s mouth make it a transitional form. Evolutionists are wrong to suggest that these teeth are a reptilian characteristic. Some modern-day reptiles have teeth, but others do not. More importantly, species of toothed birds are not limited to Archaeopteryx. Though they are no longer alive today, when we look at the fossil record-at the same period as Archaeopteryx, afterward, or even at very recent history-we find a separate bird group that we may refer to as toothed birds.

More important is that the tooth structure of Archaeopteryx and other birds is very different from that of dinosaurs, these birds’ so-called ancestors. According to measurements by such well-known ornithologists as L. D. Martin, J. D. Stewart and K. N. Whetstone, Archaeopteryx and other birds’ teeth are flat-topped and broad-rooted. On the other hand, the teeth of the Theropod dinosaurs, claimed to have been the ancestors of birds, are irregularly topped and narrow-rooted.[4]The same researchers also compared the wrist bones of Archaeopteryx and its alleged Theropod ancestors, revealing that there was no similarity between them.[5]

Similarities between this creature and dinosaurs suggested by John Ostrom, one of the most eminent authorities to claim that Archaeopteryx evolved from dinosaurs, were revealed by such anatomists as S. Tarsitano, M. K. Hecht and A. D. Walker to be false interpretations.123

4. Archaeopteryx’s ear structure: A. D. Walker studied the ear structure of Archaeopteryx and stated that it was the same as that in present-day birds.124

5. Archaeopteryx’s wings: J. Richard Hinchcliffe of the University of Wales Biological Sciences Department used modern isotopic techniques in his study of embryos and established that the three dinosaur digits on the forelimbs are I-II-III, whereas bird wing digits are II-III-IV. This is a major difficulty for the proponents of the so-called Archaeopteryx-dinosaur link.[6]Hinchcliffe’s research and observations were carried in the famous magazine Science in 1977:

Doubts about homology between theropod and bird digits remind us of some of the other problems in the “dinosaur-origin” hypothesis. These include the following: (i) The much smaller theropod forelimb (relative to body size) in comparison with the Archaeopteryx wing. Such small limbs are not convincing as proto-wings for a ground-up origin of flight in the relatively heavy dinosaurs. (ii) The rarity in theropods of the semilunate wrist bone, known in only four species (including Deinonychus). Most theropods have relatively large numbers of wrist elements, difficult to homologize with those of Archaeopteryx. (iii) The temporal paradox that most theropod dinosaurs and in particular the birdlike dromaeosaurs are all very much later in the fossil record than Archaeopteryx.[7]6. Incompatible timing: The incompatible timing identified by Hinchcliffe is one of the most lethal blows dealt to evolutionists’ claims regarding Archaeopteryx. In his book Icons of Evolution, published in 2000, the American biologist Jonathan Wells emphasizes how Archaeopteryx was made into an icon for the theory of evolution, even though the evidence showed that it was not a primitive ancestor of birds at all. One of the indications of this, according to Wells, is that the Theropod dinosaurs suggested as the ancestors of Archaeopteryx are actually younger than it:

But two-legged reptiles that ran along the ground, and had other features one might expect in an ancestor of Archaeopteryx, appear later. [8]

This all goes to show that Archaeopteryx is not a transitional form, but merely belongs to a separate classification, which may be described as toothed birds. Building a relationship between this animal and theropods is exceedingly inconsistent. In an article called “Demise of the ‘Birds are Dinosaurs’ Theory,” the American biologist Richard L. Deem had this to say about the idea of the so-called bird-dinosaur evolution and Archaeopteryx:

The results of the recent studies show that the hands of the theropod dinosaurs are derived from digits I, II, and III, whereas the wings of birds, although they look alike in terms of structure, are derived from digits II, III, and IV . . . There are other problems with the “birds are dinosaurs” theory. The theropod forelimb is much smaller (relative to body size) than that of Archaeopteryx. The small “proto-wing” of the theropod is not very convincing, especially considering the rather hefty weight of these dinosaurs. The vast majority of the theropods lack the semilunate wrist bone, and have a large number of other wrist elements which have no homology to the bones of Archaeopteryx. In addition, in almost all theropods, nerve V1 exits the braincase out the side, along with several other nerves, whereas in birds, it exits out the front of the braincase, through its own hole . . . . There is also the minor problem that the vast majority of the theropods appeared after the appearance of Archaeopteryx. [9]

8.Other ancient bird fossils: Some recently discovered fossils reveal other aspects of the invalidity of the evolutionist scenario with regard to Archaeopteryx.

In 1995, two research paleontologists from the Vertebrate Paleontology Institute in China, Lianhai Hou and Zhonghe Zhou, discovered a new bird fossil they named Confuciusornis. This bird, 140 million years old, more or less the same age as the 150- million-year-old Archaeopteryx, had no teeth, and its beak and feathers exhibited the same features as modern birds. On the wings of this bird-with its skeletal structure the same as those of birds of today- were claws like those of Archaeopteryx. The structures known as pygostyles, which support the tail feathers, could also be seen.[10]

In short, this creature, more or less the same age as Archaeopteryx, regarded by evolutionists as the oldest ancestor of all birds and as a semi-reptile, bore a close resemblance to modern-day birds. This conflicts with the evolutionist thesis that Archaeopteryx is the primitive ancestor of all birds.

Another fossil, found in China in November 1996, confused matters even more. The existence of this 130 million-year-old bird, known as Liaoningornis, was announced by L. Hou, L. D. Martin and Alan Feduccia in a paper in Science magazine.

Liaoningornis possessed a breastbone to which the flight muscles cling in modern birds. It was also identical to them in almost all other respects. The only difference was that it had teeth in its mouth. This demonstrated that toothed birds did not possess the primitive structure claimed by evolutionists.[11 ]

Another fossil which tore down evolutionists’ claims concerning Archaeopteryx was Eoalulavis. Some 25 to 30 million years younger than Archaeopteryx, at 120 million years of age, Eoalulavis had the same wing structure as some flying birds today. This proved that creatures identical in many respects to modern birds were flying in the skies 120 million years ago.[12]

In 2002, Ricardo N. Melchor, Silvina de Valais and Jorge F. Genise announced in Nature magazine that they had found footprints belonging to birds which had lived 55 million years before Archaeopteryx:

The known history of birds starts in the Late Jurassic epoch (around 150 Myr ago) with the record of Archaeopteryx. . . . … Here we describe well-preserved and abundant footprints with clearly avian characters from a Late Triassic redbed sequence of Argentina at least 55 Myr before the first known skeletal record of birds.[13]

It was thus definitively demonstrated that Archaeopteryx and other archaic birds did not constitute transitional forms. The fossils did not indicate that different bird species had evolved from one another. On the contrary, they proved that modern birds and certain Archaeopteryx-like species lived together. Some of these birds, such as Confuciusornis and Archaeopteryx, went extinct, and only a limited number came down to the present day.

NOTES

1) Carl O. Dunbar, Historical Geology, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1961, p. 310.
2) Robert L. Carroll, Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. 280-81.
3) L. D. Martin, J. D. Stewart, K. N. Whetstone, The Auk, vol. 98, 1980, p. 86.
122 Ibid.
4)P. Tarsitano, M. K. Hecht, Zoological Journal of the Linnaean Society, Vol. 69, 1985, p. 178; A. D. Walker, Geological Magazine, Vol. 177, 1980, p. 595.
5) Peter Dodson, “International Archæopteryx Conference,” Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, June 1985, Vol. 5, no. 2, p. 177.
6) Richard Hinchliffe, “The Forward March of the Bird-Dinosaurs Halted?,” Science, Vol. 278, No. 5338, 24 October 1997, pp. 596-597.
7) Ibid.
8) Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution, New York: Regnery Publishing, 2000, p. 117.
9) Richard L. Deem, “Demise of the ‘Birds are Dinosaurs’ Theory,” http://www.godandscience.org/evolution/dinobird.html
10) Pat Shipman, “Birds do it . . . Did Dinosaurs?,” New Scientist, 1 February 1997, p. 31.
11) “Old Bird,” Discover, Vol. 18, No. 03, March 1997.
12)Pat Shipman, Op cit., p. 28.
13) R.N. Melchor, P. de Valais, J.F. Genise, “Bird-like fossil footprints from the Late Triassic,” Nature, 2002, Vol. 417, pp. 936-938.
14)David Williamson, “Scientist says ostrich study confirms bird ‘hands’ unlike those of dinosaurs,” http://www.unc.edu/news/archives/
aug02/feduccia082602.htm

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