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16th March, 2009

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From T. rex to hummingbird

For the past dozen or so years, a never-ending stream of sensational headlines has kept us abreast of breathtaking discoveries in China of dinosaur fossils bristling with fossil feathers. Ever since Thomas Huxley proposed in 1868 that birds descended from dinosaurs, evolutionists have generally adopted his theory. The discoveries coming out of the "Great Chinese Feather Factory" have been jumped on as vindication of this theory, with one famed proponent of the hypothesis, Luis Chiappe, going so far as to say,

There is no longer reasonable scientific doubt that birds evolved from small theropod (carnivorous) dinosaurs sometime during or shortly before the Middle to Late Jurassic, over 150 million years ago.1

Now I for one would be delighted to see all doubts as to the reality of bird-like dinosaurs (or dinosaur-like birds) demolished, and the existence of such a family established with utter certainty. I mean, wow! Who would ever have imagined that even the Grand Designer could come up with a group of creature that shares features with both zipping hummingbirds and savage, flesh-ripping T. rexes? It appears that He may have done just that. If you haven't seen it, you need to beg, borrow or. well. no, not steal, a copy of Feathered Dinosaurs: the Origin of Birds written by John Long and brilliantly illustrated by reconstruction artist, Peter Schouten. If even half accurate, the illustrations demonstrate the infinite inventive genius of God's mind. The only way anybody could possibly embrace the notion that sparrows shared their nativity nest with flesh-ripping dinosaurs is if they are already fully convinced of the truth of evolution. By contrast, dinosaur-birds in no way embarrass creationists any more than egg-laying platypuses or fish with lungs do. In them we see yet more evidence of the raw cerebral power of the Lord God who made them all!

But does the evidence from China actually support the notion that birds really did evolve from dinosaurs? If you already "know" evolution is true, then it probably does. Fact is, if you look at the evidence dispassionately, all you can properly conclude is that way back in time these bizarre creatures actually existed. In fact, if you take the evidence as it stands, you would be more justified in believing that carnivorous dinosaurs evolved from birds! Read on.

Over the decades no question of evolutionary relationships has preoccupied evolutionists more than the highly contentious question of the origin of birds. You can see for yourself just how all-consuming this issue has been by doing a Google Scholar search on the exact phrase "origin and evolution of" followed by various referents. "Birds" tops the list with 606 results, followed by "man" coming in at a mere 225 results. See the list below for other results.

Proponents of the dinosaur-to-bird scheme note that birds and "advanced theropod dinosaurs" share about 100 anatomical similarities. Leaving aside feathers, chief among these similarities are "hollow bones, furculae ('wishbones'), and avian patterns of eggshell ultrastructure". 2

But numerous shared features can be found between almost any two groups of living things! Dinosaur-to-bird advocates don't want us to know that alternative scholarly views of the origin and relationships of birds even exist, let alone that they have good evidential support. In 1984, Philippe Janvier published an article supporting the generally discredited view that birds are a sister group to mammals; the two groups share, among other things, "endothermy, fully divided

heart, respiratory turbinates, and… nerve and vascular characters". (See pic at top of page for Janvier's conception of the common ancestor of the two groups.)

Dinos-to-birds proponents don't want us to know that other researchers have cast serious doubt on the supposed relationship between carnivorous dinosaurs and birds. For example, they take no notice of the studies of Johann Welman, who undertook a detailed comparative study of the braincases of various potential relatives of birds, and concluded that ". the braincase structures of the dinosaurs. are too specialized for these groups to be the sister group of birds". 3

Alan Feduccia and Theagarten Lingham-Soliar, though evolutionists, have long rejected the orthodox view. They have vigorously argued that the primitive feathers supposedly found on the oldest bird--dinosaurs are not really feathers at all. Rather than consisting of keratin - the stuff of feathers - they are composed of collagen fibers, a common component in the skin of many kinds of animals, which, in dinosaurs, "function[ed] to stiffen the tissue at high strain and, importantly, provide toughness against injury, which would be particularly useful in less heavily armored dinosaurs". 4

Above all else, most evolutionists don't want us to know about the problems posed by the "temporal paradox". Birds, they say, evolved from a common ancestor shared with the feathered dinosaurs found in China. Problem is, the oldest real bird, the famous Archaeopteryx, lived around 135 million years ago. The earliest "proto-feathered" dinosaurs go back to only about 120 million years ago. As far as the fossil record is concerned, the descendants (Archaeopteryx and co) are older than their ancestors! Not possible. Evolutionists glibly respond that feathered dinosaurs must have existed before Archaeopteryx, it's just that we haven't found them yet. If intellectual honesty was prized, they would acknowledge that current stratigraphic evidence shows that feathered dinosaurs evolved from birds!

Consider also this. Dinosaurs are classified into two major groups, the saurischians (meaning "lizard-hipped" forms) and ornithischians ("bird-hipped" forms). Ornithischians are called bird-hipped for an obvious reason - their pelvic girdles are anatomically similar to those of birds. Guess what. We are meant to believe that birds evolved, not from dinosaurs with bird-like hips, but from the lizard-hipped brand! Interrogate a dinosaur-to-birder and he will tell you that bird-hipped dinosaurs and birds "arrived at their hip structure condition independently". Evolutionists call on the myth of "convergent evolution" all the time to "explain" how supposedly unrelated creatures evolved virtually identical structures. But they follow no methodology in deciding when similar structures are derived from a common ancestor and when they arose independently. For crying out loud. Why not just say that feathered dinosaurs and birds evolved feathers and eggs and wishbones independently??!! (The bird-hipped dinosaurs, which are not meant to be related to birds, laid eggs, too. Guess that's another case of convergent evolution.)

So what is the bottom line? Just this: "The major problems related to the origin of birds are still unresolved. " . 5

Why not face the facts, abandon evolution theory, and give credit to whom credit is due.

1 Padian, K, and Chiappe, L. M. 1998, The origin and early evolution of birds, Biological Reviews, 73, pp. 1-42, p. 2

2 Norell, M. A. and Xu, X. 2005, Feathered Dinosaurs, Annual Reviews in Earth and Planetary Science, 33:277-99

3 Welman, J. 1995, Euparkeria and the origin of birds, South African Journal of Science, Vol. 91, Issue 10

4 Lingham-Soliar, T., Feduccia, A. and Wang, X. 2007, A new Chinese specimen indicates that 'protofeathers' in the Early Cretaceous theropod dinosaur Sinosauropteryx are degraded collagen fibres, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 274, 1823-1829

5 Feduccia, Alan, et. al. 2007, Archaeopteryx 2007: Quo Vadis?, The Auk, 124(2):373-380

Results from a Google Scholar search on "origin and evolution of":

Molluscs 0

Trees 0

Frogs 0

Reptiles 0

Lizards 1

Fish 2

Fungi 2

Mosses 2

Amphibians 3

Flowers 4

Insects 9

Snakes 13

Angiosperms (flowering plants) 38

Mammals 53

Dinosaurs 139

DNA 165

Man 225

Birds 606

Faith and reason articles

For further comments on convergent evolution, see "What went on in the Gogo long, long ago?"


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