“Pterosaurs were beautifully engineered” (Amos, 2005, emp. added). This bold statement comes from University of Portsmouth professor David Martill. His comments were made following the discovery of rare fossil eggs containing pterosaur embryos—a discovery which suggests these creatures could fly soon after birth. The new data suggest that these creatures were far bigger than we had previously suspected. If true, this discovery dwarfs the largest creature ever known to have soared in the skies above the Earth—Quetzalcoatlus (KWET-zal-COAT-lus). The fossil bones of one of these flying reptiles were unearthed in 1972 at Big Bend National Park in Texas. Quetzalcoatlus was believed to have had a wingspan of 48 feet. Reporting on this latest discovery, Paul Hoskins noted that the giant flying-reptiles could have grown to twice the size originally thought, with wingspans of at least 18 meters. He noted: “That would be almost the same width as the 64 foot fully extended wingspan of an F-14 Tomcat” (Hoskins, 2005, emp. added). The new dimensions come from measurements of bone fragments discovered in Israel and Mexico. Martill continued: “Even though they are just fragments they are...big fragments” (2005).
But with the massive size comes significant questions. For instance, how does a creature that large ever get off the ground to “evolve” the ability to fly? And second, why do we not have any “intermediate” creatures that were on their way to becoming so large? The ability to fly so soon after birth would be remarkable for such a large creature. Dr. Martill noted: “Fossils of pterosaur eggs are very rare, but using computer imaging we’ve been able to see that the wing bone elements were all there so theoretically it was ready to fly as soon as it hatched” (see Sadler, 2005). Jonathan Amos remarked: “the wings would have had to grow from just a few tens of centimeters in length to several meters without interrupting the animals flying capability. ‘The equivalent of an aircraft engineer trying to convert a Eurofighter into a jumbo jet while it was still flying,’ enthused Dr. Martill’” (see Amos, 2005).
In describing the amazing “engineering” of such a creature Richard Sadler, staff writer for The Scotsman, observed:
“Their flight membranes could be controlled by adjusting the angle of the forelimbs at the shoulder, the elbow and at the base of the hyper-elongated flight finger,” said Dr. Martill. “In addition it could be controlled by movement of the hind limbs at the hips, the knees and to some degree the ankle. This gave pterosaurs far more flight control than birds of equivalent size.” His analysis of fossils has shown the intricate details of its super-strong but light bone structure. Dr. Martill said they could even be used to help with modern aircraft design. “They took bone to new limits in terms of making it thin yet strong,” he said.“Their skeletons were very lightly constructed and most of their bones were hollow and enclosed an air sac system connected to the lungs. The bone itself was composed of many microscopically thin layers stacked together like a spirally bound plywood tube” (2005, emp. added).
A “bird” the size of an F-14 that is “beautifully engineered” with a complex bone structure composed of “microscopically thin layers stacked together like a spirally bound plywood tube” that could be used to help modern aircraft design? Does this sound like the product of some cosmological explosion? Indeed not!
Engineering indicates there must have been an engineer. It is time students learn about that Engineer. The existence of these massive creatures is unquestionable. However, parents and teachers need to realize that their very existence is a strong testament to an intelligent Designer as well as a young Earth. Notice the following quotation taken from Herodotus, a Greek historian from the fifth century B.C., who wrote:
There is a place in Arabia...to which I went, on hearing of some winged serpents; and when I arrived there, I saw bones and spines of serpents, in such quantities as it would be impossible to describe. The form of the serpent is like that of a water-snake; but he has wings without feathers, and as like as possible to the wings of a bat (1850, pp. 75-76, emp. added).
Herodotus knew of flying reptiles, and recognized that these creatures were neither birds, mammals, nor insects—but reptiles with wings. Notice also what the Jewish historian Josephus wrote 2,000 years ago about Moses and his army having a difficult time passing through a particular region because of the presence of flying serpents.
When the ground was difficult to be passed over, because of the multitude of serpents (which it produces in vast numbers...some of which ascend out of the ground unseen, and also fly in the air, and do come upon men at unawares, and do them a mischief)....
[Moses] made baskets like unto arks, of sedge, and filled them with ibes [i.e., birds], and carried them along with them; which animal is the greatest enemy to serpents imaginable, for they fly from them when they come near them; and as they fly they are caught and devoured by them (n.d., 2:10:2, emp. added).
History records they existed and God’s Word informs us that He created them (Exodus 20:11). Yes, they were beautifully engineered by the Master Engineer. This latest discovery of the massive pterosaur is simply further proof of the existence of Almighty God.
Amos, Jonathan (2005), “Flying Reptiles Just Got Bigger,” BBC News, [On-line], URL: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4223658.stm.
Herodotus (1850 reprint), Historiae, trans. Henry Clay (London: Henry G. Bohn).
Hoskins, Paul (2005), “Fossils Reveal Flying Prehistoric Giants,” MSNBC, [On-line], URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9257778/.
Josephus, Flavius (no date), Antiquities of the Jews (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, reprint).
Sadler, Richard (2005), “Dinosaur Big as a Plane Ruled the Sky,” The Scotsman, [On-line], URL: http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1911852005.