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Discovery Magazine 7/1/2007

Dinosaurs Taking Flight?

Dinosaurs lived on the land. According to the theory of evolution, over millions of years, reptiles like dinosaurs should have changed gradually from land-living lizards into flying birds. Because evolutionary paleontologists are searching constantly for the remains of an animal that could be the “missing link” between reptiles and birds, they have argued that a small, extinct, winged creature called Archaeopteryx (ark-ee-OP-tuh-ricks) was part-reptile and part-bird. An exceptionally well-preserved fossil of Archaeopteryx was found in southern Germany.

Even though the crow-sized Archaeopteryx had feathers, it had some characteristics of dinosaurs: teeth in its beak and claws on its wings. Does the existence of Archaeopteryx prove that reptiles evolved into birds?

Some modern birds have claws on their wings, but no one thinks of them as being missing links. For example, the hoatzin of South America uses its claws to climb trees. Africa’s touraco and the ostrich also have claws. A bird’s claws do not indicate that it is related to reptiles. What about teeth? Do teeth prove an evolutionary link between reptiles and birds? Fossil studies have shown that other “true” birds, now extinct, also had teeth, so there’s no evolutionary connection there.

Think about Archaeopteryx’s very bird-like characteristics. Its feathers were just like the feathers of birds we see today. Archaeopteryx did not have half scales/half feathers. While we are unsure as to how Archaeopteryx used its feathers, we know that the feathers were not in the process of evolving. Finally, remember that archaeologists have found fossils of other birds in rock that scientists date as being older than Archaeopteryx.

This interesting creature was not on its way to becoming a bird—it was a bird. Archaeopteryx was created on the fifth day of Creation, along with all other birds (see Genesis 1:20-23). Similarities between various creatures do not show that they are related by evolution—they are related in that God created them both.

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