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Discovery Magazine 7/1/2003

Archaeopteryx–The Bird That was a...Bird

Among the thousands of birds of the world, there are amazing differences. Some birds are very small (like tree sparrows); others are very large (like buzzards). While some birds fly many thousands of miles every year (like Arcticterns), others cannot fly at all (like kiwi birds).

Some birds that God created no longer exist. One of the most unusual birds that is now extinct is called Archaeopteryx(ark-ee-OP-tuh-ricks). Even though Archaeopteryx had feathers, and was about the size of a crow, controversy has surrounded this creature for a long time because it also had some features that were similar to a small dinosaur. Archaeopteryxhad teeth in its beak, and claws on its wings. Because of such characteristics, some evolutionists believe that this animal was a link between reptiles and birds, and supposedly is proof that birds evolved from dinosaurs. Evolutionists tell us that the claws and teeth of Archaeopteryxsuggest that it had been a reptile in the past.

Actually, however, such characteristics of Archaeopteryxdo not prove that it was the missing link between reptiles and birds. Consider the following evidence:

1.   Some modern birds have claws on their wings, but no one thinks of them as being missing links. The hoatzin of South America has claws when it is young, which it uses to climb trees. The touraco of Africa also has claws. And if you have ever seen an ostrich close up, you might have noticed that it has three claws on each wing that it can use if attacked. Obviously, the presence of “claws” says nothing about a creature’s ancestry.

2.   Fossil studies have shown that other true birds, which are now extinct, also had teeth. The presence of teeth, then, does not mean that Archaeopteryxwas a dinosaur-bird link.

3.   This strange bird also had feathers, just like birds today, and the feathers were fully formed. Archaeopteryxdid not have half-scales/half-feathers, but fully formed feathers. It was not in some kind of in-between stage.

4.   It also is known that there were other true birds living at the same time as Archaeopteryx. In fact, scientists have even found fossilized birds in layers of rock that they date as being older than Archaeopteryx. This creature was not on its way to becoming a bird—it wasa bird!

Animals did not evolve slowly from one kindinto another. Instead, God created them during the Creation week (read Genesis 1-2). The Bible clearly shows that birds were birds from the beginning of their existence. They were created on day five of the Creation week. According to the Bible, birds were flying before dinosaurs were formed on the following day (Genesis 1:25).

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