It’s a Bird! It’s a Dinosaur! It’s …Archaeopteryx!

One of the most unusual birds of the past is known as Archaeopteryx (ark-ee-OP-ta-riks). Even though Archaeopteryx [meaning “ancient” (Greek archae) “wing” (pteryx)]had feathers, and was about the size of a pigeon, controversy has surrounded this creature for a long time because it also had some features that are similar to a small dinosaur—it had teeth in its beak and claws on its wings. Because of such characteristics, you are likely to find a replica of this fossilized creature in the dinosaur section of many museums of natural history. A number of evolutionists believe that this animal either was a link between reptiles and birds, or was the “first true bird,” and is allegedly proof that birds evolved from reptiles. In their widely used high school biology text, Life: An Introduction to Biology, evolutionists Simpson, Pittendrigh, and Tiffany declared: “Perhaps the most famous intermediate is that between reptiles and birds…Archaeopteryx” (1957, p. 31). Later, in the same book, they stated: “The oldest known fossil birds (Archaeopteryx, “ancient wing’) were still almost reptilian except in one respect: they had feathered wings” (p. 591). Evolutionists maintain that the claws and teeth of Archaeopteryx suggest that it had been a reptile in the past.

Actually, however, such characteristics of Archaeopteryx do not prove that it was the missing link between reptiles and birds. Consider that some modern birds have claws on their wings, and yet no one thinks of them as being missing links. The African bird known as touraco has claws on its wings, as does the hoatzin of South America when it is young. Both of these birds use their fully functional claws to grasp branches and climb trees. If you have ever seen an ostrich close up, you might have noticed that it, too, has claws on each wing and can use them if attacked. Obviously, simply because a bird in the fossil record is discovered with claws on its wings does not mean that it is a transitional fossil.

In 1993, Science News reported that an odd fossil bird had been unearthed in Mongolia. It supposedly is millions of years younger than Archaeopteryx and, interestingly, had teeth in its beak (Monasterky, 1993, 143:245). As with the claws on the wings of Archaeopteryx, evolutionists cannot prove that the presence of teeth make the animal something more than a bird. What’s more, consider that while most reptiles have teeth, turtles do not. And, some fish and amphibians have teeth, while other fish and amphibians have no teeth. How can evolutionists be so sure that Archaeopteryx’s teeth make it a dinosaur-bird link? Such an assertion is based only on unprovable assumptions.

Archaeopteryx also had fully formed feathers, just like living birds. Fossils of Archaeopteryx leave no hint of the animal being a half-scaly/half-feathered creature. It was not in some kind of in-between stage. Furthermore, “[e]xperts don’t know what Archaeopteryx’s closest [alleged—EL] dinosaur ancestor looked like—fossils haven’t yet been found” (“Fossil Evidence,” 2007), i.e., evolutionists have been entirely unsuccessful in finding the real alleged missing link between dinosaurs and birds.

Finally, what makes the suggestion that Archaeopteryx was the missing link between reptiles and birds (or that it was the “first true bird”) even more unbelievable is that “[a]nother bird fossil found in the desert of west Texas in 1983, Protoavis, is dated even earlier, 75 million years before Archaeopteryx” (DeYoung, 2000, p. 37, emp. added). Although some paleontologists have questions about the fossil remains of Protoavis (birds, after all, were not supposed to be around with the “earliest dinosaurs”), Dr. Chatterjee of Texas Tech University “has pointed out, the skull of Protoavis has 23 features that are fundamentally bird-like, as are the forelimbs, the shoulders, and the hip girdle” (Harrub and Thompson, 2001). In 1991, Science magazine ran a story titled “Early Bird Threatens Archaeopteryx’s Perch,” wherein Alan Anderson wrote: “His [Chaterjee’s—EL] reconstruction also shows a flexible neck, large brain, binocular vision, and, crucially, portals running from the rear of the skull to the eye socket—a feature seen in modern birds but not dinosaurs” (253:35).

The fact is, the fossil record does not, in any way, demonstrate that dinosaurs evolved into birds. According to Scripture, God created flying animals and land animals separately in the Creation week (Genesis 1-2). The Bible indicates that birds were birds from the beginning of their existence; they were created by God on day five of the creation week. According to Genesis 1, birds were flying even before dinosaurs were formed on the following day (vs. 25). [NOTE: For more information on Archaeopteryx and the alleged evolution of dinosaurs to birds, see Harrub and Thompson, 2001.]


Anderson, Alan (1991), “Early Bird Threatens Archaeopteryx’s Perch,” Science, 253:35, July 5.

DeYoung, Don (2000), Dinosaurs and Creation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House).

“Fossil Evidence” (2007), NOVA, [On-line], URL:

Harrub, Brad and Bert Thompson (2001), “Archaeopteryx, Archaeoraptor, and the ‘Dinosaurs-to Birds’ Theory [Part 1],” [On-line], URL:

Monastersky, Richard (1993), “A Clawed Wonder Unearthed in Mongolia,” Science News, 143:245, April 17.

Simpson, George Gaylord, C.S. Pittendrigh and L.H. Tiffany (1957), Life: An Introduction to Biology (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company).


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