It’s for the Birds

Jurassic tales are haunting the headlines again, but this time it has nothing to do with Jurassic Park. This time it's about a fossil bird called Archaeopteryx that supposedly lived during the Jurassic period. Archaeopteryx is typically portrayed as an evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds. But new scientific findings suggest it was nothing of the sort. The standard theory is that a species of small dinosaur developed frayed scales, which eventually evolved into feathers. The result was Archaeopteryx, a feathered reptile that clambered up trees and learned to glide-a link in the evolution of birds. But according to a recent issue of Science magazine, the standard story has it backward. Alan Feduccia, an ornithologist (a specialist on birds), writes that birds can be compared by the shape of their claws. Ground-dwelling birds have straighter claws while perching birds have curved claws. Feduccia compared Archaeopteryx to modern birds and found that its claws match exactly the curved claws of perching birds. In other words, Archaeopteryx was not a half reptile that usually staggered around on the ground. It was a full-fledged bird that perched high in the trees. This new finding is just the latest in a series of challenges to evolutionary dogma about Archaeopteryx. Evolutionists used to say the bird couldn't fly. But then scientists examined imprints of Archaeopteryx feathers and found that they had the same aerodynamic shape used by living birds to achieve lift. In fact, the ancient bird was an excellent flyer. Evolutionists once said Archaeopteryx must be part reptile because it had teeth in its beak and claws on its wings. But then scientists discovered that several fossil birds had teeth. They also found modern birds with claws on their wings, like the hoatzin in South America. Obviously there are more types of birds than were dreamed of in evolutionary theory. Evolutionists once said Archaeopteryx lived too early to be a bird. But then scientists discovered fossils of true birds that lived even earlier, which means that Archaeopteryx could not be an evolutionary link after all. When all the facts are in, Archaeopteryx doesn't look like the much sought-after transitional form after all. But unfortunately, you won't find all the facts in most science textbooks or museum displays. There Archaeopteryx is still proudly displayed as the showcase example of evolution. But the truth is that it is a showcase of scientific bias. The first Archaeopteryx fossil was discovered only two years after Charles Darwin published his book The Origin of Species-when his followers were frantically searching for evidence to support the theory and discredit divine creation. The fossil bird was pounced on as just the evidence they needed. But today the facts have shot it down. And the story of Archaeopteryx has become a story of scientists who latched on to something before it was really proved-just because it fit their preconceived ideas. Why don't you get a good book on the subject-like Francis Hitching's book The Neck of the Giraffe-and be ready to give your children all the facts about Archaeopteryx. This is one theory that just doesn't fly.


Chuck Colson


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