Have no fear – Archaeopteryx is here!
When Charles Darwin first published On the Origin of Species in 1859, he was certain that the fossil record would eventually substantiate his theory. After all, if Darwin was correct, there should be a continuum of organisms beginning with the simplest life form and eventually progressing into every other type of creature. One by one, certain fossils were discovered and proclaimed by those who supported Darwin’s theory to be “missing links.” The reason that this term became famous had to do with the fact that many discoveries were presented as evidence that humans and apes were related to one another. Evolutionists claimed that both groups had evolved from some (as yet unknown) common ancestor. In support of Darwin’s theory, evolutionists began to categorize organisms into groups based on certain similarities. Because Darwin and his disciples presumed an evolutionary relationship existed, they grouped all apes and humans into one category, e.g. hominids.
Because evolutionary scientists use cladistics, a method of classification of animals and plants according to the proportion of measurable characteristics that they have in common, they use these commonalities to support evolutionary relationships, i.e. phylogenetic trees, cladograms, etc. While creationists and Intelligent Design theorists see these similarities as evidence of a common designer, i.e. unicycles, bicycles, tricycles, cars, tractor-trailers all have wheels in common, but they are a feature of common design for a common purpose (New World Enc., 2012; Discovery Institute, 2012).
A case in point is the category of Hominids. Hominids are defined as any of various primates of the family Hominidae, whose only living members are modern humans. Hominids are characterized by an upright gait, increased brain size and intelligence compared with other primates, a flattened face, and reduction in the size of the teeth and jaw. Besides the modern species Homo sapiens, hominids also include extinct species of Homo (such as H. erectus) and the extinct genus Australopithecus. In some classifications, the family Hominidae also includes the anthropoid apes (Collins English Dictionary, 2003).
Now we can better understand why one of the 20th century’s leading evolutionary biologists, Ernst Mayr (1904-2005), believed the fossil record could never be trusted to produce evidence in favor of Darwinian evolution. Hence, the aforementioned description by Mayr (2002):
“Often the fossil-bearing strata were on plates that were subsequently subducted and destroyed in the process of plate tectonics. Others were strongly folded, compressed, and meta-morphosed, obliterating the fossils. Only a fraction of the fossil-bearing strata is presently exposed at the Earth's surface.”
When we read Mayr’s description concerning the improbabilities of getting accurately preserved fossils, his comments concerning Archaeopteryx seems to be somewhat contradictory. Mayr uses Archaeopteryx as his poster boy for the reptile-to-bird transitional fossil in support of Darwinian evolution. He characterizes this fossil as “The almost perfect link between reptiles and birds has been quietly shelved, and the search for missing links continue as though Archaeopteryx has never been found,” (Wells, 2000).
Creationist and physician, Dr. Carl Werner, has effectively dismantled the evolutionist’s case for Archaeopteryx. While these fossils have long been presented as the transitional missing link between reptiles and birds, their feathers, wings, and the ability to fly indicate that Archaeopteryx is nothing more than an extinct bird. Dr. Werner (2007) notes that the features used to identify Archaeopteryx as a transition between reptiles and birds, i.e. the feathers, teeth, wings with claws as well as a long dinosaur like tail and skeleton, are present in extant birds. Claws on wings are seen on modern bats and the teeth of Archaeopteryx are in fact smooth and not dinosaur like at all.
Not all evolutionists agree that Archaeopteryx is a transitional fossil. Michael Denton (1985), in his groundbreaking critique of the ToE, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, notes with regard to the place Archaeopteryx has in evolutionary history:
Despite the generally discontinuous character of the fossil record, there are some exception cases where a species does appear to be intermediate with respect to other groups. The classic case of this is, of course, Archaeopteryx, a picture of which is shown in Figure 8.2. This primitive bird did indeed possess certain skeletal reptilian features – teeth, a long tail, claws on its wings. However, in one respect, flight, the most characteristic feature of birds, Archaeopteryx, was already truly bird. On its wing, there are flight feathers as fully developed as any modern bird, and recent research reported in 1979 suggests that it was as capable of powered flight as a modern bird.
The old adage “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, etc., comes to mind. Still, evolutionists remain faithful to the party line. Failure to pledge allegiance to the god of naturalism can be very risky indeed. Just ask Richard Sternberg, evolutionary biologist and, in 2004, the acting editor of The Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. Evidently, his sin was authorizing the publication of Stephen Meyer’s peer-reviewed article, “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories.” It did not matter that Meyer had earned his Ph.D. in history and philosophy of science from Cambridge University. Because Dr. Meyer’s article presented scientific evidence for intelligent design in biology, Sternberg faced retaliation, defamation, harassment, and a hostile work environment at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. These intimidating reprisals were designed to force him out of his position as a Research Associate at the Smithsonian. The treatment Dr. Sternberg received from his fellow evolutionists was chronicled in the documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008).
As the list of transitional fossils continues to diminish, the more evolutionists search for an explanation as to why the evidence does not support their theory. The fossil record, once thought to be the harbinger of our evolutionary history, has proven, more often than not, to be evidence that the Bible is true and that Genesis is an accurate description of the history of life on planet Earth. When the gaps in the fossil record remained long after evolutionists thought they would be filled by a host of transitional fossils, the evolutionary faithful offered them as evidence for Darwinian evolution ala Punctuated Equilibria. I am referring to Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge’s (1977) fanciful explanation as to why the evidence against evolution, the gaps in the fossil record, is really evidence for evolution. I can only wonder if, according to the Theory of Punctuated Equilibria, evolutionists are admitting that all previously identified transitional fossils are really not transitional after all.
As the evidence indicates, all life forms appear abruptly in the fossil record, fully formed. There are no undisputed intermediate organisms, no bona fide missing links. Archaeopteryx was an extinct bird. It lived and died according to the biblical command, as does all living organisms, to reproduce according to its own kind.
Submitted by Steven Rowitt, Ph.D.
Collins English Dictionary (2003). Hominid. Houghton Mifflin Company. Accessed 12.3.12.
Darwin, Charles (1909). On the Origin of Species, Vol. II. Variation Under Nature. Orig. 1859. New York, NY: P. F. Collier & Son Company.
Denton, Michael. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. Chevy Chase, MD: Adler & Adler Publishers, Inc., p. 178.
Discovery Institute (2012). Intelligent Design. Accessed 12.5.12. Intelligent design refers to a scientific research program as well as a community of scientists, philosophers and other scholars who seek evidence of design in nature. The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.
Expelled (2008). Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Documentary written by Ben Stein & Kevin Miller. Universal City, CA: Premise Media Corporation.
Gould, Stephen Jay, & Eldredge, Niles (1977). “Punctuated equilibria: The tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered.” Paleobiology 3 (2): 115-151.
Mayr, Ernst (2001). What Evolution Is. New York, NY: Basic Books, p. 14.
New World Encyclopedia (2012). Intelligent Design. Intelligent design (ID) is the view that it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Intelligent design cannot be inferred from complexity alone, since complex patterns often happen by chance. ID focuses on just those sorts of complex patterns that in human experience are produced by a mind that conceives and executes a plan. According to adherents, intelligent design can be detected in the natural laws and structure of the cosmos; it also can be detected in at least some features of living things.
Well, Jonathan (2000). Icons of Evolution. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., p. 135.
Werner, Carl (2007). Evolution: The Grand Experiment. Green Forrest, AR: New Leaf