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Archaeopteryx is fully bird (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Archaeopteryx is fully bird (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.


Claim CC214.1.1:

Archaeopteryx was fully bird. It had fully formed wings and feathers.

Source:

  • Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1985. Life--How Did It Get Here? Brooklyn, NY, pp. 79-80.
  • Morris, Henry M., 1974. Scientific Creationism, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, p. 85.


CreationWiki response: (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Archaeopteryx is defined to be a bird (technically, an avialan). However, it had many more dinosaurian traits than bird traits.

All this shows is that Archaeopteryx was a mosaic and that God does not play by the rules of the modern classification system. Given that some created kinds seem to have gone extinct, is not surprising to find animals with traits we now define as belonging to different groups. None of this changes the fact that Archaeopteryx was a bird.

Other birdlike traits of Archaeopteryx are found also on several non-avian dinosaurs. These traits include feathers, a furcula (wishbone) fused at the midline, and a pubis elongate and directed backward.

This is fully consistent with Creation Science ideas on mosaic forms. It may also mean that some if not all of these "dinosaurs" were actually birds.

The birdlike hallux (toe) attributed to Archaeopteryx may be an error due to poor preservation.

This Talk.Origins claim is not only vague but the paper on which it is based cannot be found. The cite is given as:

  • Middleton, K. M., 2002. Evolution of the perching foot in theropods. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 22: 88A.

But volume 22 (the four issues of 2002) of Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology has no paper or other article by that name, nor is there anything written by K. M. Middleton.

In addition, Archaeopteryx was intermediate between dinosaurs and modern birds in the shape of the coracoid and humerus bones and the brain.

This is a little deceptive, since it ignores some facts like the fact that Archaeopteryx's brain was three times the size of a dinosaur the same size, and clearly avian. The only way Archaeopteryx's brain seems to be "intermediate between dinosaurs and modern birds" is in terms of is size. [1]

Its main bird traits are

  • long external nostrils.
  • quadrate and quadratojugal (two jaw bones) not sutured together.
  • palatine bones that have three extensions.
  • all teeth lacking serrations.
  • large lateral furrows in top rear body of the vertebrae.

Talk.Origins is clearly down-playing Archaeopteryx's bird traits. They only list five here while listing 13 dinosaurian traits, such that at a glance it seems more dinosaurian than avialan. They mention three other bird traits (feathers; wishbone; and pubis elongate and directed backward) alleged to be shared by dinosaurs, yet they are actually bird traits, bringing the total to eight. They then use a questionable reference to attack a ninth bird trait, that of a birdlike hallux. Talk.Origins ignores other bird traits, including:

These six bird traits bring the total to 15, outnumbering the 13 dinosaurian traits.

and over 100 other differences from birds.

While Talk.Origins places this statement at the end of their list of dinosaurian traits, they do not say that they are dinosaurian; all they say is that they are different from birds. This implies that the traits in question are nether dinosaurian nor avialan. It would appear that these traits simply do not fit the evolutionary scheme.