Archaeopteryx Meets Its Younger Grandpa, and Other Flights of Fancy
Science Now said that a “slightly embarrassing gap” in the fossil record has been filled by a find in Wyoming. The oldest known bird, Archaeopteryx was older than its presumed ancestors, the Maniraptorans, its closest dinosaurian relatives. A team near Thermopolis, Wyoming found a maniraptoran dating from about the same time as Archaeopteryx. This new fossil “begins to fill the time gap between bird fossils and their closest dinosaur relatives.” The team feels this supports the idea that flight evolved from the ground up.
Another team thinks they have figured out the foot feathers on the strange Chinese fossil Microraptor gui (see 05/19/2003). MSNBC News reported that a Texas Tech team believes the foot feathers formed another flight surface, making the animal fly like a biplane. EurekAlert says the Wright Brothers have been upstaged. Sankar Chatterjee of the Texas Tech group remarked that “The biplane wing configuration was probably a very first experiment in nature,” paralleling the human design of flight. “It is intriguing to contemplate that perhaps avian flight, like aircraft evolution, went through a biplane stage before the monoplane was introduced,” said Chatterjee. “It seems likely that Microraptor invented the biplane 125 million years before the Wright 1903 Flyer.”
These researchers feel it was unlikely Microraptor could have run along the ground with its foot feathers, and must have taken off from high branches. The team feels this supports the idea that flight evolved from the trees down.
We don’t think that Wilbur and Orville would be flattered by the suggestion that their invention was the product of blind, unguided processes of evolution. Whatever Microraptor gui was, or how it lived, it was not an experiment. Chance does not do experiments. Humans sometimes do, but they more often stumble around in their own imaginations.
Darwinists need to be more embarrassed. To call the gap before Archaeopteryx “slightly embarrassing” does not do justice to the degree of blushing we should be observing. Did this new maniraptoran fossil explain how the early bird, a strong flyer with completely modern feathers, arose from a grandpa its own age? Did the aboreans convince the cursorians by finding a fossil dinosaur leaping off a fossilized limb of a fossilized tree? (see Kevin Padian’s sarcasm, 05/19/2003). We may not be witnessing the evolution of flight, but we are amassing plenty of observations on the flightiness of evolution, both from the top down and the bottom up. We’ve even identified the species: cuckoo.