January 9, 2009 | David F. Coppedge

Watch for Flying Giraffes (and Convergent Evolutionists)

Imagine giraffe-sized animals that could fly.  They lived.  National Geographic News has an illustration of an extinct pterosaur, tall as a giraffe, that was able to leap into the air and flap its wings for sustained powered flight.
    Live Science discussed work by Michael Habib [Johns Hopkins U School of Medicine] on the flying ability of Quetzalcoatlus, the largest of the pterosaurs with a wingspan of 35 feet.  There’s no way, he figured, it could get off the ground with a two-legged take-off.  “The researcher says his new study reveals the first line of evidence that pterosaurs launched into the air using four limbs: two were ultra-strong wings which, when folded and balanced on a knuckle, served as front ‘legs’ that helped the creature to walk and leap sky-high.”  If so, the animal could leap into the air in less than a second and start flapping its wings.
    Scientists used to think these large animals could have only soared by leaping from cliffs into thermals.  That opinion is still around (PhysOrg 10/01/2008), but this new article says they “likely were capable of powered flight.”  Science Daily added, “Assumption and conventionrather than reason or data – held sway for centuries, ever since the classical bipedal model of pterosaur take-off was first championed, he [Habib] notes.”  [Note: the first pterosaur fossil was discovered in 1784].
    Pterosaurs came in a huge range of sizes.  The smallest known is Nemicolopterus, the size of a small bird, with a wingspan of just 10 inches.  Quetzalcoatlus stood as tall as a giraffe and had a wingspan of 35 to 40 feet.  If the illustration is correct, a grown man could walk underneath one without bending over while carrying a Nemicolopterus in the palm of his hand.
    Habib feels the giant pterosaur would have had to be very strong to launch its 500-pound bulk into the air.  It wasn’t just a “hang-glider with teeth,” he told National Geographic News; instead, it was built like Arnold Schwarzenegger.  “The finding is also consistent with the idea that bigger animals require more overall brawn to power their movement, Habib added.”  Using a car engine analogy, it could have had a V8.
    Even though Habib works in the Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, he had nothing to say about evolution in any of the articles cited.  Other websites talk about how pterosaurs, birds, bats and insects evolved flight by “convergent evolution.”  Maybe “Assumption and convention – rather than reason or data” is still holding sway ever since the classical evolutionary model was first championed.

Can you imagine the awesomeness of watching one of these creatures take off?  The rush of wind might have knocked you flat.  What sounds did they make as they sprang up into the air?  This world has seen some marvelous creatures.  Today’s biosphere, diverse and wondrous as it is, is impoverished of many animals that once roamed the land and decorated the skies.
    Did pterosaurs evolve?  A quick check shows that they were an extraordinarily diverse group with no trace of transitional forms emerging from non-flying animals.  Wikipedia is not recommended as a source, because many subjects it covers are heavily biased.  But since it usually takes a strong pro-Darwin, anti-ID stance, we can use it as a hostile witness.  Behold the best they can do to combat creationism: “Because pterosaur anatomy has been so heavily modified for flight, and immediate ‘missing link’ predecessors have not so far been described,” the page says, “the ancestry of pterosaurs is not well understood.”  Ha!  A few suggestions are put forth, followed by a note from the editor: “Please help improve this section by expanding it.”  Good luck.  Go forth and find the transitional forms Darwin needs.
    The evolutionists use another of their favorite tricks: inventing a term to cover the nakedness of ignorance.  The Wikipedia article invokes “convergent evolution” to explain the presence of hair on some pterosaurs which, they say, was not homologous to mammalian hair (which had not evolved yet).  A UC Berkeley page concurs with this dodge: “The appearance of flight in pterosaurs was separate from the evolution of flight in birds and bats; pterosaurs are not closely related to either birds or bats, and thus provide a classic example of convergent evolution.”  A better phrase would be “congruent miracles.”  Notice this fantasy: “Their ability to fly probably allowed them to evolve into many niches, taking advantage of many different food sources, which would explain the range of skull morphology seen.”  This is the “necessity is the mother of invention” theory of evolution.  That’s all the page by academics has to say about the origin of these large, diverse, complex animals that could fly.  For fun, read the UC Berkeley museum exhibit pages on the origin of flight.  Look for any instances in which they do not assume evolution to prove evolution.  For example, from Vertebrate Flight, “The evolution of flight, (a.k.a.) how to wing it,” the explanation is incestuous with evolutionary assumptions, i.e., “it evolved because it evolved” (see 05/25/2005 commentary).  Would the following cause a Darwin doubter to do anything but snicker?

In summation, to understand the evolution of a flying lineage, we must follow these steps in this order: (1) Understand the phylogeny of that group; what its origins were.  (2) Understand the functional morphology relevant to flight, and how that changed from the nonflying ancestor to the earliest flyer.  (3) Accumulate empirical evidence explaining how flight evolved, using such tools as aerodynamic analyses, ichnology (the study of fossilized tracks), and paleoenvironmental assessments.  And finally (4) formulate an evolutionary hypothesis proposing why flight evolved in that lineage, supported by and consistent with all of the evidence from the previous three steps.

Clearly, “empirical evidence” is just a prop for the obligatory Darwinian story.  No wonder they titled the next page “The origins of flight (a.k.a. two wings and a prayer).”  They even told a whopping big lie on page 3: “You might be surprised, but the evolution of flight is, for the most part, well documented with transitional forms.”  Indeed, we were very surprised to learn this.  So we looked.  The page on pterosaur flight mentioned none, and the page on bat flight contained none.  Imagination and “convergent evolution” served as stand-ins for transitional forms.  Get this: “Phylogenetic [evolutionary] and functional data [data?] suggest the inference that the hypothetical ancestor would have been nocturnal, insectivorous, arboreal, and a glider.”  This is rich.  This is evolutionary science at work goofing off.
    The bird page makes the only reference to the promised transitional forms, and here they have Archaeopteryx and two other birds that could already fly.  So much for the origin of flight – the topic that was supposed to be explained.  Should these ignorant hucksters be allowed to teach such nonsense in our schools?  You’ve heard of tax evasion.  This is facts evasion.
    To clear your head, go read Brett Miller’s lively and informative cartoon-decorated page, The Convergence Concoction.  It exposes the extent of the deception behind the evolutionary miracle-phrase, convergent evolution – “When the impossible happens over and over and again and again.”

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Categories: Amazing Facts, Birds

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