Everything You Wanted to Know About Pterosaurs, Except Their Evolution
Despite 200 years of study, evolutionists know almost nothing about how pterosaurs evolved. A fossil graveyard in China adds to the mystery.
Picture thousands of pterosaur bones mixed together in sandstone, mudstone and breccia. That’s what has been reported in Current Biology this month: disarticulated skeletons from individuals of all ages, and even pieces of eggs. While promising to shed new light on pterosaur ecology and life history, the fossil deposit is not helping explain where these advanced creatures capable of powered flight came from – a mystery since the first flying reptiles were discovered in 17xx.
Evolutionists claim they died individually at the bottom of a lake, but the sediments bear marks of turbulence and rapid burial:
In the sedimentary sequence, there are some tempestite interlayers, in which the gray-white sandstones and brown mudstone breccias that were deposited at different depths of the lake are mixed together. Tempestite interlayers where nearly all of the pterosaur fossils are found suggest that large storms caused the mass mortality, event deposits, and lagerstätte of the pterosaur population.
Overall, the pterosaurs are well preserved, with the white-colored bones showing little distortion (Figures 1 and 2). About 40 individuals (wingspan 1.5–3.5 m) were recovered, but the actual number might be in the hundreds. These specimens provide new and important evidence regarding male and female morphologies, reproduction, ontogeny, and eggshell microstructure.
The pterosaur species, named Hamipterus tianshanensis, shows sexual dimorphism in the head crests, long spoon-shaped beaks with 34 sharp teeth, and clear evidence that the reptiles laid eggs, probably with semi-rigid shells. The shells were found mixed in with the bones.
The authors make no attempt to explain how pterosaurs evolved, other than to note some differences from other species found in China (3/06/14) and elsewhere (Texas, 4/04/14, England, 10/13/11). As with a pterodactyloid in China reported in April (4/27/14), the creatures were already advanced and capable of flight. Their first sentence states, “Pterosaurs are extinct flying reptiles that achieved powered flight, developing an entirely distinctive anatomy that is not paralleled in any living reptile.”
David M. Martil (University of Portsmouth) commented on the find in the same issue of Current Biology. In “Which came first, the pterosaur or the egg?” he first notes their popularity:
Pterosaurs are among the most awe inspiring of the archosaurian reptiles, vying with Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor for a place at the top of the prehistoric popularity chart.
But when it comes to pterosaur origins, Martil has only questions.
The first pterosaurs described in the late 18th and early 19th centuries were compared to the fiend of Dante’s Inferno despite their rather small size. Later discoveries, however, hinted at wingspans of more than 6.5 meters, and pterodactyls, more properly called pterosaurs, quickly became the dragons of popular folklore, and with star performances in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World and Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. Knowledge of the palaeoecology of pterosaurs has advanced at a painstakingly slow pace and their evolutionary relationships with other archosaurs, as well as within the Pterosauria, remain controversial.
Martil spends most of his column discussing the eggs and sexually dimorphic traits, drawing some inferences about the behavior and mating habits of the species. As for the evolutionary relationships of Hamipterus with other pterosaurs, he says this one has “ornithocheiroid affinities” to place it with other similar species in the New World, some with longer wingspans. With nothing else to say about where pterosaurs came from, he ends with praise for the remarkable find:
The authors have identified the remains of more than 40 individuals in the deposit so far, which is unprecedented for a pterosaur site. Hundreds more probably remain to be found. Never before have so many remains attributed to a single taxon been found in such close association, and in the presence of eggs. This discovery represents a unique opportunity to investigate pterosaur growth, development, reproductive behaviour and ecology. Expect many more papers on this amazing deposit when the sedimentology and taphonomy have been studied in detail.
All the other pterosaur and pterodactyloid genera mentioned in the article were capable of powered flight, so nothing in either article contributes to the discussion of how pterosaurs might have evolved from non-flying reptiles.
Creationists say pterosaurs were created and died in the Flood. Where is any evidence to deny this? Look at how these were buried. Look at the world-wide distribution of pterosaurs, all capable of powered flight, without any transitional forms. These creatures had complex eyes, brains able to control flight over long distances, social behaviors, ability to lay eggs, sexual dimorphism, and all the internal organs of complex vertebrates, down to the astonishing complexity of cells, tissues and organs. How could any of that evolve by mistake?
It’s entirely reasonable to invoke a Flood model for this fossil graveyard (note: lagerstätte refers to exceptional preservation). A large colony of these creatures must have been swept up suddenly by a storm surge so rapid, they didn’t have time to fly away. Males, females, juveniles, with clutches of eggs, perished together in “large storms” as the authors indicate. Their remains became broken up in the “tempestite interlayers” of sand, mud and debris that hardened into “tempestite layers” where they are seen now. Naming a pterosaur after Darwin (1/20/02) doesn’t help the evolutionists. That would be like naming the Tea Party after Karl Marx.