April 6, 2020 | David F. Coppedge

Surprising Fossils: Flying and Swimming Reptiles

Ask if these fossils support millions of years of evolution, or a more recent Biblical timeframe with a creation and flood view of life.

When reading science news articles, one cannot understand them apart from the worldview the reporter is assuming. The millions-of-years evolutionary timeline is etched with an iron stylus on the hearts of biologists and paleontologists today. The worldview gets perpetuated by a kind of devious artificial selection (i.e., academics do not progress in their education without pledging allegiance to Darwin). This prior belief colors everything they say. Paleontologists in academia force-fit every bone, every piece of amber, and every fossil into their favorite creation myth. Darwin skeptics can never expect, therefore, to get a hearing for problems with the myth. If they did voice questions, they would quickly be shown the exit door.

In this situation, the thing perceptive readers must do is look for evidence of surprise that forces scientists to revise parts of their story.

See the first part of this series: Surprising Fossils: Land Dinosaurs (3 April 2020).

One of the new pterosaurs found in Morocco by Univ of Portsmouth researchers.

Pterosaurs: Flying Reptiles

The tapejarid pterosaur ​Tupandactylus imperator ​from Crato Formation and the preservation of cranial integuments (Campos and Kischlat, bioRxiv). A pterosaur from Brazil still has collagen in its snout:

The exceptional preservation of a collagenous septum and other integumentary structures visible in the cotype specimen is extremely rare and supports the concept of the unusual pattern of soft tissue observed in the fossils from the Crato Konservat-Lagerstätte, specially pterosaurs.

Fourth new pterosaur discovery in matter of weeks (University of Portsmouth). Researchers hit the jackpot at a site in Morocco.”You wait ages for a pterosaur and then four come along at once,” the press release begins. These are tapejarids, like the one found in Brazil mentioned above.

Pterosaurs are the less well-known cousins of dinosaurs. They had adept flying ability – some as large as a fighter jet and others as small as a model aeroplane.

The new species belongs to a group of pterosaurs called tapejarids from the Cretaceous period. Tapejarids were small to medium-sized pterosaurs with wingspans perhaps as wide as four metres, most of which had large, broad crests sweeping up from the front of the skull.

See also the coverage from Baylor University, which speaks of “the poorly known evolutionary history of Africa during the time of the dinosaurs.” What if the history was not evolutionary?

Univ of Alaska at Fairbanks

Ichthyosaurs: Swimming Reptiles

New thalattosaur species discovered in Southeast Alaska (University of Alaska Fairbanks). The discoverers of this “weird” creature couldn’t decide if it was advanced or primitive. Either way, the starting agenda was already set in stone: “‘When you find a new species, one of the things you want to do is tell people where you think it fits in the family tree,’ said Patrick Druckenmiller, the paper’s lead author,” the article says. The beast must glorify Darwin whether it wants to or not!

“Thalattosaurs were among the first groups of land-dwelling reptiles to readapt to life in the ocean,” Kelley said. “They thrived for tens of millions of years, but their fossils are relatively rare so this new specimen helps fill an important gap in the story of their evolution and eventual extinction.”

It’s odd that this fossil was eroding from its position right next to the water when it was found. Two thirds of the tail had already eroded. How lucky for paleontologists that it survived 200 million Darwin years in order to be cut away from the water by humans just in time! Then comes the just-so story about this individual:

It was probably poking its pointy schnoz into cracks and crevices in coral reefs and feeding on soft-bodied critters,” Druckenmiller said. Its specialization may have been what ultimately led to its extinction. “We think these animals were highly specialized to feed in the shallow water environments, but when the sea levels dropped and food sources changed, they had nowhere to go.”

Wait; didn’t these same guys say it was primitive? What’s primitive about a pointy schnoz? That’s more advanced than a pointy head, a trait of some academics.

Boom and bust for ancient sea dragons (University of Bristol). To show just how much evolutionists believe in miracles, look at this article. Think of how many adaptations would be required to move from a land creature with legs to a swimming creature with fins that lives all the time in the ocean! Evolutionists used to believe, like Darwin, that evolution was a slow, gradual process caused “by numerous, successive, slight modifications.” Not any more! It can happen in a geological instant, and then slow down to a crawl.

Dr Ben Moon, who led the research, published in the journal Communications Biology, said: “Ichthyosaurs are a fascinating group of animals to work on because they evolved so many adaptations for living in water very quickly: a fish-like body and tail fin, giving birth to live young rather than laying eggs, and lots of different feeding styles.

“Because of this we expected to see a rapid evolution early after ichthyosaurs first appeared, but we were staggered by just how big this early burst was and how relatively short it was.”

Moon goes on to say that after the rapid burst of evolution, it slowed to a crawl for one group. Thus, ichthyosaurs began with fantastic ability to adapt to water, but then apparently lost that skill. More accurately, the Stuff Happens Law lost that skill.

Dr Ben Moon added: “Even though ichthyosaurs were evolving more slowly in their last 100 million years, they are still known from many species, but with less variety between them.

It’s possible that we might find more ichthyosaurs out there that buck this trend, but it seems that this lack of variety was eventually the cause of their extinction when global conditions became less favourable around 90 million years ago. Ichthyosaurs were simply unable to adapt.

Ecological Features

Artist conception of the habitat of Hypacrosaurus.

Late Cretaceous Dinosaur-Dominated Ecosystem (Geological Society of America). A rich ecological zone of dinosaurs and sea creatures were found all together in Louisiana. They don’t appear to have inhabited different localities; they were all in the same area. The GSA team used stable isotope analysis on living animals to study whether animals lived together or apart.

So the team applied these methods to fossilized teeth and scales from a range of animals, including dinosaurs, crocodilians, mammals, bony fish, and rays, all preserved together from a relatively small region over a geologically short period of time in sites called vertebrate microfossil bonebeds….

Critically, says Cullen, “What we didn’t see was evidence for large herbivorous dinosaurs segregating their habitats, as the hadrosaurs, ceratopsians, and ankylosaurs we sample all had strongly overlapping stable carbon and oxygen ranges. If some of those groups were making near-exclusive use of certain parts of the broader landscape, such as ceratopsians sticking to coastal environments and hadrosaurs sticking to more inland areas, then we should see them grouping distinctly from each other. Since we didn’t see that, that suggests they weren’t segregating their resource use in this manner.

‘Dinosaurs walked through Antarctic rainforests’ (BBC News). A drill site in western Antarctica has revealed pine pollen and other evidences of a rainforest. This is a land where dinosaurs roamed, Jonathan Amos says. One of the most striking photos in his article is the one of a large ship dwarfed by a wall of ice.

Scientists drilling off the coast of West Antarctica have found the fossil remains of forests that grew in the region 90 million years ago – in the time of the dinosaurs.

Their analysis of the material indicates the continent back then would have been as warm as parts of Europe are today but that global sea levels would have been over 100m higher than at present.

We claimed that secular paleontologists are incapable of thinking outside the millions-of-years-of-evolution worldview. Hopefully we have just provided more convincing evidence – and these are just from recent news articles. Evolutionists have been forcing uncooperative evidence into their Darwin timeline for well over a century. It’s time for debate with paleontologists who are willing to question the worldview, its mythical timeline, and its naturalistic assumptions.

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