Pterosaurs Defy Evolution
Flying reptiles appear suddenly in the fossil record;
their diversification in size and shape astonishes paleontologists.
Evolutionists say that pterosaurs were the first vertebrates to evolve powered flight. Creationists say that all flying animals were created on Day 5 of creation week. Who’s right? Evolutionists writing in Big Science journals hardly acknowledge the existence of rivals to Darwinism. but we can gain some insight into how the contest is going by watching how Darwinians struggle against the evidence.
Voltaire Friend Discovers the First Pterosaur
In the August 23, 2021 issue of Current Biology, Natalia Jagielska and Stephen Brusatte present a Primer on pterosaurs. Brusatte is a world-class paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh specializing in dinosaurs, and is on the editorial board of Current Biology; Jagielska is a colleague at Edinburgh. Pterosaurs are not dinosaurs, the two authors are quick to explain; both groups are reptiles but taxonomically distinct. Pterosaurs which are subdivided into “pterodactyloids” and “non-pterodactyloids” flew over the heads of dinosaurs. Recounting the first pterosaur found, Brusatte is sure it was not a created animal.
The remains of this animal, the holotype of Pterodactylus antiquus, is a beautiful fossil (Figure 1). In 1784, its empty eye sockets stared back at Cosimo Collini, the Italian naturalist and Voltaire’s former secretary. Collini knew the fossil he was looking at was not a victim of the Biblical flood, but rather something totally different from anything alive today. A radical idea. The creature was appropriately called Ptero-Dactyle (meaning ‘wing finger’) by Baron Cuvier, the great French anatomist, in 1809. It was the first described species of a new group of extinct animal, often colloquially known as the pterodactyls, but in scientific parlance they are called ‘pterosaurs’.
Illustrations in the article show the mind-boggling diversity in pterosaurs, in size (from giraffe-sized monsters to ones small enough to fit in the palm of your hand), in lengths of the beaks and in shapes of the head crests. Pterosaurs are found all over the world, “from dry plains of North America to ginkgo forests of China, the subtropical Italian Alps and lakes of Patagonia,” though complete specimens are rare due to their fragile wing membranes and thin bones.
Did Pterosaurs Evolve?
Having dismissed pterosaurs as victims of the Biblical flood (and therefore of Genesis), do Brusatte, Jagielska and today’s evolutionary paleontologists know where they came from?
The discovery of pterosaurs by Western scientists predates that of dinosaurs by almost half a century. And yet, despite being in the academic conversation for over two hundred years, our understanding of pterosaur behaviour and evolution is still in its infancy. The fault mostly lies with the pterosaurs themselves, and how they modified their skeletons to become the first vertebrates to master the skies, long before birds and bats.
The authors’ language sacrifices accuracy for imagination. Pterosaurs did not “modify their skeletons” by acts of the will “to master the skies.” Darwinians know better than to use that kind of purpose-driven language. The first pterosaur ancestor would have had to wait for lucky mutations to occur in muscles, nerves, limbs, integument and brain—indeed, the whole organism—to harmonize by chance before a heavier-than-air creature could defy gravity.
Maybe Jagielska and Brusatte can point to a series of transitional forms. Can they?
The oldest pterosaurs on record appeared in the Late Triassic, and even by then, they already were ‘fully formed’, in the sense that they are immediately recognized as pterosaurs. They already have long fourth fingers, pteroid wrist bones, lightweight skeletons and front-heavy bodies, and they look as though they could obviously fly. These are not transitional species, capturing an in-between stage of evolution when a Triassic reptile was morphing into a pterosaur.
They argue that this is “not surprising” since terrestrial pterosaur fossils are hard to fossilize. But surely, among the worldwide distribution of hundreds of pterosaur species, some identifiable part-pterosaur should have been found by now. They point to a recently-found Triassic lagerpetid reptile with “similar jaw, dentition and hind limb anatomy to pterosaurs.” Whatever it was, it was definitely not a flyer; the artist drawing resembles a gecko in a tree, out on a limb like evolutionists are. It indicates the desperation trying to fit pterosaurs into a Darwinian narrative when this is the best they have. Brusatte and Jagielska speculate it might have been experimenting with leaping off branches the way some evolutionists think dino-birds got their start (the “arboreal hypothesis”). For this animal, it would have been a short flight straight down.
With that said, there are no features of the lagerpetid skeleton that indicate any gliding, flying, or other airborne activities. We are still missing fossils of the transitional pterosaurs that first took to the skies.
In short, the evolution story is not backed up by evidence. Pterosaurs appear abruptly in the fossil record, fully formed and already flying. The authors resort to futureware to rescue Darwin, hoping like Darwin did that more transitional fossils will turn up.
Another Recent Pterosaur Find
New Scientist reported a fossil of a new species of pterosaur from Brazil with a head crest “so tall it may have made it hard to fly.” An artist painted the body dark brown and the head crest—five times as tall as its skull—bright red. But the creature knew more about flight than the paleontologists. Some birds like toucans, they know, manage flight with oversize beaks. This pterosaur, had a 2.7-meter (10.3-foot) wingspan, offering sufficient wing surface for lift, particularly if the head crest was lightweight. On the ground, “it would have stood about a metre high, walking on all fours with its wings folded out of the way.”
That’s a design feature not often considered: what to do with wings when on the ground. Despite being stretched out on an “absurdly long fourth finger,” pterosaur wings folded up neatly beside the body when the creatures were on the ground. Aircraft wings, by contrast, stick out, requiring large spaces for taxiing and parking. But pterosaurs, birds, bats, and insects all keep their wings safely folded for convenience and protection. How did this kind of origami happen by chance in four different groups of flyers?
Was this new pterosaur really more than 100 million Darwin Years old? Could soft tissue survive that long? Quick: make up a story of how that happened:
The pterosaur’s bones and a coloured imprint of its head crest – which was made from soft tissue – were preserved in 3D. The animal probably fell into oxygen-starved layers of silt at the bottom of a lake, where its body would have been better protected from biological decay, leading to such an exceptional state of preservation, says Beccari.
Nature and New Scientist tell how the fossil was recovered from poachers. Neither report offers new clues to the evolution of pterosaurs. They don’t even use the e-word. This was apparently a “derived” (diversified) and successful flying vertebrate in its day. Evolutionists believe that pterosaurs mastered the skies (along with insects and some early birds) for over 150 million Darwin Years. All the pterosaurs disappear from the fossil record with the dinosaurs. Fortunately, butterflies survived.
Update 9/07/2021: Dr Jerry Bergman, a frequent CEH contributor, has an excellent article on pterosaurs in the latest issue of Creation Magazine (Volume 43, Issue 4, October 2021). A subscription is required.
OK, Darwinists. If you don’t have better evidence than Genesis, shut up. Creation can explain the origin of powered flight, with all the engineering required. And soft tissue preservation indicates that the fossil is not hundreds of millions of Darwin Years old. A global flood can also explain the preservation of soft, delicate bones and tissues that are found all the way down to the Cambrian explosion.
The only reason evolution gets preference in the media is because of the tyrannical power of the Darwin Party and its allies in Big Media. They use Darwin Sharia power to ridicule and censor anyone with a better explanation than the Stuff Happens Law.