January 26, 2023 | David F. Coppedge

Darwinians Leap Over Flight Origins

It’s one giant leap for Darwinkind: how to explain
the origin of powered flight without engineering


Aeronautical engineers understand the challenge of powered flight: getting a heavier-than-air body to take off, maneuver against gravity, and land safely. One doesn’t just attach wings to a rock. It takes foresight, energy, coordination, hardware and software. Evolutionists believe these things just happened—and happened four times.

There are four categories of animals that master (or did master) powered flight: insects, pterosaurs, birds and bats. Do evolutionists have a solid explanation for the origin of powered flight in any of them? See if you can find any in these news reports from the materialist, secularist, design-denying media.


Insects took off when they evolved wings, Stanford researchers find (Stanford News, 23 Jan 2023). Ker Than has apparently moved on from chief Darwin storyteller at Live Science and is now working at Stanford University. His storytelling has not graduated, though: “Insects took off when they evolved wings” reads his headline, passing that hot potato to “Stanford researchers” who “found” this out. But we want to know how they evolved wings by blind, impersonal, aimless acts of the Stuff Happens Law. Please tell us, Ker.

Now buzzing and whizzing around every continent, insects were mysteriously scarce in the fossil record until 325 million years ago – when they first took flight and, according to a new study, evolutionarily took off.

Gong. Try again.

The evolution of wings not only allowed ancient insects to become the first creatures on Earth to take to the skies, but also propelled their rise to become one of nature’s great success stories, according to a new study.

We’re waiting.

He lateral-passes the question to Stanford paleontologist Jonathan Payne, perhaps whispering, ‘Get me out of this fix.’ Sandra Schachat also comes in for moral support.

“The fossil record looks just how you would expect if insects were rare until they evolved wings, at which point they very rapidly increased in diversity and abundance,” Payne said.

Schachat said it’s notable that the first two winged insects in the fossil record are a dragonfly-like insect and a grasshopper-like insect. These represent the two main groups of winged insects: dragonflies have “old wings,” which they cannot fold down onto their abdomens, and grasshoppers have “new wings,” which are foldable.

But they’re still wings, and the insects had powered flight. Dragonflies, even with so-called “old wings” are masterful flyers that can hover, dart at high speed, and even mate in the air. The oldest dragonflies are still dragonflies, knows dragonfly expert Gunter Bechly whose study of fossils and origins turned him from Darwinism to intelligent design. Speaking of folding wings, read what Bechly said about the origami-like fold of wings in earwigs (Evolution News, 11 Nov 2022). That’s another level of good engineering design independent of flight requirements.

Now, answer the question please.

“The first two winged insects in the fossil record are about as different from each other as you could possibly expect,” Schachat said. “This suggests that, once winged insects originated, they diversified very, very quickly. So quickly that their diversification appears, from a geological perspective and the evidence available in the fossil record, to have been instantaneous.

Once winged insects originated? Isn’t that the question? Mustn’t beg the question. From here on in his article, Ker Than makes things worse for Darwin. He debunks two explanations for the “Hexapod Gap”—a 60-million-year gap in the Devonian between flightless insects and powered flyers, with very few fossils in between. Was low oxygen responsible? No. Were rocks unable to preserve them? No. “No excuses,” Ker writes. There was plenty of oxygen, and the rocks could have preserved them. So here’s the new solution: the Hexapod Gap isn’t real! That’s a neat strategy. Just whisk the problem away and stop worrying!

The Ugly Hexapod: A Darwin Fairy Tale, by Brett Miller

Now, please explain the origin of insect powered flight. We’re waiting. Ker tries this story line: wings just “appeared.”

As part of the new study, the team reexamined the ancient insect fossil record and found no direct evidence for wings before or during the Hexapod Gap. But as soon as wings appear 325 million years ago, insect fossils become far more abundant and diverse.

Keep trying.

How about the “problem creates its own solution” story line? A niche fills itself—suddenly! Consider the power of imagination!

Being the first and only animals able to fly would have been extremely powerful. Flight allowed insects to explore new ecological niches and provided new means of escape. “All of a sudden, your abundance can increase because you can just get away from your predators so much more easily,” Schachat said. “You can also eat the leaves that are at the top of a tree without having to walk up the entire tree.”

Flying insects could also create niches that didn’t exist before.Imagine an omnivorous insect that flies to the top of trees to feed,” Schachat said. “Suddenly, there’s a niche for a predator that can fly to the top of the tree to eat that insect. Wings allowed insects to expand the suite of niches that can be filled. It really was revolutionary.

Isn’t evolution generous to “allow” flight to appear? The evolutionists must feel very satisfied with themselves. But they must keep other questions out in front, or else they lose their job security for storytellers.

While the new study links the evolution of flight to the ascension of insects, it raises new questions about how and why they evolved wings in the first place, said study coauthor Kevin Boyce, an associate professor of geological sciences at Stanford Earth. “In the Devonian, there were only a few insects, all wingless,” Boyce said. “But you come out the other side and we have flight. What happened in between? Good question.”

The “ascension” of insects. Sounds almost theological. So do evolutionists have an explanation for powered flight in insects? How can they, if they are still asking “how and why they evolved wings in the first place”?

How did powered flight originate 4 times in different animal groups?


The next animals to “evolve” powered flight in Darwin’s Tree of Lie were reptiles: the pterosaurs. Any explanation for the origin of powered flight in this very successful group?

New pterosaur species with hundreds of tiny hooked teeth discovered (University of Portsmouth, 23 Jan 2023). “The nearly complete skeleton was found in a German quarry,” says this press release. Any word on the origin of flight in reptiles? One doesn’t just glue wings on an alligator. What happened here?

Since the first pterosaur was described from there in the 18th century, hundreds of remains of these flying reptiles have been discovered, making the quarries of the Franconian Jura in Bavaria one of the richest pterosaur localities in the world.

All that David Martill talks about is the teeth of this skeleton, not the origin of its flight. That’s true for all the other articles about pterosaurs we have reported on (e.g., 2 Sept 2021). Let’s give the mike to former evolutionist Gunter Bechly to answer the question:

Outside of Darwinian fantasy land, we indeed lack any transitional fossils that would document an assumed gradual evolutionary development of characteristic pterosaur wings. In my view this strongly suggests that the transition happened very quickly as an abrupt saltation rather than mediated by hundreds of transitional species, for which there is not a shred of empirical evidence. Such saltations could not be explained by an unguided neo-Darwinian mechanism of natural selection acting on random mutations, but would require a massive infusion of new genetic and epigenetic information from outside the system. Therefore, the abrupt origin of pterosaurs clearly points to intelligent design as the best explanation. (Evolution News, 28 Oct 2022).

Note: Bechly accepts deep time, but adding millions of Darwin Years to the origin of flight clearly does not help if all one has is unguided processes for the “massive infusion of… information” required to fly.


Birds were next in the Darwinian Tree of Lie to evolve powered flight. Anything better than the “wing-assisted incline running” story imagined as Ken Dial watched the chicks of the partridge family? (see 25 June 2014).

Exceptional preservation and foot structure reveal ecological transitions and lifestyles of early theropod flyers (Pittman et al., Nature Communications, 20 Dec 2022). What are “early theropod flyers” exactly? Did velociraptors fly? No; this paper looks at some fossil birds that already had powered flight, like Microraptor, Anchiornis, and Archaeopteryx.

We demonstrate diverse ecological profiles among early theropod flyers, changing as flight developed, and some non-bird flyers have more complex ecological roles.

Flight “developed.” It just developed. What’s your problem, Darwin doubter? Get with the narrative.

Some birds had “weaker flight capabilities,” the authors claim (without having any of these extinct birds to observe), but that’s not the issue. Chickens are not strong flyers either, but they have powered flight. It’s easier to lose flight (e.g., flightless cormorants and ostriches) than to “develop” it without an engineer to help. Unable to explain flight, these authors distract attention by pivoting to the feet of extinct flyers. “We interpret our fossil foot data in the context of existing ecological data for early theropod flyers to refine our understanding of the ecological profiles present at the origins of theropod flight.

“The origins of theropod flight.” But that’s the issue. How can a lack of understanding be refined? Isn’t that like adding sophistication to ignorance or refining zero? The number 0.00000 is still zero.


The last group in Darwin’s Tree of Lie to evolve flight were mammals—bats. Let’s search for an explanation there for the origin of powered flight.

Gliding towards an understanding of the origin of flight in bats (Burtner et al., bioRxiv, 22 Jan 2023). Here is a direct attempt to answer the question. Great! Finally. Do they succeed, or just “glide” over the problem?

Bats are the only mammals capable of powered flight and have correspondingly specialized body plans, particularly in their limb morphology. The origin of bat flight is still not fully understood due to an uninformative fossil record, but it is widely hypothesized that bats evolved from gliding ancestors. Here, we test predictions of the gliding-to-flying hypothesis of the origin of bat flight by using phylogenetic comparative methods to model the evolution of forelimb and hind limb traits on a dataset spanning four extinct bats and 231 extant mammals with diverse locomotor regimes. Our results reveal gliders’ elongate forelimb adaptive optima to be intermediate between those of bats and non-gliding arborealists. Our results also show that gliders and bats share an adaptive zone characterized by elongate and narrow hind limb bones. We propose a hypothetical adaptive landscape based on skeletal length and width optima trends, which we interpret within our robust mammal limb dataset. Our results support the potential for glider-like postcranial morphology to evolve into bat-like morphology prior to powered-flight behavior, setting a foundation for future developmental, biomechanical, and evolutionary research to test this idea.

Hey, these mammals had the potential to evolve into flyers. Pre-bats were thinking about flight because they found themselves in The Adaptive Zone.* Who needs fossils? The Darwin Party has a hypothesis, with data from living flyers and non-flyers. The full answer will be forthcoming in futureware. Now go home and shut up. Long live King Charles the Great!

*The Twilight Zone.

Sculpture from the Museum of Contemporary Art

Sculpture from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles: a thousand non-flying airplane parts assembled by non-intelligent processes. (Photo by DFC)






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