This question is filed under: Animals, Birds, Dinosaurs, Evolution, Fossils,

Question

Don’t feathered dinosaurs prove that birds evolved from dinosaurs?

Answer

Answered by Diane Eager, John Mackay,

SinosauropteryxIf you believe dinosaurs and birds were created, why do some Dinosaurs have feathers? Surely this proves they evolved into birds?

Since the 1990s a number of dinosaur fossils have been found with impressions in the rock around them, which are claimed to be “primitive feathers”. When you look closely at them, they are really bundles of filaments, which some palaeontologists call “dino fuzz”.  So are they really feathers?

A leading expert in bird fossils, Alan Feduccia, and some colleagues made a study of the structure of reptile skin in 2005 to see what happened to it as it decayed, and compared their findings with dinosaur “proto-feathers”.  They concluded the fibres were really collagen fibres from the skin.  Feduccia explained “Collagen is a scleroprotein, the chief structural protein of the connective tissue layer of skin. Naturally, because of its low solubility in water and its organization as tough, inelastic fiber networks, we would expect it to be preserved occasionally from flayed skin during the fossilization process.” (See University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 10 Oct 2005, Press Release)  In other words, the protein collagen is a tough stringy substance which forms ligaments and tendons, and give skin its strength, so it would be preserved longer than the other tissue components that normally hold the collagen fibres tightly together in the skin. Therefore, in partially decomposed skin the collagen fibres would splay out so they looked like filaments projecting out from the skin, but they were never feathers.

Following this report Feduccia and other colleagues have made a close study of the fibrous material surrounding Sinosauropteryx, one of the original “feathered dinosaurs” found in China in 1994 (see photos above and below). They concluded “The fibres show a striking similarity to the structure and levels of organisation of dermal collagen.” (Proceedings of the Royal Society B doi:10.1098.rspb.2007.0352, 23 May 2007, See also ABC News in Science 23 May 2007)

Feduccia’s theory of partial skin decay followed by the flaying out of insoluble collagen fibres seems to have been confirmed by the discovery of a dinosaur named Juravenator starki whose skin was preserved intact. The dinosaur was fossilised in fine grained limestone, with detailed imprints of the animal’s skin. The scientists who studied it were surprised to find it had typical reptilian scales, not the filamentous “proto-feathers” found on some other dinosaurs of similar type and evolutionary age. (Nature, Vol. 440, p329, 16 Mar 2006) This creature was probably buried so quickly its skin was not damaged or decayed, and therefore its collagen and scales remained in their normal arrangement.

In other words – no dinosaurs have been found with feathers despite what the media claims. Nevertheless, there are a few odd looking fossil creatures that are not like living birds, but do have feathers. The question to ask about these is: Are they dinosaurs?

One of these was a creature named Caudipteryx, which was reported in 1998 as a feathered dinosaur, because it seemed to have feathers on its tail. However, the rest of the fossil reminded us of a large running bird, like an emu or ostrich. In 1998 we wrote in the Creation Research print newsletter that we believed this was not a dinosaur, but an extinct flightless bird. (Creation News vol. 12, No. 3, 1998). Two years later a report in Nature, Vol. 406, p717, 17 Aug 2000, confirmed that this creature had legs like a running bird rather than a dinosaur. It was good to see the evolutionists catch up with us.

Another fossil that does seem to have genuine bird-like feathers is an odd looking creature named Microraptor gui. It is especially odd as it seemed to have had feathers on both its forelimbs and hind limbs, and was announced to the world as a “four winged flyer”. Feduccia and colleagues suggest it was in the same class as Archaeopteryx – an extinct feathered flying creature that was different from living birds, but nevertheless a fully formed functional creature. (See J Morphol. 2005 Nov; 266(2):125-66)

Fossil creatures like Archaeopteryx and Microraptor show us that there were once more kinds of living creatures than there are today, and as such, remind us the world is degenerating downwards, not evolving upwards.

Link
For more information about feathered dinosaurs from the Evidence Web Fact File