Sunday, 27 May 2007

Archaeopteryx - an Icon of Evolution that Refuses to Turn into a Feathered Dinosaur

Image: Wikipedia

Joel Kontinen

It has wings and feathers. It looks like a bird. It has a bird’s beak and a wishbone. But it also has a long bony tail, teeth and claws on its wings. The Archaeopteryx, a magpie-sized extinct bird, is often paraded as the missing link that is no longer missing. The University of Berkeley website, for instance, says, “It has long been accepted that Archaeopteryx was a transitional form between birds and reptiles.” This sounds like hype since scientists in the 1984 International Archaeopteryx Conference agreed that it was a true bird.

Evolution needs transitional forms that would give support to the hypothesis that all life forms share a common ancestor. However, there are grave problems with the dino-to-bird hypothesis. Writing in the March 2003 issue of Scientific American, Richard Prum and Alan Brush acknowledged: “Archaeopteryx offers no new insights on how feathers evolved, because its own feathers are nearly indistinguishable from those of today's birds."

The presence of teeth does not support the belief that Achaeopteryx has evolved from a reptile ancestor. Some other extinct birds also had teeth while some reptiles do not have them. The same applies to claws; even the ostrich has claws on its wings. Thus, the traits of Archaeopteryx are not so unique as evolutionists would like to believe. Of today’s birds, the ostrich looks less like a true bird than Achaeopteryx does. In fact Achaeopteryx looks like a strong flier. Angela Miller of the Natural History Museum in London says, “a CAT scan reveals that Archaeopteryx had the large brain and optic lobes of modern birds, not the brain of a dinosaur.”

The long bony tail does not mean that Archaeopteryx is partly a dinosaur. According to biologist Michael Pitman, “In the embryo some living birds have more tail vertebrae than ‘Archy’”. He adds that some present-day birds, such as cormorants, darters, gulls and parrots have similar vertebrae.

Most evolutions still cling on to their pet theory. For instance, Richard Dawkins says, “feathers are modified reptilian scales.” However, as Dr. Jonathan Sarfati explains, there is no way a bird’s feathers, which consists of an intricate network that seems to be especially designed for flying, could have evolved from scales: “But scales are folds in skin; feathers are complex structures with a barb, barbules and hooks. They also originate in a totally different way, from follicles inside the skin in a manner akin to hair. Finally, feather proteins (f-keratins) are biochemically different from skin and scale proteins (a-keratins) as well.”

Darwinian evolution desperately needs transitional forms. It needs them between birds and dinosaurs and mammals and whales, for example, but these have been few and far between. Even the few remaining ones are highly disputed, often by evolutionists themselves. Over-zealous evolutionists have time and again used extremely questionable fossil remains as proof of transitional forms. Thus, Pakicetus was judged to be a water-dwelling whale ancestor on the basis of two bones from the head. After more bones were found, it was seen that Pakicetus was a land animal resembling a pig.

For many decades, evolutionists have used the same examples to support the view that time and chance can change living beings into very different species. Archaeopteryx was one of the examples Dr. Jonathan Wells used in his book Icons of Evolution (2000), in which he documented the widespread use of erroneous and misleading proofs of evolution in biology textbooks. These included the Miller-Urey origin of life experiment, Darwin’s tree of life, homology (similar structures in different species), Haeckel’s embryos, the peppered moth, Darwin’s finches, mutant fruit flies, human origins, and evolution being taught as fact.

Archaeopteryx is one of the most well-known icons. Ten fossils of Archaeopteryx have been found. Supporters of evolution have given it a number of pet names, such as Dino bird, Reptile bird, Archy and Archie.

Dr Alan Feduccia, who is a world authority on birds at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an evolutionist, has said, “Paleontologists have tried to turn Archaeopteryx into an earth-bound, feathered dinosaur. But it’s not. It is a bird, a perching bird. And no amount of ‘paleobabble’ is going to change that.”

Archaeopteryx has been dated as being 150 million years old. The purported feathered dinosaurs appear in the fossil record several tens of millions of years after “Archie”. This has prompted Dr. Jonathan Wells to ask how an ancestor can be younger than its descendants, saying that this is as logical as claiming that David Ben Gurion [Israel’s first prime minister] is the uncle of Abraham.

The dino-to-bird link has other major hurdle to overcome as well. Molecular biologist Dr. Michael Denton says that biology textbooks do not even attempt to explain how small random mutations required by Darwinian evolution could gradually produce highly complex systems. “A classic example is the lung of the bird, which is unique in being a circulatory lung rather than a bellows lung. I think it doesn’t require a great deal of profound knowledge of biology to see that for an organ which is so central to the physiology of any higher organism, its drastic modification in that way by a series of small events is almost inconceivable. This is something we can’t throw under the carpet again because, basically, as Darwin said, if any organ can be shown to be incapable of being achieved gradually in little steps, his theory would be totally overthrown.”

In 2002 Dr. Alan Feduccia and Julie Nowicki published a paper in which they showed that there are even more problems with the dino-to-bird hypothesis. After studying the embryonic thumb growth in ostrich eggs, they noticed that whereas in dinosaurs the hands developed from digits 1, 2 and 3, in ostriches, which are regarded as “primitive” birds, they develop from digits 2,3 and 4. Feduccia concluded, "This creates a new problem for those who insist that dinosaurs were ancestors of modern birds. How can a bird hand, for example, with digits two, three and four evolve from a dinosaur hand that has only digits one, two and three? That would be almost impossible.”

Moreover, in January 2005 the prestigious science journal Nature reported that there was evidence of ducks co-existing with dinosaurs. Dr. Julia Clarke and colleagues say this means that “at least duck, chicken and ratite bird relatives were coextant with non-avian dinosaurs.”

Archie’s woes do not end here. While animals that have characteristic of more than one species or even genus might be rare, they are not non-existent. The best-known living “mosaic” is the duck-billed platypus. This Australian furry mammal has a beaver’s tail and a duck’s bill but it also lays eggs. It has more mosaic features than Archie. Had platypus become extinct and known only from the fossil record, it would have produced an interesting hypothesis of its origins. Dr. Duane Gish says that the duck-billed platypus is “a creature evolutionists wish never existed.”

The “living fossil” Coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) is another well-known mosaic. Evolutionists suppose that it is closer to land animals than to fish, as it even gives birth to living offspring. Yet, Coelacanth, dubbed the dino fish, is undoubtably a fish and not a half mammal. Evolutionists believed it used its fins to walk on the seabed but observations have shown this to be false.

There are animals that look surprisingly similar but belong to different species. Dr. Carl Wieland, CEO of Creation Ministries International –Australia explains that the now probably extinct Tasmanian wolf (Thylacinus cynocephalus) is a marsupial but looked like the wolf that is a placential. The Flying Phalanger (Petaurus) living in Australia and New Guinea is a marsupial that looks like the flying squirrel. The Darwinian explanation for this phenomenon is convergent evolution, that is, different species are thought to have evolved the same traits independently. A more logical explanation would be common design – the use of “good engineering” in different species.

Dr. Wieland uses the analogy of similar features in different car makes to explain these similarities. The early Porches had an air-cooled rear engine. So did the Volkswagen Beetle. Both cars had the same designer - Ferdinand Porsche, who used his intelligence and utilised functional parts of one of the cars he designed in another car. Common design is a better explanation than convergent evolution. The bones, wings and feathers of Archaeopteryx support the view that it was intelligently designed to be a flying bird. Biologist Michael Pitman says of avian feathers, “behold the parts of a precision instrument of aerospace, unparalleled in design and workmanship by human technology.” He says that reptiles could not have evolved into birds. “There is no decisive genetic or fossil evidence for evolution from scale to feather, cold to warm-bloodedness, non-flight to flight. Almost every tissue, bone and organ differs dramatically in birds.”

Anatomist Dr. David Menton sums up the dino-to birds view by saying, “The theory of the evolution of flight is not about the birds, so much as it’s a theory ‘for the birds.’” Accepting this view would involve concluding, “if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be - a feathered t-rex, of course!”

There is a more logical theory, though. It involves rejecting the common ancestor hypothesis in favor of Intelligent Design. It seems that the “after their kinds” view of the Book of Genesis explains biological reality much better than Darwinian evolution does.

The few “mosaic” features notwithstanding, Archaeopteryx looks like it was designed to be a flying bird, not a feathered dinosaur recycled from odd bits and pieces. There are several living animals, such as the duck-billed platypus, Coelacanth and ostrich, with mosaic traits. None of them is a missing link. Neither is Archie; it has too many traits that only true birds have, so it cannot be an icon of evolution. This elegantly designed bird points to supranatural technology that surpasses everything humans have ever been able to come up with.


Anon. 1999. Blown Away by Design: Michael Denton and Birds' Lungs. Creation 21(4):14–15.

Gish, Duane T. 1995. Evolution: The fossils Still Say NO! El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research.

Menton, David and Carl Wieland. 1994. Bird Evolution Flies Out The Window: An Anatomist talks about Archaeopteyx. Creation Ex Nihilo 16(4): 16- 19.

Pitman, Michael. 1984. Adam and Evolution. London: Rider.

Prum, Richard O. and Alan H.Brush. 2003. Which Came First, the Feather or the Bird? Scientific American 288 (3):60 –69.

Sarfati, Jonathan. 1998. Book review: Climbing Mount Improbable. TJ 12(1):29–34.

________________. 2002a Refuting Evolution. 2nd ed. Acacia Ridge, Australia: Answers in Genesis.

________________. 2002b. Ostrich Eggs Break Dino-to-Bird Theory. Creation 25(1):34–35.

Wells, Jonathan. 2002. Inherit the Spin: Darwinists Answer “Ten Questions” With Evasions and Falsehoods.

Wieland, Carl. 2004. Dynamic Life: Changes in Living Things. (DVD). Answers in Genesis.

____________. 2005. Dinos Breathed like Birds? TJ 19(3): 11 –12.

Billions of Dead Nautiloids in the Grand Canyon: Evidence for a Rapid Burial

Joel Kontinen

Introduction: The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the most colourful geological formations in the world. The 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and 1 mile deep canyon has been used as a showcase for slow gradual geological processes and the “fact” of millions of years of Earth history. However, two unexpected discoveries made by creation scientists are beginning to challenge the dogma of an old Earth.[1] First, the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in 1980 indicated that thick rock sediments and river canyons can be formed in just a few hours.[2] Second, billions of nautiloid fossils were found in the Grand Canyon.[3]

What are nautiloids?

Nautiloids are marine mollusks that have a long outer shell. The subclass Nautiloidea includes the chambered nautilus that still thrives in the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. [4] The word “nautilus” comes from the Greek noun Ναυτίλος, ‘sailor,’[5] an apt name for a fast-moving deep-sea creature that uses jet-propulsion to move forward. Yet their speed was no match for the raging waters of the catastrophe that buried them before they had time to escape.

Evolution glasses = no discoveries

Many people suppose that scientists are highly objective, but the history of science has time and again shown that deeply ingrained dogmas can distort thinking and bias can prevent scientists from making discoveries. Answers in Genesis-USA President Ken Ham often uses the analogy of evolution glasses that prevent people from seeing evidence for biblical history. Geologists who believe that the Colorado River slowly eroded the Grand Canyon during 70 million years[6] did not expect to find myriads of extinct deep sea creatures buried in the Redwall Limestone. Although nautiloid fossils were first discovered in 1966, [7] they were thought to be very rare in the Grand Canyon.[8]

Biblical glasses = astounding discoveries

In 1995 two creationist PhD scientists, Steven Austin and Kurt Wise, found that there were at least 71 nautiloid fossils on the rock ledges of the Grand Canyon. Four years later Steven Austin examined the ledges more thoroughly and found hundreds of nautiloids in a few days. They were of all sizes, from small to very large, some over six feet long, suggesting that a large population of these sea creatures, both young and old animals, was buried simultaneously.[9] This discovery supports the biblical view that Noah’s flood “deluged and destroyed” the early Earth (Genesis 6-8; 2 Peter 3:6).

The nautiloids were trapped in a layer that is from seven to forty or fifty feet thick and at least 180 miles long. There are probably ten billion nautiloid fossils in the bed along with other sea creatures such as corals.[10] Using flow models,[11] Dr. Austin was able to deduce that an enormous and a very rapid sedimentary flow caught the nautiloids and fossilised them almost instantly. The standard explanation of a slowly moving sea could never have produced this phenomenon that Austin aptly calls a mass kill. [12]

What made this astounding discovery possible? Creation scientists were not restricted by the unnecessary straitjacket of millions of years that kept mainstream geologists from even searching for alternative solutions that would support a rapid formation of the entire canyon. In other words, most geologists thought that millions of years were fact. Putting on biblical glasses, i.e. believing in the historic reliability of the Bible, made all the difference. Genesis 6-8 describes a watery catastrophe that wreaked havoc all over the world.

ICR geologist Dr. Steven Austin and other creation scientists knew what to look for. They found millions of dead things buried in a limestone layer in the Grand Canyon. 15 per cent of the nautiloids were buried in an upright position. The evidence supports strongly a fast catastrophic burial. The Creation Science Association for Mid America website concluded, “if you were on a jury and saw billions of large nautiloids (average nearly 3 feet long) buried, 15% standing on the point of their shell, and learned that hydraulic modeling required it all be deposited in a day, would you vote that the deposition and mass kill took 30 million years?”[13]

The Grand Canyon is just one example of the numerous fossil graveyards found all over the world. Dead things speak of the wages of sin.[14] Fossils illustrate the words of 2 Peter 3 about the destruction caused by Noah’s flood. Peter’s words can also be understood as criticism of uniformitarism, the view that gradual changes over long ages have produced the geological formations we see around us. The passage suggests that by refusing to believe what God has done in the past we might fail to see what He will do in the future:

3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed…
13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.


The Grand Canyon has long been used as proof of millions of years of Earth history. However, the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in 1980 indicated that huge sediments can be formed in a few hours. There are good reasons for believing that the Grand Canyon could also have been formed rapidly.[15] The presence of billions of nautiloid fossils speaks of a catastrophic burial during the year-long Flood of Noah’s day. Nothing short of a world-wide flood could have made the canyon walls a graveyard of fast-moving deep-sea creatures. It is time for a radical reassessment of thinking about time: Little water over much time could not have buried billions of fossils in limestone but a lot of water in a little time could easily have done it.


[1] These are by no means the only evidences for a young Earth. For instance, Dr. D. Russell Humpreys listed 12 good reasons in the booklet Evidence for a Young World published by Answers in Genesis in 2000. More recently, the RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth) project made the astounding discovery of carbon-14 in diamonds which were supposedly millions of years old. With a half-life of 5700 years, there should be no C-14 in diamonds if they really are as old as secular scientists suppose. Another spectacular find was the discovery of red blood cells and soft tissue in tyrannosaurux rex bones.
[2] Morris, John and Steven A. Austin. 2003. Footprints in the Ash. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, pp. 62, 70-77.
[3] ICR Geologist Presents Discovery at Geologic Society Meeting. Acts & Facts 32:1, Jan 2003.
[4] Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. S.v. “nautiloid”. Accessed 9 April 2007.
[5] Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. S.v. “nautilus”. Accessed 9 April 2007.
[6] Ref 2, page 77.
[7] Garner, Paul. 2004. The Grand Canyon Adventure – Part One. Origins 40:3.
[8] Nutting, Dave and Mary Jo Nutting. 2004. Nautiloids: An Amazing Discovery in the Grand Canyon. Think & Believe 21:5, Nov/Dec 2004.
[9] Ref. 7.
[10] Austin, Steven. 2003. Geologic Evidences for Very Rapid Strata Deposition in the Grand Canyon. Answers in Genesis DVD.
[11] Ref. 10.
[12] Refs 7 and 10.
[13] Creation Science Association. Local Evidence for Creation. Accessed 10 April 2007.
[14] See Genesis 3:3; Romans 6:23a.
[15] Austin, Steven A. 1990. Were Grand Canyon Limestones Deposited by Calm and Placid Seas? Acts & Facts 20:1. Impact article #210.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Comets - The Ugly Ducklings of a Young Solar System

Image: Wikipedia

As Featured On Ezine Articles

Joel Kontinen

Hans Christian Andersen (1807-1875) wrote a fascinating tale about a swan that was born on a farmyard and thought it was a duck. The other ducks despised this ugly brown bird and chased it away. One day, however, Ugly Duckling saw some big white birds swimming in a pond. It expected them to drive it out, but they did not. Then the bird looked into the water and saw the reflection of itself: it was not a duckling after all but a beautiful white bird like the others, a swan.

Most of the time comets are like Ugly Duckling. The comet’s nucleus is a small dirty rock usually 1-10 kilometers in diameter consisting of ice, gas and dust. In some comets, this nucleus is surrounded by a huge hydrogen cloud, which may be up to 3 million kilometers wide. [1]

As the comet comes near the sun, a dramatic metamorphosis seems to take place: The sun’s heat “vaporizes some of the icy nucleus or head and sunlight reflects from the vapor. Solar wind pushes the vapor in a direction away from the Sun to form the comet's tail. For this reason, comet tails generally point away from the Sun.”[2]

Comets can be roughly divided into two categories: long-term comets, which orbit the sun in more than 200 years, and short-term comets, with an orbital period of 200 years or less. Some of them are so spectacular that they were though to augur doom. For instance, in 1066 Halley’s Comet preceded the Battle of Hastings, in which William the Conqueror defeated England’s Saxon king Harold.[3]

Many comets have elliptical paths that bring them very close to the sun. A comet loses much of its material each time it approaches the sun.[4] It has been estimated that a comet will loose all its mass in under 100 000 years.[5] This is a serious problem for the secular view of a 4.6 billion year old solar system. If the solar system were that old, we should not see any comets.

But this has not caused believers in million of years to discard their theory. They have set their hopes on a hypothetical stretch of space called the Oort Cloud.[6] They believe that this spherical “cloud”, which is supposed to extend up to three light years from the sun,[7] houses millions of frozen comets that eventually find their way into an orbit that brings them closer to the sun to replace the ones that have been destroyed.[8] The Oort Cloud is thought to provide long-term comets. The biggest problem with this explanation is there is no observational evidence for the existence of this cloud.[9] Creationist astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner suggests that the whole idea of the Oort Cloud “is not bad science, but non-science masquerading as science. The existence of comets is good evidence that the solar system is only a few thousand years old.”[10].

The Kuiper Belt has been proposed as a potential reservoir for short-term comets. It extends from Neptune’s orbit (ca 30 astronomical units or AUs[11]) to about 50 AU from the sun.[12] However, most of the objects in this area which lies beyond Neptune’s orbit, are tens of times bigger than comets.[13] These so-called Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) include the recently discovered Eris (2003UB313) and Sedna (90377), which might be classified as dwarf planets. However, when compared to comets, they are giants. In order to replenish the comet supply, there should be millions of them but only 1026 TNOs have been found.[14]

There is not enough material in either the Oort Cloud or the Kuiper Belt to supply the solar system with the number of comets that old earth supporters desperately need. Genesis 1:14-19 records that the heavenly bodies we see in the night sky were created on Day Four. The genealogies of the Bible indicate that this occurred about 6000 years ago.

The Ugly Ducklings of the solar system are not portents of doom. The message they bring is altogether different. Together with other celestial objects they “declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19: 1). They are amazing evidences for a young solar system.

1] Anatomy of A Comet.
[2] Ref 1.
[3] Sarfati, Jonathan. 2003. Comets: Portents of Doom or Indicators of Youth? Creation 25:3, 36-40, June 2003.
[4] The loss can be tremendous. For instance, “More than 1000 tons of this dust escaped from the head of comet C/1973 El (Kohoutek) every second, and formed a ‘dust tail’ ". Ref. 1
[5] Lisle, Jason. 2005. What Does the Bible Say about Astronomy? Answers in Genesis booklet.
[6] Faulkner, Danny. 2001. More problems for the ‘Oort comet cloud’. TJ 15:2, 11, August 2001.
[7] Ref. 3.
[8] The gravitational impact of other stars is occassionally thought to disturb these sleeping comets and knock them into orbits closer to the sun. (Faulkner, Danny 1997. Comets and the Age of the Solar System. Technical Journal 11:364–273, December 1997).
[9] While some astronomers have suggested that the dwarf planet Sedna, discovered in 2003, is too far from the sun to be a Kuiper Belt Object, they argue that it is actually the first object to be discovered in the Oort Cloud. (Wikipedia. 90377 Sedna. But Sedna comes to within 76 Astronomical Units from the sun, so such a classification would involve stretching definitions quite a bit since Oort Cloud objects were not expected to be so “close” to the sun.
[10] Ref. 6.
[11] One Astronomical Unit (AU) is the average distance from the Earth to the sun or approximately 150 million kilometers or 93 million miles.
[12] Kenyon, Scott J and Benjamin C. Bromley. 2004. Stellar encounters as the origin of distant Solar System objects in highly eccentric orbits. Nature 432, 598-602 (2 December 2004).
[13] “The biggest surprise of the Hubble search is that so few small Kuiper Belt members were discovered. With Hubble's exquisite resolution, Bernstein and his co-workers expected to find at least 60 Kuiper Belt members as small as 10 miles (15 km) in diameter — but only three were found.” (Farthest, Faintest Solar System Objects Found Beyond Neptune News Release Number: STScI-2003-2.
[14] They include Pluto and its three moons. See

For more evidence for a young solar system, read here.