By Harun Yahya
Bird Feathers and Reptile Scales
Another impassable gap between birds and reptiles is feathers, which are peculiar to birds. Reptile bodies are covered with scales, a completely different structure. The hypothesis that bird feathers evolved from reptile scales is completely unfounded, and is indeed disproved by the fossil record, as the evolutionist paleontologist Barbara Stahl once admitted:
How [feathers] arose initially, presumably from reptiles scales, defies analysis… It seems, from the complex construction of feathers, that their evolution from reptilian scales would have required an immense period of time and involved a series of intermediate structures. So far, the fossil record does not bear out that supposition.(11)
A. H. Brush, a professor of physiology and neurobiology at the University of Connecticut, accepts this fact, although he is himself an evolutionist: “Every feature from gene structure and organization, to development, morphogenesis and tissue organization is different [in feathers and scales].”(12) Moreover, Professor Brush examines the protein structure of bird feathers and argues that it is “unique among vertebrates.”(13)
There is no fossil evidence to prove that bird feathers evolved from reptile scales. On the contrary, feathers appear suddenly in the fossil record, Professor Brush observes, as an “undeniably unique” character distinguishing birds.(14) Besides, in reptiles, no epidermal tissue has yet been detected that provides a starting point for bird feathers.(15)
Many fossils have so far been the subject of “feathered dinosaur” speculation, but detailed study has always disproved it. Alan Feduccia once wrote the following in an article called “On Why Dinosaurs Lacked Feathers”:
Feathers are features unique to birds, and there are no known intermediate structures between reptilian scales and feathers. Notwithstanding speculations on the nature of the elongated scales found on such forms as Longisquama (discovered 1969 Russia) … as being featherlike structures, there is simply no demonstrable evidence that they in fact are.(16)
More recently, Feduccia, quoting Brush, has the following passage on the origin of feathers:
Even birds’ most scalelike features—the leg scutes (scales), claws, and the epidermally derived beak—are formed from a single category of protein, the Ø-keratins. As Alan Brush has written regarding feather development, “The genes that direct synthesis of the avian Ø-keratins represent a significant divergence from those of their reptilian ancestor.”(17) (Note that the authors assume a reptilian ancestor for birds, but accept the genetic gap between these.)
All news about “dino-birds” are speculative. Many allegations turned out to false. For example, “feathered dinosaur” claim that was put forward in 1996 with a great media fanfare was also disproved soon. A reptilian fossil called Sinosauropteryx was found in China, but paleontologists who examined the fossil said that it had bird feathers, unlike modern reptiles. Examinations conducted one year later, however, showed that the fossil actually had no structure similar to a bird’s feather.(18)
Every other fossil that has been put forward as “feathered dinosaur” in the last 10 years is debatable. Detailed studies have revealed that the structures suggested to have been “feathers” are actually collagen fibers.(19) The speculations in fact stems from evolutionist prejudice and wishful thinking. As Feduccia says, “Many dinosaurs have been portrayed with a coating of aerodynamic contour feathers with absolutely no documentation.”(20) (One of the “feathered dinosaurs” in question, namely Archaeoraptor, proved to be a fossil forgery). Feduccia sums the position up in these terms: “Finally, no feathered dinosaur has ever been found, although many dinosaur mummies with well-preserved skin are known from diverse localities.”(21)
The Design of the Feathers
Another problem for the evolutionists is the fact that there is such a complex design in bird feathers that the phenomenon can never be accounted for without referring to intelligent design. As we all know, there is a long, stiff part that runs up the center of the feather. Attached to the shaft are the vanes. The vane is made up of small thread-like strands, called barbs. These barbs, of different lengths and rigidity, are what give the flying bird its aerodynamic nature. But what is even more interesting is that each barb has thousands of even smaller strands attached to them called barbules. The barbules are connected to barbicels, with tiny microscopic hooks, called hamuli. Each strand is hooked to an opposing strand, much like the hooks of a zipper. On just one crane feather, there are up to 650 hairs on the central tube. Each one of these is covered with some 650 tinier hairs. And these tiny hairs are linked together by 350 hooks. The hooks come together like the two sides of a zipper. If the hooks come apart for any reason, it is sufficient for the bird to shake itself, or, in more serious cases, to straighten its feathers out with its beak, for the feathers to return to their previous positions.
To claim that the complex design in feathers could have come about by the evolution of reptile scales through chance mutations is quite simply a dogmatic belief with no scientific foundation. Even one of the doyens of Darwinism, Ernst Mayr, made this confession on the subject some years ago:
It is a considerable strain on one’s credulity to assume that finely balanced systems such as certain sense organs (the eye of vertebrates, or the bird’s feather) could be improved by random mutations.(22)
The design of feathers also compelled Darwin to ponder them. Moreover, the perfect aesthetics of the peacock’s feathers had made him “sick” (his own words). In a letter he wrote to Asa Gray on April 3, 1860, he said, “I remember well the time when the thought of the eye made me cold all over, but I have got over this stage of complaint…” And then continued: “… and now trifling particulars of structure often make me very uncomfortable. The sight of a feather in a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick!”(23)
In short, the enormous structural differences between bird feathers and reptile scales, and the astonishingly complex—and beautiful—design of feathers, clearly demonstrate the invalidity of the claim that feathers evolved from scales through blind natural mechanisms.
The “dino-bird” stories that appear in the evolutionist press consist of biased analyses by evolutionist paleontologists, and sometimes even of distortions of the truth. (In fact, one of the best-known “dino-bird” discoveries, the Archaeoraptor portrayed by National Geographic as incontrovertible proof of bird evolution, turned out to be a forgery produced by combining fossils of five separate specimens). The “dino-bird” fossils in question are either those of extinct species of bird or of dinosaurs, and not one of them represents a “missing link” between birds and dinosaurs. In fact, as we have seen above, it is impossible for dinosaurs to have evolved into birds and assumed bird characteristics by means of chance mutations.
Thus the “dino-bird” hype that rages through the media consists of nothing more than a last-ditch attempt to shore up the collapsed theory of evolution. However, science and reason will always prevail over such misconceptions.
11. Barbara J. Stahl, Vertebrate History: Problems in Evolution, Dover, 1985, pp. 349-350
12. A. H. Brush, “On the Origin of Feathers,” Journal of Evolutionary Biology, vol. 9, 1996, p.132.
13. A. H. Brush, “On the Origin of Feathers,” Journal of Evolutionary Biology, vol. 9, 1996, p.131.
14. A. H. Brush, “On the Origin of Feathers,” Journal of Evolutionary Biology, vol. 9, 1996, p.133.
15. A. H. Brush, “On the Origin of Feathers,” Journal of Evolutionary Biology, vol. 9, 1996, p.131.
16. Alan Feduccia, “On Why Dinosaurs Lacked Feathers,” The Beginning of Birds, Eichstatt, West Germany: Jura Museum, 1985, p. 76.
17. Alan Feduccia, The Origin and Evolution of Birds, Yale University Press, 1999, p. 128
18. Ann Gibbons, “Plucking the Feathered Dinosaur,” Science, vol. 278, no. 5341, 14 November 1997, pp. 1229 – 1230
19. Ann Gibbons, “Plucking the Feathered Dinosaur”, Science, volume 278, Number 5341 Issue of 14 Nov 1997, pp. 1229 – 1230
20. Alan Feduccia, The Origin and Evolution of Birds, Yale University Press, 1999, p. 130
21. Alan Feduccia, The Origin and Evolution of Birds, Yale University Press, 1999, p. 132
22. Ernst Mayr, Systematics and the Origin of Species, Dove, New York, 1964, p. 296.
23. Francis Darwin, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume II, From Charles Darwin to Asa Gray, April 3rd, 1860
Harun Yahya was born in Ankara in 1956. He studied arts at Istanbul’s Mimar Sinan University and philosophy at Istanbul University. Since the 1980s, the author has published many books on political, faith-related and scientific issues. Harun Yahya is well known as an author who has written very important works disclosing the imposture of evolutionists, the invalidity of their claims and the dark liaisons between Darwinism and bloody ideologies. Some of the books of the author have been translated into English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Albanian, Arabic, Polish, Russian, Bosnian, Indonesian, Turkish, Tatar, Urdu and Malay and published in the countries concerned. Harun Yahya’s books appeal to all people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, regardless of their age, race and nationality, as they center around one goal: to open the readers mind by presenting the signs of Gods eternal existence to them.