For those of you preparing a turkey or a goose for the Christmas holiday, here is a slightly different recipe to consider. Remove some of the cells from the bird you are preparing and put them through a process that extracts the mitochondrial DNA. Then use whatever method of DNA analysis you prefer to decode the mitochondrial DNA. Once you have that coded, add a heaping amount of assumptions and presuppositions, mix well, then place in a computer modeling system and let cook or run until done. If prepared properly, you will have a well cooked story on the evolution of modern birds and arrive with a date for when they first appeared.
That is basically what a group of scientists have done. They joined together in an attempt to settle some of the contentions that have existed within the evolutionary community concerning when they believe modern birds first evolved. As their published paper states:
Determining an absolute timescale for avian evolutionary history has proven contentious. The two sources of information available, paleontological data and inference from extant molecular genetic sequences (colloquially, ‘rocks’ and ‘clocks’), have appeared irreconcilable; the fossil record supports a Cenozoic origin for most modern lineages, whereas molecular genetic estimates suggest that these same lineages originated deep within the Cretaceous and survived the K-Pg (Cretaceous-Paleogene; formerly Cretaceous-Tertiary or K-T) mass-extinction event. These two sources of data therefore appear to support fundamentally different models of avian evolution. The paradox has been speculated to reflect deficiencies in the fossil record, unrecognized biases in the treatment of genetic data or both. [Emphasis mine]
In their report, they claim that by extrapolating supposed mutational rates found in the genes of a number of modern birds that they can trace back to the rise of the first modern birds 100 millions ago.
Interestingly, they claim that modern birds survived the mass K-T extinction that supposedly wiped out nearly 85% of life on the entire planet. They don’t say how they pulled off that miracle.
As the articles states, there is a division between the geological and genetic groups as to the rise of modern birds. The main reason they are at odds with each other on the origin of modern birds is not based upon scientific research, but on the presuppositions they first set in place on which to base their studies on. And for you constant evolutionary supporters and critics to other possible views, allow me to elaborate before you hit the keyboards with your usual vitriolic responses.
All of the radiometric dating techniques used are based on the assumptions of:
- Billions of years
- When the rock forms (hardens) there should only be parent radioactive atoms in the rock and no daughter radiogenic (derived by radioactive decay of another element) atoms
- After hardening, the rock must remain a closed system, that is, no parent or daughter atoms should be added to or removed from the rock by external influences such as percolating groundwaters
- The radioactive decay rate must remain constant
These assumptions allow for no other options to even be considered. However if any of these assumptions are violated, then the technique fails and any ‘dates’ are false.
Have any of these assumptions ever been proven to have been violated or questioned? Consider the following examples of questionable radioisotopic dates (dates shown are intended to show the discrepancies within the evolutionary system only):
- When miners were drilling at Crinum, Queensland, Australia, they drilled through a layer of basalt and then into a layer of fossilized wood. The wood was carbon dated to be around 37,500 years BP and the basalt that covered it was dated to 47.5 Ma.
- Or what about the dating of a number of amphibolites collected from the same location in the Grand Canyon and then dated using independent labs? When they used K-Ar dating on 27 samples, they obtained ages that ranged from 405.1 ± 10 Ma to 2,574.2 ± 73 Ma. That is a six-fold difference in dates obtained from samples taken at the exact same location.
- Additionally, 7 more samples of amphibolites taken from near Clear Creek in the Grand Canyon yielded K-Ar dates ranging from 1,060.4 ± 28 Ma to 2,574.2 ± 73 Ma.
- 19 of the 27 amphibolite samples were again tested using Rb-Sr method and yielded dates of 1240 ± 84 Ma.
- 21 of the amphibolite samples were dated using Sm-Nd method and yielded dates of 1,655 ± 40 Ma.
- 20 of the amphibolite samples were aged using Pb-Pb method and yielded dates of 1,883 ± 53 Ma.
- Studies conducted on the recent lava flows from Mt. Ngauruhoe in New Zealand. Eleven samples were collected from five recent lava flows dating from 1949 to 1954 and from a 1975 avalanche deposit. Samples were sent to the Geochron Labs in Cambridge, MA. Using K-Ar dating methods, they obtained ages ranging from <0.27 to 3.5 ± 0.2 Ma on rocks that were only 25-50 years old.
- Dating of 2 basalt layers in the Grand Canyon. The Cardenas basalt considered to be Precambrian was dated using Rb-Sr method and found to be about 1070 Ma. The basalt layer on the Uinkaret Plateau at the top of the Grand Canyon was also dated using Rb-Sr and found to be 1340 Ma, or nearly 300 million years older than the Precambrian layer.
The list goes on and on of examples where various dating methods were found to be inconsistent with known history. And since these dating samples mentioned above have all been conducted in established dating laboratories, there is no way that they can be discounted or ignored by those who don’t want to admit that evolutionary dating methods are based on assumptions that have been proven to be in error and unreliable.
As for the mitochondrial DNA dating methods used in the study on modern birds and other organisms, they also are based on several key assumptions that cannot be proven and are highly questionable:
The more the genetic code and mutations are studied, the more they discover that mutational rates vary over time and from gene to gene. Events such as a genetic bottleneck or Founder’s event can affect the rate of mutations within a population of organisms. Other factors such as climatic changes, disease, environmental changes such as pollution and the introduction of new competitive organisms into the environment, can all affect the mutational rates in a population.
Lastly, presuppositional biases can also affect the reported rates of mutation and the age of the original ancestor. My favorite example is the 1998 report of the date of mitochondrial Eve. It was reported that new research had yielded a much faster mitochondrial DNA mutational rate than once believed. Based upon the new rate, mitochondrial Eve would have lived a mere 6,000 years ago, which perfectly lines up with the biblical account of Adam and Eve. However, the presuppositional biases of those conducting the study caused them to dismiss this possibility as seen in their own words:
Regardless of the cause, evolutionists are most concerned about the effect of a faster mutation rate. For example, researchers have calculated that “mitochondrial Eve” – the woman whose mtDNA was ancestral to that in all living people – lived 100,000 to 200,000 years ago in Africa. Using the new clock, she would be a mere 6000 years old. No one thinks that’s the case…
Showing that both geologic and genetic dating methods are highly questionable, inaccurate, and highly subject to personal biases, how can you trust reports like the one that says that modern birds evolved 100 million years ago?
The only real answer as to when birds first appeared is the one given to us by the one that was there when it happened and gave us His account of the event in Genesis 1:20-23:
Afterward God said, Let the waters bring forth in abundance every creeping thing that hath life: and let the fowl fly upon the earth in the open firmament of the heaven. Then God created the great whales, and everything living and moving, which the waters brought forth in abundance according to their kind, and every feathered fowl according to his kind: and God saw that it was good. Then God blessed them, saying, Bring forth fruit and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let the fowl multiply in the earth. So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
1599 Geneva Bible, Tolle Lege Press, White Hall, WV. 2006-2007.
Austin, S.A. (ed.), Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe, Institute for Creation Research, Santee, California, 1994.
Brown, Joseph w. etal., Strong mitochondrial DNA support for a Cretaceous origin of modern avian lineages, BMC Biology, Jan. 2008.
Gibbons, Ann, Calibrating the Mitochondrial Clock, Science, Jan. 2, 1998.
O’Donoghue, James, Living dinosaurs: When did modern birds evolve?, NewScientist.com, Dec. 17, 2010.
Snelling, Andrew, Radioactive ‘dating’ failure: Recent New Zealand lava flows yield ‘ages’ of millions of years, Creation, Vol. 22(1), Dec. 1999.
Snelling, Andrew, Conflicting ‘ages’ of Tertiary basalt and contained fossilized wood, Crinum, Central Queensland, Australia, CEN Technical Journal, Vol. 14(2), 2000.
Snelling, Andrew, Radioisotope dating of rocks in the Grand Canyon, Creation, Vol. 27(3), June 2005.