In 2003, the paleontology world was abuzz with the news of a newly discovered fossil that was dubbed Microraptor (small one who seizes). What made this fossil so exciting is that it had well defined feathers over most of the body including the legs and feet. It was instantly hailed as a 4-winged dinosaur and proof of the evolution of dinosaurs into birds.
Microraptor is about the size of a pigeon and the forelimbs resemble the wings of birds more than it does the forearms of a dinosaur. The feathers are known as pennaceous or contour feathers. They are feathers that are used for flight. In virtually every aspect, Microraptor appears to be very bird-like except for its long bony tail and small serrated teeth which most modern birds do not have.
In a recent study on Microraptors, scientist compared the shape and density of the fossils feathers with those in a database of modern birds. More specifically, they were looking at comparisons of the melanosomes which give the feathers their color and appearance. At the conclusion of the study, the researchers determined that the feathers of Microraptors were black with a bluish iridescence much like that of a crow or raven.
Based upon the numerous Microraptor fossils and the new study on the color of the feathers, artists have portrayed this creature as a pigeon-sized crow with a long bony tail and feathers on the lower legs and feet.
So I guess the question for creationists is whether or not Microraptor is a dinosaur or a bird and if a dinosaur, how do we explain the feathers?
First of all, I’m not 100% totally convinced that Microraptor is not a bird. It appears to have more bird characteristics than it does dinosaur characteristics, much like Archaeopteryx, especially since it has well defined wings and pennaceous feathers not the proto-feathers they try to place on actual dinosaurs. Interestingly, many evolutionists still consider Archaeopteryx to be a bird while others still try to classify it as a dinosaur. This classification is made easier for both Archaeopteryx and Microraptor since evolutionists have distorted modern taxonomy by placing birds and dinosaurs in the same general group.
But if Microraptor is in fact a dinosaur, it’s not creation shattering news. There is nothing biblical to say that dinosaurs cannot have feathers. The issue of well-defined wings is also no big deal either, especially when you look at bats. Their forelimbs are designed similar to the wings of some birds as they are specially designed for sustained flight.
Regardless of whether Microraptor is a bird or dinosaur, it is a fascinating fossil of a creature that most likely perished during the Genesis flood. It is not evidence that dinosaurs evolved into birds because we know from the eyewitness account of Creation that birds were created on Day 5 and dinosaurs on Day 6. Birds came before dinosaurs, not the other way around.
Four-Winged Dinosaur’s Feathers Were Black With Iridescent Sheen, Science Daily, March 8, 2012.
Microraptor Had Black, Iridescent Feathers, Scientists Report, Red Orbit, March 9, 2012.
Join Arkie the Archaeopteryx as he flies through an ancient jungle and meets many unique creatures that are also not missing links. This delightful adventure helps children look at the natural world through a biblical lens, giving glory to God.
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