Were “Dinosaur Feathers” More Birdlike Than Thought?

by Ken Ham on November 2, 2023
Featured in Ken Ham Blog

When it comes to reading recent articles on dinosaur studies, some mental gymnastics are involved to try to discover whether the author is writing about actual dinosaur fossils or just bird fossils. After all, evolutionists believe that birds are dinosaurs (as biblical creationists, we reject that assertion), so it can get confusing! So what should we make of a headline like this: “Dinosaur feathers may have been more birdlike than previously thought”?

Well, I would rewrite that headline to something like this:

Fossilized feathers look like feathers, research suggests.

Or maybe:

Fossilization may have altered feathers, research suggests.

But I suppose neither of those titles is as attention-grabbing as starting off with “dinosaur feathers.” But the original title is misleading. The researchers didn’t study fossilized dinosaur feathers and compare them with fossilized bird feathers—they compared fossilized bird feathers and fossilized bird feathers. In other words, they studied feathers!

You see, most of the so-called “feathered dinosaurs” were actually just . . . birds! And that likely includes Sinornithosaurus, the “feathered dinosaur” used in this study. Now, here’s a little background before we look at the popular summary of the study. A 2019 analysis of fossil feathers (supposedly from dinosaurs) found that

feathers from a flightless dinosaur mostly contained a different, more flexible form of the keratin protein that makes up modern bird beaks, scales and feathers. Researchers suggested then that feathers had evolved molecularly over time to become stiffer as birds — the last living dinosaurs — took to the skies.
Starting with God’s Word, we know that feathers didn’t evolve over time.

Starting with God’s Word, we know that feathers didn’t evolve over time. They were created by God on day five of creation week when he created the various bird kinds. But evolutionists have to believe that feathers evolved, and this initial study seemed to suggest that some “dinosaur feathers” supposedly had a different molecular makeup than the feathers of birds.

But a new study attempted to mimic the fossilization process in the lab, and this team discovered that “fossilization can change feather proteins” making them appear to have a different molecular makeup when, in fact, these so-called “dinosaur feathers” were composed of the same keratin proteins as (other) bird feathers. This, of course, “raise[s] new questions about feather evolution.”

The researchers next examined a roughly 50-million-year-old bird feather and a 125-million-year-old feather from the nonavian dinosaur Sinornithosaurus. To their surprise, the bird feather seemed to consist mainly of alpha-keratins. Since it should have been rich in the beta variety, the team suspects that the proteins transformed during fossilization. The dinosaur feather, by contrast, contained mainly beta-keratins, suggesting it wasn’t exposed to enough heat to morph its proteins.

The simplest interpretation is that the distorting effects of fossilization led previous researchers astray in thinking dinosaur and bird feathers were so different molecularly.

These feathers didn’t evolve, and the creatures who wore them weren’t buried millions of years ago—they were buried during the global flood of Noah’s day just a few thousand years ago.

While other researchers disagree with the conclusions of this study, I’m not surprised that feathers in the fossil record appear like feathers today! After all, these feathers didn’t evolve, and the creatures who wore them weren’t buried millions of years ago—they were buried during the global flood of Noah’s day just a few thousand years ago.

Get More Answers on Answers News

This item was discussed today on Answers News with cohosts Roger Patterson, Dr. Georgia Purdom, and Rob Webb. Answers News is our weekly news program filmed live before a studio audience here at the Creation Museum, broadcast on our Answers in Genesis YouTube channel, and posted to Answers TV. We also covered the following topics:

  • Neanderthals “might not be [a] separate species.”
  • Preacher facing prison for showing a sign with Bible verse on it.
  • Canadian nurse risks losing her license for not adopting gender ideology.
  • And more!

Watch the entire episode of Answers News for October 30, 2023.

Be sure to join us each Monday at 2 p.m. (ET) on YouTube or later that day on Answers TV for Answers News. You won’t want to miss this unique news program that gives science and culture news from a distinctly biblical and Christian perspective.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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