By Greg Neyman
© Old Earth Ministries
This question was published in Dr. John's Q&A by John Morris in March 2000. In addressing this question, Morris makes the usual mistake made by young earth creationists, comparing the dinosaur to modern reptiles, which means that he is comparing modern reptiles to modern birds. Although dinosaurs are technically still considered reptiles, they have non-reptilian features also, such as warm-bloodedness. Many paleontologists would consider them unique from reptiles. (A search of the internet yields results in favor of both.)
Morris brings up several points in this answer.
1. Wings. His main argument is that flight requires fully formed wings...a half-wing is no good, and if evolution is true, a half-wing would have been discarded as useless. Good point. However, the digit numbering has been solved by evolutionists. Here are some evolutionist links for this issue.
2. Feathers. Morris claims that feathers are not at all similar to scales. However, it has been shown that the same genetic material is responsible for both!
Scutes are the thick scales on the top of a bird's foot. Smaller scales on the back of the foot are called scutellae, and scales on the bottom of the digits are called reticulae. Analysis of these shows that scutes, scuttelae, claw sheathes, beak sheathes, and scales around the eye are of the same chemical composition as feathers, and are controlled by the same genes!1
So, scale to feathers is very much possible, from a genetic standpoint!
3. Bones. Birds have hollow bones, dinosaurs had solid bones. New discoveries of raptor-like dinosaurs with hollow bones have been made in the last few years, eliminating this argument.2
Another bone argument is the heavy tail, which is more slender in the new fossils, and feather-covered. Morris also claims that dinosaurs were lizard-hipped, and birds are bird-hipped. This is true...however, the first true bird fossils are also lizard-hipped, so they developed these bird-hips after they made the transition from dinosaurs.3
4. Warm-Blooded. Morris says that birds are warm-blooded, and reptiles are all cold-blooded. He claims that dinosaur metabolism is in question. In the paleontological world, it has clearly been solved in favor of warm-bloodedness, or at the very least, a mix of the two depending on the species. Raptors, the likely species group to evolve into birds, are clearly thought to be warm-blooded.
5. Lungs. Morris says birds lungs don't breath in and out. They route air in a one-directional loop. Reptilian respiration is more like that of mammals. Two points. We don't have fossilized dinosaur lungs, so there is no way to confirm this. Point two, dinosaurs are so different from reptiles that comparisons with modern reptiles is like comparing apples and oranges.
Morris wrote this response in March 2000. A study in which dinosaurs were believed to have breathed like birds was published in Nature in July 2005.4 Therefore, Morris did not have all the data at the time he wrote the article.
Other Organs. This refers to a mummified dinosaur with soft tissue fossilized, which appears to be crocodile-like, and not bird-like. I could find no reference to this claim, and since Morris' book has no references, and the web article this question is based on has no references, I cannot provide any information on this claim.
Despite Morris' best efforts, dinosaur to bird evolution is as strong as ever. If evolution is true, then it may have happened. Theistic evolutionists can rest assured that the young earth arguments do not pose any obstacles.
3 About.com...more references pending
4 O’Connor, P. and Claessens, L., Basic avian pulmonary design and flow-through ventilation in non-avian theropod dinosaurs, Nature 436:253–256, 14 July 2005.
For More Reading
Dr. John's Q&A #135, published on the web at http://www.icr.org/index.php?module=articles&action=view&ID=908
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