Time for another trip into AnswersInGenesis.org. This time it is an article entitled: Vertebrates: animals with backbones. This article was first published in 2006 – so we can be sure that all of the claims are accurate as of today. Or can we? The article discuses Archaeopteryx as the possible missing link between reptiles and birds. It then uses it to try to disprove the theory of evolution.
Is there any clue in Archaeopteryx as to how reptilian scales evolved into feathers? No, none at all. When we find feathers as fossils, we find fully developed and functional feathers. Feathers are quite complex structures, with little hooks and eyelets for zippering and unzippering them. Archaeopteryx not only had complete and complex feathers, but feathers of several different types! As a matter of fact, it had the asymmetric feather characteristic of strong fliers. An evolutionist once claimed that penguin wings showed the transition from scale to feather. Their small feathers do overlap like scales (or roofing shingles!), but their microstructure and development are 100% feather. He might as well have claimed the feathers evolved from shingles!
I don’t think anyone has recently claimed that Archaeopteryx is the missing link. Archaeopteryx is however an early ancestor of birds. This article has this to say about feathers:
Two species of dinosaur have recently been found in northeast China which possess feathers (Qiang et al. 1998). Protoarchaeopteryx robusta and Caudipteryx zoui show regiges, rectrices and plumulaceous feather inpressions. Further, they are not birds, lacking a reverted (backwards facing) big toe (see number 2 below) and a quadrratojugal squamosal contact, having a quadrojugal joined to the quatrate by a ligament and a reduced or absent process of the ishium. These and other characters group Protoarchaeopteryx and Caudipteryx with maniraptoran coelurosaurs rather than birds.
Basically it comes down to this: regardless of whether or not Archaeopteryx is the missing link between dinosaurs and birds, it doesn’t prove or disprove the theory of evolution. Unlike creationists, who claim to know the truth – science understands that they don’t. Scientists use theories to explain things. As new evidence is discovered the theories are tweaked. Genesis is never tweaked. The theory of evolution was never and will never be riding on the back of Archaeopteryx. You’d think someone who supposedly used to teach college biology would know that – or at least do their research.