If reptiles evolved into birds, as evolution claims, there should have been thousands of types of animals more birdlike than reptiles and yet more reptilelike than birds. Evolutionists claim that Archaeopteryx (ark ee OP ta riks) is a transition between reptiles and birds, basically a feathered reptile. If so, it is the only transitional form between reptiles and birds. Furthermore, of the relatively few claimed intermediate fossils, this is the one most frequently cited by evolutionists and shown in almost all biology textbooks. Some say it is the most famous fossil in the world.
Archaeopteryx means ancient (archae) wing (pteryx). But the story behind this alleged half-reptile, half-bird is much more interesting than its fancy, scientific-sounding name or the details of its bones. If Archaeopteryx were shown to be a fraud, the result would be devastating for the evolution theory. Since the early 1980s, several prominent scientists have charged that the two Archaeopteryx fossils with clearly visible feathers are forgeries. Allegedly, thin layers of cement were spread on two fossils of a chicken-size dinosaur, called (komp SOG nuh thus). Bird feathers were then imprinted into the wet cement.
Were it not for these perfectly formed, modern feathers, that are visible only on two of the six known specimens, Archaeopteryx would be considered Compsognathus. The skeletal features of Archaeopteryx are certainly not suitable for flight, since no specimen shows a sternum (breast bone) which all birds, and even bats, must have to attach their large flight muscles. Finally, Archaeopteryx should not be classified as a bird.
The two fossils with feathers were "found" and sold for high prices by Karl Haberlein (in 1861 for 600 pounds) and his son, Ernst, (in 1877 for 36,000 gold marks) just as Darwin's theory and book, The Origin of Species (1859), were gaining popularity. While some German experts apparently thought the new (1861) fossil was a forgery, the British Museum (Natural History) bought it sight unseen.
Evidence of a forgery includes instances where the supposedly mating faces of the fossil (the main slab and counterslab) do not mate. The feather impressions are primarily on the main slab, while the counterslab in several places has raised areas that have no corresponding indentation on the main slab. These raised areas, nicknamed "chewing gum blobs," are made of the same fine grained material that is found only under the feather impressions. The rest of the fossil is composed of a courser grained limestone. Some might claim that Archaeopteryxhas a wishbone, or furcula--a unique feature of birds. It would be more accurate to say that only the British Museum specimen has a visible furcula. It is a strange furcula, "relatively the largest known in any bird." Furthermore, it is upside down, a point acknowledged by two giants of the evolutionist movement--T. H. Huxley (Darwin's so-called bulldog) and Gavin deBeer. As Fred Hoyle and N. Chandra Wickramasinghe stated, "It was somewhat unwise for the forgers to endow Compsognathus with a furcula, because a cavity had to be cut in the counterslab, with at least some semblance to providing a fit to the added bone. This would have to be done crudely with a chisel, which could not produce a degree of smoothness in cutting the rock similar to a true sedimentation cavity."
Many feather imprints show what has been called "double strike" impressions. Apparently, feather impressions were made twice in a slightly displaced position as the slab and counterslab were pressed together.
Honest disagreement as to whether Archaeopteryx was or was not a forgery was possible until 1986, when a definitive test was performed. An X-ray resonance spectrograph of the British Museum fossil showed that the material containing the feather impressions differed significantly from the rest of the fossil slab. The chemistry of this "amorphous paste" also differed from the crystalline rock in the famous fossil quarry in Germany where Archaeopteryx supposedly was found. Few responses have been made to this latest, and probably conclusive, evidence.
Fossilized feathers are almost unheard of, and several complete, flat feathers that just happened to be at the slab/counterslab interface is even more remarkable. Furthermore, there has been no convincing explanation for how to fossilize (actually encase) a bird in the 80% pure, Solnhofen limestone. One difficulty, which will be appreciated after reading about is the low density of birds. Another is that limestone is precipitated from sea water, Therefore, to be buried in limestone, the animal must lie on the sea floor--a rarity for a dead bird.
Significantly, two modern birds have recently been found in rock strata dated by evolutionists as much older than Archaeopteryx . Therefore, according to evolutionary dating methods, Archaeopteryx could not be ancestral to modern birds.
Archaeopteryx 's fame seems assured, not as a transitional fossil between reptiles and birds, but as a forgery. Unlike the Piltdown hoax, which fooled leading scientists for more than 40 years, the Archaeopteryx hoax lasted for 125 years. (See "Ape-Men?".) Since the apparent motive for the Archaeopteryxdeception was money, Archaeopteryx should be labeled as a fraud.The British Museum (Natural History) gave life to both deceptions and must assume much of the blame. Those scientists who were too willing to fit Archaeopteryxinto their evolutionary framework also helped spread the deception. Piltdown man may soon be replaced as the most famous hoax in all of science.
References and Notes
1. Dr. Lee Spetner first made this allegation in a meeting of orthodox Jewish scientists held in Jerusalem in July 1980. Spetner had studied the British Museum specimen in June 1978 and had pointed out the discrepancies to Dr. Alan Charig, Chief Curator of Fossil Amphibians, Reptiles, and Birds. [See "Is the Archaeopteryxa Fake?", Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 20, September 1983, pp. 121-122.] Charig has consistently denied the forgery.
For the most complete description and photographs of this evidence, see Fred Hoyle and N. Chandra Wickramasinghe, Archaeopteryx , the Primordial Bird: A Case of Fossil Forgery(Swansea, England: Christopher Davies, Ltd., 1986). This book also responds to counterclaims that Archaeopteryx was not a forgery.
2. Some defenders of Archaeopteryxwill claim that three of the other four specimens also have feathers--the Teyler Museum specimen, the Eichstatt specimen, and the poorly preserved Maxberg specimen. Hoyle, Wickramasinghe, and Watkins put it bluntly. "Only people in an exceptional condition of mind can see them." [F. Hoyle, N. C. Wickramasinghe, and R. S. Watkins, " Archaeopteryx ," The British Journal of Photography, 21 June 1985, p. 694.]
3. Ian Taylor, "The Ultimate Hoax: Archaeopteryx Lithographica," Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Creationism, Vol. 2 (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Creation Science Fellowship, 1990), p. 280.
4. ". . . these specimens [of Archaeopteryx ] are not particularly like modern birds at all. If feather impressions had not been preserved in the London and Berlin specimens, they [the other specimens] never would have been identified as birds. Instead, they would unquestionably have been labeled as coelurosaurian dinosaurs [such as Compsognathus ]. Notice that the last three specimens to be recognized [as Archaeopteryx ] were all misidentified at first, and the Eichstatt specimen for 20 years was thought to be a small specimen of the dinosaur Compsognathus ." John H. Ostrom, "The Origin of Birds," Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Vol. 3, 1975, p. 61.
"Apart from the proportions of its wings, the skeleton of Archaeopteryx is strikingly similar to that of a small, lightly built, running dinosaur, such as the coelurosaur Compsognathus ." Dougal Dixon et al., The Macmillan Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1988), p. 172.
5. "Phylogenetic analysis of stem-group birds reveals that Archaeopteryx is no more closely related to modern birds than are several types of theropod dinosaurs, including tyrannosaurids and ornithomimids. Archaeopteryx is not an ancestral bird, nor is it an 'ideal intermediate' between reptiles and birds. There are no derived characters uniquely shared by Archaeopteryx and modern birds alone; consequently there is little justification for continuing to classify Archaeopteryx as a bird." R. A. Thulborn, "The Avian Relationships of Archaeopteryx and the Origin of Birds," Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, Vol. 82, 1984, p. 119.
6. Larry D. Martin, "The Relationship of Archaeopteryx to other Birds," The Beginnings of Birds: Proceedings of the International Archaeopteryx Conference of 1984 (Eichstatt, Germany: Jura Museum, 1985), p. 182.
7. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, Archaeopteryx , the Primordial Bird: A Case of Fossil Forgery, p. 93.
8. N. Wickramasinghe and F. Hoyle, " Archaeopteryx , the Primordial Bird?", Nature, Vol. 324, 18/25 December 1986, p. 622.
9. Two milligram-size samples of the fossil material were tested; one from a "feather" region and a c