Ichthyornis dispar: A bird missing link?

Ichthyornis dispar - not a bird missing link at all

Ichthyornis dispar – not a bird missing link at all

The mainstream media is all over Ichthyornis dispar.  This is supposed to be a ‘missing link’ between dinosaurs and birds.  The name means something like ‘disparate fish-bird’.

Evolutionists like Bhart-Anjan Bhullar of Yale University claim: ‘It shows us what the first bird beak looked like.’  ‘It’s a real mosaic of features, a transitional form.’  That’s what he says.  ‘A transitional form’.  At last!  The elusive missing link!

Evolution Cheerleader

The BBC is top cheerleader for evolution.  Moreover, it’s not just David Attenborough.   Expressions like ‘adapted’, ‘evolved’ ‘millions of years’ are used all over the network.  Anyway, according to the BBC, ‘It has long been known that birds evolved from dinosaurs in what was a slow gradual process, involving feathers, wings and beaks.’  Has it really?  Or should we replace the word ‘known’ by ‘thought by evolutionists’?

‘The bones of Ichthyornis were first found in the 1870s by the US palaeontologist Othniel C Marsh’, says Auntie.  Apparently, Charles Darwin read about the fossil.  He thought it afforded support for the theory of evolution.  But he described it as ‘work on “old birds” .’

Researcher Daniel Field, from the University of Bath, said it was an ‘extraordinary new specimen’.  He assured us it had ‘similar brain proportions to that of a modern bird’.  However, ‘other parts of the skull more closely resemble those of predatory dinosaurs’.

Velociraptor’s jaws nothing like Ichthyornis dispar

Velociraptor's powerful jaw is nothing like that of Ichthyornis dispar.

Velociraptor’s powerful jaw is nothing like that of Ichthyornis dispar.

‘Right under our noses this whole time was an amazing, transitional bird,’ said Dr Bhart-Anjan Bhullar.

So is it?   Not really.  For a start, Ichthyornis dispar really looks like a bird.  Its teeth are held in a fragile, elongated bill.  It could give you a nasty nip.  It might even hold something like a fish to stop it getting away.

Indeed, the Independent says: ‘Ichthyornis had a two-foot wingspan and probably ate fish and shellfish.’

But it has little in common with a therapod dinosaur like Velociraptor.  The latter’s strong head and jaw is clearly designed for ripping flesh, which Ichthy is not.  Some birds today do have powerful ripping beaks.  That still does not mean they are descended from velociraptor.  But, in any case, Ichthy didn’t.  As it happens, the BBC claims: ‘The seagull-sized bird had a beak and a brain much like modern birds, but the sharp teeth and powerful jaws of dinosaurs like Velociraptor’.  Did it?   No.  But none of the evolution-supporting mainstream media give you a picture of a velociraptor.  It would never do to let the reader see the differences for himself.

Some modern birds have teeth

Even today, the Canada Goose has teeth.

Even today, the Canada Goose has teeth.

And there is something else none of them will tell you.  And that is that some modern birds have teeth.

There are not many, but among them are several species of goose.  The Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, even domestic geese all have teeth.   Then there is the tooth-billed bowerbird, which does what it says on the tin.

As it happens, the Independent, cited above, denies those species even exist.  ‘Toothed birds vanished along with the dinosaurs and many other species after an asteroid impact 66 million years ago.’  Tell that to the Canada Goose.  From a distance, if I were you.

And if parts of Ichthy’s head resembled something in a dinosaur, so what?  It so happens we share many bodily features with birds.  That is evidence of an overall Designer (yes, with a capital ‘D’), not a common ancestor.

Gen 1:20  And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 

Even the Rational Skeptic website says evolutionists had ‘better let go’ of both Archaeopteryx and Ichthyornis Dispar.  The latter, it says, was not a missing link.  It ‘was 100 percent bird.’

But don’t expect the BBC or the Indy to let go of Ichthy any time soon.


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  1. It seems like an utterly superficial analysis. Medicine was like this many years ago. It was a soft science, meaning it is descriptive and finds things out by statistical analysis. I mean stuff like if there is a bulge in this part of the body it is so and so percentage likely to be a such and such label and such and such a label is such and such a percentage likely to do A, B & C. So the “science” bit is really a process of inference. A whole body of knowledge can be built up with inference but it does not tell you anything about how the system works.

    In medicine though it went through a revolution about the 1950s time when DNA was discovered. It started to approach it from first physical principles and a whole new science of microbiology was born. We are not anywhere near it yet though in my view. It can be shown that you can take a few cells and the cells can be made to grow and multiply so they create structure. Do we really know how this happens? The answer is likely to be mathematical. It’s possible to describe a shape by using an equation. Those equations are coded in the genes, but we don’t know how because the maths is too complicated. It could be that just one small change in the equation could lead to a radically different shape. The assumption here is there is proportionality, where the more the genes change the more the shape changes. Surely this is misplaced?

    I think we might be able to get more of a clue what is going on by studying the behaviours of complex systems. Systems can have millions of constituent parts, and often billions, but you do get macroscopic order under certain conditions. You also get complex behaviour out of simple equations. I know we have all seen the Mandelbrot set, so I won’t bother with that, but here is something to illustrate what I’m saying. This is a very simple algorithm which produces realistic flocking behaviour of birds. Now seeing that run, could you go the other way and by seeing the pattern could you identify the algorithm?


  2. It’s interesting that you can remind us of modern birds which have dinosaur-like features.
    Baby birds, like baby reptiles, have a special tooth to peck their way out of the egg.

    I was looking at a pig the other day. Its tail is almost as rudimentary and useless as ours is.

    1. Speak for yourself. I don’t have one.

      1. Yes you have, it’s called the “coccyx” . But as I said, it is rudimentary and useless, vestigial in fact.

        1. Unlike a pig’s tail, then.

        2. Rox, G, the coccyx helps support the pelvic floor muscles that hold up our innards, and the muscles that help us go to the toilet are fixed there as well.

          The old “Vestigial organs” myth has been eroded almost to nothing as one after another they have been shown to have a function – even when we can manage without them if they become damaged or infected. For example, the tonsils and appendix are important parts of the immune system. The appendix also provides a safe hiding place for “Good” bacteria if you get a gut infection or need antibiotics for something else. The spleen, among other jobs, filters blood and recycles old worn out red cells. “Junk” DNA was found to be anything but junk. And so on.

    2. That just means that the most common-sense piece of anatomy for the same type of job, appeared in different species. It does not mean they are related species.

      A pig’s tail may serve an important purpose even being the size it is, like protecting it’s back passage from flies and therefore infection. If you look at the difference between a wild pig and a domesticated one, domesticated ones are unnaturally fatter and therefore their tail looks more insignificant. A wild pig is leaner and the tail more proportionate.

  3. Although I don’t know about your analysis, the conclusion is certainly true. I typed in (or rather, copy-and-pasted) Ichthyornis Dispar into the search boxes of both creation.com and answersingenesis.com, two ministries I trust, but couldn’t find any articles

  4. I must admit that I find the evolutionists propound an amazing theory. hats off to them for inventiveness, laced with intellectual make believe, to be finished off in all this process with a Disney like cartoon, like in Alice in wonderland, leading us to an intellectual Mad Hatters tea party! That is the level the evolutionists lead us into, and the BBC is simply naively accomplishing with their own intellectual wonderland, and schizophrenic outlook. If it was not so daft, it would be (and probably is) tragic. You wonder at the stupidity of the intellectual world that they fall for this stuff so willingly and readily. Knowledge without wisdom, leading to stupidity.

    1. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, so I read.

  5. David Attenborough must know that geese have teeth. He’s become part of the BBC and dare not speak up without biting the hand that feeds him.

  6. Evolution/creation – the argument cannot be proved – to evolutionists!
    Many things have been discovered in my life time – one is the genetic code.
    You’d think that’d put the argument to bed as it is mathematically impossible to have ‘evolved’.
    Every new discovery backs creation ‘in the beginning’.
    Every new discovery gets the evolutionists creating incredible theories to account for them.
    Well, if exercising the brain prevents Alzheimer disease, then well and good for this life, but not the next.

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