A pterosaur neck is like a bicycle reports Cell Press via SciTech Daily and ScienceDaily 14 April 2021, and iScience 14 April 2021 doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2021.102338.
Azhdarchid pterosaurs were the largest flying animals that ever lived, with a wingspan of up to 10 metres (33ft) and “ridiculously long necks” that could be longer than a giraffe neck. Scientists have wondered how they were able to support their large heads and pick up heavy prey without breaking their necks.
Researchers at Portsmouth University used CT scans to reveal the internal structure of a well-preserved pterosaur neck bone from the Kem Kem Formation in Morocco. They found it consisted of a tube within a tube, with the inner tube being hollow (called the neural tube) for the spinal cord.
David Martill, one of the researchers, explained: “It is unlike anything seen previously in a vertebra of any animal. The neural tube is placed centrally within the vertebra and is connected to the external wall via a number of thin rod-like trabeculae, radially arranged like the spokes of a bicycle wheel and helically arranged along the length of the vertebra. They even cross over like the spokes of a bicycle wheel. Evolution shaped these creatures into awesome, breathtakingly efficient flyers”.
According to Cell Press, researchers “needed to bring in engineers to understand how the biomechanics of this unusual neck would have worked”. The engineers’ biomechanical analysis showed “50 of the spoke-like trabeculae increased the amount of weight their necks could carry without buckling by 90%”.
Links: ScienceDaily, SciTech Daily
Editorial Comment: The normal vertebrate spinal bone consists of a solid mass of bone at the front with an arch of bone at the back. When these are stacked together to form the spine the solid masses line up to form the weight-bearing part of the spine and the arches line up to form a hollow tube for the spinal cord to pass through.
According to evolutionary theory, a process of chance random changes is supposed to have completely changed the usual vertebrate spine structure into the brilliant piece of lightweight engineering found by this new study. If evolution happened by Darwin’s slow gradual accumulate of changes, scientists should ask how many evolving pterosaurs died of broken necks before evolution got it right? If it happened by Stephen Gould’s punctuated equilibrium, it must have been a miracle to get this total transformation right in one go. Either way the scientists’ faith in evolution is truly amazing.
It is far more logical to believe that the Creator God who designed these “awesome, breathtakingly efficient flyers” made them with the right neck bone structure when He created them as fully functional animals according to their kind. This is confirmed by the fact that it took intelligent engineers to work out the biomechanics of the pterosaur necks, and it took clever mechanically minded creators to design and build something that serves the same purpose, such as the bicycle wheel.
Creation Research News 5 May 2021
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