oystercatcher on beach

Palaeontologists in Australia have found fossil footprints of birds on the south-eastern coast of Australia which they date as 120 – 128 million years old.  This makes them the earliest evidence for birds in Australia.  The tracks varied in size from 7cm to14cm wide and were similar to modern day shorebirds such as oystercatchers and small herons.  Fossil hunters found 27 footprints in the Wonthaggi Formation, a rock formation classified as Early Cretaceous, known to contain dinosaur bones.

Tom Rich, a palaeontologist at Museum Victoria commented: “With a footprint, you know the animal was right there. A bone can move, but a footprint can’t. When you find dinosaurs and bird footprints together, you know they were contemporaneous.”

The footprints were originally thought to be made by small theropod dinosaurs, but careful study showed they had the distinctive features of bird feet– three forward-facing narrow toes with sharp claws widely spread at an angle greater than 90 degrees. Some also had a backward facing claw, another distinctive feature of bird feet.

Anthony Martin, a palaeontologist at Emory University in Atlanta, who led the study suggested the birds were “transitional animals”.  He explained to the Guardian Australia: “We would have recognised them as birds – a small and feathery animal with a slight build,” But as you stared at it, it would look weirder and weirder.  It would open its mouth and you would see teeth. And it has a tail, with no tail feathers. You would see it’s a transitional animal from its dinosaur ancestors.”

Meanwhile geologists at University of Cape Town have re-examined some previously discovered fossil trackways of three-toed footprints in southern Africa, dated as Late Triassic, approximately 210 million years old.  This makes them 60million years older than the earliest dated bird bones.  The scientists concluded that although the tracks closely resemble modern bird tracks they were “made by a yet-to-be-found tridactyl archosaur” (three toed reptile) and bird-like foot structure evolved at least 60 million years before birds evolved.

References: ScienceDaily 16 November 2023; Guardian 16November 2023; PLoS ONE 15 November doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0293308, PLoS ONE 29 November 2023 doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0293021

Editorial Comment:  Prior to this a fossil furcula (wishbone) and some feathers had been found in the Australian region, along with other footprints. (See our report Aussie Birds with Dinos here)  These, along with the new footprints, confirm birds were walking around when dinosaurs were also walking around this region. There is no evidence these footprints were made by any weird transitional creatures with teeth, a tail and no tail feathers as speculated by Martin. The only reason for claiming this is their belief that dinosaurs turned into birds. The actual evidence shows footprints which are identical to those made by living birds, such as oystercatchers and herons, which still inhabit the shores of Australia.

The conclusions about the South African trackways also expose the triumph of evolutionary wishful thinking over actual evidence. The only reason for assigning them to unknown dinosaur-like animals, rather than birds, is they don’t fit into the pre-conceived evolutionary timetable.  If they have been found in younger dated rocks no-one would have doubted they were made by birds.

The real evidence of these Southern Hemisphere footprints fits with birds being made as separate kinds, distinct from dinosaurs, and they have multiplied after their kinds ever since, i.e. according to the words of the Creator who was there, rather than evolutionary palaeontologists who were not.

Creation Research News 8 December 2023

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