Ambopteryx: Bat Wing Dino?

Recently a lot of excitement has been surrounding a recently published paper that discussed a fossil find from China.  This find labeled Ambopteryx, is remarkable for a number of reasons, not least of which is its wings.  Evolutionists have jumped on this fossil find to push their dogma, claiming that it demonstrates their postulated idea of dinosaurs evolving into birds. However, this idea is not borne out by the evidence. This article will discuss Ambopteryx and how it fits into the origins debate.

According to the evolutionary story, Ambopteryx was a partial transition. It had a partially feathered, partially membranous wings which enabled it to both fly and glide through the air, while still being able to function as a dinosaur. They came to this conclusion for a number of reasons. They interpreted markings on the fossil to be feathers. They also claim that membranous soft tissue was present, but was chipped away during the fossilization process. More importantly, it has what appears to be extended digits on the wings.   These extended digits supposedly supported the wings and enabled flight. To the evolutionists, this is evidence to support their dogma.

However, there are significant chinks in the armor.  Let’s examine what actually is on the fossil. The fossil is encased in stone, with distinct black outlines outside the fossil. In places, these markings are directly tangential to the bone, while in others there is some separation. Some of the markings do resemble feathers, while others more closely resemble collagen fibers.  They do also appear to have extended digits on their forelimbs which do seem to resemble those of a bat. There also appears to have been some soft tissue left over, even after the scraping and cleaning of the fossil that might, maybe, resemble a membranous structure. At this point, the wheels fall off.

Looking at the gross anatomy of the fossil, there appear to be some difficulties with the dinosaur interpretation. First of all, the tail is not suited at all for any kind of walking or balance.  In order to provide a balance point for a dinosaur, the tail needed to be loaded with muscle. However, there need to be attachment points on the tail for these muscles. These attachments are called haemal and neural arches and look like spines sticking off the tail bones.  This fossil is completely devoid of those. It is possible they broke off, as the fossil is fairly shattered, but given the anatomy of the rest of the fossil, it seems unlikely. The tail is also too short to serve as a balance for the rest of the body.  Again, this speaks against the dinosaur interpretation.

It does appear that this fossil has feathers. The fossils are not completely covered in feathers, but that is hardly surprising. Given the conditions in which it was fossilized, it would hardly be surprising to find that it had been stripped entirely of feathers.  Thus, from what I can tell, based on looking at the fossil, it would appear that this creature did have feathers.

The membranous wings that are claimed are more doubtful. There are few if any hints of the remaining soft tissue on the fossil that is presented in the paper. Given how often mainstream science has perpetrated fraud in support of their agenda, I’m suspicious of the claim that there were membranous soft tissue remnants on the fossil when it was unearthed. If this was the case, why are these images not presented? Until such time as those images are made available, I will remain suspicious.

The digit issue is an interesting one. The way the bones are being interpreted, they certainly could be similar to a bat wing. However, the finger-like projections are based on one bone which is not connected directly to the arm bones. Since the skeleton was crushed and distorted at least slightly during fossilization, arguing that this is a finger-like digit, rather than a displaced rib for example, seems a stretch, given the other characteristics of this fossil.  Incidentally, the feet seem to match bird feet, with three forward toes, and one rear-facing toe.

So what was Ambopteryx? Based on the various features of the skeleton, it would appear Ambopteryx was a bird.  The feathers and skeletal features seem to most closely resemble those of a bird. There are few reptilian characteristics evident based on an examination of the fossil itself, and I see no reason to call it anything other than a bird based on the evidence that has been presented.


Photo credit, The Atlantic

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