Flying in the face of the evidence

Did flight really evolve four times in the animal kingdom?

The origin of flight should be a good ‘test case’ for evolution.

Evolutionists believe that flying animals have been adapted from non-flying ancestors by gradual chance processes over millions of years, and that true flight evolved four times — in insects, reptiles, bats and birds.

However, in each case we find clear evidence of special design, not gradual evolution. Insects are said to have been the first creatures to take to the air some ‘300 million years ago’. Yet Wikipedia admits that “The origin of insect flight remains obscure, since the earliest winged insects currently known appear to have been capable fliers.”

There are no fossils of insects with partly-evolved wings

Dragonflies are very efficient fliers, besides having beautiful wings. The oldest fossils show they have never been any different, except that some were much larger, with wing spans of up to 30in (2 ½ feet)! There are no fossils of insects with partly-evolved wings.

A reconstruction of Quetzalcoatlus
A reconstruction of Quetzalcoatlus, the largest-known flying reptile – Photo

The extinct flying reptiles (pterosaurs) were perfectly designed for flight. One specimen — Quetzalcoatlus —had a wing span of 15 metres (48 feet)! Their wing bones were hollow, and criss-crossed with tiny braces, just like the structure of a modern jumbo jet: lightness and strength combined! All the fossils of pterosaurs show fully developed wing bones. There is no evidence that their wings developed from the forelegs of ground-dwelling reptiles.

In 1986, scientists at the US Smithsonian Institution designed a half-size working model of a giant pterodactyl, which crashed on its first flight. Later flights were successful, but only after engineers and technicians used their skill and intelligence.

If extinct reptiles had taken to the skies, they couldn’t have afforded to crash even once, so gradual evolution wouldn’t work. And the scientists’ model is much less complex than a real, living pterodactyl would have been.

There is no evidence that bats evolved from non-flying ancestors
There is no evidence that bats evolved from non-flying ancestors – Photo Andy Morffew,

Bats are the only mammals with true flight. Their wings are a strong membrane stretched over elongated digits. The oldest fossil bat is 100% bat, with no evidence of gradual evolution from some shrew-like ancestor.  A halfway stage would never have survived anyway.

Archaeopteryx fossil
A fossil of Archaeopteryx found in the Jurassic Solnhofen Limestone of southern Germany – Photo James L Amos (CCO 1)

Finally, we consider the birds, believed by evolutionists to have evolved from reptiles, although there is no convincing fossil evidence for this. The famous Archaeopteryx fossil, discovered in 1861, once touted as a ‘missing link’, is now generally recognised as being a true bird. The whole anatomy of birds is designed for flight, with hollow bones and a unique “one-way” respiratory system. It is difficult to see how a transitional stage would be fit enough to survive.

 The evidence suggests that all flying creatures, living and extinct, were created for flight, and are powerful evidence for special creation. To believe they evolved requires a lot of faith.

“God created … every winged bird [’literally ‘winged creature’] according to its kind. And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:21). Flying creatures have been flying since they were created by God in the beginning!

Geoff Chapman
Geoff Chapman

Geoff Chapman is the Director of the Creation Resources Trust,