Fujianvenator Prodigiosus – New Dino find puts Evolutionary Storytelling on Display

Fujianvenator Prodigiosus

Fujianvenator Prodigiosus (artist impression) Credit: Chuang Zhao

The prestigious science magazine Nature featured[1] a curious newly discovered dinosaur called Fujianvenator Prodigiosus which is causing a stir concerning their ludicrous theory that certain therapod dinosaurs evolved into birds. They’re quite serious about that story though and the fact that they don’t quite know where to place this dinosaur into that fictional setting is causing problems forcing a “rethink of bird evolution” as the title puts it. But it does make a good case study for our purposes to see how evolutionists weave their tales of fiction by misconstruing the evidence by building on their previous lines of fiction.

Unfortunately for them, such practices are like building a house with playing cards and like a house of cards, there typically comes a card or piece of evidence that brings the whole house down. We’ve seen that with the Coelacanth, a fish thought to be older than the dinosaurs (lived 360 mya) and also thought to be evolving toward growing four limbs. The coelacanth had supposedly been extinct for 65 million years but they have been found alive and well in the Indian ocean off the coast of Madagascar. Then there is Tiktaalik which is claimed to be the ancestor of all four legged tetrapods, the supposed “missing link” between fish and four legged creatures. Later they discovered tracks from a four-legged creature older than Tiktaalik, proving Tiktaalik cannot be its ancestor. In like manner, the  typical evolutionary fictions are embedded in the description of this recent find Fujianvenator Prodigiosus. Let’s take a look at how.

Problems with the Evolutionary Storytelling around Fujianvenator Prodigiosus

Let’ start with how it’s depicted. Following are various iterations of how Fujianvenator has been depicted:

 Fujianvenator Prodigiosus as depicted in Nature article  1. Fujianvenator Prodigiosus as depicted in Nature article
Fujianvenator Prodigiosus as depicted in  2. Fujianvenator Prodigiosus as depicted in “Big Shocking” video at 0:50
 Fujianvenator Prodigiosus as depicted in  3. Fujianvenator Prodigiosus as depicted in “Big Shocking” video at 1:23
Fujianvenator Prodigiosus as depicted in  4. Fujianvenator Prodigiosus as depicted in “Big Shocking” video at 9:52
Fujianvenator Prodigiosus as depicted in Wikipedia article 5. Fujianvenator Prodigiosus as depicted in Wikipedia article
Deinonychus as depicted in Wikipedia 6. Deinonychus as depicted in Wikipedia article

Let me point out some items of note:

Head Feathers:
Notice that pictures 1 and 2 depict Fujian (the shorthand name I’ll use) with beautifully colored feathers on the head; #3 has a few long feathers #4 has very short black feathers #5 has brightly colored but much shorter feathers in a much less impressive display. Why the differences?

Hooked Claw
Picture #6 is Deinonychus. I included him because Deinonychus is known for it’s hooked or sickle claws which are apparent in the picture. Similar hooked claws are displayed in Fujian in depictions 1 and 3, but not in 2, 4 or 5. Again, why the differences?

The differences are due primarily to fact that the fossil of Fujian that was found did not include the head, the feet were in poor condition and part of the tail was missing. Thus it is left up to the artists’ imaginations as to how to depict those missing or unclear parts of the fossil evidence. So how are decisions made as to what those parts look like? There are two components, both of which are problematic.

The first component, the lesser evil of the two, is reliance on Cladograms. Paleontologists look at features of the various creatures and try to group them according to common features and then attempt to draw conclusions on how closely one creature is related to another based on those features. The cladogram[2] for Fujian looks like this:
Cladogram - Fujianvenator

No doubt based on perceived closeness to others in a “family” it might be given similar features even if there is no fossil evidence for it.

The problem with this practice is the assumption that comes along with it. That assumption is the Darwinian one of  “common descent”. This assumes that life on earth – all of it, from bacteria to worms to dinosaurs to humans – is descended from a single original ancestor which they call “LUCA”, the Last Universal Common Ancestor.  They have never found or identified LUCA but, like the vain search for aliens from space, the search for LUCA continues.

The belief in common descent and some unnamed LUCA leads Darwinists to believe that they should be able to connect all creatures together in a large “Tree of Life” somehow. That blinds Darwinist to another viable – and Biblical – option that their firm belief in evolution precludes: common design. Instead of originating from a common ancestor, all creatures originated from a common Designer and like all intelligent designers, solutions that have already been engineered for a particular need in one creature may be used in another creature. That is why you may see similarity in creatures across species or what creationists would call kinds. (Though to be clear, if talking taxonomy “kinds” equate to the family level, not the species level. I’m talking about general principles here.) Thus, creationists state that not all creatures are related; they’re created according to their kind (Gen 1.21, 24) . Common features are therefore due to a common Designer, not a common ancestor.

The other reason for the variances – what I consider to be the worse of the two – is the tendency to use the bad logic of an appeal to ignorance to depict creatures in a way that supports Darwinian evolution, even if there’s no evidence for it or even if the evidence points away from it. The classic example of that when depicting apes like Lucy (Australopithecus Afarensis), a creature that they want people to believe was evolving toward being human, is illustrating the creature with white sclera, which apes do not have, and other human features such as human expressions.

In the case of Fujian here, since they did not find the head, the beautiful head feathers are all speculation. Whether or not it had the hooked claw like Deinonychus is also speculative since, as the Nature article puts it, “those digits were poorly preserved.

Feathers on Dinosaurs?

We’ve been discussing feathers on dinosaurs which is a topic that has been hotly debated for many years. Due to evidence presented by paleontologist Marcus Ross (a Bible-believing Christian), I have come to the conclusion that some dinosaurs had feathers. That does not mean dinosaurs evolved into birds. Feathers are used for other things than flight like making displays as peacocks do and also for insulation. I will put the primary evidence that persuaded me in a sidebar at the bottom. For now let’s continue with other errors in depictions by evolutionists.

When did Fujianvenator Live?

According to the Phys.org article on Fujian, “In-situ radioisotopic dating and stratigraphic surveys constrain the Zhenghe Fauna to the period from 150–148 Ma.”[3]

That means they used standard evolutionary reasoning and dating processes to determine the period (150 mya) when they believe Fujian lived, the same period as Archaeopteryx, which is acknowledged by even most secularists to have been a bird – what they would consider the “first bird.” What processes are used to date fossils? Radiometric dating is used as well as identifying the position (layer) in the geological column.

This all sounds very scientific, right? But neither of those methods can accurately determine the age of a fossil. Radiometric dating does not give absolute dates. The best it can provide are relative dates. Those dates need to be calibrated against something. What do they calibrate it against? The geologic column. The American Journal of Science reported: 

“Radiometric dating would not have been feasible if the geologic column had not been erected first.”[4]

The dates given by radiometric methods must line up with what’s expected from the date assigned to the geological column, otherwise it’s rejected. How and when were the dates assigned to the geological column? In the early 1800’s what we now call the geological column was created by a group of individuals who created a chart consisting of 12 primary divisions that represent geological layers. They gave the primary layers a name like “Jurassic” or “Cretaceous” and assigned “index” fossils that identify the layers, such that if you find those fossils, in theory you’re in a particular layer.

Finally they assigned dates to each layer going back millions of years. According to the theory, if you find a fossil in a particular layer, you can estimate the fossil was deposited within a certain time range given by the date assigned to the layer.

The problem with dating fossils by the geological column, is that there was no original basis for assigning ages to the layers. And now that they’ve assigned ages, they’re caught in the fallacy of circular reasoning. Because they use fossils to identify what period a particular layer of strata belongs to and they use strata to identify the period a particular fossil belongs to. So strata date the fossils and fossils date the strata. It’s a circular loop with nothing but biased guesses  as the original basis for the age of layers.

Circular Reasoning used to date fossils

So using the standard techniques of “radioisotopic dating and stratigraphic surveys” tells us nothing more than by using evolutionary criteria they’ve come up with a date compatible with evolutionary theory. Even then, sometimes, the dates are problematic – creating sequence errors in the supposed evolutionary timeline. The following is an example.

Sequence Errors in Evolutionary Dating and the Supposed Evolution of Birds

Evolutionists claim certain therapod dinosaurs evolved into birds. To support that claim, they offer the following sequence of supposed dinosaurs evolving into birds:

Supposed therapod to bird transitional forms – from The Dinosaur Feather Mystery

Supposed therapod to bird transitional forms – from  “The Dinosaur Feather Mystery”

At the top of this diagram [5] are Ceratosaurs, therapod dinosaurs that lived, they suppose, in the late Jurassic period. At the bottom are modern birds preceded by Archaeopteryx, what we previously noted that evolutionists identify as the first bird. Let me point out some key dinosaurs in this sequence – key due to the supposed state of evolution of feathers which they believe can be identified from the fossils. Starting from the oldest:

150 Million Years ago (mya)
(In evolutionary reckoning)
– Archaeopteryx: Fully flight- capable bird
– Fujianvenator Prodigiosus: Non-flight capable, ground bound feathered dinosaur

125-120 mya
Microraptor – Glide capable; complex asymmetric feathers with aerodynamic shape required for flight

124-122 mya
– Sinornithosaurus – non-flying; complex feathers with simple shaft barbs and interlocking barbules (a feature of modern feathers)
– Sinosauropteryx – non-flying; simple tubular feathers:

Sequence Errors

Do you see the problems here?
– Archaeopteryx, the supposed “first bird” existed before the creatures it supposedly evolved from.

– Fujian, though supposedly involved in bird evolution, existed at the same time as a fully flying bird. If it were involved in bird evolution, one would suspect it would be growing stronger wings and the muscles and bones that support flight. Those parts were smaller and weaker and instead it “evolved” stronger legs. Or as the Phys.org article put it, “evolved bizarre hindlimb architecture.” It’s bizarre because it doesn’t fit the story of the supposed evolution of flight. There is no issue when viewed as a distinct kind that was created, not evolved.

– MicroRaptor: A gliding creature (it is supposed) which had flight capable feathers before such feathers supposedly evolved.

– Sinornithosaurus and Sinosauropteryx: Creatures from whom the complex flight feathers are said to have evolved, lived after the “first bird” Archaeopteryx already had such feathers and contemporaneously with a gliding creature which similarly had such feathers. Another problem is that they lived during the same time period, though, based on feather complexity, Sinosauropteryx should have existed first.

So Fujian is not helping evolutionists in their supposed theories of the evolution of flight nor with the supposed evolution of therapod dinosaurs into birds. The Nature story indicates evolutionists need to “rethink” their theory of bird evolution but you can rest assured their faith commitment to the evolutionary story will not allow them to consider the obvious solution: Darwinian evolution never happened and creatures were created according to their kind as the Bible states.

Sidebar: The Evidence is Persuasive: Some Dinosaurs had feathers

Here is the statement and picture from paleontologist Marcus Ross that convinced me that some dinosaurs had feathers. He presents more evidence in his presentation “Fuzzy with a Chance of Feathers

“But they found something interesting on the ulna. [Diagram A – velociraptor ulna] Then zoomed in under magnification [diagram B] there’s a series of raised bumps fairly regularly spaced along the ulna over here. And they noted that these look strikingly similar to the raised bumps that are seen on birds. This [diagram c] is a turkey vulture ulna and turkey vultures have very large feathers.  They’re big birds and they have large feathers. And those feathers need a lot of muscle attachment on the bone – even though the feathers don’t grow from the bone, the large feathers have an affect on the bone – that the bone grows toward them in order to make more space for tendons to grab on and hold for the muscles to control the flight feathers. Your body responds to stress. And so turkey vultures have very large – these are called ulnar papillae if you want to get all technical about it. Not all birds have these. But the only animals that have these have feathers. And velociraptor has them. And it’s not the only one as we’ve discovered now.”[6]

Ulnar papillae on turkey vultures and velociraptors

Ulnar papillae on turkey vultures and velociraptors

Duane Caldwell | September 30, 2023 | Printer Friendly Version


1. “‘Weird’ dinosaur prompts rethink of bird evolution“, Nature.com, 6 September 2023, https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-02757-5, unfortunately now behind a pay wall

2. Wikipedia  Cladogram for Fujianvenator, accessed 9/29/2023 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fujianvenator#Classification

3. “Chinese paleontologists find new fossil link in bird evolution”, Phys.org, September 6, 2023, https://phys.org/news/2023-09-chinese-paleontologists-fossil-link-bird.html

4. O’Rourke, J.E.; “Pragmatism versus Materialism in Stratigraphy”, American Journal of Science, An International Earth Science Journal, vol. 276: (January 1976); page 54; Referenced by Russ Miller, Creation In the 21st Century, “A Pinch of Leaven”, aired March 13, 2016

5. Diagram featured on:
The Dinosaur Feather Mystery, Science Channel documentary, 2004

6. Marcus Ross, “Fuzzy with a Chance of Feathers”, presentation at Midwest Creation Fellowship, Jan 9, 2023, https://youtu.be/xtYb5a9FnOY

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