Not the Only Fliers

Birds are just one type of flying animal. Three other groups of animals also include flying creatures, and each of those groups—bats, pterosaurs, and insects—has unique features.

Bats

Bats are the mammalian flyers, and they display many unique features that make them very maneuverable. Their wings are formed by skin that is stretched out over highly elongated fingers. This wing surface is very stretchy and flexible, and consequently bats can generate unusual wing shapes and motions. A thorough understanding of the bat's wing structure could help engineers design small flying vehicles, such as those being developed for military reconnaissance.14

The fossil record sheds no light on the bat's alleged evolution from non-flying creatures. The oldest known (by evolutionary "dating" methods) fossil bats are practically indistinguishable from modern ones (see picture, right). Evolutionist Paul Sereno admitted: "For use in understanding the evolution of vertebrate flight, the early record of pterosaurs and bats is disappointing: Their most primitive representatives are fully transformed as capable fliers."15

Pterodactyls

Pterodactyls (meaning "winged finger"), as the name implies, have a wing made of skin attached to an extremely long fourth finger. Scientists have long wondered how they could have flown. They seemed to be too ungainly to be able to rise into the air from the ground or to land safely without breaking their delicate wings. Quite reasonably, some scientists proposed that there must have been greater air pressure in the past.

But these assumptions had overlooked a tiny bone called the "pteroid." Scientists at Cambridge University, UK, studied pterosaur fossils and observed that the pteroid pointed forward.16  This pteroid evidently supported a front flap of skin that acted as a movable leading edge on the wing.

The pteroid and flap enabled the pterosaur to use "aerodynamic tricks like those found in modern aircraft."17 Angling this flap would increase lift by a huge 30%, so even the largest pterosaurs could take off by simply spreading their wings into a moderate breeze. And this extra lift would mean their minimum flying speed (i.e., below which they would stall) was reduced by 15%, allowing a smooth landing. Also, by flexing the pteroid on one wing and extending it on the other, they would have achieved different lifts on both wings, enabling them to bank, just like an airplane does.  

Insects—How Can They Fly at All?

It has often been said that, according to the laws of aerodynamics, insects shouldn't be able to fly. But of course they do—brilliantly. Research over the past decade or so is revealing how insects do manage to fly in ways that put the achievements and maneuverability of our most advanced aircraft to shame.

Insect wings have a very complex motion, rotating and changing the camber (slope). This generates swirling "eddies" from the edges of insect wings, and these boost lift.18,19 It required sophisticated programming from intelligent design to make an experimental "robot insect" flap properly. Thus, it is reasonable to presume that the real insects likewise were programmed by intelligent design.

Summary

The animal kingdom uses four main ways to "solve the problem" of heavier-than-air flying machines. All exploit the principles of aerodynamics in ingenious ways that aircraft designers are still learning. The new discoveries of the ingenuity of flying creatures, as well as the continued lack of discoveries of transitional forms, present a huge obstacle to the theories of evolution.

Dr. Sarfati's Ph.D. in physical chemistry is from Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. He is the author of some of the world's most well-known creation books, including By Design, Refuting Evolution(1 & 2), Refuting Compromise, and his latest, The Greatest Hoax on Earth? Refuting Dawkins on Evolution. A former chess champion of New Zealand, he works for Creation Ministries International (in Australia from 1996-2010, thereafter in Atlanta, Georgia).