Archaeopteryx Fossil Shows 'Striking' Tissue Preservation | The Institute for Creation Research
Archaeopteryx Fossil Shows 'Striking' Tissue Preservation

The extinct Archaeopteryx is a famous icon of supposed evolutionary transition from reptiles to birds. Several different fossils have recorded the anatomy of this creature, which is fully bird and has been found in strata above the remains of other birds.1 One Archaeopteryx fossil from Solnhofen, Germany, was the subject of a recent analysis by researchers looking for possible preserved tissue.

They were not disappointed. Using state-of-the-art X-ray fluorescence scanning technology, the team found what they repeatedly reported as "striking" preservation of some of the original bird's tissues that had been encased in limestone.

The scans produced distribution maps of certain elements. When the researchers mapped those particular elements that are common to bone or feather tissue--like phosphorus, sulfur, and zinc--they found them in abundance arranged exactly where the bones and larger flight feather structures, like the rachis and barbs, were positioned in the fossil. In a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they concluded that the phosphorus layout "strongly implies that the rachises are at least in part the chemical remains of the original organism."2

Similarly, they concluded on the basis of the zinc pattern "that the high zinc levels in the Archaeopteryx bone have been inherited from the original organism." This fossil still has original bone and original keratin from feathers, making this their "most striking result."2

The researchers also noted the difference in phosphorus levels from the bird's body and the surrounding limestone, noting that limestone is phosphorus-poor. Most of the fossil's phosphorus had diffused into the rock, but plenty still remained to clearly demarcate the decayed bones.

But since limestone is porous and since the fossil is supposed to be 150 million years old, the phosphorus ought to have disappeared long ago, leaving just as much where the bones used to be as there is in the surrounding rock. After all this "time," given the "bedding planes and…fractures" that could help carry the minerals away, there should not be the extra phosphorus or other elements left behind.2

Instead, there are actual remnants of original bones and feathers still present. Perhaps this is why these results were so "spectacular" to the study's authors. Evolution's millions-of-years timeframe cannot account for organic fossil remains like those found in dinosaur and now bird soft tissues without invoking seemingly miraculous stories of special, unknown preservative "processes."3 These findings and other original tissue remnants found within fossils make much more sense if only thousands of years have passed since their deposition.4


  1. Gish, D. 1989. As a Transitional Form Archaeopteryx Won't Fly. Acts & Facts. 18 (9).
  2. Bergmann, U. et al. 2010. Archaeopteryx feathers and bone chemistry fully revealed via synchrotron imaging. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107 (20): 9060-9065.
  3. Thomas, B. Hadrosaur Soft Tissues Another Blow to Long Ages Myth. ICR News. Posted on, May 12, 2009, accessed May 18, 2010.
  4. Other recent soft tissue finds, most of which are described by their evolutionary authors as showing "remarkable preservation," are referenced on ICR's Evidence for Creation page "Fresh Tissues Show That Fossils Are Recent."

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on May 19, 2010.

The Latest
Continuous Environmental Tracking : An Engineering-Based Model...
Purpose The Institute for Creation Research is engaged in our biggest science initiative in the last two decades, and it could be our most important...

CET: Testing the Cavefish Model
Staff Writer Purpose The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) is testing an engineering- based model of rapid biological adaptation called...

Original Biochemistry in Fossils
Purpose In 1997, paleontologist Dr. Mary Schweitzer accidentally stumbled upon what appeared to be blood vessels and blood cells from a T. rex...

Debunking an Iconic Uniformitarian Ice Age Theory
Purpose The Milankovitch, or astronomical, theory holds that the timing of Ice Ages is controlled by slow changes in Earth’s orbital and...

ICR and Explaining the Ice Age
by Larry Vardiman, Ph.D., and Michael J. Oard, M.S.* Purpose There is strong geological evidence for an Ice Age, so the Institute for Creation...

Planetary Magnetism
Purpose In 1971, Dr. Thomas Barnes publicized a then “trade secret” of scientists studying the earth’s magnetic field, which...

Cosmology Research
Purpose Taking the Hebrew text of Scripture at face value without inserting gaps or revising the meanings, the universe is only about 6,000 years...

The Coconino Sandstone: Water, not Wind
Purpose The Coconino Sandstone is one of the most well-known formations in Grand Canyon. The blond-colored sandstone, just three layers down from...

Global Stratigraphy Supports a Progressive Worldwide Flood
Purpose Is there geological evidence for a global flood? Is there evidence that the waters rose and peaked on Day 150 as recorded in Genesis 8?...

Human-Chimp DNA Similarity Research Refutes Evolution
Purpose An oft-repeated claim of evolutionary propaganda is that the DNA of chimpanzees and humans is 98.5% identical. This high level of DNA...