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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2006
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Claim CB731:

Most scientists believe that birds descended from theropod dinosaurs. But theropod dinosaurs have lost digits IV and V from a primitively five-fingered hand, leaving them with digits I, II, and III. Birds, on the other hand, have digits II, III, and IV, having lost digits I and V (Feduccia and Nowicki 2002). It is almost impossible for the two groups to be closely related with such a significant anatomical difference.


Sarfati, Jonathan, 2002. Ostrich eggs break dino-to-bird theory. Creation 25(1): 34-35.


  1. Anatomists initially thought bird digits were I, II, II based on their anatomy. This was revised on the basis of bird embryology; the digits are seen to derive from condensations II, III, IV. It is plausible that dinosaur digits also developed from condensations II, III, IV, and a frame shift in the development of digit identity causes those three condensations to developed into digits I, II, III. Such a frameshift occurs in kiwis, in which digits II, III take the form of I, II with the loss of the condensation for digit I (Wagner and Gauthier 1999).


Myers, P. Z. 2004. Digit numbering and limb development.


  1. Feduccia, A. and J. Nowicki. 2002. The hand of birds revealed by early ostrich embryos. Naturwissenschaften 89: 391-393.
  2. Wagner, G. P. and J. A. Gauthier. 1999. 1,2,3=2,3,4: A solution to the problem of the homology of the digits in the avian hand. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 96: 5111-5116.

Further Reading:

Pennisi, Elizabeth. 2005. Bird wings really are like dinosaurs' hands. Science 307: 194-195.
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created 2004-9-17, modified 2006-9-7