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What use is half a wing? (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (What use is half a wing? (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CB921.2:

What use is half a wing? A leg evolving into a wing would be a bad leg long before it was a good wing.


CreationWiki response:

It needs to be noted that this claim is not found at the cited source. Brown does talk about the impossibility of going from a reptile’s foreleg to a bird's wing but nowhere does he make such a general statement.

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Half a wing can have any of several uses:

  • In insects, half a wing is useful for skimming rapidly across the surface of water

Yes, some insects use their wings for skimming rapidly across the surface of water but they are still fully functional wings. Even if the insect can’t fly it is getting enough lift and power to keep out of the water.

  • In larger animals, half a wing is useful for gliding. Airfoils for gliding appear in several different forms in many different animals, including

None of these are a half wing; most are actually more like parachutes. In each case they are simply able to increase their surface area so as to slow and in some cases even control their fall.

  • In immature chickens, wing-flapping enhances hindlimb traction, allowing the chickens to ascend steeper inclines. This function could be an *intermediate to the original flight of birds.
  • In some flightless birds (e.g., penguins), wings are used for swimming.
  • In some flightless birds, wings are probably used for startling potential predators.
  • Black herons use their wings to shade the water in which they fish.

Some owls use their wings to hold their prey against the ground.

  • Nighthawks, woodcocks, riflebirds, and several species of manakins make noises with their wings as part of sexual displays.

All this shows is that wings can be used for purposes other than flight. None of these are half wings; they are all fully formed and functional wings they are just not all used for flight.

  • Partial wings may have other useful functions that nobody has thought of yet.

This is nothing short of a 100% act of faith. It actually shows that the claim as written is 100% true. If some day an animal that really has a half wing is found to have a use for it then Talk Origins would have a point. Otherwise they have no evidence that a half wing would have a function.