All mixed up over birds and dinosaurs.Red-faced and downhearted down·heart·ed
Low in spirit; depressed. See Synonyms at depressed.
downheart , paleontologists are growing convinced that they have been snookered by a bit of fossil fakery from China. The "feathered dinosaur" specimen that they recently unveiled to much fanfare apparently combines the tail of a dinosaur with the body of a bird, they say.
"It's the craziest thing I've ever been involved with in my career," says paleontologist Philip J. Currie of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology paleontology (pā'lēəntŏl`əjē) [Gr.,= study of early beings], science of the life of past geologic periods based on fossil remains. in Drumheller, Alberta For the retired CIA agent, see .
Drumheller is a town (formerly a city) on the Red Deer River in the Badlands of east-central Alberta, Canada. It is located km ( mi) northeast of Calgary. .
The fossil, named Archaeoraptor liaoningensis, comes from the northeastern province of Liaoning, where local farmers have been unearthing many new dinosaur species, some showing evidence of downlike coats and feathers. Currie, Stephen Czerkas of the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding, Utah Blanding is a city in San Juan County, Utah, United States. The population was 3,162, at the 2000 census, making it the most populated city in San Juan County. It was settled in the late 19th century by Mormon settlers, predominantly from the famed Hole-In-The-Rock expedition. , and Xing Xu of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology The Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (abbreviated to IVPP) is a prominent research institution and collections repository for Chinese fossils, including many dinosaur and pterosaur specimens (many from the Yixian Formation). in Beijing announced the discovery of Archaeoraptor at a press conference in Washington, D.C., at the National Geographic Society National Geographic Society
U.S. scientific society founded in 1888 in Washington, D.C., by a small group of eminent explorers and scientists “for the increase and diffusion of geographic knowledge. last October (SN: 11/20/99, p. 328).
At the time, they called it a missing link between birds and dinosaurs because it manifested the long bony tail of dromaeosaurid dinosaurs and the specialized shoulders and chest of birds.
The scientists couldn't be sure of the fossil's history because they had not excavated it. Spirited out of China, the specimen attracted Czerkas' attention when he saw it for sale in Utah. His museum arranged its purchase by a benefactor.
Recently, while examining a dromaeosaurid dinosaur in a private collection in China, Xu decided that the Archaeoraptor fossil is a chimera. The tail of that dinosaur is identical to the Archaeoraptor tall, he told SCIENCE NEWS.
The two tails are mirror images of each other, derived from the same individual, says Xu. When rocks containing fossils are split, they often break into two fossils. Currie suspects that someone sought to enhance the value of Archaeoraptor by pasting one part of the dinosaur's tall to a bird fossil.
Czerkas is reserving judgement until he can view both fossils together. "I've got all this other evidence suggesting the tail does belong with the [Archaeoraptor] fossil," he says.
The paleontologists already had concerns about the tail because the bones connecting it to the body are missing and the slab shows signs of reworking. They had convinced themselves, however, that the two parts belonged together.
Other scientists criticize the team and the National Geographic Society for unveiling the fossil before any detailed article had appeared in a scientific journal. "There probably has never been a fossil with a sadder history than this one," says Storrs L. Olson Storrs Lovejoy Olson (born April 3, 1944 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American biologist and ornithologist from the Smithsonian Institution. He belongs to the world's leading paleornithologists. of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History For the museum in Manhattan, see .
This article is about the museum in Washington, D.C.. For other uses, see National Museum of Natural History (disambiguation).
The National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
Because NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC published an article about Archaeoraptor before any formal description, credit for the scientific name now goes to the author of the magazine article, rather than to the scientists, says Olson.
Currie says that the mix-up over this one fossil does not diminish the evidence suggesting that birds evolved from dinosaurs. It will, however, cause him to be more tight-lipped tight·lipped also tight-lipped
1. Having the lips pressed together.
2. Loath to speak; close-mouthed. See Synonyms at silent. in the future about fossil finds until a journal article appears. "Certainly, I don't recommend to any budding scientist that they do it this way."