Fossil Hoax
John Stear

A Plus for Science - Another Minus for Creationism

The fossil, named Archaeoraptor liaoningensis has been in the news lately.   In October 1999 paleontologist Philip J. Currie of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alberta along with Stephen Czerkas of the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding, Utah, and Xing Xu of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing announced the discovery of Archaeoraptor at a National Geographic Society press conference in Washington, D.C.

The fossil was considered to be a missing link between birds and dinosaurs because it manifested the long bony tail of dromaeosaurid dinosaurs and the specialised shoulders and chest of birds.

It should be noted that fossil finders may be paid in China. The fact that this fossil was "spirited" out of China may be meaningful. It was good enough to pass first examination and to make a poor peasant a few dollars.

At any rate, this fossil has not yet been described or published in the scientific literature.  It is too bad that National Geographic rushed to print with a story before adequate analysis of the fossil was completed.

It is also worth noting that it was not creationists or creation "scientists" who pointed out the error. They rejected the fossil based on no evidence whatsoever. In fact, now that the fraudulent character of the fossil is becoming known, note that not one creationist brought to light any valid reason for doubting the fossil. Real scientists, making observations based on real science have pointed out the problems.

Let it be noted that this fossil did not even make it to peer review. Science doing what science does and scientists doing what real scientists do have revealed this fossil (or rather fossils) for what it is. This is not an embarrassment for science but a reason for science to stand proud. This fossil was rejected during the most preliminary of studies - it did not even reach the first step of scientific acceptance, that of description. While laypeople may not understand, publication in National Geographic, which is a general interest magazine for the public and not a peer reviewed scientific journal, is not scientific recognition and acceptance.