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Archaeopterix? What Archaeopterix....?!
I've bought two books recently. One of them is Raptor Red. I finished the
whole book on the evening of the day I bought it. I just started reading
when I got home, paused a bit for supper and such and in bed I finished it
before going to sleep. Great book. But that was not the reason for writing
The other one is "Achaeopteryx, The Primordial Bird. A Case of Fossil
Forgery." by Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe (Christopher Davies
Publishers Ltd., Swansea, 1986, ISBN 0-7154-0665-5). I saw it in a
second-hand bookshop and simply could not leave without it, because it
seemed so interesting....
Both authors are actually astronomers, but they present a seemingly (?)
airtight case proving Archaeopterix never existed! All 5 specimens are
simply Compsognathus remains. The three that are even without feather
imprints aren't mentioned much in the book (they are hardly mentioned at
all) but the other two famous specimens with feather imprints are proven to
be forgeries. H&W even point out the person who (probably) did it, who
ordered it done (Owen himself!) and with what motives (and why the plan
backfired, leaving us with those two specimens of which the musea that have
them know they are fakes but that they won't expose as such to save Owen's
reputation and their own).
The book focusses on the specimen of the British museum and there are given
a lot of proofs (backed up by detailed photographs the authors made
themselves, other photographs, detailed drawings and other (historical)
information) that at least that one cannot be anything but a fake.
I always had a bit of an uneasy feeling about the feathered Archaeopterix
specimens (even if there are preserved feathers, how can you split the
limestone /exactly/ in the why that it is supposed to happen, so that even
fine details of complete feathers on both wings /and/ tail would get exposed
which would mean the animal would have fossilised in one perfect flat plane,
to name one), but this book blew Archaeopterix completely out of the water
My obvious question: What do *you* think about this? Are H&W actually as
right as they seem? Is the book a "fake" (great piece of work then to find
all those clues for something that's not true...)? Is the truth somewhere in
the middle? I mean, the (partial) family trees that you guys post on this
list from time to time still include Archaeopteryx. That would mean the
general consensus would be Archaeopteryx did exist, as the two "fossil
finds" (?) indicate, right? Did I stumble upon a book that almost everyone
else missed? Is it humbug?
Any reactions are much appreciated. I'm confused... All my information about
dino's and Archaeopteryx says Archaeoptery existed, yet the book says it
didn't, and I tend to believe it...
Jarno Peschier, email@example.com, 2:2802/245.1@Fido
162:100/100.1@Agora, 74:3108/102.1@QuaZie, 27:2331/214.1@SigNet
What was was, before was was was? Before was was was, was was is.