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Archaeoraptor exposed in _Nature_ this week



Timothy Rowe was among the six authors of a "brief communication" in
this week's issue of _Nature_, Volume 410, pp.539-540, entitled
"Forensic palaeontology: The _Archaeoraptor_ Forgery."  The article
includes a nice color-coded graphic illustrating the fracture pattern
and distribution of materials based on high resolution X-ray computed
tomography.  In other words, you can see which parts apparently belonged
together and which did not.

Essentially, the body is that of an early bird; the tail belongs to the
dromaeosaur _Microraptor_ (also unfortunately dubbed _Archaeoraptor_ by
Storrs Olson); and the feet and most of the leg elements are of unknown
origin (and these are parts and counterparts of a single appendage
placed in such a way as to appear to have belonged to two legs).  The
authors describe the methods used in detecting the composition of this
assemblage of unrelated skeletal elements, and retrace the steps of the
"preparation" (I use the term very loosely here) of this chimera (or
fraud, as many prefer to call it).

This issue of _Nature_ also features a brief article by Robert Carroll
on a Chinese "treasure trove" of over 500 fossil salamander specimens
dating back 150 million years and providing a look at these animals at
many ontogenic stages.

The table of contents and the abstracts may be available at
<www.nature.com>, but only subscribers can access the full text
articles.

-- Ralph W. Miller III   ralph.miller@alumni.usc.edu

Weed it and reap.