Wednesday, July 29, 2020

It's a Bird-Like Dinosaur. No It was a Lizard

Environmental & Science Education
Nature of Science
Biological Evolution
Edward Hessler

A while ago I posted an entry about a bird-like skull less than 2 cm king with a beak packed with teeth that was found trapped in amber. It was thought to be the remains of he smallest-known bird-like dinosaur.

Strong doubts were raised on this interpretation almost immediately after it was published in the British journal Nature

A retraction notice was published in Nature on July 22. In a brief article describing the retraction Giuliana Vigilione notes that "Andrea Cau, a vertebrate palaeontologist in Parma, Italy, was among the scientists who were sceptical of the original classification. The fossil has several characteristics typical of lizards that have never before been seen in a bird-like fossil from that era, Cau says. And because so many of the specimen’s features are lizard-like — about ten, by his estimate — “the idea that it was instead a lizard could not be excluded”. Cau says he is not surprised by the retraction and notes that re-classifications, especially of incomplete fossil specimens from unknown groups, are not uncommon in the field."
This is the way science works; it changes. New evidence based on new data often is put forward and corrections are made. This doesn't mean that this fossil if no longer interesting to scientists. It is. Just that the interpretation has changed from dinosaur to lizard. An important correction.

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