Forensic palaeontology: The Archaeoraptor forgery

Nature. 2001 Mar 29;410(6828):539-40. doi: 10.1038/35069145.


The Archaeoraptor fossil was announced as a 'missing link' and purported to be possibly the best evidence since Archaeopteryx that birds did, in fact, evolve from certain types of carnivorous dinosaur. It reportedly came from Early Cretaceous beds of China that have produced other spectacular fossils transitional between birds and extinct non-avian dinosaurs. But Archaeoraptor was revealed to be a forgery in which bones of a primitive bird and a non-flying dromaeosaurid dinosaur had been combined. Here we use high-resolution X-ray computed tomography (CT) to determine the nature and extent of the forgery, as well as how it was built, by imaging the fracture pattern and distribution of materials through the entire specimen.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Birds
  • China
  • Dinosaurs*
  • Fossils*
  • Fraud*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed