Another Hoax?

by Owen D. Olbricht

The hoax was most likely an honest mistake not like the Piltdown man fraud of 1908 which combined recent skeletal remains with various animal parts. The name given the find in July 1997 was Archaeoraptor Liaoningenesis Sloan after Christopher Sloan, senior assistant editor of National Geographic, who wrote, "With arms of a primitive bird and tail of a dinosaur, this creature found in Liaoning Province, China, is a true missing link in the complex chain that connects dinosaurs to birds." He confidently affirmed, "We can now say that birds are theropods just as confidently as we can say that humans are mammals" ("Feathers for T. Rex?" National Geographic, vol. 196, No. 5, November, 1999, pages 98-107.

In the last article of the October, 2000, issue is the embarrassing admission that the Archaeoraptor fossil was a fraud, a combination of fossils. This all happened because of inadequate scientific consideration of evidence.

 Lewis M. Simons, a veteran investigative reporter looked into the matter and described what went wrong ("Archaeoraptor Fossil Trail," National Geographic, vol. 198, No. 4, October, 2000, pages 128-132).

 A farmer digging in a shale pit in Xiasanjiazi, China, hacked out a slab containing "the fossilized bones of what seemed to be a bird, including a faint aura of feathers and a beak lined with tiny teeth" (page 128). "Continuing to dig, he uncovered another, smaller slab a couple of yards away. This one contained a tail, rigid and about the size of a crocheting needle, a skull, a foot, and some other parts" (loc.cit.).

 The farmer took the two slabs home. "Using a home made paste, he glued the slab of the tail to the lower portion of the birdlike body. With counterslab pieces from the body itself--and possibly other scraps he had kept over time--he glued in missing legs and feet" (page 129). "The result was the missing link--the body of a primitive bird with teeth and the tail of a landbound little dinosaur, or dromaeosaur. In time the tail, and the question whether or not it belonged where it was stuck, would wag the dinosaur (loc.cit.).

 The reason the fraud was not immediately discovered was that scientists who looked at it at first were busy with other projects, and assuming it was authentic, did not scrutinize it carefully. Stephen A. Czerkas, director of a nonprofit dinosaur museum raised $80,000 to buy it, never doubting it was authentic. He stated, "It's a missing link between terrestrial dinosaurs and birds that could actually fly" (vol. 196, No. 5, page 99).

 He showed it to the renowned Canadian scientist, Philip J. Currie, who accepted it as authentic without adequately examining the fossil, supposing it was real. He consulted with Christopher Sloan of National Geographic who wrote the story that the missing link between dinosaurs and birds had been found. A complete investigation of the fossil was not made because of a deadline to submit the story for publication.

 Kevin Aulenback examined the fossil and wrote that it "is a composite specimen of at least 3 specimens.with a maximum.of five.separate specimens" (Vol. 198, No. 4, page 131). This should have been adequate evidence that it was a fraud; however, not until Xu Xing presented the results of his examination of the fossil was it finally admitted that it was a fraud. "`I am 100% sure..' Xu wrote, `we have to admit that Archaeoraptor is a faked specimen'" (page 132).

 Finally it was conceded that "beyond all doubt that the tail belonged to the second fossil" (loc.cit.).

 Conclusion. Not all scientific discoveries are fraudulent, but those that seem to contradict God's active work in creation should be questioned and not accepted unless proof beyond any doubt is presented that confirms any conclusions. Because of all the evidence for creation, surely no proofs to the contrary can be found.

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