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Archaeoraptor

"Archaeoraptor" is the generic name informally assigned in 1999 to a fossil from China in an article published in National Geographic magazine. The magazine claimed that the fossil was a "missing link" between birds and terrestrial theropod dinosaurs. Even prior to this publication there had been severe doubts about the fossil's authenticity. It led to a scandal when it was definitely proven to be a forgery through further scientific study. The forgery was constructed from rearranged pieces of real fossils from different species. Zhou et al. found that the head and upper body actually belong to a specimen of the primitive fossil bird Yanornis. A 2002 study found that the tail belongs to a small winged dromaeosaur, Microraptor, named in 2000. The legs and feet belong to an as yet unknown animal. The "Archaeoraptor" scandal has ongoing ramifications. The scandal brought attention to illegal fossil deals conducted in China. It also highlighted the need for close scientific scrutiny of purported "missing links" published in journals which are not peer-reviewed. The fossil scandal has been used by creationists to cast doubt on evolutionary theory. Although "Archaeoraptor" was a forgery, many true examples of feathered dinosaurs have been found and demonstrate the evolutionary connection between birds and other theropods. (Read more...)


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Paul Sereno2

Paul Sereno is an American paleontologist who is the discoverer of several new dinosaur species on several continents. He has conducted excavations at sites as varied as Inner Mongolia, Argentina, Morocco and Niger. He is a professor at the University of Chicago and a National Geographic "explorer-in-residence." Sereno's most widely publicized discovery is that of a nearly complete specimen of Sarcosuchus imperator (popularly known as SuperCroc) at Gadoufaoua in the Tenere desert of Niger. Other major discoveries include Eoraptor - the oldest known dinosaur fossil, Jobaria, the first good skull of Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis, Afrovenator, Suchomimus and the African pterosaur. (Read more...)

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"A fossil hunter needs sharp eyes and a keen search image, a mental template that subconsciously evaluates everything he sees in his search for telltale clues. A kind of mental radar works even if he isn't concentrating hard. A fossil mollusk expert has a mollusk search image. A fossil antelope expert has an antelope search image. ... Yet even when one has a good internal radar, the search is incredibly more difficult than it sounds. Not only are fossils often the same color as the rocks among which they are found, so they blend in with the background; they are also usually broken into odd-shaped fragments. ... In our business, we don't expect to find a whole skull lying on the surface staring up at us. The typical find is a small piece of petrified bone. The fossil hunter's search therefore has to have an infinite number of dimensions, matching every conceivable angle of every shape of fragment of every bone on the human body."
—Describing the skill of his co-worker, Kamoya Kimeu, who discovered the Turkana Boy, the most complete specimen of Homo erectus, on a slope covered with black lava pebbles. Taken from Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin, Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human (1992), 26.


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Malerisaurus is an extinct genus of prolacertiform from the Late Triassic of India belonging to the family Protorosauridae.

Two incomplete Malerisaurus skeletons were discovered in what is thought to be the gastric contents of a Parasuchus hislopi. The fossils were retrieved from fluvial flood plain deposits of the Late Triassic Maleri Formation of the Gondwana supergroup, India. Malerisaurus was a small eosuchian, presumably bipedal, and probably capable of climbing trees and swimming. The skull has some adaptations to a carnivorous diet, but is nevertheless unspecialized and probably more of an insectivore. Malerisaurus, seen as a diapsid skull, shows primitive and advanced facies in its unossified laterosphenoid, absence of antorbital and mandibular fenestrae, gracile form, primitive girdles, elongated cervicals and absence of dermal armour. The suborder Prolacertiformes currently represents four families: Petrolacosauridae, Protorosauridae, Prolacertidae and Tanystropheidae. Provisionally, Malerisaurus is regarded as being phylogenetically close to Protorosaurus.

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