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Archaeoraptor hoax update—National Geographic recants!

Update to the article: Archaeoraptor—Phony ‘feathered’ fossil

2 March 2000

In stark contrast to their sensationalistic ‘Feathers for T. rex’ article, National Geographic has printed a brief, yet revealing statement by Xu Xing, vertebrate paleontologist from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Beijing. Xu’ revelation appears in the somewhat obscure Forum section of the March, 2000 issue, together with a carefully crafted editorial response. The letter from Xu Xing, vertebrate paleontologist from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, reads:

‘After observing a new feathered dromaeosaur specimen in a private collection and comparing it with the fossil known as Archaeoraptor [pages 100–101], I have concluded that Archaeoraptor is a composite. The tail portions of the two fossils are identical, but other elements of the new specimen are very different from Archaeoraptor, in fact more closely resembling Sinornithosaurus. Though I do not want to believe it, Archaeoraptor appears to be composed of a dromaeosaur tail and a bird body.’ 1

National Geographic followed the letter from Xu with this statement:

‘Xu Xing is one of the scientists who originally examined Archaeoraptor. As we go to press, researchers in the U.S. report that CT scans of the fossil seem to confirm the observations cited in his letter. Results of the Society-funded examination of Archaeoraptor and details of new techniques that revealed anomalies in the fossil’s reconstruction will be published as soon as the studies are completed.’ 2

As more evidence of altered fossils begins to surface, one must seriously question the integrity of the fossil industry and the stories these fossils are supposed to tell. A Feb. 19, 2000 New Scientist article sheds light on the growing problem of faked and altered fossils. Referring to the Chinese fossil birds, paleontologist Kraig Derstler from the University of New Orleans in Louisiana says, ‘almost every one that I’ve seen on the commercial market has some reconstruction to make it look prettier.’ 3

The illegal yet highly profitable market of Chinese bird fossils has enticed the local farmers into creating marketable fossils, real or not. Derstler points out that ‘adhesives and fake rock have become very easy to make and very difficult to spot.’ 4

The paleontologist Luis Chiappe, of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, describes how one such specimen almost fooled him, till he noticed that one leg was longer than the other. ‘I wasn’t sure what was wrong with it,’ Chiappe said. Only close examination revealed that two slabs had been mortared together. ‘On the surface you really couldn’t see that.’ 5

Dr Larry Martin of the University of Kansas, who is a staunch critic of the dino-to-bird theory, commented, ‘I don’t trust any of these specimens until I see the X-rays.’ 6 Joints and gaps in the reworked fossils are revealed with X-rays. Martin went on to say:

‘The farmers do not believe this is wrong, they look at it as restoring an art object to make it more marketable. The whole commercial market for fossils has gotten riddled with fakery.’ 7

Archaeoraptor and other Chinese fossils, such as Sinosauropteryx, have been used as ‘proof’ of evolution and thus ‘disproof’ of the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. We must remember that God’s Word never changes and must therefore be the basis for all our thinking rather than the fanciful, ever-changing findings of men.


  1. Xu Xing, Response to ‘Feathers for T. rex?National Geographic 197(3), March 2000, Forum Section (pages unnumbered). Return to text.
  2. Response to Xu Xing, National Geographic 197(3), March 2000, Forum Section (pages unnumbered). Return to text.
  3. Jeff Hecht, ‘F is for fake’, New Scientist 165(2226):12, Feb. 19, 2000. Return to text.
  4. Ibid. Return to text.
  5. Ibid. Return to text.
  6. Ibid. Return to text.
  7. Ibid. Return to text.