Hummingbird-Sized Dinosaur Paper Retracted After Scientists Object

An earlier paper claiming the existence of tiny dinosaurs was retracted from the journal Nature.
Brad Bergan
The photo credit line may appear like thisLars Schmitz / Scripps College

Earlier this year, a paper entitled "Hummingbird-sized dinosaur from the Cretaceous period of Myanmar" was published in the journal Nature, sending big waves through the scientific community. But a possible misclassification of the amber-embedded fossil has emerged — causing the editorial staff to retract the paper.


Hummingbird-sized dinosaur paper retracted

The journal Nature declared a retraction for its March 11 paper about the possibility of a Hummingbird-sized dinosaur fossil. When it came out, publications worldwide were fascinated and wrote about it — which gave the team from Canada, the U.S., and China significant notoriety. But it wasn't long before their contemporaries started questioning the fossil's initial characterization — many said it looked like a lizard, not a dinosaur.

The two are not the same.

The specimen is a tiny skull embedded in amber scientists said is approximately 100 million years old — which would date it to the time of the dinosaurs. The researchers described it as a bird-like skull of only less than 0.78 inches (2 cm) in length — roughly the size of a hummingbird's skull. The oddity was a mouth filled with teeth.

Scientists contest the dinosaur conclusion

However, some other scientists were so convinced it was a lizard and not a dinosaur that they wrote and uploaded a new paper to a preprint server explaining their concerns. The original paper's authors then wrote a reply, attempting to address their concerns and refute the skeptical arguments, according to

Then came another, different team who found a similar fossil that they said was a lizard. With the walls of consensus closing in on them, the editors at Nature decided to retract the original Hummingbird-sized dinosaur paper.

The researchers behind the original paper have ostensibly divided opinions about the retraction — with some saying the retraction was totally unfounded while others acknowledged the error of classifying a lizard as a dinosaur. Either way, all of the original paper's authors agree their work on the fossil was valid, and thus argue that the paper could or should serve as a resource for future research, since the challenged classification is the only one about which doubts now stand.


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