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An earlier paper claiming the existence of tiny dinosaurs was retracted from the journal Nature.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

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.

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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.