The National Geographic Society has retracted its statement that a newly discovered fossil was a possible link between dinosaurs and birds. The specimen, called archaeoraptor, turned out to be a composite of at least two different animals. Chinese paleontologist Xu Xing questioned the claim that the fossil may have played a key role in the transition from dinosaurs to birds after finding that the supposed tail of archaeoraptor matched the tail of a smaller dinosaur from the same type of rock where the fossil had been found. As a result, National Geographic convened a panel of scientists that ultimately concluded that, while the skull, trunk, shoulder and forelimbs represent a new species to science, the tail belongs to a small predatory dinosaur known as a dromaeosaur.
What hasn't changed is that scientists believe birds are descended from small, meat-eating dinosaurs. The National Geographic Society expects to run an article about the mismatched dinosaur in the fall. The editor of their magazine, Bill Allen, states, "I hope people are going to view what we do here in the overall context so that the one aberration is not going to damage our reputation in the long run."