I’ve been knocking around the idea of this post for a while and was never quite sure if it was entirely appropriate, but I think it’s OK. I hesitated becuase I didn’t want to be jumping someone’s work, but not only do I not think I am (i.e. I don’t know of people working on this) but more importantly, what I’m really doing is reproducing and spreading something that is already out there.
Anyway, enough with the fluffy preamble, the point is that certain people on the internet decided long ago that Tinayulong (that ornithischian covered in elongate fibers of some form or another) was probably a fake. Either the plumes were added on or tail was from a dromaeosaur or whatever.
No matter that the people working on this material had endless experience of dinosaurs from Liaoning, included experts in both dromaeosaurs and ornithischians, and they had been involved in uncovering the Archaeoraptor mess. Nope, this was a fake, or an error, or something.
If that wasthe case, then people have been really busy beacuse there are more specimens out there. I’ve known about this for ages and even seen the material in question, but it seemed inappropriate to talk about as long as this was behind closed doors. However, a recent edition of a Chinese magazine included photos of a specimen that was not the holotype. Since this is already out there in the public sphere (if in a fairly obscure location) I don’t think I’m interfering with ongoing research by letting it be known.
Tianyulong is a lot of things, not least it’s ‘annoying’ in muddying the previously clear waters of feather evolution (just like the recent Concavenator) but it’s not a fake or forgery or accident. Multiple specimens really help clear up doubts like this since aside from the thing not looking like a fake and being consistent with being a single, coherent specimen, the idea that multiple different people could fake multiple different specimens from independent sources and get the exact same anatomy and structre there is highly implausible at best.