Loma Linda, CA, USA | Jonathan Gallagher / ANN

The retraction by the prestigious National Geographic magazine of its claim to have presented “a true missing link” connecting dinosaur evolution to birds has been welcomed by the head of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Geoscience Research Institute.

In its November 1999 issue, National Geographic claimed that a fossil recovered from China portrayed an “Archaeoraptor,” a kind of “feathered dinosaur” that supposedly linked dinosaurs to birds in an evolutionary series. A panel of experts convened by the magazine after doubts were raised concluded on April 6 that the fossil was a composite of two different animals. After a brief “correction” in its March issue, the magazine has said it will be publishing a report in the Fall on the contentious issue.

“This situation does illustrate the benefits of being cautious in rushing to conclusions,” comments Dr. James Gibson, head of the Loma Linda-based Geoscience Research Institute. “There’s a danger in presuming, and it’s easy to see what you expect to see.”

The investigating panel concluded that the feathered dinosaur fossil had not received independent scientific corroboration, as would be expected for such a find and before making any claims.

“There’s a lesson here for creationists as well as evolutionists,” says Gibson. “You have to look at the evidence, and you need to suspend judgment until you know the whole story. You shouldn’t be rushing to conclusions, and not everything that is published is proved to be correct over time.”

Seventh-day Adventists are supporters of creationism and reject the theory of Darwinian evolution.