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Centrosaurus apertus was a plant-eating, single-horned dinosaur that lived 76 to 77 million years ago. Sergey Krasovskiy / Stocktrek Images / Getty Images

Scientists have discovered and diagnosed the first instance of malignant cancer in a dinosaur, and they did so by using modern medical techniques. They published their results earlier this week in The Lancet Oncology.

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Scientists have discovered the oldest known modern bird fossil, dating back to one million years before the asteroid strike that drove the dinosaurs to extinction.

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The piece of amber measures only 1.25 inches (31.5 millimeters) in length. The skull is a mere 0.6 inches (11 millimeters). Xing Lida / CC BY-ND

By Lars Schmitz, Jingmai Kathleen O'Connor

Editor's Note from The Conversation, July 28, 2020: This article was based on a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature on March 11, 2020. On July 22, 2020, the journal retracted the article after other researchers raised concerns that the skull belonged to a lizard, not a bird. Here is the retraction note from the paper's authors: "We, the authors, are retracting this Article to prevent inaccurate information from remaining in the literature. Although the description of Oculudentavis khaungraae remains accurate, a new unpublished specimen casts doubts upon our hypothesis regarding the phylogenetic position of HPG-15-3."

In 2016, our colleague Xing Lida held up a small piece of polished, deeply yellow amber. As sunlight shone through the ancient resin, Lida saw the outline of a pristinely preserved, amazingly small skull. There was a prominent eye socket, a dome-shaped crown of the head, a long, tapering snout and even small teeth. It was bird-like, but in a strange and ancient way.

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