The Brontosaurus never existed: A tale from the Bone Wars
By Eric Pfeiffer | The Sideshow
This may be old news to dinosaur history experts around the world, but many of us have continued to name check the Brontosaurus, which never actually existed.
Still, as NPR reports, the story of how the Brontosaurus legend began is a fascinating tale that sheds light on the far-from-perfect origins of scientific discovery.
A 1934 photo showing the "Brontosaurus" wearing the wrong skull (Carnegie Museum)
In 1877, two paleontologists were competing to see who could make the most discoveries of dinosaur remains. Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope were bitter personal rivals who sometimes took extreme measures to show-up one another. Their rivalry was so intense, it became known as the Bone Wars.
"There are stories of either Cope or Marsh telling their fossil collectors to smash skeletons that were still in the ground, just so the other guy couldn’t get them," Matt Lamanna, curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, told NPR’s All Things Considered. "It was definitely a bitter, bitter rivalry."
At the height of their rivalry, Marsh discovered a partial skeleton of a long-necked, long-tailed dinosaur that was missing a head. To hurry along the process so he could claim the credit, he substituted the skull of another dinosaur and dubbed the finding Apatosaurus.
"Two years later, his fossil collectors that were working out West sent him a second skeleton that he thought belonged to a different dinosaur that he named Brontosaurus," Lamanna said.
However, the skeleton was actually another Apatosaurus. Much like with the earlier discovery of the first Apatosaurus, had Marsh waited for more evidence, the mistaken claim may have been avoided. But in a rush to top his rival, Marsh went for the quick victory of marking another "discovery." And thus the history of the Brontosaurus began.
As it turns out, Marsh’s mistake was called out by scientists long before the public was willing to let the Brontosaurus go, with the record being set straight over a century ago in 1903. And as NPR notes, even the Carnegie Museum itself placed the wrong head on a Apatosaurus skeleton in 1932, calling it a Brontosaurus.
Finally, in the 1979, two Carnegie researchers matched the skeleton with an actual Apatosaurus skull that was discovered in Utah in 1910.
Nonetheless, the Brontosaurus has remained a fixture in popular culture. Is it simple ignorance, or something deeper? As the Discovery Channel notes, "When music star Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable glyph, everyone still called him ’Prince.’ Similar confusion surrounds the dinosaur Apatosaurus, which many still refer to as ’Brontosaurus.’"
"Brontosaurus means ’thunder lizard,’" Lamanna said. "It’s a big, evocative name, whereas Apatosaurus means ’deceptive lizard.’ It’s quite a bit more boring."
Article from: news.yahoo.com
Whatever Happened to the Brontosaurus?
Latest News from our Front Page
Pressure from the United Patriots Front Stops Mosque Plan
Pressure from the United Patriots Front appears to have killed off a mosque development in Narre Warren North.
The City of Casey council now looks likely to withhold planning approval for the development in a special meeting set for Tuesday night.
A council report, to be considered by councillors on Tuesday, recommends that the approval be blocked.
The mosque opponents’ cause has been helped by councillor ...
Police face questions over the influence of the Freemasons
South Yorkshire Police today face questions over whether powerful 'secret society' the Freemasons held sway over the force at the time of Hillsborough.
Families of victims say that officers who were Masons were promoted into powerful positions despite being ill-equipped, including match commander David Duckenfield.
Duckenfield told the fresh inquests he had been a Freemason since 1975 and became head of his ...
England Bans its Own Flag to Avoid Offending Muslims
St. George's Cross "racist" towards immigrants
Government officials said their city was ‘too multicultural’ to celebrate St George’s Day, England’s version of the 4th of July.
The council said that displaying the English flag may have been seen as “racist” towards immigrants.
Half of Western European men descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’
Half of Western European men are descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ who sired a dynasty of elite nobles which spread throughout Europe, a new study has shown.
The monarch, who lived around 4,000 years ago, is likely to have been one of the earliest chieftains to take power in the continent.
He was part of a new order which emerged in ...
"Local Residents" Are Filmed Stealing Dozens of Bottles of Water at London Marathon Stop
Editor's Comment: "Local" residents? Why bother blurring their faces? We know who they are.
London marathon runners were robbed of dozens of bottled waters when thieves raided a refreshment area armed with trolleys during today's race.
Nearby residents - including parents with children - were captured on camera piling up crates of free water handed out by volunteers during the 26-mile event.
|More News » |