The Brontosaurus never existed: A tale from the Bone Wars
2012 12 10

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





Related Articles
Whatever Happened to the Brontosaurus?


Latest News from our Front Page

Recent Israeli Synagogue Attack, a Possible False Flag?
2014 11 21
Dear Friends - I woke up yesterday morning to see a newspaper lying on the kitchen table with the front page proclaiming that five people were slain in an Israeli synagogue after a so-called "Palestinian attack." Some members of the media said that four people were killed, others said five, so it seems like that there was some confusion (or ...
The Michael Brown Shooting, Race Baiting for Political Power and Militarization of the Police
2014 11 21
From Youtube: The evidence clearly shows that Officer Darren Wilson was justified in shooting Michael Brown, so why is this case being hyped by the mainstream media and the leftist political establishment?
Detekt: A New Malware Detection Tool That Can Expose Illegitimate State Surveillance
2014 11 21
Recent years have seen a boom in the adoption of surveillance technology by governments around the world, including spyware that provides its purchasers the unchecked ability to target remote Internet users’ computers, to read their personal emails, listen in on private audio calls, record keystrokes and passwords, and remotely activate their computer’s camera or microphone. EFF, together with Amnesty International, ...
New UK spy chief says tech giants aid terrorism, privacy not ‘absolute right’
2014 11 21
Robert Hannigan, the new head of GCHQ The new head of Britain’s GCHQ, the UK equivalent of the NSA in the U.S., said he believes privacy is not an absolute right and that tech giants must open themselves up to intelligence agencies. “GCHQ is happy to be part of a mature debate on privacy in the digital age,” Hannigan said. “But privacy ...
LOL: Atheist Feminist Pornographer Used as Moral Authority in T-shirt Row
2014 11 21
Dr. Matt Taylor was thrust into the headlines this last week, largely for his lead role in successfully landing a spacecraft on a comet 300 million miles from earth that travels at a speed of 85,000 mph. In short, Taylor and his colleagues pulled off one of the most amazing achievements in contemporary science and space exploration, and in a ...
More News »