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
Capture the Flag: Rebels & Rainbows
The White House turned into a rainbow as the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal nationwide, bypassing state sovereignty. While the country is wooed with rainbow magic, have they now forgiven the government of their many trespasses? How concerned are they about human rights, while removing the Confederate flag in the south? Tearing down one symbol and lifting up another ...
Facebook looks to reduce white share of staff
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has voiced a desire to transform the demographics of Facebook's employee base to better echo the company's billion-plus international users. However, Facebook's most recent diversity report revealed that white men continue to have a claim on positions at Facebook.
The online social networking service claims that diversity is central to the company's mission, observing &"Our work is producing ...
New DOJ Statistics on Race and Violent Crime
Numbers finally include Hispanics as an offender category.
Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute has just published a table of statistics on race and violent crime that she received from the Department of Justice. For the first time in figures of this kind, DOJ has treated Hispanics as a separate category rather than lumping them in with whites. These data cover all ...
Fanning the Flames of Another Black Church Arson Hoax
America is still reeling from the horrific Charleston, S.C., massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that claimed the lives of nine innocent people.
The last thing the community and our country need are hysterical journalists compounding the pain with inflammatory reporting on an unsubstantiated “epidemic” of black church arsons.
On Monday, a Baltimore Sun lead editorial decried “a series of mysterious ...
Cold War Redux: Do you want to fight in World War Three?
The rhetoric coming of Washington is pushing us dangerously close to a world changing scenario.
In the following episode of CrossTalk, Peter Lavelle discusses the way Russia and Putin are being framed by Western governments and mainstream media with guests including Chris Hedges. The dangers of ignoring historical context when reporting ‘news’ is examined, along with the pure ‘imperial hubris’ of ...
|More News » |