Forget Extinct: The Brontosaurus Never Even Existed

Scientists knew something was funny about the Brontosaurus fossil reconstruction as far back as 1903, and have been telling us there's no such thing since the 1970s. So how did the popular image of the dinosaur Brontosaurus ever come about?

It dates back 130 years, to a period of early U.S. paleontology known as the Bone Wars, says Matt Lamanna, curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.

The Bone Wars was the name given to a bitter competition between two paleontologists, Yale's O.C. Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope of Philadelphia. Lamanna says their mutual dislike, paired with their scientific ambition, led them to race dinosaur names into publication, each trying to outdo the other.

Cutting corners led to a "hybrid" fossil that contained the body of an Apatosaurus and the head of a completely different dinosaur. When the correct head was found, it was thought to be a new species, which was named Brontosaurus. Read the complete story at NPR. Still, the Brontosaurus lives on in vintage Sinclair memorabilia and reruns of The Flintstones. Link -via Digg

(Image credit: Carnegie Museum of Natural History)


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