If you are lucky to live long enough, the conventional wisdom you were taught in school will be reversed, and sometimes those reversals might surprise you. When I was in school, there were two Germanys, two taxonomic kingdoms, nine planets, and a place called Yugoslavia. You may have been taught that the dinosaur species called Brontosaurus was a mistake in fossil taxonomy, and only existed in movies and old gas station signs.
In 1903, only a couple decades after it was discovered, Brontosaurus was demoted. Leading scientists at the time decided that the fossils found in the western U.S. were merely a species within the genus Apatosaurus. Museum specimens were renamed, textbooks were rewritten, and Brontosaurus was relegated to history’s dust heap. Today the iconic dinos don’t even have a Wikipedia page.
Now, it appears that Brontosaurus was real all along. A new study from Emanuel Tschopp at the Unversidade Nova de Lisboa and his team takes into account recent fossil finds and in-depth study to conclude that Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus both existed in the distant past.
“The differences we found between Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus were at least as numerous as the ones between closely related genera, and much more than what you normally find between species,” explained Dr. Roger Benson, a co-author of the study from the University of Oxford.