Sunday, 23 June 2013

Is the mighty Brontosaurus really dead?

When I was a kid, I loved dinosaurs. I couldn't get enough of them. I had books, little dinosaur toys and even a poster or two. My love of dinosaurs hasn't diminished. This is probably why I decided to write a novel with dinosaurs. Don’t get your hopes up just yet, though. The completion of the novel is some way off. I will, however, update this blog from time to time with news and stuff about my Work In Progress, or WIP, as it’s called.

There you go. For anyone not familiar with writing or publishing, you've just learned a new term. WIP. The Work in Progress. I may give you more terminology as they come up. How lucky do you feel right now?

Anyways, getting back to today’s post. The Brontosaurus. Yep, the Brontosaurus. One of my favourite dinosaurs when I was a little nipper. I had the little green Brontosaurus toy and would play with it often. It had a huge majestic neck and dumpy face, great thick legs and massive flat feet. It was one monster giant of a dinosaur. Not many came anywhere near the size of the mighty Brontosaurus, not even my other favourite, the T-Rex.

However, and this is going to upset a few people, the Brontosaurus never existed. Nope, it never was. The Brontosaurus was entirely made up. A hoax. A cruel hoax that shattered my world and has probably now shattered yours.

Are you in tears yet?

I can hear you shouting at the scream, “Please, let it not be true.”

But, yes, it is true. I’m still in shock.

The Brontosaurus was discovered by palaeontologist O.C. Marsh in the late 1870s. It still is one of the most complete dinosaur skeletons ever found. However, thirty years later, scientists determined the skeleton Marsh found was not of a new species, but from one he had all ready discovered, the Apatosaurus.

But, although scientists and palaeontologists knew of the mistake, or as some have said, hoax, it took a hundred years for the name Brontosaurus to be removed from the records of palaeontology.

But why the mix up? I hear you ask.

Well, it may have been a mistake on Marsh’s part or a deliberate attempt at deception. He dug up a skeleton of a massive dinosaur which wasn't complete. It lacked a skull. This didn't put Marsh off. He decided to place the skull of another dinosaur he happened to have lying around (actually it was over 4 miles away), which turned out to be a Camarasaurus, to complete the skeleton. Either he thought the skull fit, or he just wanted to get one over on another dinosaur hunter, Edward Drinker Cope, who he was in competition with at the time to discover as many knew dinosaur skeletons as they could. Who knows?

What we do know is that the Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus are the same creature. But does this mean the Brontosaurus never existed? Some would say yes (those pesky scientists). Since the name Apatosaurus came first, that is the name used for these dinosaurs in the scientific community (What is wrong with you people and your facts? Pfft, I say. Pfft, and Pfft again).

However, who says a dinosaur can’t have two names?

There can be the scientific name and the popular name. And I choose to remember the popular name, the name I grew up with and grew to love. The Brontosaurus is the Apatosaurus. But the Apatosaurus is also the Brontosaurus. Hence, therefore, the Brontosaurus did exist.

Long live the extinct Brontosaurus.

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