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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B is for Brontosaurus

The Brontosaurus lived between 150 and 154 million years ago, one of the largest dinosaurs, yet gentle, inoffensive and plant-eating, with a long graceful neck.  Or at least it would have been these things, if it had ever existed.  There is no such thing as a brontosaurus.  There never was.

The brontosaurus was put together in 1877 by Yale Paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh who'd discovered the complete skeleton of an apatosaurus minus the skull.  Ever the resourceful one, Marsh simply stuck on a skull from an entirely different dinosaur.  He named his creation brontosaurus, or "thunder lizard."  Later Marsh came across an entire apatosaurus, this time with the skull intact.  The name he gave it means "deceptive lizard," which is pretty ironic.  He must've been thinking, "Say, this thing looks almost exactly like a brontosaurus, except for the h...  Uh-oh."

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