Paleo-OOPS! | God's World News

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Science Soup
Posted: February 20, 2018


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Paleontologists have a lot of good work to be proud of. They also have some reasons to be humble. Even experts make mistakes. Here are some whoppers.

Deinonychus—People used to think dinosaurs had little in common with animals we know today. They were wrong. Deinonychus was a fast runner. Parts of its body worked like the body of a panther. And its bone structure was like that of modern birds.

Brontosaurus—In1879, scientists combined a skeleton found in one location with a skull found nearby. They assumed they belonged to the same dinosaur. They called it Brontosaurus. Today we know better. The Brontosaurus exists only in storybooks and cartoons!

Stegosaurus—In old paintings, dinosaurs walk hunched over. They drag their tails. Now we know the Stegosaurus walked upright with its tail held high. And those big plates on its back? They most likely weren’t for protection. They were probably more like big radiators to help control body temperature.

Tyrannosaurus Rex—Was T. Rex a scavenger or a predator? A name that means “tyrant reptile king” screams “predator!”. But many argued “scavenger” until a T. Rex tooth was found lodged in a Hadrosaurus bone. They think Hadrosaurus survived a fight bite.

Brachiosaurus—Today, people say Brachiosaurus probably lived on land. But in the early 1900s, people thought it spent most of its time underwater with its head sticking up like a giant snorkel. Now scientists know water pressure would have suffocated the animal.

Styracosaurus—Spikes, claws, plates, horns, and beaks are sure signs of a ferocious fighting predator, right? Not always. It turns out that Styracosaurus wasn’t a killer after all. It was a vegetarian. It used its beak to cut plants.

Oviraptor—Dino bones were found near a nest. Scientists figured the creature was stealing eggs. They called it Oviraptor. Later discoveries showed that the Oviraptor was probably protecting its own nest. Too late. The dinosaur is stuck with a name that means “egg thief.”

Triceratops—Scientists decided they may have goofed. What they thought were two different kinds of dinosaurs turned out to be one kind—Triceratops. It's just that fossils look different at different stages of growth.