Fred Flintstone didn’t ride a brontosaurus

Mental Floss exposes 50 Science Misconceptions. The brontosaurus never existed!?! I didn’t know that. Via This Week In Education.

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  1. Roger Sweeny says:

    He has garbled the brontosaurus story. This is from wikipedia, and, yes, in this case, it is accurate.

    Othniel Charles Marsh, a Professor of Paleontology at Yale University, described and named an incomplete (and juvenile) skeleton of Apatosaurus ajax in 1877. Two years later, Marsh announced the discovery of a larger and more complete specimen at Como Bluff Wyoming—which, because of discrepancies including the size difference, Marsh incorrectly identified as belonging to an entirely new genus and species. He dubbed the new species Brontosaurus excelsus, meaning “thunder lizard”, from the Greek bront?/?????? meaning “thunder” and sauros/?????? meaning “lizard”, and from the Latin excelsus, “highest, sublime”, referring to the greater number of sacral vertebrae than in any other genus of sauropod known at the time.

    The finds — the largest dinosaur ever discovered at the time and nearly complete, lacking only a head, feet, and portions of the tail — were then prepared for what was to be the first ever mounted display of a sauropod skeleton, at Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History in 1905. The missing bones were created using known pieces from close relatives of Brontosaurus. Sauropod feet that were discovered at the same quarry were added, as well as a tail fashioned to appear as Marsh believed it should, as well as a composite model of what he felt the skull of this massive creature might look like. This was not a delicate Diplodocus-style skull (which would later turn out to be more accurate[23]), but was composed of “the biggest, thickest, strongest skull bones, lower jaws and tooth crowns from three different quarries”,[24] primarily those of Camarasaurus, the only other sauropod for which good skull material was known at the time. This method of reconstructing incomplete skeletons based on the more complete remains of related dinosaurs continues in museum mounts and life restorations to this day. In 1979, two Carnegie researchers replaced the skull on the museum’s skeleton with the correct head found in a quarry in Utah in 1910.[25]

    Despite the much-publicized debut of the mounted skeleton, which cemented the name Brontosaurus in the public consciousness, Elmer Riggs had published a paper in the 1903 edition of Geological Series of the Field Columbian Museum that argued that Brontosaurus was not different enough from Apatosaurus to warrant its own genus, and created the combination Apatosaurus excelsus: “In view of these facts the two genera may be regarded as synonymous. As the term ‘Apatosaurus’ has priority, ‘Brontosaurus’ will be regarded as a synonym.”

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    Breaking news in history which, plus, destroys a myth.
    It wasn’t Horatius at the bridge. It was George. So take that, mythical historian people. So it’s like it never happened, never was infant Rome at the mercy of the preclassical version of a biker gang. Nope. We proved it. George.
    IOW, is this important or is it not?

  3. Michael E. Lopez says:

    I put this in the same category as Pluto not being a planet.

    Whatever. Who cares about semantics? The underlying facts are the same.

    There was a big-ass dinosaur with a big neck that looked like what we used to call a brontosaurus. Call it what you will.