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Re: Comprehensive list of popular dinosaur misconceptions (warning: sarcasm)
> 1. All dinosaurs lived at the same time.
Are you saying the Mesozoic was not a "time?" It was the "time of the
dinosaurs," right? Right?
> 2. Dinosaurs mostly lived in palm tree-filled jungles with a lot of
> swamps and the occasional lava-spewing volcano.
As do modern tropical animals.
Haven't you ever seen a 50's movie where a jaguar hunts for
chimpanzees while peacocks, gibbons, and kookaburras constantly make
the only sounds to ever be heard in the jungle?
> 3. Plesiosaurs, mosasaurs, and other marine reptiles were dinosaurs.
They (especially mosasaurs) were all "terrible lizards," so logically
they *must* be dinosaurs.
Unless you're a Commie who says that English makes no sense.
> 4. Dimetrodon was a dinosaur.
It had scales and was therefore a reptile, so yeah.
> 5. Prehistoric mammals were dinosaurs.
No, just descended from them. Like all other modern tetrapods.
(I had an English teacher in high school confirm that one.)
> 6. Pterosaurs were dinosaurs.
Terrible *flying* lizards, admittedly, but still. It was the Age of
Dinosaurs, after all, and that gave dinosaurs the right to dominate
all habitats on Earth.
> 7. Pterosaurs were birds.
> 8. Pterosaurs were the ancestors of birds.
> 9. Birds are not dinosaurs, even if they are descended from them. (What,
> they magically stop being dinosaurs at some point?)
Dey haz teh fetherz!
> 10. Dinosaurs and “cavemen” lived at the same time.
I chalk that one up to irresponsible time travelers.
> 11. Dinosaurs and Ice Age mammals lived at the same time.
Latitudinal habitat differentiation, that's all.
> 12. _Carcharodon megalodon_ lived at the same time as the dinosaurs.
It needed big prey items, and nothing's bigger than dinosaurs.
> 13. Oil consists of dinosaur remains.
There were more plants back then, so the dinosars that ate them were
very high in energy.
> 14. Dinosaurs were preserved in the La Brea tar pits.
What?! They would have been eaten by tigers with saber teeth first!
We'd find nothing!
> 15. Dinosaurs commonly died in tar pits.
That's probably why they went extinct.
> 16. Sites that preserve several dinosaur skeletons are usually the result
> of a cataclysmic volcanic eruption/flood/pit full of quicksand/etc.
To be fair, that one seems to happen just often enough to sort of
justify in the public mindset.
> 17. The Ice Age killed the dinosaurs.
As reptiles, their cold blood made them highly vulnerable. This is
because they were inferior.
> 18. Bipedal dinosaurs walked “Godzilla-style”, with dragging tails.
Hey, Godzilla's posture was determined by special effects limitations.
If you want to drag somebody into this, let's go back to King Kong 20
years earlier, or various other stop-motion critters from before the
> 19. Sauropods were semiaquatic.
They had to be, by default, in order to navigate all the swamps.
Also tey where reel hevy.
> 20. Brontosaurus is a valid name. (Why is this a misconception?
> Brontosaurus was already invalid in 1950-1960 when most people heard about
> it. Granted, the name change was published in a really obscure paper, but
> surely other papers mentioned Apatosaurus since then and the curators at
> the museums labeling their skeletons "brontosaurus" should have been aware
> of the error. Just why did it take until 1974 for the information to get
To be fair, "Brontosaurus" is a much, much cooler name than
"Apatosaurus," which is nowhere near as evocative. It's part of the
original trifecta of dinosaurs best-named for eliciting public
interest: Brontosaurus, Triceratops, and Tyrannosaurus.
(I think the modern one is Velociraptor, Velociraptor, and raptor.)
> 21. Brontosaurus was renamed Apatosaurus because it had been reconstructed
> with the wrong type of skull. (in actuality, this mistake wouldn’t have
> made the name invalid!)
That one's easy to be confused by if you're a layperson with no idea
of how the nomenclatural system works. It's understandable that to the
general public, a chimeric, "false" entity would seem like something
to be dropped wholesale.
> 22. Brontosaurus didn’t exist.
> 23. Brontosaurus was renamed Brachiosaurus.
Never heard that one.
> 24. Brachiosaurus didn’t exist.
> 25. Every sauropod is a Brontosaurus.
Thunder lizards? Duh! Come on!
> 26. Every theropod over 30 feet long is a Tyrannosaurus rex.
Size matters not. Having big teeth and tiny arms does.
> 27. Every theropod between 8 and 30 feet long is a Velociraptor.
No, but they're probably "raptors."
Or baby T. rexeses.
> 28. Every theropod less than 8 feet long, including Velociraptor, is a
Come on, there are no meat-eaters less than 8 feet long. Dinosaurs are
> 29. Every large bipedal dinosaur is a Tyrannosaurus rex.
Only if it's a sharptooth. Remember that there were also duckbills
that strained duckweed out of the swamps. Where they stayed to avoid
meat-eaters, which would obviously drown if they ever touched water.
> 30. Every chasmosaurine is a Triceratops.
Every chasmosaurine!? Every ceratopsian, you mean. *Maybe* with the
exception of *Protoceratops*, but only because it laid eggs.
> 31. Every stegosaur is a Stegosaurus.
What else could they possibly be?
> 32. Velociraptor was six feet tall or more.
And played for the NBA before selling out to Hollywood.
> 33. Velociraptor did not have feathers.
Teh reptlies, I tel u!!1!1
> 34. Velociraptor was as intelligent as modern dolphins or chimps.
Because of the large brain housed in its two-foot-long head.
Also, because of their dextrous opposable thumbs.
> 35. Velociraptor is known to have hunted in packs. (Deinonychus maybe, but
> no evidence for it has been found for Velociraptor.)
I ask you, how could they have brought down woolly mammoths *without*
hunting in packs? That's just infeasible.
> 36. Velociraptor never existed, it was made up for Jurassic Park.
As were dinosaurs. That's why such flights of fancy are so popular:
nuanced creative integrity.
> 37. Tyrannosaurus had poor eyesight.
Wait, wasn't there a paper (on *Tarbosaurus* IIRC) suggesting that the
olfactory and auditory centers of the brain were in fact
better-developed than the visual ones, and thus suggested crespucular
Regardless, T. rex's eyesight was not simply poor; it actually could
not detect objects which were not, themselves, moving - allowing prey
such as Brontosauruses to remain safe simply by standing still (if,
you know, they couldn't get to a swamp in time).
> 38. Tyrannosaurus could not hunt living prey.
It could only hunt *undead* prey, which is much, much trickier, I can
tell you. You don't want to take on a Zombieceratops without some
> 39. Dilophosaurus was venomous.
It had to be. It was too small to kill Stegasauruses without some
> 40. Dilophosaurus had a neck frill.
Yes, to intimidate or perhaps mesmerize large, dangerous prey while
aiming for a spit.
> 41. Dilophosaurus was half its actual size.
Why wouldn't it be?
Besides, it was probably a baby one. You can tell because the frill
hadn't evolved into feathers yet.
Allow me to add to the list:
42. Dinosaurs were the earliest tetrapods to evolve. Nothing came before them.
43. Dinosaurs died out because mammals were superior.
44. Most famous dinosaurs lived during the Jurassic, which is
therefore the only prehistoric time period of any relevance.
45. The main cause of mortality for dinosaurs, other than geological
catastrophes, was constant epic battles with other dinosaurs - all of
whom would fight to the death whenever combat was entered.
46. Dinosaurs would surely have evolved into intelligent, civilized
creatures had they not died out, because evolutionary progress demands
that things move toward superiority, and nothing is more superior than
intelligence. (By sheer coincidence, we are also intelligent. What are
47. Meat-eating dinosaurs were hyper-aggressive and would gladly have
pursued human-sized prey all day while dead and dying *Triceratops*
individuals were lying around. This is also true of saber-toothed
tigers and other large carnivorous dinosaurs.
48. If small predators like *Compsognathus* existed, which they didn't
because dinosaurs were BIG, they would have needed to hunt in packs
and use venom to subdue large prey - simply because hunting large prey
is always preferable over hunting small prey.
49. "Ancestor" means "thing that was sort of similar and existed
earlier," not "thing which led reproductively to a genetically related
iteration/member of the same evolutionary lineage." This is why
dinosaurs were the ancestors of Komodo dragons, alligators, and
rhinocerotes. Also, "predecessor" means exactly the same thing as
50. Dinosaurs died out at the end of the Cretaceous.