We’ve watched them evolve right before our very eyes from the bulky beasts in the 1933 iconic hit King Kong to the terrifying predators in Stephen Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster, Jurassic Park. As time passes, what we know about the prehistoric creatures we know as dinosaurs, changes. What we once thought true in the early 20th century is completely ludicrous today - and we are going to dive into the top 10 dinosaur myths that have since been debunked.
Lizards Evolved from Dinosaurs
The most popular belief around dinosaurs was that they were on the same evolutionary chart as the lizards that we see roaming around today. While the Greek term “dinosaur” translates to “Terrible Lizard,” these beasts were really a different group of reptiles that displayed very non-reptilian traits. Sprawling limb posture and other skeletal structures and nesting practices are just a few traits that separate dinosaurs from lizards quite a bit and put them more closely related to birds. The discovery of feathered dinosaurs only served to further support the idea that birds evolved from these great creatures.
Dinosaurs Are Extinct
When we think of Dinosaurs, one of the first things that cross our minds is that they have been extinct for millions of years. Although the typical dinosaurs we all think of have been gone for quite some time, the descendants of these beings still live with us today. Any creature belonging to the Avian lineage, such as penguins, ostriches and hummingbirds are all precursors of the ancient dinosaur.
Dinosaurs Were All Scaly
When you think of dinosaurs, you think of hard scaly skin. Over time, as fossil structure was studied more closely, it started to become clear that dinosaurs were actually more closely related to birds. That theory was backed up even further in the mid-1990s, when the first of many feathered non-avian fossils were found. From here, scientists started to theorize that dinosaurs were actually not scaly like lizards, but rather were covered in feathers like those of birds. The discovery was one that many had a hard time swallowing, but as more and more fossils were found with evidence of feathered dinosaurs, it was hard to hide from the truth.
Dinosaur and Man Coexisted
The school of Creationism has the belief that dinosaurs are not prehistoric beasts exclusive to their own timeline. Instead, it is believed that both man and dinosaur existed within the same points in history. Citing legends of dragons from ancient civilizations, Creationists hold true to their belief that man and prehistoric beast lived together. On the other end of the spectrum is the science of paleontology and time stamping fossils, which provides rather compelling proof that dinosaurs and man could never have coexisted. Scientists and Creationists to this day continue to battle it out to determine who is correct. Although there has never been a sustainable case of human and dinosaur remains being found together, that doesn’t rule out the fact that one day we could uncover such evidence. However, as of now, we have no solid proof that humans and dinosaurs co-existed.
The Existence of the Brontosaurus
The “Flinstones” may have chowed down regularly on massive Brontosaurus burgers, but truth be told that was not Brontosaurus meat they were munching on. How do we know? Because the Brontosaurus actually never existed. Over 130 years ago, a pair of paleontologists, Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope were locked in a bitter feud that saw the two racing to get dinosaur names into publication. In 1877, Marsh came across a partial skeleton of a creature he would dub the Apatosaur. The skeleton was missing a skull, so there was no telling what a completed Apatosaur looked like, which is why Marsh dubbed a skeleton he found two years later a Brontosaurus. Truth be told, Marsh’s grand find was really just a more complete Apatosaurus. Marsh’s careless creation caught on and became a favorite amongst children despite never actually having existed.
Dinosaurs Dragged Their Tails
Again referencing old film classics like “The Valley of Gwangi”, early paleontologists once believed – and some kind of still do – that many dinosaurs dragged their tails when they walked. Paleontologists from the 1970’s had started to reconstruct dinosaur skeletons, and in this reconstruction started to show that the tail was meant as a balance to the over sized creatures and was actually parallel to the ground rather than sliding against it. The discovery came to light as paleontologists started to note that heavy traffic areas showed no signs of tail dragging. Osteologists also note tail support structures like ossified tendons found in some dinosaurs, which support the fact that the tail did not have constant support underneath it.
Marine and Flying Reptiles Weren’t Dinosaurs
It seems that it is believed that if it was a big reptile during the prehistoric era, it was automatically a dinosaur – but that is far from the case. Truth of the matter is, if it wasn’t a terrestrial reptile, it wasn’t really a dinosaur. This includes Pterosaurs, marine crocodiles, Plesiosaurs, and Ichthyosaurus. These beasts may have shared many characteristics with dinosaurs, but that doesn’t automatically qualify them for the part.
Larger Dinosaurs Had Two Brains
During the 19th century, the idea was conceived that sauropods and other large beasts, such as the Stegosaurus, had a second brain by their hind legs that coordinated their rear legs and tail movement. The idea stemmed from paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh, who speculated that the large cavities near the beasts’ hips house a posterior brain-case where a second brain would sit. Though the cavity did contain a neural canal to help regulate limb movement, before too long, scientists debunked Marsh’s claim.
Dinosaurs Were Large and Sluggish
Early cinema showed exactly what man thought of dinosaurs, and that’s that they were giant and extremely slow. The Tyrannosaurus Rex, specifically, had always been portrayed as being an incredibly “fat” creature that couldn’t move at the 25 mph that researchers estimate today. Though some of the more lumbering beasts like the Triceratops may not be able to achieve speeds greater than about 5 to 7 mph, there were plenty of prehistoric beasts that would definitely be able to outrun humans.
Dinosaurs All Lived and Died at the Same Time
Apparently it’s a theory that has been posed on enough occasions to warrant a separate clarifying document on the United States Geological Survey website; but the truth is that dinosaurs lived across three different time periods – the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous. Even today, thanks to a little film from 1993, people are quick to assume that “Jurassic” encompasses all manner of dinosaur. Popular dinosaurs like the Stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus were alive at two different time periods, separated by an estimated 80 million years.