Thanks to Phil Krause for suggesting this post.
The Brontosaurus has been consigned to extinction not once, but twice – the second time when scientists concluded it was too similar to other long-necked dinosaurs to deserve its own genus.
Now the “thunder lizard” looks set to make a comeback, after a new analysis suggests that Brontosaurus specimens are sufficiently distinct from other species after all.
The team behind the findings hope they will trigger the resurrection of the Brontosaurus moniker, more than 100 years after it was discarded by academics.
“It’s a nice example of how science works. A new finding can overturn more than 100 years of beliefs,” said Emanuel Tschopp, who led the study at the Nova University in Lisbon.
The first Brontosaurus specimen was unearthed during the so-called “Bone Wars”, when rival scientists were competing to name as many new specimens as possible. The palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh hastily declared Brontosaurus to be a new genus in 1879, two years after naming another bulky long-necked specimen, the Apatosaurus (deceptive lizard).
The discovery of a third intermediate species cast doubt on the claim, however, suggesting the whole lot would be more sensibly designated as a single group. By 1903, the Brontosaurus had been relegated to A. excelsus, a subset of the Apatosaurus family – but to the present day it has lived on as a mainstay in popular culture.
“It’s like a scientific zombie that has kept shambling on for one reason or another,” said Brian Switek, author of My Beloved Brontosaurus and amateur palaeontologist based in Utah. “Partly, it’s just a wonderful name. It sounds big.” Source: Brontosaurus is back! New analysis suggests genus might be resurrected