Thanks to decades of movies, comic books and less-than-accurate TV documentaries, many people continue to hold mistaken notions about Dinosaurs. Here are some things you thought you knew about dinosaurs that aren’t actually true.
Brontosaurus was a species of dinosaur.
Unfortunately for Brontosaurus, this name never truly existed! Back in 1877, American fossil collector Othniel Charles Marsh gave the name Apatosaurus to a fossilised partial dinosaur skeleton, although it was missing the skull. In 1879, he named a new fossilised skeleton Brontosaurus, it too was missing the skull,. Both sets of fossils were re-examined by Elmer Riggs, and in 1905 he announced that they were the same species. As Apatosaurus was named first, this was deemed the correct species name. Despite Brontosaurus losing its validity as a name all the way back in 1905, the name stayed around for many more decades, and is even mistakenly used now. When the fossil skeleton found in 1879 was first displayed back in 1905, in Yale’s Peabody Museum, it used the skull from another set of remains. It was also incorrectly labelled as a Brontosaurus, so perpetuating the myth. In 1970 it was shown that this skull was from another species of sauropod, called Camarasaurus. Poor old Brontosaurus was losing out on all sides!
Pterosaurs, plesiosaurs and mosasaurs were dinosaurs
No, they were marine and flying reptiles that also lived during the Mesozoic Era, alongside dinosaurs. The name ‘dinosaur’ applies only to a group of terrestrial (land-dwelling) reptiles with a set of physical features that are different from those of all other reptiles. They include extinct animals we know from fossils and the birds we see today.
All dinosaurs were apex predators
It is estimated that carnivores, or predators, made up only about one per cent of the dinosaur population. The vast majority were plant-eaters. This figure is typical of similar ecosystems today. Many meat-eating dinosaurs, or theropods, were relatively small and preyed on insects, small mammals and reptiles, and other dinosaurs. In turn, these smaller dinosaurs were preyed upon by pterosaurs, marine reptiles, crocodiles and even mammals.
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