So do you remember that time in class when you were learning about dinosaurs and one of them was the brontosaurus? It was one of the largest animals to have ever walked on land. Along with the tyrannosaurus rex, triceratops and pterodactyl, our childish imaginations ran wild. But it was all lies! Dirty no good lies! Well, at least one of them was. You see, the brontosaurus didn’t exist. Not ever. Not even for a brief second in actual physical living and breathing form. So why exactly didn’t the brontosaurus exist?
I suppose the best way to explain the confusion over this non-existent dinosaur is by comparing it with a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, which everyone knows are just not fun. Well, picture this. You have been given a bundle of pieces to put together into a picture, but someone lost the box with the pretty picture of what it’s supposed to look like. Determined to waste as much time as possible because there is a power failure, your phone is flat, and all of your friends are only on Facebook, you decide to persevere and see if you can complete the mammoth task. You near the end to discover a few missing pieces. What do you do? Failing to complete the mission would just mean that you wasted many precious hours. So you look for the missing pieces, and if you don’t find them, well, to hell with it. Any piece that you find will do. Oh, yeah. That is kind of what happened here.
Paleontologist O.C. Marsh was the first to discover this mythical dinosaur in 1879. After digging up the fossilized remains of the dinosaur that he discovered, it wasn’t completely intact. Essentially its head was missing. After failing to find the missing head nearby, he did what we mentioned above, and went looking for another. To be precise, he went several miles away to find a skull to complete his dinosaur. He called his hybrid dinosaur a brontosaurus (Thunder Lizard). But it gets better.
The thing is Marsh kind of screwed this up, and a lot. The problem was that the head that he decided to use was from a completely different dinosaur Sure, no big deal, right? I’m sure that a lot of people wouldn’t be able to tell one dinosaur apart from another, but he should have been able to. Not because he was a paleontologist, but because he discovered the dinosaur himself. That’s right, the full skeleton, excluding the skull of course, was from a species that he had discovered and named two years earlier called the apatosaurus. This basically meant that the dinosaur that he discovered, unearthed and even named, the brontosaurus didn’t exist. It had already been discovered and named the apatosaurus.
What about the head? Well it comes from another dinosaur called a Camarasaurus. So at the end of the day this means that not only did the brontosaurus never exist, but all of the illustrations depicting such an animal are wrong. It was basically the head of one dinosaur on the body of another.