Monday, August 2, 2010

Paleontology Retcon: Triceratops never existed, now introducing the incredible shape-shifting Torosaurus!

So I don't know about the rest of y'all, but when I was a kid I went through three major phases growing up. I had a horse phase (aka My Little Pony phase), a teddy bear phase (aka Care Bear phase), and a Dinosaur phase. I memorized paleontological information like a tiny child-computer. I spent hours building skeletal models of dinosaurs, putting together dinosaur jigsaw puzzles, and playing with dinosaur toys (My 5th birthday party was dinosaur themed, complete with a craft station where we made stegosaurus hand puppets... my mom was AWESOME).

But suffice it to say that I was dino-cuh-razy, and the dinosaur that was at the top of my all time cool list was the Triceratops. Nothing was more kick-ass than the three horned beast. T-Rex? over compensating. Brontosaurus? Bronto-SNORe-us! Triceratops was where it was at. That's easily why my favorite Power Ranger was Blue Ranger Billy with the Triceratops dino-zord (and I infinitely despised the fact that I shared a name with that tool of a Red Ranger and fake-native american).

Now imagine my horror when I read the headline this morning that revealed scientists releasing a paper detailing how they believe that the Triceratops never actually existed. #horror

Evidently, these scientist assert that Triceratops were actually young versions of another three horned dinosaur, the Torosaurus [new scientist]:

Triceratops had three facial horns and a short, thick neck-frill with a saw-toothed edge. Torosaurus also had three horns, though at different angles, and a much longer, thinner, smooth-edged frill with two large holes in it. So it's not surprising that Othniel Marsh, who discovered both in the late 1800s, considered them to be separate species.
Now Scannella and Horner say that triceratops is merely the juvenile form of torosaurus. As the animal aged, its horns changed shape and orientation and its frill became longer, thinner and less jagged. Finally it became fenestrated, producing the classic torosaurus form

First Pluto's not a planet, now Triceratops never existed. What else will you take away from me, Science?! Before you spoil another one of my cherished childhood icons, you best be putting out some god damn hoverboards, is all I'm saying. 

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