The State House was pink last night. They have special light filters (I assume they’re filters, but I’m not the State House lighting director), and they change the colors monthly (?). It’s pretty cool, makes driving around at night an adventure. Also, everything available for purchase lately seems to have a pink ribbon on it, or it’s a Halloween, or Christmas (already?!?!?) decoration. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about raising money for breast cancer, and I stopped hating the color pink a while ago.
Let’s take a step back, though, October is obviously the month of Halloween, Breast Cancer Awareness month, the month of Oktoberfest etc. It’s also DINOSAUR MONTH, which I will be calling Dinosaur Awareness Month. Poor dinosaurs are always getting lost in the shuffle, and if I hadn’t been at the library yesterday, I wouldn’t have known about it either. In celebration, I will now list a few fun dinosaur facts that people may or may not know.
There is no such thing as a Brontosaurus. Remember growing up, that giant long-necked herbivore of the sauropod genus was always called a Brontosaurus? Then, I stopped paying attention for a moment, and it became Apatasaurus. I feel that not many people know why, because when a friend of mine was wearing a t-shirt with an Apatosaurus on it, and I correctly identified it, he was wildly impressed (dinosaurs are super-awesome).
The story goes, dinosaur nomenclature dictates that the first name given to a dinosaur is the correct one. In 1877 Othiel Charles Marsh found a skeleton and named it Apatosaurus ajax. Two years later, he found a similar skeleton and named it Brontosaurus excelsus, which means Thunder Lizard (clearly, he had been thinking up cool names in the interim, plus this skeleton was larger and more thunderous). The only problem was the fact that the Thunder Lizard skeleton was incomplete– lacking a skull. Marsh fashioned one according to what he believed it would have looked like, and wound up creating a massive skull to match the massive body. The skull created was similar to the Camarasaurus:
Finally people stepped back and examined the skeletons and realized that they were actually the same, or similar enough to eliminate the need for two names. The mighty Brontosaurus excelsus, actually had a puny little head, and all signage would need to be changed.
Getting away from sauropods, the largest of the stegosaurid armoured dinosaur or Stegosaurus has the smallest brain of all the dinosaurs– size of a walnut. However, he has another things going for him that baffled scientists for years. There is a large cluster of nerves in the hip/tail region, that led many to think that it was actually a second brain that controlled reflexes in the rear of the body. This has been disproved, and Stegosaurus remains just the dinosaur with the smallest brain– although it was chosen as the state dinosaur of Colorado since that’s where it was first discovered.
If you would like to learn more about dinosaurs, I highly recommend The Modern Scholar Lecture Series: Behold The Mighty Dinosaur.
*all pictures were taken by me at the Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, CT– you should go there.