Skip to main content
  1. Life
  2. Religion & Spirituality
  3. Western Religions

Most dinosaur skeleton reconstructions are made from numerous specimens

See also

Paleontologists are confounded by the dinosaur fossilized skeletons that they discover. When they unearth these fossil specimens most of the time, the bones are disarticulated (pulled apart). Most dinosaur finds consist of only small portions of any one animal and so paleontologists must play detective to try to determine how the animal was originally put together. For this reason, most museum reconstructed dinosaur skeleton's consist of the bones from numerous specimens, such as the case with the Diplodocus skeleton at the Carnegie.Museum. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, PA has a Diplodocus named after the Industrialist Andrew Carnegie who established this museum in 1895. Its scientific name is Diplodocus carnegii. This Diplodocus has a skull that is modeled after two partial skulls (CM 662; USNM 2673) because the original skull that was found at the Morrison Formation in Wyoming was smashed flat and unusable for the skeleton. In addition, parts from other sauropod types of dinosaurs were incorporated into the mounted Diplodocus (Helen J. McGinnis, 'Carnegie's Dinosaurs', Carnegie Institute, (1982), p. 69).

Subsequent study of numerous dinosaur fossil sites confirms that vertebrate fossils are usually found in a condition of disarticulation where the bones are ripped apart and spread over areas in the sedimentary layers where they are found. This is why there is always a considerable amount of doubt possible when looking at a mounted skeleton in a natural history museum. Does the skeleton actually represent reality?

This was the case of the Brontosaurus. In 1877, Othniel Marsh gave the name Apatosaurus to a dinosaur whose hip and backbone fossils were found in a quarry near Morrison, Colorado. About two years later in 1879, Marsh found an almost complete skeleton of a dinosaur at Como Bluff, Wyoming. He called this specimen Brontosaurus. The skeleton was missing a skull. Marsh later reconstructed the skeleton of this Brontosaurus but gave it a square-shaped Camarasaurus-type skull that had been found in a different quarry and in a different layer of strata. Brontosaurus was a casualty of the so-called "Bone Wars" between paleontologists Marsh and Cope. Paleontologists later discovered that Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus were the same animal and that Apatosaurus had a skull like that of Diplodocus. Brontosaurus's name has been dropped by the scientific community. You will only see the Apatosaurus in museums today. Apatosaurus which means "deceptive lizard" is a well chosen name for this dinosaur beacause of the confusion its fossils caused.

In many museum displays of dinosaur fossil skeletons the bones are not all bones but plaster replica casts inserted from other skeletons that may be on display somewhere else. For this reason the museum will often paint the skeleton a color, usually brown, tan, or black, so that it is difficult or impossible to determine which bones are original by just looking at the display.

I believe that the condition in which fossils (vertebrate especially) are found screams catastrophe, and that is what we would expect if there really was a fairly recent worldwide flood (Genesis 6-9).

Advertisement

Life

  • Dan Savage
    Dan Savage cares about LGBT youth, bullying and saving lives
    Today's Buzz
  • Raku
    Teachers and students can use this summer to learn a new skill
    Camera
    15 Photos
  • Beach body
    Fitness: Earn your beach body badge with bootcamp classes
    Camera
    10 Photos
  • Greek wine
    Unwind with these delicious wines: The thrilling wines of Greece
    Camera
    7 Photos
  • Mandy Moore
    Exclusive interview with Celebrity Mandy Moore concerning animal activism
    Camera
    5 Photos
  • Educational family vacations
    Find out how to take an educational family vacation that doesn't break the bank
    Camera
    9 Photos