I am pleased to present once again an interesting TED talk. O.K., the talk is a little on the slow side, but Jack Horner’s Shape Shifting Dinosaurs is worth watching, for it shows yet again something that cannot be repeated often enough: Scientists have a big huge ego and are therefore some of the easiest fooled people around.

Why are there so many different large dinosaurs while their babies are almost never found? Spoiler alert! Because apparently, not only do museums demand big dinosaurs, but scientists love to attach new names to stuff, because this then allows them to claim having discovered it. And so, not only were many smaller and juvenile dinosaurs just left in the dirt where they were found. Moreover, those that were taken out have been presented as different species rather than what they often actually were: young little dinosaurs still growing!

As too often, even after this was criticized as early as 1903*, it went on nevertheless and for a considerable time. Nobody likes whistle blowers; science is not so different.

The Brontosaurus as Marsh envisioned him: wrong head, wrong name, wrong lifestyle. (Copyright Lee Krystek, 2002.)

Also mentionable are some of the remarks posted under the talk, pointing out how those who believe usually simply assume that “missing links” have been found, regardless of whether this is actually true or not. Those who have the right questions, even recognize what is actually going on, are often mislead and made to just go along with whatever seems perfectly well established to those around them:

“When I was a child my mom bought me a few books about dinosaurs. I looked at the pictures and assumed that the ceratopsids grew into each other. It seemed so obvious. But my mom said, no, those are all different, there are babies of those dinosaurs found too. I assumed she didn't assume about those babies....”

And another one:

“it makes us to be a bit more curious (may I say skeptical) about what's taken for granted, especially in books about past history (maybe not so long ago). I guess many people (including me) may think: well, it is something discovered many many years ago so if there is something wrong someone would have found it by now.”


* from Unmuseum: In his rush to beat Cope, Marsh had made a mistake, however. The Apatosaurus was not a separate species, but simply a juvenile example of Brontosaurus. In 1903, Elmer Riggs of the Field Museum in Chicago was studying Marsh's work when he found this mistake:
...the writer is convinced that the Apatosaur specimen is merely a young animal of the form represented in the adult by the Brontosaur specimen.