Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Triceratops lives! -or- Why the mainstream press makes me cry.

WARNING: Uncharacteristic vitriol and some naughty language ahead.

Consider this another episode of Things I Need to Catch Up On Because They Happened During Don Bluth Month.

7.1.10 - Sketchbook page

So around the middle of July, my wonderful regular reader/commenter Zach Miller posted this article on his blog: Toroceratops. I suggest you read it and his other two posts on the subject before we go on.

My reaction was, essentially, "Huh. So John "T. rex was an obligate scavenger" Horner proposed that Torosaurus is actually just a really, really old Triceratops and therefore all Torosaur fossils should be renamed Triceratops? That's... interesting, I guess. I, like most of the commenters, will buy it if we ever find an unmistakable transitional 'Toroceratops' skull."

And then I pretty much forgot about it.

Until I was well into the Don Bluth reviews and learned, via, that the mainstream press had got a hold on this story. Ladies and gentlemen, the poor former (maybe) Torosaurus is unwittingly at the center of a fine demonstration of every single thing I cannot f***ing stand about the way the mainstream press reports on science, animals, nature, and... f*** it,

Choice headlines:

"The Triceratops Never Existed!" - Yes it did. It's Torosaurus who would be getting the name change. Please learn how scientific nomenclature works. Also, changing an animal's name doesn't magically make it disappear. Seriously, WTF?

"Triceratops 'never really existed but was just a young version of another dinosaur'" - Same points as above, and just who the hell are they quoting? Honestly, this might be my favorite of the reports because you've got that headline and then, buried deep within the body text of the report itself: "All torosaurus specimens will now be reclassified as triceratops, the scientists said."

"Morph-osaurs: How shape-shifting dinosaurs deceived us" -
1) Christ in a hot rod, I didn't pass five MTELs to see an affix used as a verb in a newspaper.
2) I don't know if this offends me more as an armchair paleontologist or as a sci-fi fantasy fan (by those "physically changing as you age" standards, aren't we all shapeshifting?) But at least it prompted this stupid thing which is hopefully funny:

7.4.10 Sketchbook page

Rest assured, dear readers, that the "nonexistence" and "shapeshifting" (I seriously couldn't type that without cringing) of dear old Triceratops has been highly exaggerated. But you wouldn't know from these articles. They have utterly failed to understand how scientific nomenclature works, have happily reported this theory -which many have called into question- as a universally accepted fact, and seem to be of the opinion that Triceratops (who doesn't give a sh*t what name us puny humans call it by anyway) has somehow vanished from the fossil record altogether.

I need a cold drink. 

Edit: See also this.


Art of the Day: On a much, much happier note, joy and rapture! The Art Evolved Pop Culture Gallery is up!

Other Person's Art of the Day: Also, Gregory S. Paul's Dinosaur Coffee Table Book on Blurb Want... so... much... (Cries at lack of money.)


Albertonykus said...

I already knew that Triceratops didn't exist. But shape shifting is new to me.

Zach said...


Hey, thanks for citing my post! And yes, the mainstream media sucks when it comes to paleo stories. I ALMOST said "lamestream" but caught myself, not wanting to sound like a certain former governor of my humble state.

Malucifer said...

Heheh... one winged angel. Nice one.

Reporters are dum. I learned this in the 90's when they were still refering to birds being dinosaurs as a "theory." When I saw the headlines back when Limusaurus was new... I lost all faith in humanity.

Trish said...

MAINSTREAM NEWS PERSON: "Did you know that some scientists think birds are dinosaurs?!?"

TRISH: (Looks up from turkey dinner incredulously at NEWS PERSON, looks at turkey, looks at imaginary audience, looks at NEWS PERSON, and...) "NO. F***IN'. WAY."