Certain dinosaurs may go extinct — again — since they may have only existed in the minds of paleontologists.
Dino expert John Horner and others suspect that at least 50 dinosaurs on the record books now have been incorrectly identified. According to a Science journal report, “it’s time to start culling the herd.”
Here are just a few dinosaur species that may soon get the axe:
Horner, a paleontologist at Montana State University, suspects the remains of Nanotyrranus may belong to a young Tyrannosaurus rex. Here at Discovery News we recently reported on the incredible differences between Tyrannosaur toddlers and their parents. Juvenile tyrannosaurs looked and behaved differently than adults did, so it’s no wonder that paleontologists at first thought they belonged to an entirely new species.
Paleontologist Michael J. Benton, at the University of Bristol, told Science that up to 51.7 percent of all dinosaur species are miscategorized. He said that’s a “frightening figure. This means that more than half the species of dinosaurs ever named were in error.â€
Horner added that at present, “new” dinosaurs are discovered and named at a rate of one every two weeks. Thousands of dinosaurs are now on record, with many of them probably being duplicates of animals already on the books.
Horner, who has two dinosaurs named after him, is proposing that paleontologists follow a rigorous set of procedures known as the Unified Frame of Reference (UFR) when attempting to identify fossils. The UFR will take into account microscopic analysis of the fossils, which uses technologies not available in the past. It will also require detailed analysis of where the remains were found, how they appeared when first observed pre-excavation, how they compare to existing species, and more.
â€œThe proposals by Horner are very important as a reminder of a problem paleontologists are aware of,â€ Benton says, â€œbut we still don’t know if it will provide a 100 percent watertight solution that means we will never make mistakes about dinosaur species ever again.â€