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New evidence suggests the Brontosaurus could be real after all.

Everything you learned in second grade is wrong.

New evidence suggests the Brontosaurus could be real after all.

Remember that kid from second grade? You know, that kid?

(Who actually WEARS their science fair ribbon??)


The one you ran up to on the playground that one day and said, "HEY! CHECK OUT MY AWESOME NEW BRONTOSAURUS ACTION FIGURE!"


(It's REAL plastic!)

And he was like...

"You moron. There's no such thing as a Brontosaurus. It's a made-up dinosaur that only little kids think is real. That's actually an Apatosaurus."

And, if he was really super that kid-ish, he probably went on to explain that in the late 1800s, paleontologist Othniel Charles March brought back basically the same huge herbivore skeleton on two different expeditions out west and named it two different things. And since the Apatosaurus came first, that's the name that scientists ultimately agreed on in 1903.

And you were like, "Uh, duh, I knew THAT."

But deep down, you were devastated beyond human comprehension.

Because the Brontosaurus was your favorite dinosaur. But according to science, it never even existed.

(What is left to live for?)

After that, you made do the best you could. You grew up. Made friends. Fell in love. Lost love. Got a job. Got married. Applied for a mortgage. Life ... went on. But it was never really the same.

Until now.

Because — brace yourselves — some big news just dropped.

The Brontosaurus might be real after all!

Charles Choi, Scientific American:

Some of the largest animals to ever walk on Earth were the long-necked, long-tailed dinosaurs known as the sauropods—and the most famous of these giants is probably Brontosaurus, the "thunder lizard." Deeply rooted as this titan is in the popular imagination, however, for more than a century scientists thought it never existed...

Now a new study suggests resurrecting Brontosaurus. It turns out the original Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus fossils appear different enough to belong to separate groups after all. "Generally, Brontosaurus can be distinguished from Apatosaurus most easily by its neck, which is higher and less wide," says lead study author Emanuel Tschopp, a vertebrate paleontologist at the New University of Lisbon in Portugal. "So although both are very massive and robust animals, Apatosaurus is even more extreme than Brontosaurus."


Yep. That's right. Turns out a group of scientists now has cause to believe that the Brontosaurus is actually a distinct genus of dinosaur — similar to, but not completely the same as, you guessed it, the Apatosaurus.

(For maximum confusion, this is an Apatosaurus skeleton.)

And! There's enough evidence to suggest that there wasn't just one type of Brontosaurus, but three entirely separate species of them, known as Brontosaurus excelsus, B. parvus, and B. yahnahpin.

As with most scientific revelations, this probably won't completely end the controversy.

James Gorman, The New York Times:

"Dr. Tschopp and his colleagues Octávio Mateus at the New University and Roger B. J. Benson at the University of Oxford in England decided that although Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus are similar, there are actually two different genera and the Yale specimen is really a Brontosaurus after all. So are several other museum specimens, they said, including one at the University of Wyoming, and a baby Apatosaurus at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.

Their paper, released online on Tuesday in the journal PeerJ, with all of its nearly 300 pages freely available to anyone, will not be the last word on whether the Brontosaurus name should come back into scientific use. Names of species and genera are matters of expert opinion. There is no national or international board of official dinosaur names that decides who is right."

But this news is still really freaking cool.

The bottom line of all this?

There's a lot about our own history and the history of our planet that we still don't know. There's still a lot to learn. Which is pretty incredible, when you think about it.


(Oooooooooh).

The even bottomer line?

Isn't it cool that scientists are always trying to prove themselves wrong? Like, for 100 years, scientists thought they were certain that the Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus were the same dinosaur. But still, a bunch of them were like, "Nope. Not good enough. Let's look into this again." Science is freaking fantastic.


The bottomest line?

Take that, that kid!

(And put away that smug little ribbon too.)

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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