The feeling one gets as a child when learning that Santa Claus isn't real has surfaced again, now that scientists are saying the triceratops may never have existed. Another childhood belief has been dashed.
The Huffington Post reports that scientists now believe that the triceratops never existed as a distinct species, but rather was a younger form of a species called the torosaurus instead. Researchers John Scannella and Jack Horner came to this conclusion after conducting extensive studies on their skulls.
"As the animal aged, its horns changed shape and orientation and its frill became longer, thinner and less jagged. Finally it became fenestrated, producing the classic torosaurus form," they concluded from their study.
According to CBSNews, paleontologists at the Montana State University have determined that the triceratops and the torosaurus were in reality the very same species, simply observed at varying stages of growth. John Scannella explained to reporters the kind of odds such researchers are up against when conducting research of this type.
"Paleontologists are at a disadvantage because we can't go out into the field and observe a living Triceratops grow up from a baby to an adult," Scannella said. "We have to put together the story based on fossils. In order to get the complete story, you need to have a large sample of fossils from many individuals representing different growth stages."
Pannella and Horner tested approximately 50 triceratops specimens found in the United States before coming to their conclusion.
First Santa and now the triceratops. What will researchers ruin next...belief in Mickey Mouse? Maybe some scientific advancements needs to remain untouched and allow the dreams and fascinations of little boys and girls, who love dinosaurs; including the triceratops, to remain unscathed. After all, what purpose does it really serve to obliterate characters from "The Land Before Time" and its ten sequels?
Photo Source: WikiMedia