Whither the triceratops?
The triceratops has always been there, at least in terms of dinosaurs I can name, ever since I wanted to become a paleontologist. I was eight years old when I announced that to my parents. And the triceratops was there.
Also there was the tyrannosaurus rex. The brontosaurus. The archaeopteryx. But most steadfast – most unique, most recognizable – was the triceratops. It couldn’t be screwed up, because tri means three and there were three horns on its head.
Except then the brontosaurus became the apatosaurus, and the brachiosaurus took its rightful place as king of the plant eaters. The archaeopteryx was found to be less dinosaur, more missing link. Jurassic Park made dinosaurs seem less fun, more scary.
It took another hit last week, when I learned about a study released a year ago that may disprove the entire triceratops genus. Turns out the triceratops is actually a young version of some dinosaur called a torosaurus, which is as ridiculous of a name as it sounds.
(And nothing is being said about why torosaurus gets the naming rights; why can’t a torosaurus be an adult version of a triceratops?)
What the hell had happened to my childhood? Is nothing sacred?