STL Science Center

STL Science Center

05 October 2012

A Doozy of A Tale, Part 1 of 7

I seriously contemplated scraping this week's planned animal after doing a bit more in depth research. I plan the weeks for this blog months in advance to stay ahead of myself and give myself time to do other things that need to be done. Every time I find my calendar growing down to three or four weeks of prepared topics I sit down on a Sunday or a time that is slow during the week and I look back to see where we have been and map out the road ahead. Then two to three days before the new dinosaur starts I give a once over to the animal for next week and start to build up material. Well, today is no exception to that rule; I have sat down with my material built up and my plan sketched in front of me and doubts as to whether or not I should even begin to publish this story. After much careful thought, however, I believe it is imperative that I publish this story for the entire week as much to warn others to be aware of the happenings of the paleo-community as to educate others in proper practices and potential hoax recognition, so here begins our strange and wild tale:

In the 1980's things were getting dug up all over India. In the southern tip of the subcontinent a uniquely enormous partial skeleton was unearthed by two Indian paleontologists by the names of Yadagiri and Ayyasami and described by them in 1989 as a carnosaur which they believed, specifically, to be a type of Allosaur. Since 1995, and officially in 2006 (Krause, D.W., O'Connor, P.M., Curry Rogers, K., Sampson, S.D., Buckley, G.A., and Rogers, R.R. (2006). "Late Cretaceous terrestrial vertebrates from Madagascar: Implications for Latin American biogeography." Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 93(2): 178-208.), the find has been described as a massive sauropod. Part of the reason for this confusion was that Yadagiri and Ayyasami never took detailed photographs, created detailed drawings, or diagnostically described the finding of what came to be called Bruhathkayosaurus matleyi (meaning Huge Body Lizard). The mostly incomplete skeleton and undetailed description raised doubts and the massive leg bones have been regarded as potentially being fossilized tree trunks rather than leg bones. The research of the pair (and another contributor to this find's mythos, Sankar Chatterjee) has come into question before as well, which does nothing to help the claim, and, even worse, in late 2011 the only evidence of the material attributed to Bruhathkayosaurus was reported to have been washed away by a monsoon years ago because, supposedly, the material was never prepared nor removed from the actual earth it was found in! More on that later, for now, take a look at what the proportions of this, as Matt Martyniuk says, "beast (or possibly, a tree?)" may have looked like.

©Steve O'Connor

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