The Christian Science Monitor

Is the dinosaur family tree becoming a dinosaur?

The dinosaur family tree has two main branches: the bird-hipped dinosaurs and the lizard-hipped dinosaurs. Paleontologists have built upon this idea for nearly 130 years. Textbook writers know it. Museum curators know it. Even children know it.

But what if it’s wrong? What if the established dinosaur family tree is, well, a dinosaur?

That question has sparked a heated debate among paleontologists. The Victorian-era model now has a formidable rival.

The debate reverberates beyond paleontology, as learning about dinosaurs often marks our first interaction with evolutionary biology. So as the scientists delve into the data, they open a window for the public to view how scientific models change.

“Just because we grew up with these ideas doesn’t mean that that’s set in stone,” says Peter Makovicky, associate

The Victorian modelA 'Rosetta Stone' fossil

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Christian Science Monitor

The Christian Science Monitor4 min read
Ukraine Votes For Reform. Will New President Seize The Opportunity?
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy now has the ability to make sweeping reforms in Ukraine, after Sunday’s election gave him a majority in parliament.
The Christian Science Monitor5 min readPolitics
Missing From US-Iran Clash, A Back-channel Safety Valve
Back channels between adversaries help limit tensions, and can pave the way toward peace. But they’re missing from this round of U.S.-Iran tensions.
The Christian Science Monitor2 min readPolitics
Turning Around Puerto Rico’s Woes
Anti-corruption outrage in the territory looks a lot like that in Chile in 2015. The Chilean tale ended with an embattled leader becoming a successful anti-corruption reformer.