As she sat next to me previewing the finalists for last Friday’s Dinosaur Video of the Week, my daughter asked, “Can I learn all the dinosaurs, Mommyo?”
“I don’t see why not,” I said. After all, my little computational wonder could already recite all 50 states in alphabetical order. How much harder could dinosaurs be?
How many dinosaurs are there, anyway?
I started by asking the Google how many dinosaur species have been identified so far. Things being the way they are out there, the answers ranged from 700-900+. Ouch.
According to Wikipedia, the authoritative online list is the Dinosaur Genera List, which in turn is based on the list of species in George Olshevsky‘s book Mesozoic Meanderings #2. The online list hasn’t been updated since 2004 and its source book no longer appears to be in print, which gave me some pause, but it was at least a reasonable place to start.
Turns out paleontologists are constantly revising the dinosaur species list
And then I found this National Geographic article from 2009. Apparently Mark Goodwin, University of California, Berkeley, and Jack Horner, of Montana State University have determined that up to a third of identified dinosaur species may not even be species at all, but instead misidentified fossils of juveniles.
The good news: If their theory is true, the list of species may become much more manageable any day now.
The bad news: That definitive online list couldn’t possibly be all that definitive.
Try as I might, I can’t find an updated version of the list that accounts for all the misidentified juveniles online. Which puts a crimp into our Dinosaur Genera Memorization Project.
Fortunately, you don’t need a perfect list to get started.
Even my highly motivated little paleontologist is unlikely to learn all several hundred dinosaur species overnight, right? We would need to break things down into more manageable chunks anyway. So we started with the Dinosaur A to Z Song from Dinosaur Train.
We’ve been working on this song for a while now, and my daughter’s almost got it. Which means you paleontologists had better publish that revised list soon, because we’re going to need it in T-2 days. Think you can do it?