Dinosaurs and the Guinness Book of Records – A Bad Mistake

With the recently published paper from researchers at Colorado State University, identifying potential flaws in the calculations used to estimate the weight of dinosaurs, one of our team members decided to check in the Guinness Book of Records to see how this new data might affect dinosaur records.  The 2009 edition of the Guinness Book of Records was duly checked to see how this new data may change the information presented.  We have purchased the Guinness Book of Records for many years and find it an informative and helpful resource (great for settling non-dinosaur related disputes amongst team members).

If the new calculations from the American researchers are proved to be more accurate, than previous data, then the weights of many dinosaurs such as Brachiosaurus and Diplodocus may have been overestimated.  Slimmed down dinosaurs would have several implications for the compilers of the Guinness Book of Records, many statistics published about the biggest and heaviest of these creatures would have to be re-examined.

To read more about the Colorado State University research Dinosaurs were “Thinosaurs”

Surprisingly, in the 2009 edition we noticed a mistake on the pages dedicated to the fossil record (pp 79-82).  The word Theropod was spelt wrongly.  The dinosaur section features a 3-D poster pull out, packed with lots of data on dinosaurs and other extinct animals, however, in at least two places the word Theropod was spelt incorrectly.

The Theropods (means “beast foot”)  were a suborder of the Saurischia, the lizard-hipped dinosaurs.  They were bipedal and predominately meat-eaters, although a number of Theropod families evolved herbivorous habits.  The formal classification is Theropoda but in palaeontology, the formal terms in taxonomy are other interchanged with less formal ones.  However, in the 2009 edition of the Guinness Book of Records the word is spelt “Therapod”, with an “a” not an “o”.  We have not come across this particular word usage before and have checked with American colleagues to see if this is an Americanism.  No it is not, we were informed.

Perhaps this mistake has been overlooked in the proof reading process.  If time permits we will write to the Guinness Book people to see if we can find out why the word Theropod has been spelt in this manner, there may be a perfectly valid reason.  It could be a proofing error, they do happen from time to time, in even the most carefully researched reference books.

It makes us wonder what other mistakes and inaccuracies may lurk inside this publication.  Our confidence is shaken, looks like it is not as reliable as we thought, so we may not be able to defer to its pages when settling arguments in the office over some of the more unusual and bizarre things we get to discuss.

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