Top Ten Most Annoying Things People in the Paleontology Community Say

These statements are either poorly supported, outdated, taken out of context or just wrong. Yet they appear in too many documentaries and are used by too many people.
The Top Ten
1 Flightless birds are downgraded dinosaurs

Flightless birds like phorusrhacids are too often viewed as a short-lived evolutionary experiment destined to be outcompeted by mammals.

Multiple groups of flightless birds (e.g., phorusrhacids, bathornithids, and dromornithids) successfully competed with mammals for millions of years. Extant ratites clearly show that flightless birds and mammals can coexist.

Interestingly, some birds (Patagopteryx, Hesperornis, Gargantuavis, etc.) had already evolved to become flightless even before the non-avian dinosaurs went extinct.

2 Reptiles and birds that laid their eggs on the ground went extinct because mammals ate their eggs

A quick reminder: several species of reptiles and birds that lay their eggs on the ground are still present. Neither oviparous nor viviparous animals are superior. They merely use different strategies, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

I'm surprised that most of these are things people in the paleontology community say. I'm not even close to being a paleontologist, but I knew 8 or 9 of them were false.

3 Carnivorans outcompeted other Cenozoic carnivores

Carnivorans are too often portrayed as super predators that outcompeted all other types of carnivores. Hyaenodonts, entelodonts, etc. coexisted with carnivorans for quite a while. Even today, monitor lizards live alongside carnivorans.

4 During the Great American Interchange, South American animals were outcompeted

The narrative that superior North American species replaced their South American counterparts during the GABI is highly questionable. South American clades like Sparassodonta and Sebecidae became extinct before the interchange occurred, while clades like Xenarthra expanded northward.

5 Feathered dinosaurs are not scary

First of all, this isn't true. Just look at a cassowary. Also, dinosaurs were/are real animals, not movie monsters.

Yeah, I mean, tons of theropods we know, like Velociraptor, Nanuqsaurus, and Utahraptor, were killer dinos.

6 Every extinct large reptile is a dinosaur

Not every dinosaur is extinct, and not all dinosaurs were/are large. Additionally, other prehistoric reptiles such as pterosaurs, mosasaurs, ichthyosaurs, and plesiosaurs are not dinosaurs.

7 Crocodiles are living fossils

In the past, pseudosuchians were much more diverse, and crocodilians differ significantly from their ancestors and distant relatives. Crocodilians are descended from terrestrial, warm-blooded ancestors. I would also like to mention Mekosuchus, a crocodilian that became fully terrestrial again and lived until 3,000 years ago.

8 Prehistoric animals were bigger because of higher oxygen levels

The only geological period with an exceptionally high concentration of oxygen was the Carboniferous.

Only land-based arthropods with a fairly inefficient respiratory system were much bigger during this period. Other giant animals evolved for different reasons.

It should also be mentioned that the extant blue whale is the largest animal known to have ever existed.

9 Giant animals went extinct because they were too big
10 Tyrannosaurus had an infectious bite

The infamous myth spread by Jurassic Fight Club is far too popular. It is based on the disproven idea that Komodo dragons have special bacteria in their mouths. There is no evidence that Tyrannosaurus had deadly bacteria in its mouth.

The Contenders
11 There were giant insects bigger than people in the age of dinosaurs
12 Placentals are the most advanced mammals

The notion that placentals are superior to monotremes and marsupials is controversial. Rodents appeared in Australia in the late Miocene and did not displace marsupials or monotremes. Marsupials (and other metatherians) have coexisted with placentals in the Americas for millions of years.

13 Velociraptor was a scaly monster with cutting claws

Yeah, I hate this common trope. It's completely untrue. Velociraptor was an animal like all dinosaurs, not a monster. It was also feathered, had no pronated wrists, and could not disembowel prey as depicted in popular culture.

14 Mammals ate dinosaurs eggs
15 Hadrosaurs were helpless predator fodder
16 Dinosaurs had scales, not feathers
17 Other giant carnivores can kill T. Rex
18 Dinosaurs were dumb creatures
19 Pterosaurs/pterodactyls are dinosaurs
20 Plesiosaurs/mosasaurs are dinosaurs
21 Troodon could evolve into humanoids
22 Herbivorous dinosaurs were gentle giants
23 Carnivorous dinosaurs were bloodthirsty monsters
24 Mammoths and sabre tigers lived with dinosaurs
25 Chickens evolved from T. Rex
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