Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Dutch Dinosaurs that weren't

Just a short digression before returning to our scheduled programming. Writing about the Dutch Dinosaur  put me in mind of some newspaper stories about `dinosaurs` in the Netherlands. Because all too often they take the word dinosaur to mean "prehistoric creature".


It's a whopper! (image via Wikipedia, user FunkMonk)
Perhaps the most egregious example is this headline in the on-line publication Dutch Daily News:
Giant dinosaur bone found in the Netherlands

As you might have guessed from the above picture it was not really a dinosaur, in fact the article says as much in the first line: 
A giant mammoth bone and other remains from an adult mammoth, a mega-mammal that went extinct in the last Ice Age, were unearthed this week at a construction site in Den Bosch, a newspaper reported today. [their emphasis]
But dubious online news aggregators aren't the only ones tempted to throw the dinosaur label at anything, major Dutch Newspaper de Volkskrant is also a repeat offender. 


Nothosaurus by Nobu Tamura

The `Monster of Winterswijk` a small Nothosaurus was given a double-page spread in the paper, experts were interviewed and pictures taken but the journalist apparently couldn't resist the temptation to dub the animal "de Hollandse dinosaurus". It's not as bad as the mammoth example, but it's still pretty far out there.


Mosasaurus by Nobu Tamura

When they repeated this mistake with Mosasaurus (calling it a "swimdino") I sent them a cross e-mail, complaining that they wouldn't call a kangaroo a landwhale either I got a non-committal response saying they'd passed my comment on to the editor. But when I looked up the article I found this instead:
In een fotobijschrift wordt de mosasaurus (Binnenland, pagina 11, 21 september) ten onrechte een zwemmende roofdinosaurus genoemd.
[In a caption to a photograph the mosasaurus (Binnenland, pagina 11, 21 september) is erroneously called a swimming predatory dinosaur.]
Victory! Actually I don't really know if my mail caused them to publish this correction, maybe the NHMM got in touch with them. It was after all their mosasaur that was featured in the photograph (and we'll be seeing more of him shortly).

That's enough ranting for one day, back to the actual subject of this blog.