ok, I’ll admit I primarily posted this because dinosaurs are always cool… but this story does demonstrate how even Accepted Truths in Science aren’t necessarily foolproof. Doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but a bit of skepticism should always be kept in reserve.
[NY Times story]
A dinosaur hobbyist who made his name as a Microsoft multimillionaire published a scientific paper on Monday alleging “serious errors and irregularities” in dinosaur research involving some of the world’s top paleontologists.
The research, some of it dating to the 1990s, analyzed skeletons of different ages to estimate how quickly dinosaurs grew. For example, a 2001 paper, published in the journal Nature, estimates that the giant dinosaur Apatosaurus had a growth spurt of 12,000 pounds in a year.
The papers, particularly a 2004 paper in Nature on the growth of Tyrannosaurus Rex, were influential in offering an explanation for why some dinosaurs were much larger than their relatives and slashed decades off the estimated life span of the creatures.
The accuser is Nathan P. Myhrvold, a former chief technology officer at Microsoft who is well known in the worlds of avant-garde cuisine and patent law. The lead author of the papers in question is Gregory M. Erickson, a professor of anatomy and paleobiology at Florida State University.