Monday, December 28, 2009

Science Corrects Itself

A story from the Calgary Herald sheds light on a fossil discovery that was made 85 years ago and how the conclusions about the find were recently corrected. Yohnathan Sumamo of the Edmonton Journal writes:
The species of the skeleton had been classified twice: first by Canadian paleontologist William Parks in 1924 as Dyoplosaurus, or "doublearmoured dinosaur," and later by researcher Walter Coombs, who reclassified it in the early 1970s as Euoplocephalus. The students discovered that Parks was right all along in his original identification of the species.

"We are always revising old ideas, especially in paleontology," said Arbour. "It's not that people are making mistakes, but that old ideas are just not supported any more."

The fundamentals of science essentially revolves around constantly questioning studies and taking a closer look at them, which is exactly what these students did.
As phylogenetic systematics becomes more commonplace as a way of understanding taxonomic relationships, this sort of thing may become more frequent.

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