Not a dinosaur!

A story put forward in November (and posted to our Facebook page) is recirculating again via dubious sensationalist media reports.

Is this a dinosaur? Remains of T-rex-like ‘animal’ found in Uttarakhand’s Jaspur (Dated November 17, 2017.)

It’s now appearing in India Times. Same story, same carcass.
An electrician from Uttarakhand found a dinosaur-like creature’s corpse with attached flesh and it’s freaking us out!

It was found in the Jaspur city of Uttarakhand, by an electrician cleaning out an abandoned sub-station.

The Hindustan Times reported back in November that the animal was pretty small.

The hind legs of the discovered figure measure around 29cm and the tail is around 5cm long. The authorities have decided to send the remains to Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for further investigation.

They also called it a fossil, which it wasn’t. It’s long dead but not THAT long dead. Fossilization is when the remains are mineralized. This is clearly NOT a fossil but just a dried out, decayed carcass of an animal that was alive a few months or years ago. Here it is in a bag after it was collected.

This is a mammal – you can tell by its mammalian skeleton – obvious to those who know animals just a little bit. Dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago and left only a lineage of birds to carry on. There is no possibility this is a dinosaur. It’s a ridiculous suggestion meant to get clicks. However, it’s certainly possible that the locals didn’t recognize this decayed version of a local animal. But, no, scientists are NOT baffled, that would only be you, ignorant and lazy reporters. It often takes just a brief glance from zoologists or wildlife biologists to get pretty close to calling the true origin of a “mysterious” critter. Exact species I.D. is much harder and examination of the carcass or far more detailed visuals would be needed for that.

This is another example of a common ploy by tabloid-style news outlets to promote a carcass as something mysterious by exploiting the public lack of knowledge about animals and to play up some weird features of the dead body. The animal carcass has dried out and partially disintegrated, leaving only remnants of skin, muscles, and the bones. This animal is likely a marten (mustelids) or a mongoose, both common to the area.


Asian mongoose

Indian mongoose skeleton

In the last podcast, we discussed how dinosaurs were depicted as “shrink wrapped”. Yeah, well, this is why people thought this looked like a dinosaur, because of that typical non-lifelike depiction.

Thanks to Penelope C. and the Tetrapod Zoology Facebook group for info.


  8 comments for “Not a dinosaur!

  1. Brian D. Parsons
    December 19, 2017 at 4:33 PM

    This carcass also has that slight appearance of the “death pose” that dinosaurs had with their necks curled up strangely which might have added to the “baffling”. Don’t forget that many scientists were fooled into thinking these bent necks made it possible for the dinosaurs to move their heads this way so being fooled by bones isn’t a modern “scientifical” misobservation (see what I did there?). As you well know the word “baffled” in a headline or is usually an early indicator for click bait or a slow news day or obviously to create mystery where very little exists. Great post!

  2. idoubtit
    December 19, 2017 at 4:45 PM

    Actually, shrinkage of the tendons usually results in the opposite curvature – with the head pulled back.

  3. Bob Jase
    December 20, 2017 at 8:27 AM

    So much for the cryptzoological claim that locals know their local wildlife.

  4. idoubtit
    December 20, 2017 at 8:32 AM

    Right! That’s actually always been a baseless claim.

  5. Headless Unicorn Guy
    December 24, 2017 at 11:27 PM

    The pic is also appearing as a thumbnail for YouTube clickbait.

    Something about “experts find dinosaur with preserved skin & flesh!”

    I didn’t click on it, so I have no idea what video’s behind the thumbnail.

  6. Headless Unicorn Guy
    December 24, 2017 at 11:29 PM

    And in other news, anyone remember a website called “Parascope” from 10-15 years ago?

    I just rediscovered a 2004 archive of it on the Wayback Machine, including the following page of Chupacabra filksongs:

    December 31, 2017 at 7:10 PM

    Regarding the locals and their local wildlife, how many people can even recognize the skeleton of a cat or a small dog? Not many.

  8. OZ
    March 13, 2018 at 6:55 PM

    Someone from the locals didn’t want to go through their homework or was aiming for some quick publicity when they called attention upon this “discovery”.

    Dinosaur with flesh still attached… If only Michael Crichton knew it was so easy to find one!

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