Dear CNN: What's a dinosaur?

OK, so, I know the term dinosaur is not a technically precise term, but come on, CNN.

Last week’s front-page headline:

Crayfish-hunting cousins hook mastodon

Today’s front-page headline:

Crayfish-hunting cousins hook dinosaur

It’s the same story, and the identification of the bone they found hasn’t changed: A mastodon vertebra.

So why did the headline change from the unknown-to-the-public term mastodon to the sexier, sells-more-clicks, but completely inaccurate word dinosaur?

And here I thought this was going to be a complaint about calling plesiosaurs or pterosaurs “dinosaurs”. Or maybe Dimetrodons. I’ve seen and read plenty of that.

But, although I’ve seen post-Mesozoioc mammals bundled in among dinosaurs in movies and books, I can’t say I’ve ever seen them referred to directly as “dinosaurs”. Kids know better, and would’ve complained. Is this a sign of falling education standards?

It’s worse than that, even. They got it right the first time… Which means that someone had to actively go back and wrongify it.

Because dinosaurs are awesome

Googling, I can find some articles that link to the CNN article that have the dinosaur title, but the only version of the actual CNN article I can find uses mastodon.

But assuming the “dinosaur” title was used by CNN at one point, the brothers in the story identify it as such in the story, and then describe how they’ve since learned that a Mastodon isn’t a dinosaur. So I assume the “dinosaur” title was just a quote from the brothers, in a “aren’t they precious” kind of way.

They weren’t sure what kind of animal it was because it was wearing an invisibility cloak.

Perhaps they were sued by the band “Mastodon,” or were responding to the threats of the same, who threatened to crush them with their heaviness.