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If the Brontosaurus Can Make a Comeback, So Can You

If the Brontosaurus Can Make a Comeback, So Can You


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Even dinosaurs can make a comeback.

Many of us get to a point in our careers or our businesses where we somehow feel irrelevant, where markets or people around us seem to be evolving beyond our abilities, knowledge or desire. We get stuck, and, if we're not careful, we can be left behind. Made extinct, even.

Next time you feel that way, think of the triumph of the Brontosaurus. 

The Brontosaurus is back. Despite its popular lore, the heydey of the Brontosaurus was short. Named first in 1879, this gigantic dinosaur was essentially merged into the less-romantic-sounding Apatosaurus by 1903. It stayed in the popular imagination, making burgers for the Flintstones and showing up in the dinosaur books I read as a kid in the 1970s, but the paleo community had moved on to other matters, like whether dinosaurs were birds and whether asteroids wiped them out. For the poor Brontosaurus, the science was settled.

I never thought that was fair. The Brontosaurus was always a rockstar. First, there was its size. There was nothing larger. This scale gave it its name: "Brontosaurus" comes from the Greek words for thunder and lizard. One almost feels the ground vibrating imagining this Thunder Lizard lumbering around our prehistoric jungles.

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But, despite being the biggest, it wasn't the baddest. There was a sophistication to the Brontosaurus, a vegan millions of years before Brooklyn made it cool. This was a gentle giant, the kind of creature that would innocently order a kale salad at Smashburger while its carnivorous friends were snapping the necks of everything that moved.

Yet its end was tragic. While all dinosaurs became extinct, science decreed it was the Brontosaurus alone that had no right to exist. The name was struck from books, museum exhibits and the popular imagination.

To me, the fate of the Brontosaurus became emblematic of what could happen to us all, particularly in our lives and work. In our own ways, everyone struggles against personal and professional extinction, striving to stay current, stay inspired, stay relevant. No one wants to become a dinosaur, and it seems the worst dinosaur to become was the most beloved, the Brontosaurus.

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Yet, science is never settled. There are very few true scientific laws particularly because science demands that we question everything. And innovation helps lead to new discovery, something entrepreneurs know well. That's what saved the Brontosaurus from the bone pile. Using new technologies, scientists analyzed 477 different attributes of the biggest dinosaurs and over the past five years and determined that Brontosaurus is real. 

Not only that, but there were actually three different kinds: Brontosaurus excelsus, which is the one we knew about, but also Brontosaurus parvus and Brontosaurus yahnahpin. Take that, Apatosaurus.

It isn't a stretch to find inspiration in the journey of the Brontosaurus. Time, technology and persistence can revive businesses, careers and relationships. It only takes one or two people with an idea and a commitment to turn science -- and markets -- on their heads and prove everyone wrong. If the much-maligned Brontosaurus can make a comeback, you have no excuse not to make one of your own. Nothing is assured in life, but all things are possible.

Now, if someone can just make Pluto a planet again...

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