The Tyrannosaurus rex at Chicago's Field Museum (file image)
The Tyrannosaurus rex at Chicago's Field Museum is a massive mostly-intact dinosaur fossil. Image by AP PHOTO

Dinosaur hoax theory is a Jurassic lark

Lachlan Coady December 8, 2023

Dinosaurs never existed and were created as propaganda to validate the theory of evolution.


False. There is a large body of physical evidence which proves dinosaurs existed.

A post trending on Facebook claims dinosaur fossils are a hoax created to support the theory of evolution.

This is false. Fossil records are extensive and prove dinosaurs were very much once alive and lived lives akin to modern animals.

Experts told AAP FactCheck there is a wealth of evidence to prove the claim is a dino-sized fantasy.

The post argues dinosaur skeletons are faked to give the impression evolution has been taking place for millions of years.

According to the post (screenshot here), no one uncovered a dinosaur fossil before the term dinosaur was coined in the 1800s.

It also claims no fossil find has resulted in the discovery of a complete dinosaur skeleton.

A screenshot of one of the Facebook posts.
 The dinosaur hoax theory is a mix of misinformation and ignorance. 

Steven Poropat, a palaeontologist and researcher with Curtin University and the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, said there were many examples of complete or near-complete dinosaur skeletons.

“The Dinosaur Park Formation in Canada, the Nemegt Formation in Mongolia, the Jehol fossils of Liaoning in China, and several other sites have produced multiple articulated skeletons,” Dr Poropat told AAP FactCheck.

As recently as 2022, researchers unearthed a fully intact Elasmosaurus fossil in western Queensland.

Experts also said the claim no dinosaur fossils were discovered before the term dinosaur was coined in the 1800s is nonsense.

There are many examples of historical fossil finds that we now know to be early discoveries of dinosaur bones.

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum (file image)
 The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum in Queensland is near a fossil hotspot. 

Professor John Long, a palaeontology expert at Flinders University, told AAP FactCheck records of people finding dinosaur bones go back thousands of years.

He gives the example of an ancient Chinese gazetteer Huayang Guo Zhi, which reported the discovery of “dragon bones” in the Sichuan province during the Western Jin Dynasty more than 1700 years ago.

“We now know these bones belong to dinosaurs which are common in that area,” Prof Long said.

The claim also suggests dinosaur skeletons are kept hidden from the general public.

According to the claim, dinosaur fossils displayed in museums are all replicas and a “special group of government appointed palaeontologists” are the only ones allowed to view real dinosaur fossils.

A dinosaur display in a museum.
 Many dinosaur displays feature replicas of the original fossilised bones. 

It’s true dinosaur skeletons in museum exhibits are often replicas, but there are many museums around the world where original fossils are on public display.

The Field Museum in Chicago, for example, publicly displays the world’s most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton.

Prof Long said US institutions such as the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, where he previously worked, frequently showcased authentic fossils as part of its displays.

For an example closer to home, Prof Long pointed to Museums Victoria, which has the world’s most complete Triceratops skeleton on public display.

Despite the claim’s insistence that there is little physical evidence of the existence of dinosaurs, there are extensive fossil records which can teach us how dinosaurs lived and evolved over millions of years.

Horridus is the world’s most complete Triceratops fossil (file image)
 Horridus, the most complete Triceratops fossil, on display at Melbourne Museum. 

Dr Poropat explained to AAP Factcheck how scientists can be confident fossil records provide clear evidence for the existence of dinosaurs.

“The most convincing evidence is the fossil record as a whole,” he said.

“The fact that you can find bones of dinosaurs on every continent, but only in rocks of Mesozoic age.

“That, and dinosaurs preserved on nests, that died in combat, that show signs of healed injuries, that show signs of bone disease, that show signs of having been fed on.

“In short, fossils that demonstrate that they were alive and lived lives akin to modern animals.”

The Verdict

The claim dinosaurs never existed and were created as propaganda to validate the theory of evolution is false.

There is a large body of physical evidence, including multiple examples of complete or near-complete dinosaur skeletons.

Experts told AAP FactCheck that the fossils reveal dinosaurs lived lives akin to many modern animals.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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