You know that something has gone mighty wrong in dinosaur research when pieces of fossil wood are described as a 5-meter long spiky hadrosaur, a fragmentary Tertiary mammal skull becomes a unique iguanodontid, or shipworms are identified as titanosaurid teeth. These are only a few of the more spectacular cases in which renowned scientists from all over the world created "imaginary dinosaurs". Misled by faulty anatomical identification, the wrong dating of strata or simply out of a zealous effort to describe as many new dinosaur species as possible these men blundered and created a vast array of dinosaurs that never were.
These "dinosaurs" are usually not dealt with in textbooks and popular accounts, but their history, and the stories of the men behind their creation, which include some of the greatest dinosaur researchers of all time, tell us much about the history of palaeontology, and the history of science in general. Science never goes the straight way, and every step to new insights is paved with faults and failure. Scientists fail, as we all do, because they are just human, and their mistakes resulted in some of the most amusing and some of the most tragic chapters in the history of dinosaur palaeontology, all recounted here in detail.