back to top

18 Science Facts You Believed In The 1990s That Are Now Totally Wrong

The 1990s had better music, but it was a more primitive time. Science is a constantly changing endeavor.

Posted on

1. "Dinosaurs died off because of a volcano."

National Geographic / Via

The volcano theory was one of the opposing theories to the now widely accepted impact theory, which was proposed in the 1980s. But geologists didn't find find the (now famous) 65 million-year-old asteroid crater until 1991. That sort of killed the volcano theory for a while. More recently, scientists think that dinosaurs may have gone extinct because of a mix of the two theories.

2. "There's a lot of genetic difference between the races."

HBO / Via

There's not even that much genetic difference between a human and a wine grape for god's sake. (Well, we share around a quarter of our genes with a grape). A freaking grape.

A 2002 genetics study even found that there are larger genetic differences between Africans than there are between Africans and Eurasians.

3. "There are only nine planets that exist."

Hugh Osborn / Via

In the past, scientists theorized the existence of numerous planets, but we confirmed the first exoplanet (or planet outside of our solar system) in 1992.

"One of the greatest discoveries of the last 20 years is that there are a lot of planets around distant stars...There are a lot of Earth-like planets. Nobody knew that in the 1990s. It's very promising. If you're hopeful, like me, then we'll eventually find life outside of our solar system," said Peter Galison.

Now it's estimated that there's billions and billions of planets.

4. "This is what dinosaurs looked like:"

Universal / Via

Thanks Steven Spielberg.

Nowadays, paleontologists say that most dinosaurs, including that evil-looking T. rex, had feathers. Gorgeous, fabulous, COLORFUL feathers.

5. "Modern humans didn't evolve in Africa."

23andMe / Via

The Multiregional theory was one of the opposing theories to the Out of Africa Model, until it fell out of favor thanks to genetic evidence.

According to the Multiregional theory, our early hominid ancestors left Africa 2 million years ago, and then settled in different places around the world (like Europe and Asia). The hominds chilling in Europe evolved into humans. The Asian hominids evolved into another, different group of humans.

It turns out, early hominids evolved into humans IN AFRICA around 200,000 years ago then migrated to different parts of the world a mere 60,000 years ago. Basically, we're all descended from one original group of African humans.

6. "Neanderthals were dumbasses."

Warner Bros / Via

Because we, Homo sapiens, are just sooo damn smart.

In fact, scientists used to theorize that the Neanderthals died out because Homo sapiens were more innovative and had better tools, social networks, and hunting skills. But new archeological research published in a 2014 PLOS One study suggests that humans were not cognitively superior (sorry, guys).

Neanderthals had advanced tools and were skilled hunters and socializers. We're unsure about why they went extinct, but it's certainly more complex than "humans outsmarted them, duh."

7. "Neanderthals didn't exist at the same time as humans."

23andMe / Via

In fact, some scientists used to theorize that maybe Neanderthals evolved into humans. But archaeologists found and dated some human skeletons that were really old, which proved that Neanderthals and humans co-existed for thousands of years.

8. "Neanderthals didn't have sex with humans. Gross."

23andme / Via

Yeah riiight. Let's be real. Humans are are too horny not to fuck other species.

A team of researchers sequenced the Neanderthal genome in 2010. When they compared it to humans, they determined that most humans living outside of Africa have about 1–4% Neanderthal DNA.

9. "Earth might be the only place where water exists."

5hoursAhead / Via

Since then, we've discovered tons of evidence that Mars had a lot of water. Same with some planets and moons, Harvard physicist Peter Galison told Buzzfeed. There's even more water on Jupiter's moon Europa than there is on Earth, according to NASA. "That's tremendously exciting as there could be life there," he said.

Just this MONTH, for example, researchers found an ocean on Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede, AND evidence of water on Saturn's moon, Enceladus.

10. "Humans and chimps split around 4–6 million years ago."

23andMe / Via

Scientists came up with the past estimate by dating fossils, but they got a more accurate date by analyzing the human genome.

We're old motherfuckers. A 2012 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that humans and chimps split a lot earlier than scientists previously thought...around 7–8 million years ago.

11. "Complex organisms like humans have more genes than simple organisms like an amoeba."

Before the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, scientists estimated that humans had around 100,000 genes and that complex species have the most genes.It turns out, we actually have around 19,000—20,000 genes. We also discovered that a tiny moss plant has around 32,000 genes. Using this logic, a plant is more complex than Einstein.
Pflanzenbiotechnologie, Universitaet Freiburg / Via

Before the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, scientists estimated that humans had around 100,000 genes and that complex species have the most genes.

It turns out, we actually have around 19,000—20,000 genes. We also discovered that a tiny moss plant has around 32,000 genes. Using this logic, a plant is more complex than Einstein.

12. "King Tut was murdered."

PBS / Via

This whole murder-mystery thing was a sexy story that was taught in schools until sometime in the 2000s.

But then scientists changed their minds. In 2006, they found evidence that the young king died in a valiant, ultra-masculine, chariot accident. Now, THAT'S how a king's suppose to die.

Genetics ruins our fantasies, yet again. It turns out, King Tut didn't die in a chariot accident nor was he murdered. He died because of incest. A 2014 virtual autopsy discovered that his body was all sorts of messed up from inbreeding. A club foot. A weakend immune system. He had it all...

13. "The universe is slowing down."

Fox / Via

Until the late 1990s, scientists thought that gravity must be slowing down the expansion of the universe. "Recent discoveries told us that the universe is flying apart—faster and faster," said Galison. It changed everything we ever knew about the cosmos.

"It was front-page news. It did have a big public effect," he said.

14. "Birds are not that clever."

omg-owned.tumblr / Via

Because we used to think that no other animal, besides our closest relatives like chimps, could actually be very intelligent. A non-mammal? Please.

In the 1990s, the idea that one bird could think about another's mental state (theory of mind) was preposterous, according to a 2005 study.

Birds are freaking smart, OK. The 2005 study found evidence that some birds, like parrots and crows, have ape-like intelligence. Their forebrains are roughly the same size, and in some cases, they are even SMARTER than apes.

15. "Ulcers are caused by stress."

USA Network / Via

Ulcers are caused by bacteria, and the researchers who proved it won a Nobel Prize in 2005. They deserved it: In the 1980s, one of the researchers actually ingested the bacteria to prove his point, because nobody believed him. Talk about...dedication.

16. "The universe is 13.73 billion years old."

E! / Via

We were off by about 100 million years. The European Space Agency's Planck mission observed that the universe is actually 13.82 billion years old.

17. "Black holes don't exist near young stars."

GifsBoom / Via

The Hubble telescope blew our collective minds when it found evidence of a massive black hole in the center of our very own galaxy, said Galison.

"There's another galaxy, M87, that has a central black hole with the equivalent mass of billions of suns. This wasn't known decades ago. Black holes really do play an important role in the dynamics of what galaxies do. More important than what we suspected," said Galison.

18. "Pluto is a planet."

Gramercy Pictures / Via

Yeah, I'm just going to leave this one alone. I'm staying away from THAT controversy.

Top trending videos

Watch more BuzzFeed Video Caret right