In the 1920s, Stegosaurus had the ability to fly like a hang glider

In the August 15, 1920 edition of the Ogden, Utah's Standard-Examiner, writer W.H. Ballou penned a paleontological assessment of the stegosaurus that had almost diddly to do with the established fossil record.

Taking cues from the bird-like hips of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History's Stegosaurus skeleton — and possibly the flying, plated dinosaurs of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan at the Earth's Core — Ballou informed readers that the ancient reptile possessed the power to glide through the air with the greatest of ease:

In the 1920s, Stegosaurus had the ability to fly like a hang gliderS

Back in the steaming Jurassic time, the Stegosaurus was the weird and titanic flying squirrel of its age. With its huge plates placed alternately on each side of its back it could depress these to form planes that buoyed it in a swift rush from elevation to elevation, or that like the old gliders from which the aeroplane was evolved, lifted up the body under the driving impetus of the enormous hind legs carrying it in flight for hundreds of feet, a weird spectacle, indeed, if man could have seen it, must have been the soarings of these monsters. But many thousands of years had still to pass before even the hairy ancestors of man could evolve.

Of course, the Stegosaurus could not fly like the birds. Even if the reptile had flapped its plates ever so swiftly it could not have risen above the ground by their means alone. It had, nevertheless, partial command of the air and so is entitled to be considered the father of all heavier-than-air machines.

And somewhere, in a more entertaining universe, Cambodia is downright filthy with flying stegosauruses. For more fun with newspaper reporters and dubious scientific claims, see the giant frog livestock of the 1900s.

[Dinosaur Tracking via Ed Yong]