Fact Check

Real Photo of Theodore Roosevelt Posing with Last Triceratops?

A black-and-white image of the former U.S. President standing over a lifeless dinosaur was being shared online in May.

Published May 14, 2024

 (X account @GWaldmensch)
Image courtesy of X account @GWaldmensch
Claim:
A black-and-white photo shared online in 2024 showed former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt standing over the lifeless body of the last-known triceratops.

In early May 2024, an X user posted an image purportedly showing a man standing over the lifeless body of the last triceratops in 1906, claiming the dinosaurs had previously been considered pests.

The caption, originally in German, read: "The last triceratops was killed in 1906 by Earl David Cook in Texas. Triceratops were considered crop pests and were therefore massively controlled. In the 1800s there were still herds of thousands of animals. A short time later the triceratops were extinct."

A similar post on X had amassed more than 410,000 views at the time of this writing, and some posts appeared on Facebook, where one had more than 93,000 interactions.

The image also was shared on Facebook in March 2024, where two two users posted the picture with an accompanying caption claiming the man in the picture was former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.

The caption read: "Theodore Roosevelt with last known Triceratops 1909."

However, the original image was created by Instagram user @dr_deviny, or Jon Deviny, who used Photoshop to combine multiple photos, which is why we rated the claim and picture "Fake."

He posted it on Feb. 23, 2015, with the caption: "Fun fact: Theodore Roosevelt (the 26th US president) was an avid big game hunter. #nofilter #unedited #biggame #hunting #teddy #Roosevelt #president #theodoreroosevelt #dinosaur #triceratops #photoshop #funny #jurassicpark #jurassicworld #dino."

When asked in the comments by another Instagram user whether he owned the rights to the image, Jon Deviny replied:

I did the Photoshop magic but I don't own the rights to the images I used. The one of Roosevelt is public domain but the triceratops is a shot from the set of Jurassic park. If your husband wants to print it that's fine by me as long as his intentions aren't to sell them. I don't have a high res version unfortunately.

Deviny also confirmed to Snopes on May 5, 2024, that he created the image through Photoshop by using a behind-the-scenes image from Jurassic Park and a hunting picture of Roosevelt.

The photo, and varying claims about what it depicted, appeared online numerous times since first being posted, such as on Imgur in February 2015, on Reddit in January 2017, where it was claimed it showed a now-extinct Eurasian giant rhino, and on Instagram in November 2023, where it was claimed the photo was taken in 1904.

Facebook users made similar claims about a different photo allegedly showing the last known triceratops in posts in April 2024.

It is widely accepted and reported the triceratops went extinct roughly 65 million-66 million years ago.

Sources

Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/p/zbp1NxMZgN/. Accessed 2 May 2024.

---. https://www.instagram.com/dinosaur_ins/p/Cz-FPlYvZgj/. Accessed 2 May 2024.

'Mass Extinction: What Happened 65 Million Years Ago? | AMNH'. American Museum of Natural History, https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/dinosaurs-ancient-fossils/extinction/mass-extinction. Accessed 2 May 2024.

Reddit. www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/5q20v5/teddy_roosevelt_with_a_nowextinct_eurasian_giant/. Accessed 2 May 2024.

Triceratops | Description, Size, Fossil, Diet, & Facts | Britannica. 5 Apr. 2024, https://www.britannica.com/animal/Triceratops.

'Triceratops Horridus, Facts and Photos'. Animals, 14 Sept. 2020, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/facts/triceratops-horridus.

Nick Hardinges is a London-based reporter who previously worked as a fact-checker at Reuters.