DinosaursHerbivorousJurassic

Apatosaurus – Brontosaurus – strange story

Does anyone remember the good old Brontosaurus?

Today, everyone is looking for information about the greatest giants of all time, such as: Argentinosaurus, Puertasaurus, Alamosaurus, Sauroposeidon, Futalognosaurus, Seismosaurus or the greatest of them such as Amficelias or Bruhatkajosaurus. Today, long-discovered dinosaurs such as Diplodocus, Brontosaurus or even Brachiosaurus have become unfashionable and… too small 🙂 In the meantime, as most readers probably do not know, Brontosaurus disappeared somewhere – it was dematerialized…

Apatosaurus – Brontosaurus

Where has Brontosaurus gone?

In fact, it has not disappeared, it still is, only that it is now called … Apatosaurus. Below is a short history of changing its name.

Why was Brontosaurus renamed?

Is it because the wrong head was matched to the skeleton found?

In 1877, Othniel Charles Marsh (American paleontologist 1831-1899) described a new species of dinosaur based on very incomplete remains. He named the new dinosaur Apatosaurus (Apatosaurus Ajax). Two years later, in 1879, he found another, this time more complete, skeleton. He decided that it belonged to another species, which he named Brontosaurus (Brontosaurus excelsus).

The Brontosaurus skeleton was assembled and exhibited at the Yale Peabody Museum (Natural History Museum) and became widely known to the public as the Brontosaurus. Brontosaurus reigned supreme in press articles, books and magazines.

An Apatosaurus / Brontosaurus skeleton originally displayed at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in 1905. The apatosaurus has its head and tail lowered low.

1903 – Elmer Samuel Riggs corrects the mistake

In 1903, Elmer Samuel Riggs (American palaeontologist 1869-1963) re-examined the starting material of Apatosaurus and realized that both Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus had a huge number of similarities and essentially belong to the same species of dinosaurs.

The rules defined by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) state that in the case of synonyms, the binding name is the one that was before. The name Brontosaurus is therefore synonymous with Apatosaurus.

However, the story did not end in 1903. By the time Riggs published the research, the name Brontosaurus had become so entrenched in the public mind that the name Brontosaurus appears in the popular press to this day.

The current appearance of the Apatosaurus / Brontosaurus skeleton. An apatosaurus has a highly raised head and tail.

Brontosaurus’ skull swapped

Othniel Charles Marsh did not find a complete Brontosaurus skeleton including the skull. It had one skeleton and several partial skulls that he found in close proximity to the skeleton. He chose one of them and fitted it to the skeleton. It turned out that he chose the wrong one. The bug was noticed and corrected by Dr. John McIntosh only in 1979 – long after the name had already been changed …

Brontosaurus – “Thunder Lizard”

Many dinosaur fans will certainly be grieving to rename this dinosaur. The name Brontosaurus was extremely media-oriented. It came from the Greek words βροντή, brontē “thunder” and σαῦρος, sauros “lizard”. It means roughly the same as “thundering lizard”.

And this is how we are left with Apatosaurus… or “deceptive lizard”.

Brontosaurus (Brontosaurus excelsus) formerly Apatosaurus (Apatosaurus excelsus) at the Peabody Museum

Brontosaurus Reactivation – 2015

2015 has come…

… and with it the work “A specimen-level phylogenetic analysis and taxonomic revision of Diplodocidae (Dinosauria, Sauropoda) – E. Tschopp, O. V. Mateus, R. B. J. Benson. Scientists did not give up and brought the brontosaurus back to life. After a century of being forgotten by the scientific community, although it lived in pop culture and was not really forgotten (after all, Fred Flintstone ate a Brontosaurus ribs and Bronto Burgers :)) Bronotosaurus will be present in literature again. In the above-mentioned study, it was shown that both genera (Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus) differ from each other, hence the need to restore the genus Brontosaurus.

Brontosaurus

Detailed data / dimensions

Brontosaurus

  • Length: up to 22 m (72 ft)
  • Weight: up to 15 tons
  • Period: 156-147 million years ago (Late Jurassic)

Classification

  • Clade: Dinosauria
  • Clade: Saurischia
  • Suborder: †Sauropodomorpha
  • Clade: †Sauropoda
  • Clade: †Eusauropoda
  • Clade: †Neosauropoda
  • Family: †Diplodocidae
  • Subfamily: †Apatosaurinae
  • Genus: †Brontosaurus
  • Type species: †Brontosaurus excelsus
Allosaurus vs Brontosaurus

Apatosaurus

  • Length: up to 23 m (75 ft)
  • Weight: 22 tons
  • Period: 152-151 million years ago (Late Jurassic)

Classification

  • Clade: Dinosauria
  • Clade: Saurischia
  • Suborder: †Sauropodomorpha
  • Clade: †Sauropoda
  • Clade: †Eusauropoda
  • Clade: †Neosauropoda
  • Family: †Diplodocidae
  • Subfamily: †Apatosaurinae
  • Genus: †Apatosaurus
  • Type species: †Apatosaurus ajax
Apatosaurus

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