Brontosaurus – Thunder Lizard

The name Brontosaurus has been the source of much controversy in the past and has been a dinosaur of many errors. The name Brontosaurus means ‘thunder lizard’, however its primary name is actually Apatosaurus, ‘deceptive lizard’. The reason for the two names dates back to the 1800’s and a feud between two famous palaeontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh.

When Marsh discovered the Brontosaurus it was thought to be a new dinosaur, but in actual fact it was actually the Apatosaurus, a dinosaur which had already been discovered by Cope. Despite the mistake the name had already gained much recognition and it became one of the most popular dinosaurs ever discovered. The name still lives on and the term Brontosaurus is still used over and above the correct term Apatosaurus.

The Apatosaurus was part of the Diplodocid’s, the ‘Double beams’, named after the twin extensions in the bones of their tails. Diplodocids were part of a branch of the larger family of Sauropods, ‘Lizard Feet’. The Apatosaurus existed in the late Jurassic era. They were four legged creatures of immense size, reaching 27m in length, which can be compared to the length of a tennis court. They had small heads supported by an extremely long neck, with a tail which was often even longer. Their dwelling place was mostly around flood plains and their teeth were peg shaped existing only at the front of the jaw, suited to there diet which consisted of plants.

Unlike other Diplodocids, the Apatosaurus was far heavier, a mass of many tonnes which would be equivalent to 4 or 5 elephants. Another mistake linked to this dinosaur was in relation to the creature’s head, which was believed to be like that of the Camarasaurus, whose head was box like, though soon enough the real head of the Apatosaurus was found and it was more like horse’s head, being long and low.

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