Brontosaurus Facts – 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 1800s and a feud between two famous paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh.

  • Name: Brontosaurus
  • Length:  25 meters
  • Height: 4.2 meters.
  • Weight: 30 tons.
  • Diet: Herbivorous
  • Period:  Superior Jurassic.
  • Years:  Between 154 and 150 million years.
  • Found in: United States.

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.

The Brontosaurus is a well-known dinosaur today. It is a sauropod that is part of the Diplodocidae. Its size was between 20 and 25 meters long and could weigh even more than 15 tons. Its name comes from Latin and comes to mean “thunder lizard”.

Brontosaurus characteristics

The Brontosaurus was discovered in the nineteenth century, but being very similar to Apatosaurus it was not considered as Brontosaurus and was called Apatosaurus Excelsus. Later, in 2015, a detailed study was presented and was re-considered as Brontosaurus. It is one of the largest animals that have inhabited the entire history of the earth and certainly also one of the largest quadrupeds that have ever existed. It was also called Apatosaurus or Thunder Lizard since the earth moved when they walked due to its high weight.

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His legs weighed more than two hundred kilos each of them since he needed very strong limbs that could support the entire weight of his body. His neck and tail served as a counterweight and the latter, in the form of a whip, also helped him defend himself against his enemies. Although they were not very intelligent, they managed to survive for a long time due to their large size.

The legs behind were somewhat longer than those in front and although no skull was found to study it, it is believed that they were similar to the Apatosaurus Louisae, with vertebrae for both sides, which helped him maintain a very large neck and also wide, typical of sauropods. Its tail was thin and its long ribs, as well as its bones and limbs,  were robust. Their legs were strong and only had a claw in the front. On the back, they had claws on three fingers.

Formerly it was believed that sauropods in general, where the Brontosaurus is included, were such huge animals that they were unable to bear their weight on the earth and that is why they were considered to have lived in areas where they could dive, or with water , such as swamps, but after several recent findings that evidence has been discarded and it is believed that they were animals entirely from land.

They had long necks that allowed them to eat from the taller trees, although in some cases it has been pointed out that they were not able to move them so easily, but later it has been denied and it is believed that they are animals with very flexible necks. It is also believed that they were animals capable of running between 20 and 40 kilometers per day and could do so up to 30 kilometers per hour. They did not have much muscle and their strides were not very efficient, so they were certainly not the fastest dinosaurs that existed.

In addition, the claw with which they had in the front is believed to be to defend themselves according to some theories, while attending to others it is thought that they used it to feed themselves, although they would most likely use it to be able to engage in different places, such as the trunk of a tree every time they stood up to feed.

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What did the Brontosaurus eat?

As for food, it is worth noting how in principle it was thought that the diets of these animals were really poor, but after several investigations carried out by German paleontologists his could know, emulating the intestines of large dinosaurs, that perennial trees and the ferns served to set up a really nutritious diet. Thanks to this, it was possible to know that it was possible that sauropods and other reptiles had grown so much to reach huge sizes based on their diet on these foods. These animals in some cases exceeded 40 meters long and 100 tons.

Millions of years ago, during the time in which they inhabited the Brontosaurus there was a multitude of conifers, ferns and other plants of similar characteristics since the current flowers had not yet expanded throughout the world so that the Brontosaurus diet It was based mainly on this type of vegetables. At present, there are hardly any animals that eat these foods and that is why they were not considered as a source of food, but through the design of artificially created intestines, it was possible to find out that they were really nutritious.

To make the intestines they used glass and syringes, as well as all kinds of microbes that can be found in the stomachs of the sheep and the plants that the dinosaurs fed on were obtained, resulting in these foods fermenting. This gave rise to a new discovery, and that is, ferns, conifers and other foods that formed the diet of the Brontosaurus provided them with the same energy or even more than the current pastures. That is why these animals managed to survive and achieve such large sizes, since they spent the whole day eating, even if they were those foods that were then the only ones they had available.

It is believed that his metabolism was very similar to that of current elephants. Therefore, a dinosaur of, for example, 76 tons, had to ingest the amount that an elephant of 10 tons can consume, multiplied by four. For other animals today this could be a problem, but not for the brontosaurus, which did not chew their food and that is why they could eat huge amounts of food and vegetables a day without this representing any problem for them.

When and where did the Brontosaurus live?

It is believed that the Brontosaurus are animals that lived between 154 and 150 million years, specifically during the upper Jurassic and in the area that is now known as North America, more specifically in the Morrison Formation. As for the specific period in which they fit, it should be noted that it is the Jurassic, specifically at the end of it.

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