The Brontosaurus makes a comeback — of sorts

The Brontosaurus is back. Davide Bonadonna, Milan, Italy

TORONTO — Don’t worry: this isn’t Jurassic Park, but the Brontosaurus is making a return.

The Brontosaurus has been one of the favourite dinosaurs to have ever roamed the planet. It was named in 1879 by paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh. But in 1903, another paleontologist concluded that it was the same as the Apatosaurus, another large, long-necked dinosaur. It seemed that the Brontosaurus was doomed to a second extinction.

READ MORE:  Alberta researchers find long-necked dinosaur in China

But a new study has concluded that the Brontosaurus is back.

Though the differences are subtle, they are indeed differences. The most obvious is the neck: the Apatosaurus has a wide neck, while the Brontosaurus has a high neck.

And forget about the face we grew up knowing: this Brontosaurus has a face similar to another dinosaur, the Diplodocus.

Story continues below advertisement

“It represents all the scientific progress that has been done and has happened since the early 1900s,” co-author of the paper Emanuel Tschopp said. “It looks different than how they saw it in the late 1800s and early 1900s.”

Why the flip-flop?

Tschopp said that the Brontosaurus‘s story is that of science: as more and more evidence is uncovered, it forces science to re-evaluate and develop.

“It’s exciting because it’s brontosaurus and because it’s such a popular dinosaur. And it’s exciting also, I think, beceause it explains very well how science works,” he said. “I think that’s a nice outcome from this research that you can show that this new material that we found, we can really check into the…identifications that we’ve made in the past. And some of them might change based on new knowledge. And this is the process of science.”

Of course, the name Brontosaurus wasn’t exactly wiped off the paleontological map. It was just a species of the genus ApatosaurusApatosaurus excelsus. This research, however, concludes that the Brontosaurus is a genus of it’s own. In fact, researchers believe that there are three: Brontosaurus excelsus, Brontosaurus parvus and Brontosaurus yahnahpin.

The findings were published April 7 in the online journal PeerJ.


Sponsored content