Apatosaurus

The genus Apatosaurus encompassed a group of sauropod dinosaurs that inhabited the Earth during the Jurassic Period.

This genus would have had really big dimensions, with a not insignificant height of 4.5 meters and a length of 23 meters.

Nevertheless, what is really remarkable about this dinosaur is that it could have weighed up to 38 tons, a considerable dimension indeed.

This last data would undoubtedly position it within a possible ranking of the heaviest dinosaurs that have ever existed.

If you found this brief presentation interesting, do not hesitate to read the following article… Below you will find the complete information on the Apatosaurus. Stay here and discover everything about this herbivorous dinosaur from the Jurassic period!

Taxonomy of the Apatosaurus

  • apatosaurus belonged to the Animalia kingdom.
  • The phylum on which it is classified is Chordata.
  • The Class to which this dinosaur belonged is Sauropsida.
  • Apatosaurus is classified within the super-order Dinosauria.
  • The order where this dinosaur is included is Saurischia.
  • It is classified within the suborder Sauropodomorpha.
  • Apatosaurus belonged to the infra-order Sauropoda
  • It’s classified within the Diplodocrat superfamily.
  • It belonged to the Diplodocode family.
  • The subfamily of the Apatosaurus is Apatosaurinae.
  • The genus is called Apatosaurus.

The discovery of this dinosaur

A not less important detail of this animal is that the finding represented for the world of Paleontology an unparalleled discovery, it was possible to find a complete structure for the first time, a detail that led the scientists to show this structure to the public, an unprecedented fact until that time.

Regarding the fossils found, we can say that the vertebrae located in the neck and the bone elements found in the extremities enjoyed a greater length and a much more considerable volume, if we compare it with another specimen officially called the Diplodocus.
The vestiges of this specimen were found in a place called Quarry Quarry, and other remains have been found in states such as Wyoming and Colorado.

However, according to recent news, some other structures have also been found in other states of the United States of America, such as Utah and Oklahoma.

Thanks to the studies of its fossil remains, it was possible to determine that Apatosaurus inhabited the planet Earth approximately 155 million years ago and that it could be distributed around the vast territory that we know today as North America.

Its name comes from the Greek and literally means “deceptive reptile”, because some of its bone pieces resembled those of a prehistoric marine lizard called Mosasaurus.

Characteristics of this dinosaur

The Apatosaurus needed its four limbs to be able to move from one place to another, therefore we are before a dinosaur of quadruped position.

Besides, it had a very long neck as we had already pointed out, being this one of its most notorious characteristics.

Its tail was also of considerable size and even had the shape of a large whip, with which it could surely strike its most frequent enemies in one way or another, causing serious damage or injury. This leads us again to observe how the herbivorous dinosaurs needed a certain anatomical structure to defend themselves against their predators.

On their extremities located in the front area, we can clearly see that they enjoyed a smaller size compared to the extremities in the back area.

This specimen was really huge, it is within the record of the largest dinosaurs in the history of our great planet, in fact it has been calculated that this giant specimen reached a height of almost 450 centimeters only up to the area where the hip is located, a majestic dimension.
All these figures and calculations about the true dimension of this specimen are based on an individual that was found in one of the places mentioned above, coming to present almost 23 meters in length and an approximate weight of 22.4 tons.

After a few years, several studies were carried out to find out more about the true size of this animal and the results were not very different from those already indicated. It was even demonstrated that this animal would have had a maximum weight of 38.2 tons and a minimum weight of 21.8.

The figures mentioned above have made it possible for this specimen to be frequently compared with another large specimen called Dreadnoughtus, which was actually a net titanosaurus whose fossil remains were found in a country in the southern area of the American continent, in Argentina.

Other specimens found in other states have also been studied with much patience, so it has been determined that these specimens maintain similar volume and dimensions.

For example, the bone element that was found in the state of Oklahoma has a total height of 1.35 meters, which actually consists of a vertebra, and is only 27% larger than the bone element of the previously studied specimen.

About the other vertebral elements of this new subject that is still under constant study, we can say that these were of a less extended quality and for that reason they turned out to be much more resistant or compact.

As for the extremities of the rear area of the animal, these were longer but also enjoyed being thicker, so it is easy to imagine this specimen as a robust specimen.

It has been calculated that the tail area was often kept floating in the air, without the need to touch the ground at any time, but this only happened if the animal was moving from one point to another.

A quality that made it resemble other specimens also placed within the group of sauropods, is that this animal had a dangerous claw of exceptional size, which was located on each limb, in addition to the other extremities had smaller claws in the three main fingers.

About the element of the skull we can say that recognized for the first time in 1975, this happened many years after the Apatosaurus already had an official name in the world of Paleontology.

This element of the head did not enjoy a greater dimension, if we compare it with the rest of its bone structure, it actually turns out to be a skull of minimal magnitude.

Another characteristic that assimilates it with the popular sauropods, is the way in which the vertebral elements of its neck fork, which actually form a series of structures that we can call spines, which is why the appearance of this area is of robustness and resistance.

The curious thing about this area of the neck is that it needed to have a much smaller volume in order to facilitate the movement and displacement of the specimen. Due to this situation, this structure carried within itself a series of sacks formed by air, so that the weight of the neck area was effectively reduced to a great extent.

As for the ribs of the Apatosaurus, we can say that these were of a much larger size if we compare them with the ribs of other creatures considered as diplodocates.

The same thing happened with the chest of this specimen; it was a structure that enjoyed great depth, just as we also found this characteristic in the bones of the extremities, which were very solid in all their structure.

The feeding of this herbivorous dinosaur

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, this dinosaur followed an herbivorous diet. However, each herbivorous species has specific data on its feeding pattern and its entire digestive system, so we will see below what peculiarities the Apatosaurus had.

Regarding the feeding of this herbivorous dinosaur, it has been assumed that it could have ingested a set of stones frequently called gastrotrocytes, this being the same phenomenon that some birds do nowadays.

These gastrotropods acted to develop an important function: to process or crush the food in a more efficient way, since the jaw area was not sufficiently adapted to perform such function, therefore only in that way the Apatosaurus could ensure the extraction of all the nutrients from that food.

On the jaw area of this specimen we can clearly see that it was also made up of a dental structure that aroused great interest during its analysis.

The dental elements were in the shape of a chisel (tool), and were completely designed to extract and crush various types of plants, but not to tear the tissues of other animals of its time, which led to the very judicious determination that it was a creature of a herbivorous nature.

Other details about the Apatosaurus

As we have already introduced previously to the Apatosaurus it is placed this name to him because in principle the vestiges of this specimen were confused with another specimen that turned out to be a marine lizard of a similar epoch to the one of the Apatosaurus.

That is why in its nomenclature should be observed the quality of “deceptive” and indeed that is how it is reflected in the official name of this huge prehistoric animal.

In 1877, when Charles Marsh was in charge of making public the recent discoveries that had been made, this finding consisted of a specimen that had not yet reached the stage of maturity, therefore the data that we know today could not be made public due to the lack of knowledge about them.

However, two years after this discovery, this renowned researcher was in charge of reviewing another much more preserved and complete bone structure, a specimen that today we know under the official name of Brontosaurus excelsus, a name that was given by the researcher himself in the same year.

The true meaning of the name of Brontosaurus excelsus is something similar to “thunder lizard exceeded in number”, because this specimen had a very abundant set of vertebrae, even until then it was believed that it was the animal that presented more of these elements in the history of the planet.

In spite of this, with the data that are known at the present time, it is only one of the sauropods that have this amount of vertebrae in its totality, having been observed in other specimens.

Already at the beginning of the 20th century, precisely three years after that event, it was concluded that in fact the bone structure found in the Apatosaurus was a Brontosaurus that had not yet reached adulthood, however, because the initial name was Apatosaurus, the scientific world took the decision to continue calling it that way.

It was then that the name of Brontosaurus became secondary, as a simple synonym for the dinosaur that is the subject of this article, and it should be added that this name was maintained in the official publications of science until more than 70 years later, when they finally decided to eliminate this word.

When the first exhibition of this specimen was held, the entire scientific world and millions of fans were fascinated by the news, and for such mission the bone elements found had to be prepared, so that the assembly could be carried out successfully.

To complete the missing elements, elements from other animals that turned out to be direct relatives of the specimen were used, so that finally this exhibition was held just 5 years after the beginning of the 20th century, in a museum located in Yale.

It has even become known due to reliable sources that the structures called feet, could be placed in the assembly because these were elements found in the same place where the Apatosaurus was found.

In addition to this fact, we must point out that a tail of another specimen had been found that was very similar to what would have been the tail of the dinosaur protagonist today, the same way it happened with the skull.

The interesting thing about all this is that this form of complete reconstruction of specimens has not been lost, until today we can see how a series of individuals are reconstructed thanks to the remains of other specimens that have been found near the place or that have turned out to be directly related.
Let us also remember that this montage, which was very much promoted by the mass media of that time, was presented under the official name of Brontosaurus, so the general public would remember this specimen under that name.

However, after making the changes in these names, several scientists were responsible for publications using the official name of Apatosaurus, so that people could recognize this structure under that name and not the previously promoted.

A clear example of this is the researcher Elmer Riggs, who was in charge of doing a serious work when reviewing this specimen, always treated it under the name of Apatosaurus, and even was in charge of creating a new species that would be named Apatosaurus excelsus.

However, the discussion about the similarity of the two specimens has remained until today, for example a great paleontologist named Robert Bakker, has come to argue that the different denominations are due to the fact that they are actually different individuals.

In spite of the logic of this thought, the scientific community has not decided to support him in this sense, due to the lack of reliable evidence, a very present obstacle in the field of paleontology.