After years of debates, popular dinosaur the Brontosaurus finally gets its own genus. Up until now, the Brontosaurus (which in Greek stands for “thunder lizard”) was considered part of the Apatosaurus genus.
But now, a recent 300-page research paper found enough anatomical differences between the two types to convince the scientific community that Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus are distinct species.
This debate has been going on for some time now.
It all began in 1879, a period known as “The Bone Wars”, when paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh, in a constant competition against rival colleague Edward Dinker Cope, released a short scientific paper about a dinosaur he called Brontosaurus. He described it as having an 80-foot backbone and a large pelvis.
In 1903, about the same time as Marsh’s death, scientists found a skeleton that looked like a combination between a Brontosaurus and an Apatosaurus, the latter being another one of Marsh’s discoveries.
The scientific community decided both prehistoric animals belonged to the Apatosaurus genus.
So the Brontosaurus was history. Or so it seemed.
Thanks to modern technology and scientific curiosity, the name resurfaced.
This recent study was based on the analysis of high-resolution scans archived in digital libraries which contain data regarding “every diplodocid bone ever dug up”. The team used algorithms in order to examine about 500 physical characteristics and identify all the differences between the Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus that could demonstrate that these two don’t belong to the same genus.
Lead study author and vertebrate paleontologist at the New University of Lisbon in Portugal Emanuel Tschopp explained that:
“Generally, Brontosaurus can be distinguished from Apatosaurus most easily by its neck, which is higher and less wide.”
This means that the “Apatosaurus is even more extreme than Brontosaurus”.
According to Mark Norell, chief paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the biggest contribution brought by this recent study is the detailed analysis of the sauropod group, an achievement that has never been succeeded before.
Although the paper is well written, with enough arguments and evidence to support the idea, the findings first need to be accepted by the scientific community before becoming a worldwide accepted fact.
Professor Paul Barrett of London’s Natural History Museum considers the findings “well-argued and well supported”. He now anxiously awaits to see if these suggestions will be accepted by the community.
Image Source: Dinosaur Jungle