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Apatosaurus: A Really Large 'Lizard'

Apatosaurus was probably one of the largest dinosaurs to ever grace the prehistoric world.

Apatosaurus (literally meaning ‘deceptive lizard’ in Greek, due to the fact that the bones on the underside of its tail share a striking resemblance with those of the Mosasaurus, a prehistoric marine lizard that swam the prehistoric waters approximately 70 million years ago) was probably one of the largest terrestrial creatures to ever walk the face of the planet during the late Jurassic period, around 150 million years ago. It was once known as Brontosaurus, which was Greek for ‘thunder lizard’, named so by a renowned paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh upon excavation of an approximately seventy-foot long skeleton of said dinosaur. Eventually it was discovered that Marsh had committed the mistake of branding a smaller skeleton of the same dinosaur which he had unearthed in the same year as the less significant Apatosaurus, under which the long-necked fiend was known ever since its discovery.

othniel charles marsh

Othniel Charles Marsh

Measuring at least 70 feet long, Apatosaurus stood approximately 15 feet tall and weighed about35 tons. In keeping with its unusually long neck was Apatosaurus’s 50-foot long tail. Its hind legs were also notably longer than the front legs, which led to the assumption that Apatosaurus may have been capable of rearing up in order to graze on higher green smaller dinosaurs may have found inaccessible, though it would only mean putting a strain on Apatosaurus’s entire body, including its heart. As such, it is only more logical to speculate that the dinosaur may have had its entire neck slightly parallel to the ground (approximately 5.4 metres off it) the whole time, with which it may have used to poke around wooded regions for fodder, where lumbering hulks such as itself may have found inaccessible.

apatosaurus

Apatosaurus

Apatosaurus’s formidable size may have been a sufficient deterrent to stave off predators during the time, such as Allosaurus, though considering how Apatosaurus was unable to raise its neck more than 9 feet off the ground as it would only slow down blood flow to the brain, its skull would have been rendered vulnerable to predatory attacks, especially pack-oriented ones. Its tail may have been used as a whip to defend itself as well.

Like most sauropods, Apatosaurus may have lived in herds, as indicated by fossilized footprints found.

Other fascinating facts about Apatosaurus:

1. It is believed that Apatosaurus may have swallowed gizzard stones (gastroliths), what most present-day birds do in order to compensate for their lack of teeth for the grinding of food.

2. It was also initially believed that Apatosaurus may have been incapable of supporting its own weight on dry land, and as such, must have lived partially in water like present-day whales do.

References:

1. http://www.rareresource.com/apatosaurus.htm

2. http://www.unmuseum.org/dinobront.htm

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Comments (1)

I like the sound of these gentle giants!

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