Thursday, March 10, 2011

March's Dinosaur of the Month: Apatosaurus

Apatosaurus?! What the hell is that? Despite its seemingly obscure name, you all know Apatosaurus quite well ... although you all probably know him as ... BRONTOSAURUS!

My name is Apatosaurus now punk!

So whats up with the name change? You see Apatosaurus was discovered before Brontosaurus, however it took scientist a bit to realize that the two species were actually the same dinosaur. In Paleontologyland, when one dinosaurs has two different names like that, the name that came first takes precedent. In this case, Apatosaurus was the one discovered first, hence the name change. Hopefully, I ruined your childhood a little bit by this point.

Apatosaurus is the best known of the Sauropods, which is the classification of dinosaurs in which all of the gigantic, four-legged, long-necked, plant eaters belong to. They are by far some of the largest land animals ever to walk this earth. How some tree eating dinosaurs managed to weigh close to 40 tons is beyond me. I don't understand how much plant life it would take to support even just one of these over the course of its lifetime.  I do however know, that the dinosaur had a very hard time digesting the massive amount of trees it ate. In order to compensate for that, the Apatosaurus had to swallow whole rocks. Yeah, this guy ate straight up rocks sometimes. The rocks would just chill in their stomach and help to grind up plant matter after a meal. Yum!

Derp derp

Did you know that when paleontologists first discovered Apatosaurus, they thought it was a marine animal and its long neck was to allow it to easily poke its head out of the water for air. Obviously, this was disproved rather quickly. Although in recent years, the Apatosaur's neck is still the subject of controversy. Originally, it was thought that the dinosaur held it neck straight up in order to eat the leaves off of tall trees. However, that would require some insane blood circulation skills. The shape of their vertebrae also suggest that they might have held their head/neck down all of the time and were basically giant vacuum cleaners. The jury is still out on this one.

Apatosaurus, and most of the sauropods for that matter, have only been found in North America. This proves one major thing for me: 

America has been making things bigger and badder since 150 million years ago.


2 comments:

  1. I'm changing my diet in honor of the Apatosaurus and will only be eating rocks and trees from now on! Yum!

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  2. Aren't T-Rex's American too?

    I heard that in the age of the dinos, all of Earth was underwater. (That would explain the long neck, and why Dimetrodons had fins.)

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