Brontosaurus is one of the most recognizable of all prehistoric beasts, which is even more remarkable when you consider it only ever existed for a fleeting moment in history.
In 1903, only a couple decades after it was discovered, Brontosaurus was demoted. Leading scientists at the time decided that the fossils found in the western U.S. were merely a species within the genus Apatosaurus. Museum specimens were renamed, textbooks were rewritten, and Brontosaurus was relegated to history’s dust heap. Today the iconic dinos don’t even have a Wikipedia page.
But that may all be set to change once again. A new study, taking into account recently discovered specimens, claims to have set the record straight, establishing Brontosaurus as a scientifically valid genus once again.
The research, led by Emanuel Tschopp at the Unversidade Nova de Lisboa in Portugal, delves deep into anatomical details to investigate the evolutionary relationships of a large and important group of sauropods known as diplodocids. Diplodocidae is the dinosaur family that includes Apatosaurus, as well as other iconic dinosaurs like Diplodocus. These animals are renowned for their enormous body sizes, sweeping necks and small heads, and long, whiplashed tails, and are known from North and South America, Europe, and Africa.
Tschopp and his colleagues took as objective an approach as possible in crafting their dinosaur lineages. Instead of the traditional approach, plotting how similar each species is to the others, they instead opted to use a specimen-based protocol: analyzing each individual animal, regardless of its previously assigned species.
I was always confused as to why we were taught about the Brontosaurus in school if it had been relegated a generation before I started ...
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