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Apatosaurus

From Academic Kids

Apatosaurus

Conservation status: Fossil

Missing image
Apatasaurus.jpg



An artists rendition of Apatosaurus
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Archosauria
Superorder:Dinosauria
Order:Sauropoda
Suborder:Sauropodomorpha

Template:Taxobox infraordo entry

Family:Diplodocidae
Genus:Apatosaurus
Species

Apatosaurus ajax
Apatosaurus excelsius
Apatosaurus louisae

Apatosaurus, formerly known as Brontosaurus, is a genus of sauropod dinosaurs that lived about about 140 million years ago, during the Jurassic period. They were some of the largest land animals that ever existed, about 4.5 metres (15 feet) tall at the hips, with a length of up to 25m (80 feet) and a mass up to 35 metric tonnes (40 tons). However, the Argentinosaurus was even larger.

The cervical vertebra and the bones in the legs were bigger and heavier than that of Diplodocus, but they both had the long neck and tail. The skull was first identified in 1975, a century after it got its name. The Apatosaurus had a claw on its hand, but only the thumb. Scientist have a theory about the tail being lifted perhaps a meter above the ground. It would prevent the dinosaur from stomping on it, and put the tail out of reach of predators.

Environment

It was believed that Apatosaurus was too massive to support its own weight on dry land, so it was theorized that the sauropod must have lived partly submerged in water, perhaps in a swamp. Recent findings do not support this. In fact, like its relative Diplodocus, Apatosaurus was a grazing animal with a very long neck, and a long tail that served as a counterweight. Fossilized footprints indicate that it probably lived in herds. To aid in processing food, Apatosaurus may have swallowed gizzard stones (gastroliths) the same way many birds do today — its jaws alone were not sufficient to chew tough plant fibers.

The Apatosaurs jogged along in flocks on riverbanks with trees, eating off the top leaves. Scientists believe that the some sauropods could not raise their neck to an angle of 90 degrees, as the blood would not reach their heads for more than a couple of minutes. Furthermore, studies of the structure of the neck vertebrae have revealed that the neck was not as flexible as previously thought. No one knows how Apatosaurs ate enough food to satisfy their enormous bodies. They probably ate constantly, pausing only to cool off, drink or to remove parasites. They must have slept standing upright. If a predator attacked it, it could defend itself by swinging its tail from side to side, or stomp at the meat-eater. Because of the Apatosaurs’ slow speed, they lived in herds, and they could "call" on each other, if one needed help.

Classification and history

In 1877, Othniel Charles Marsh published notes on his discovery of the Apatosaurus, and then in 1879 described another, more complete dinosaur — the Brontosaurus. In 1903, it was discovered that the apatosaur was in fact a juvenile brontosaur, and the name Apatosaurus, having been published first, was deemed to have priority as the official name; Brontosaurus was relegated to being a synonym. The name was not formally removed from the records of paleontology until 1974.

Fossils of this animal have been found in Nine Mile Quarry and Bone Cabin Quarry in Wyoming, and at sites in Colorado, Oklahoma, Utah, USA.

Species

Robert T. Bakker made A. yahnahpin the type species of a new genus, Eobrontosaurus in 1998, so it is now properly Eobrontosaurus yahnahpin. It was named by Filla, James and Redman in 1994. One partial skeleton has been found in Wyoming.de:Apatosaurus fr:Brontosaure pt:Apatossauro sv:Apatosaurus

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