What Is the Brontosaurus Called Now? Exploring the Controversy and Renaming of this Iconic Dinosaur

Do you remember the majestic and larger-than-life creatures called brontosauruses that you read about in your childhood books or watched in movies? Well, you might be surprised to learn that these dinosaurs are not known as such anymore! In fact, the term “Brontosaurus” is not used by scientists today.

The reason behind this can be traced back to the 19th century, when several paleontologists were racing to discover and name new dinosaur species. In 1877, Othniel Marsh, an American paleontologist, unearthed a fossil of a long-necked dinosaur, which he named Apatosaurus. Two years later, he discovered a similar-looking dinosaur and named it Brontosaurus. However, upon further examination, scientists realized that Brontosaurus was simply a previously found Apatosaurus with a different head. So, in the early 20th century, the Brontosaurus name was dropped, and all specimens were reclassified as Apatosaurus.

Nowadays, if you ask a paleontologist about the Brontosaurus, they’ll likely correct you and say that it does not exist. However, it’s not all doom and gloom for fans of this beloved dinosaur. Recent studies have found some differences in the bones of Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus, leading some paleontologists to believe that the latter deserves its own genus name. So, perhaps in the future, we may see the Brontosaurus name make a comeback – but until then, we’ll have to stick with Apatosaurus.

The Brontosaurus Name Controversy

For over a century, the Brontosaurus was one of the most recognizable and beloved dinosaurs. However, in 1903, it was discovered that the Brontosaurus was actually a misidentified Apatosaurus. The mistake was due to the fact that the first specimen of the Brontosaurus had an incomplete skull, and so scientists mistakenly used the skull of a different dinosaur when reconstructing it.

For years, scientists debated whether or not the Brontosaurus should be its own separate genus. In 2015, a study was published in the scientific journal PeerJ that argued that the Brontosaurus is indeed a distinct genus from the Apatosaurus. The study analyzed over 80 dinosaur species and found that there were enough anatomical differences between the two to justify resurrecting the name Brontosaurus.

Arguments for the Brontosaurus as a Separate Genus

  • The Brontosaurus has a longer, thinner neck than the Apatosaurus
  • The Brontosaurus has a proportionally larger skull than the Apatosaurus
  • The Brontosaurus has a different arrangement of air spaces in its vertebrae than the Apatosaurus

Arguments Against the Brontosaurus as a Separate Genus

Despite the new study, there are still some scientists who argue that the Brontosaurus should not be considered a separate genus. Some of their arguments include:

  • The differences between the Brontosaurus and the Apatosaurus are not significant enough to justify a separate genus
  • The name Brontosaurus has already been cemented in popular culture and adding confusion around its name is unnecessary


While the Brontosaurus name controversy may seem like a small issue, it is actually of great importance to paleontologists and dinosaur enthusiasts. Whether or not the Brontosaurus is considered its own genus has implications for how we understand the evolution and diversity of dinosaurs. Regardless of which side of the debate you fall on, one thing is certain – the debate will continue for years to come.

Pros Cons
Resurrecting the Brontosaurus could lead to a better understanding of dinosaur diversity and evolution Adds confusion to already established scientific nomenclature
The Brontosaurus is an iconic dinosaur and its name carries cultural significance The differences between the Brontosaurus and the Apatosaurus may not be significant enough to justify a separate genus
Reviving the Brontosaurus name allows for the proper attribution of discoveries, as Apatosaurus bones were falsely labelled as Brontosaurus in the past Could lead to an over-classification of dinosaur species

Ultimately, the Brontosaurus name controversy is a reminder of how science is constantly evolving and that even the most established theories and ideas are subject to revision based on new evidence.

Re-classification of Dinosaurs

For decades, paleontologists have been studying the fossil record of dinosaurs to better understand these fascinating creatures that once roamed the earth. Over time, new discoveries, advanced technologies, and changing scientific theories have led to the re-classification of many dinosaur species. Here are some of the most significant re-classifications:

Newly Classified Dinosaurs

  • The Brontosaurus: The Brontosaurus was once thought to be a distinct species of dinosaur, but it was later determined to be a type of Apatosaurus. However, recent research has indicated that the Brontosaurus is actually a unique genus and should be recognized as such.
  • The Triceratops: The Triceratops was once believed to be a distinct species of dinosaur, but it was later determined to be a juvenile version of the Torosaurus. However, further research has cast doubt on this re-classification. Some scientists now believe that the Triceratops and Torosaurus were actually distinct species after all.
  • The Spinosaurus: The Spinosaurus was originally classified as a type of dinosaur known as a theropod. However, recent research has indicated that it may have been more closely related to crocodiles than to other dinosaurs. This has led to a re-classification of the Spinosaurus as a member of the new family Spinosauridae.

Revised Classification Schemes

As the study of dinosaurs has progressed, scientists have also made changes to the way these prehistoric creatures are classified. One of the most significant changes has been the move away from a classification scheme based on the morphology, or physical characteristics, of individual species. Instead, many scientists now favor a classification scheme based on genetic and evolutionary relationships.

This shift has resulted in changes to the ways in which many dinosaur species are grouped together. For example, the so-called “bird-hipped” dinosaurs, which were once thought to be a distinct group of creatures, are now considered to be part of the larger group Ornithischia. Similarly, the “lizard-hipped” dinosaurs, once thought to be a cohesive group, have been split up into several different sub-groups, each with its own distinct characteristics and evolutionary history.

Table of Re-classifications

Dinosaur Name Previous Classification Revised Classification
Brontosaurus Apatosaurus Unique Genus
Triceratops Juvenile Torosaurus Unknown/Disputed
Spinosaurus Theropod Spinosauridae Family

As the study of dinosaurs continues, it is likely that we will see even more re-classifications in the future. Who knows, perhaps some of the dinosaurs we thought we knew will turn out to be entirely different creatures than we ever imagined!

Difference between Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus

If you’re a dinosaur enthusiast, you may recall being fascinated by the Brontosaurus, one of the largest and most awe-inspiring land animals in history. However, due to a scientific mix-up, the Brontosaurus was stripped of its official status in 1903 and was replaced by the Apatosaurus.

The story of the Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus begins in the late 1800s when paleontologists discovered a new species of dinosaur in Wyoming. The new species was named Apatosaurus, which means “deceptive lizard” in Greek, due to the unique structure of its vertebrae. Some years later, another skeleton was found in Colorado, which was named Brontosaurus, meaning “thunder lizard.”

  • One of the main differences between these two sauropods was the shape of their necks. The Brontosaurus had a wider, more robust neck, while the Apatosaurus had a longer, thinner neck.
  • The shape and size of the bones in their legs also differed, with the Apatosaurus having a more slender framework than the Brontosaurus.
  • Finally, the Apatosaurus had a longer tail than the Brontosaurus.

Despite these differences, the two species were very similar and were often confused by scientists. In 1903, paleontologist Elmer Riggs discovered that the Brontosaurus skeleton was actually a juvenile Apatosaurus. Since the Apatosaurus was discovered and named first, it was decided that all Brontosaurus skeletons were actually Apatosaurus, and the name “Brontosaurus” was officially retired.

However, in 2015, a new study by a team of scientists revealed that there were enough differences between the two species to warrant the resurrection of the beloved Brontosaurus. The team discovered that the Brontosaurus had thicker, wider, and more robust bones, a different arrangement of bones in its toes, and a few other unique features that set it apart from the Apatosaurus.

Feature Brontosaurus Apatosaurus
Neck Shape Wider, more robust Longer, thinner
Leg Bones Thicker and wider More slender
Tail Length Shorter Longer

As a result, the Brontosaurus was officially reinstated as its own species, and paleontologists around the world rejoiced at the chance to use its beloved name once again.

Evolution of Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs are a group of reptiles that lived on Earth from about 245 to 66 million years ago. They are classified into two main groups: Saurischia and Ornithischia. Saurischia includes theropods, such as Tyrannosaurus rex, and sauropods, such as Brontosaurus. Ornithischia includes dinosaurs with bird-like hips, such as Triceratops and Stegosaurus.

The Naming Controversy of Brontosaurus

Brontosaurus is a genus of sauropod dinosaur that lived during the Late Jurassic Period, about 155-145 million years ago. The name Brontosaurus, which means “thunder lizard,” was given to a specimen discovered in 1879 by American paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh based on its unique skeletal features.

However, in 1903, a study by paleontologist Elmer Riggs argued that Brontosaurus was actually a species of Apatosaurus and should be renamed Apatosaurus excelsus. This change was widely accepted by the scientific community and the name Brontosaurus was no longer used.

Recently, a study published in the journal PeerJ in 2015 suggested that the differences between Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus were significant enough to warrant the resurrection of the Brontosaurus name. While some scientists still disagree, Brontosaurus is now recognized by many as a distinct genus once again.

Types of Dinosaurs

  • Theropods: These were bipedal predators with sharp claws and teeth. Some famous examples include Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor.
  • Sauropods: These were enormous, four-legged herbivores with long necks and tails. Some famous examples include Brachiosaurus and Diplodocus.
  • Ornithischians: These were herbivorous dinosaurs with bird-like hips. Some famous examples include Triceratops and Stegosaurus.

The Extinction of Dinosaurs

The extinction of dinosaurs is one of the most well-known events in Earth’s history. The most widely accepted theory is that a large asteroid impact caused massive wildfires, a nuclear winter, and other ecological disturbances that led to the extinction of about 75% of all species on Earth, including the non-avian dinosaurs. This event occurred approximately 66 million years ago, marking the end of the Cretaceous Period and the beginning of the Paleogene Period.

Types of Dinosaurs Characteristics
Theropods Bipedal predators with sharp claws and teeth. Examples include Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor.
Sauropods Enormous, four-legged herbivores with long necks and tails. Examples include Brachiosaurus and Diplodocus.
Ornithischians Herbivorous dinosaurs with bird-like hips. Examples include Triceratops and Stegosaurus.

In conclusion, the evolution of dinosaurs is a fascinating subject that has captured the imaginations of people of all ages. From the name controversy of Brontosaurus to the extinction event that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs, the study of these ancient creatures continues to provide new insights into the history of life on Earth.

Meaning of Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus

The Brontosaurus has always been a favorite among dinosaur enthusiasts, but did you know that the name “Brontosaurus” was actually a mistake? In 1877, paleontologist Othniel C. Marsh discovered a new dinosaur species and named it Apatosaurus, meaning “deceptive lizard,” due to the similarities it shared with another species he had previously discovered. Two years later, Marsh uncovered a second dinosaur species and mistakenly identified it as a new species, which he named Brontosaurus, meaning “thunder lizard.” However, further research revealed that the Brontosaurus specimen was actually just an Apatosaurus with a different head and neck.

  • Despite this error, the name Brontosaurus persisted well into the 20th century, thanks in part to its popular depiction in various films, books, and other media.
  • In recent years, however, new studies have revealed enough subtle differences between the two species to justify separating them again. In 2015, the Brontosaurus was officially recognized as a distinct species once more, much to the delight of dinosaur fans everywhere.
  • Despite this, there is still some debate among scientists as to whether or not the Brontosaurus is really distinct enough to deserve its own name and classification. Some argue that the differences between the two species are simply too minor to matter, while others maintain that the Brontosaurus is a unique and important discovery.

Regardless of where you stand on the matter, it’s clear that both the Apatosaurus and the Brontosaurus are fascinating creatures that continue to capture the imagination of people young and old. From their massive size to their distinctive features, these dinosaurs have a special place in the world of paleontology and popular culture alike.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus, there are many resources available online and in print. Whether you’re a dedicated dinosaur enthusiast or simply curious about these prehistoric giants, there’s always more to discover.

Apatosaurus Brontosaurus
Scientific Name Apatosaurus ajax Brontosaurus excelsus
Meaning Deceptive lizard Thunder lizard
Size Up to 75 feet long and 18 tons Up to 72 feet long and 15 tons
Time Period Late Jurassic (150 to 145 million years ago) Late Jurassic (153 to 148 million years ago)
Location Western North America Western North America

As you can see from the table, the Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus are very similar creatures in many respects. However, there are subtle differences in their anatomy, particularly in the shape of their skulls and the arrangement of their vertebrae. While these differences might seem minor to the casual observer, they are important to scientists who study these creatures, as they can shed light on the evolutionary history of the sauropod dinosaurs as a whole.

Dinosaurs in Popular Culture

Dinosaurs have captured our fascination and imagination for centuries, and as a result, they have become an integral part of popular culture. From movies, TV shows, books, and theme parks, there is no escaping these prehistoric creatures! One dinosaur in particular that has gained notoriety and underwent a recent name change is the Brontosaurus, also known as the Apatosaurus.

  • Books: Dinosaurs are a common subject in children’s books, and have been for decades. From classics like “The Land Before Time” series by Michael Teitelbaum to modern works like “Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs” by Byron Barton, children have been exposed to these creatures from an early age. The Brontosaurus had a key role in many of these stories, and with the recent name change, it will be interesting to see how authors adapt to this change.
  • Movies and TV Shows: Perhaps the most popular form of media featuring dinosaurs is movies and TV shows. Whether it’s the iconic “Jurassic Park” franchise or the more recent Netflix series “Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous”, dinosaurs continue to captivate audiences of all ages. The Brontosaurus has made appearances in many of these productions, and it remains to be seen how the name change will affect future portrayals.
  • Theme Parks and Museum Exhibits: Theme parks and museum exhibits are another popular form of media surrounding dinosaurs. The American Museum of Natural History in New York City, for example, boasts an impressive dinosaur exhibit featuring life-sized models of various species, including the Brontosaurus. Similarly, theme parks like Universal Studios’ Jurassic World have attractions dedicated to the franchise’s dinosaurs.

The Brontosaurus, or rather the Apatosaurus, is just one example of how dinosaurs have become ingrained in our popular culture. From books to movies and TV shows, to museum exhibits and theme parks, there is no denying the impact these creatures have had on us. Who knows what the future holds for them?

But one thing is for sure: dinosaurs will continue to fascinate and intrigue us for years to come.

Dinosaur Popular Culture Appearance
Tyrannosaurus Rex Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Jurassic World
Stegosaurus The Land Before Time, Dinosaur Train
Velociraptor Jurassic Park, Jurassic World
Triceratops The Land Before Time, Walking With Dinosaurs

As seen in the table above, various species of dinosaurs have been portrayed in a wide range of popular culture productions. Some dinosaurs have a greater impact than others, but they all play a significant role in shaping our perception of these prehistoric creatures.

Fascinating Facts About Brontosaurus/Apatosaurus

Despite being one of the most famous dinosaurs, the Brontosaurus we all know and love has had quite a tumultuous history as a species. Originally discovered and named in 1879, then later thought to be the same as the Apatosaurus, it was finally declared in 2015 that the Brontosaurus was indeed its own unique species. So what is the Brontosaurus called now? Keep reading to find out some fascinating facts about this gentle giant.

  • The name “Brontosaurus” means “thunder lizard”.
  • The Brontosaurus was a herbivorous sauropod, meaning it primarily ate plants and was one of the largest animals to ever roam the earth.
  • The Brontosaurus had a long neck and tail and weighed as much as five elephants combined!
  • Despite their size, the Brontosaurus was not a violent dinosaur and had a relatively small brain, indicating that it was not very intelligent compared to some of its contemporaries.
  • Even though it has a new official title, the Brontosaurus will always hold a special place in our hearts as one of the classic dinosaurs.
  • Interestingly, the first Brontosaurus skull was not discovered until the early 1990s, long after its body had been identified and studied.
  • The Brontosaurus and the Apatosaurus were both part of the same family, but they differed in bone structure, leading some scientists to argue that they should not be considered the same species.

As one of the most iconic dinosaurs, the Brontosaurus will continue to capture the imaginations of people young and old. Although it may have a new official name, it will always be known as one of the legendary creatures that ruled the earth millions of years ago.

Height: 15–20 ft (hind legs)
Length: 60–72 ft
Weight: 30–40 tons

No matter how you look at it, the Brontosaurus was an impressive creature. From its enormous size to its long neck and tail, it is no wonder why it continues to captivate us to this day. Whether you call it a Brontosaurus or an Apatosaurus, there is no denying that this dinosaur was one of the most fascinating and unforgettable beings to have ever roamed the earth.

FAQs: What is the Brontosaurus Called Now?

Q1: Is the Brontosaurus a real dinosaur?
Yes, the Brontosaurus was a real dinosaur that lived during the Late Jurassic period around 150 million years ago.

Q2: Why was the Brontosaurus name changed?
The Brontosaurus name was changed back in 1903, when experts decided that the Brontosaurus fossils were actually the same as another dinosaur called the Apatosaurus.

Q3: What is the Brontosaurus called now?
After being considered a junior synonym for the Apatosaurus for over a century, scientists re-examined the evidence in recent years and concluded that the Brontosaurus is a distinct genus of dinosaur, so it has been formally named and recognized again.

Q4: When was the Brontosaurus name revived?
The Brontosaurus name was revived in 2015, when a team of researchers published a study that analyzed the anatomical differences between the Brontosaurus and the Apatosaurus and determined that the Brontosaurus should be restored as a valid genus.

Q5: What are the differences between the Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus?
The Brontosaurus has a shorter, thicker neck than the Apatosaurus, as well as a more robust skull and a more heavily built pelvis. It also has a distinct set of vertebrae and a different shape and arrangement of bones in its feet.

Q6: What is the scientific name for the Brontosaurus?
The scientific name for the Brontosaurus is Brontosaurus excelsus. The name means “thunder lizard,” reflecting the size and power of this massive herbivore.

Q7: Where can I see a Brontosaurus skeleton?
There are several museums around the world that have Brontosaurus fossils and reconstructions on display, such as the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and the Natural History Museum in London.

Thanks for Reading!

We hope you found these FAQs helpful and informative. Remember, the Brontosaurus is an iconic dinosaur that has captured the imagination of people of all ages, and its rediscovery is an exciting development in the field of paleontology. If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the box below. Thanks for visiting, and come back soon for more educational content!