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Apatosaurus

Build & Characteristics

  • Apatosaurus means “Deceptive Lizard” because it was a harmless giant among the other dinosaurs of its time and ecosystem. The name “Deceptive Lizard” was also given due to the fact that its bones resemble the bones of other dinosaurs, especially the Mosasaurs.
  • The Apatosaurus measured 90 feet (27 meters) long and 15 feet (5 meters) tall while weighing up to 76,000 pounds (38 tons). That is heavier and longer than two school busses! They are the largest animal ever to walk the earth.
  • Recent studies concluded that it only took 10 years for the Apatosaurus to reach its full adult size.
  • As a quadruped herbivore (four legged plant eater) Apatosaurus grazed on leaves, ferns, cycadeoids, seed ferns, horsetails, and even algae.
  • It had chiseled teeth that could quickly remove leaves from branches. It didn’t chew them up, the Apatosaurus swallowed stones (also known as gizzard stones) to help break up the plant matter in their stomachs much like modern day birds, crocodiles, alligators, seals, and sea lions.
  • The Apatosaurus had a long neck and long tail to counter balance its neck. The tail could be cracked like a bull whip with the resounding crack reaching 200 decibels. That’s louder than a cannon firing!

History

  • Apatosaurus lived during the Jurassic Era, 157-146 million years ago, in what is now North America.
  • Due to its suspected muscle and cartilage Apatosaurus would have grazed vegetation low to the ground. They would have spent most of their day eating a very large amount of plant matter.

Discovery

  • Apatosaurus was first discovered by Edward Drinker Cope and named in 1877 by Othniel Charles Marsh.
  • The first bones were discovered in the Rocky Mountains in Gunnison County, Colorado. Other remains of Apatosaurus have been found in Oklahoma and Utah.
  • The first Apatosaurus skull to be found wasn’t until 1909.
  • You can see the bones of Apatosaurus at Wall of Bones at Dinosaur National Monument in Jensen, Utah.