Apatosaurus (Apatosaurus)

Apatosaurus (lat. Apatosaurus, “deceptive lizard”, formerly brontosaurus, lat. Brontosaurus, “thunder lizard”) a genus of lizard dinosaurs that lived in the late Jurassic period (about 157-146 million years ago) in what is now North America. One of the largest representatives of sauropods.

Brontosaurus excelsus was described by Othniel Marsh in 1879 from well-preserved remains; later it turned out that it should be one genus with Apatosaurus ajax described by the same Marsh in 1877, and according to ICZN rules, the generic name Apatosaurus should be used for both species, as having priority.

Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus) is one of the largest dinosaurs: its length could reach 20–23 meters, and its mass, according to various sources, up to 24–32 tons, but some scientists point out that their mass did not exceed 18 tons. Apatosaurus is characterized by a long tail and neck, massive legs, and a relatively small head at the end of the neck. His brain weighed only 400 grams.


Several Apatosaurus nests have been found, each containing five eggs. Scientists do not know how many clutches these lizards could make per year. Most likely, such a large lizard as Apatosaurus laid eggs repeatedly. Apatosaurus eggs were about 30 cm long, they were covered with a strong, rough shell. They think that Apatosaurus buried them in the ground. Scientists do not know how long the incubation could last.

Place of residence

Huge, Long-Necked Apatosaurus Lived in the Late Jurassic. At that time, the continent, which today is called North America, was dominated by a warm and humid climate. Ginkgo trees and giant ferns, tree-like horsetails and huge conifers grew along the swampy banks of the rivers. All this lush vegetation was an excellent source of food for herbivorous lizards.

Apatosaurus kept along the banks of water bodies and fed on various undersized plants. Mostly they ate the vegetation that covered the banks of lakes and rivers, and the leaves of trees.


The eye sockets in the skull of Apatosaurus are displaced far back. Long and flat teeth in the front of the jaw were designed to pluck and collect plant matter into the mouth. In addition, the nostrils of Apatosaurus were located high enough, probably so that the branches did not fall into the nose during feeding.

Huge apatosaurs were peaceful herbivorous dinosaurs. They ate succulent plants. Apatosaurus ate the tops of trees, looking for succulent leaves, he did not have to, like predatory dinosaurs, track down prey and pursue it.


Apatosaurus peacefully coexisted with their other relatives, such as brachiosaurs. Like other large herbivores, Apatosaurus were very easy prey for predatory animals that lived in the Jurassic period. He had practically no weapons for self-defense he was not very fast, he did not have sharp teeth either.

The most reliable weapon of the Apatosaurus a very long and mobile tail tapered towards the end. With them, the Apatosaurus inflicted very strong blows on the enemy. Apatosaurus had a large claw on the inside of its foot, which also served as a weapon.


Apatosaurus was not the largest dinosaur, but it still stood out against the general background for its huge size and mass. He had a small head. Some researchers believe that brontosaurs had special pads on their feet that prevented damage to the feet. It is possible that brontosaurs could overcome water bodies by rowing only with their forelimbs, and the body was kept on the water.

It used to be thought that Apatosaurus spent most of their time in the water. Here it would be easy for them to “carry” their heavy body.

Apatosaurus defended themselves from predators with the help of a very powerful tail and front paws with sharp, long claws. Some researchers believe that Apatosaurus had two brains: one in the head, the other between its thighs. The function of the “second brain” is the coordination of tail movements.

Apatosaurus weighed as much as 6 elephants. Despite this, he moved quite easily.

Sauropods: From top to bottom Mamenchisaurus, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, Camarasaurus compared to elephant and human

Skeleton Features

The first Apatosaurus skeleton (without a skull) was found in 1877 in the USA. Apatosaurus skull found almost a century later, in the seventies of the XX century. Apatosaurus skeleton is larger and more powerful than other sauropods. Apatosaurs, which were previously called brontosaurs, were huge and massive they weighed more than 30 tons.

Cervical vertebrae: thicker than other lizards. Large holes in the vertebra reduced its mass. Dorsal vertebra: had a high top, to which strong muscles were attached. Tail vertebra: more than eighty in total; each of them had a bone expansion from below, which additionally protected the soft tissue.

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