Could A Return Of The Brontosaurus Happen


Image courtesy of bandrat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you ever heard of a brontosaurus? Most paleontologists will tell you there is no such thing. However, an article in the PeerJ magazine looks to change that.

Not long after it was discovered in the first half of the 20th century, this dinosaur lost its place among the family tree. It boiled down to Othniel Charles Marsh, who found the thunder lizard, and his shoddy work.

Marsh had “found” two long-necked dinosaurs – one he called Apatosaurus ajax (deceptive lizard) and the other Brontosaurus excelsus. However, the skeleton of the Apatosaurus wasn’t finished when he claimed to have found a new genus.

Fossil findings later on found that the species of these two hypothetical genera were actually much closer than Marsh had initially thought. Thus, the species were lumped under one genus – Brontosaurus was out with Apatosaurus leading the charge.

Based upon a new study, researchers have said there are many differences between the Apatosaurus ajax and Apatosaurus excelsus that they can be split into two different generas. Thus, it would thebe re-birth of the Brontosaurus.

Of course, there are no defined rules about classification of one genus to another – it’s just scientific consensus. Therefore, any kind of declaration should be taken lightly. The researchers did not intend to begin a pro-Brontosaurus campaign.

Researchers did want to understand how the Apatosaurus and Diplodocus are related, which is why they looked at 81 different specimens, using more than 450 characteristics. The group located another fossil they felt needed its own genus: the Diplodocus hayi, which they ended up renaming Galeamopus hayi.

This doesn’t mean a victory for the Brontosaurus. Science takes time, and just like researchers have found previous efforts wrong, additional information could cause the Brontosaurus to fade into the past once again.

John Whitlock, a Mount Aloysius college associate professor, said the research is going to contribute to the debate: how does one define genera. The metric must be more solid than it currently is. He said it’ll be a long-time before it happens, but the paper is a huge step in the right direction. Whitlock said when the terms are fully defined, people are going to be in a better place.

When it comes to the Brontosaurus return, Whitlock doesn’t believe there is going to be a controversy. After all, it’s going to be a catchy name.

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Posted by on Apr 7 2015. Filed under New, Sci/Tech. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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