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10/03 - Philip writes
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Mr. Niednagel - Hello, I have a question about the apatosaurus. It was first known as the brontosaurus, from what I've read, but then it had its name changed. Why? Why couldn't they have just left it brontosaurus? I personally like it better. Anyway, thanks.
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Hi Philip. Thanks for the great question. To tell you the truth, the name Apatosaurus actually came before Brontosaurus. Here's what happened.

In 1877, some dinosaur vertebrae were found at Morrison, Colorado. A fellow by the name of Othniel C. Marsh, a paleontologist at Yale University, named the newly discovered creature Apatosaurus, which means "deceptive reptile." Then, only two years later, some other similar bones were found in Wyoming. Marsh again was the name giver of the animal, calling it Brontosaurus, meaning "thunder lizard." Over the years, scientists began to notice that both dinosaur bones were strikingly similar. So similar, in fact, that they decided they should be given the same name.

So, because the name Apatosaurus had come first, they changed it back from Brontosaurus due to an already established "law of priority." Isn't that strange? Apatosaurus beat Brontosaurus by only two years!

Today, many people (especially children) still use the name Brontosaurus, and I personally don't have a problem with it. In fact, the two names are often still used interchangeably in many books today. If anything, Brontosaurus seems to be a more appropriate name because of its meaning. Indeed, the animal, being over 70 feet (21m) long from the tip of its snout to the end of its tail, and weighing about 33 tons, more than five large African elephants, probably did sound like thunder when it walked!

Thanks for writing,

Jordan Niednagel





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Cryptozoology - The study of the hidden animal world, cryptozoology is a science of speculation and surprise, involving the search for animals thought to be extinct to new creatures never before identified.


Creation vs Evolution - What was popularized in 1859 by former Christian turned agnostic, Charles Darwin, has in our day become one of the most hotly contested and sharply dividing issues to be found anywhere.


Dinosaurs - Considerable controversy surrounds dinosaurs, from their place in history to their color, habits, and overall physiology. As viewpoints collide, the search for answers continues.



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