London, April 8:
Brontosaurus, also called the thunder lizard, is different from Apatosaurus and can be reinstated as its own unique genus, a latest research reveals.
Brontosaurus is one of the most charismatic dinosaurs of all time, inspiring generations of children, thanks to its size and evocative name.
Since 1903, the scientific community has believed that the genus Brontosaurus was, in fact, the Apatosaurus.
Now, an exhaustive new study by palaeontologists from Portugal and England provides conclusive evidence that Brontosaurus is distinct from Apatosaurus and can now be accorded its own unique genus.
“The differences we found between Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus were at least as numerous as the ones between other closely related genera, and much more than what you normally find between species,” explained study co-author Roger Benson from University of Oxford.
Therefore, lead researcher Emanuel Tschopp from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa in Portugal and colleagues have concluded that it is now possible to resurrect Brontosaurus as a genus distinct from Apatosaurus.
“Our research would not have been possible at this level of detail 15 or more years ago,” said Tschopp.
“In fact, until very recently, the claim that Brontosaurus was the same as Apatosaurus was completely reasonable, based on the knowledge we had,” he added.
It is only with numerous new findings of dinosaurs similar to Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus in recent years that it has become possible to undertake a detailed reinvestigation of how different they actually were.
In science, the distinction between species and genera is without clear rules. Does this mean that the decision to resurrect Brontosaurus is just a matter of personal preference?
“Not at all. We tried to be as objective as possible whenever making a decision which would differentiate between species and genus,” Tschopp explained.
In the 1870s, famous palaeontologist Marsh discovered two enormous, partial skeletons of long-necked dinosaurs in Western US.
Marsh described the first of these skeletons as Apatosaurus ajax, the “deceptive lizard”, and the second skeleton Brontosaurus excelsus, the “noble thunder lizard”.
The study was published in the journal PeerJ. IANS