Brontosaurus, the iconic dinosaur, which has been treated a bit harshly with a misclassified as Apatosaurus is all set to regain its own genus after an exhaustive study that provided enough conclusive evidence that the dinosaur is disctinct from Apatosaurus.
Since 1903, the scientific community has believed that the genus Brontosaurus was in fact the Apatosaurus.
Through an exhaustive new study by palaeontologists from Portugal and the UK provides, conclusive evidence have been gathered that pegs Brontosaurus as distinct from Apatosaurus following which it can be reinstated as its own unique genus.
Brontosaurus is one of the most charismatic dinosaurs of all time, inspiring generations of children thanks to its size and evocative name.
However, it was believed that Brontosaurus was in fact a misnomer, and it should be correctly referred to as Apatosaurus.
In 1903, it was decided that the differences between Brontosaurus excelsus and Apatosaurus were so minor that it was better to put them both in the same genus.
Because Apatosaurus was named first, it was the one that was used under the rules of scientific naming.
In fact, the Brontosaurus was never really gone – it was simply treated as a species of the genus Apatosaurus: Apatosaurus excelsus.
So, while scientists thought the genus Brontosaurus was the same as Apatosaurus, they always agreed that the species excelsus was different from other Apatosaurus species.
In the study published in the journal PeerJ, researchers have shown that Brontosaurus was distinct from Apatosaurus after all.
“Our research would not have been possible at this level of detail 15 or more years ago,” said Emanuel Tschopp, who led the study during his PhD at Universidade Nova de Lisboa in Portugal.
“In fact, until very recently, the claim that Brontosaurus was the same as Apatosaurus was completely reasonable, based on the knowledge we had,” said Tschopp.
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.
“We tried to be as objective as possible whenever making a decision which would differentiate between species and genus,” said Tschopp.
“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,” said Roger Benson, a co-author from the University of Oxford.
Therefore, Tschopp and colleagues have concluded that it is now possible to resurrect Brontosaurus as a genus distinct from Apatosaurus.