a herbivorous diplodocid sauropod dinosaur from the Late Jurassic of North America.
[Ajax's deceptive lizard]Etymology
is derived from from the Greek "apate" (deception/deceptive) and "sauros" (lizard). This name was chosen by Othniel Charles Marsh because he thought its chevron bones were deceptively similar to those of some sea-dwelling mosasaurs. The species epithet
honors Ajax—the great grandson of Zeus and a hero of the Trojan War.
: Late Jurassic
: 156-151 mya
Est. max. length
: 24 meters
Est. max. hip height
: 5 meters
Est. max. weight
: 18 tons
[lofty deceptive lizard]Apatosaurus exelsus?
During the infamous late 19th-century "bone wars", Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, desperate to one-up each other by fair means or foul, were literally hailing every fragmentary fossil find as a new species so it's a bit ironic that Marsh managed to trump himself when his majestic sounding Brontosaurus exelsus
—named in 1879 and then the biggest and most complete dinosaur known, turned out to belong to his Apatosaurus
—the "deceptive lizard" whose type specimen, based on partial, juvenile remains, shares its specific name with a brand of household toilet cleaner. For many years, palaeontologists battled public opinion and the US postal service (who released a stamp featuring Brontosaurus
and were accused of fostering scientific illiteracy) in the hopes of burying everyone's favourite "thunder lizard" once and for all. Alas, it was all in vain as Brontosaurus exelsus
was officially reinstated as a valid genus in 2015, and it brought Brontosaurus parvus
and Brontosaurus yahnahpin
[small deceptive lizard]Apatosaurus parvus?
is an amalgamation of two specimens—one juvenile (CMNH 566), one adult (UWGM 15556)—that were found together by Charles Gilmore in Carnegie Quarry E of Wyoming's Morrison Formation at Sheep Creek in 1901, with the smaller one being named Elosaurus parvus
by Peterson and Gilmore in 1902 and the larger one assigned to Brontosaurus exelsus
by John Bell Hatcher in 1901. As mentioned in the kerfuffle above, Brontosaurus
and its associated species were reassigned to Apatosaurus
by Riggs in 1903, but it wasn't until 2004 that Upchurch, Tomida and Barrett realised that the two Sheep Creek specimens represented the same type of critter, and they combined them as a new species—Apatosaurus parvus
. Funnily enough, although the smaller specimen had already been nominated as a name-bearer, albeit of a different genus (Elosaurus
), and retained its epithet (parvus
) when the pair were combined, it was the larger specimen (UWGM 15556) that became the holotype. Apatosaurus parvus
was renamed Brontosaurus parvus
by Tschopp and Mateus in 2015.
• Marsh OC (1877) "Notice of a new and gigantic dinosaur
". American Journal of Science, Series 3, 14: 87-88. [Coins Titanosaurus montanus.]
• Marsh OC (1877) "Notice of new dinosaurian reptiles from the Jurassic formation
". American Journal of Science, Series 3, 14: 514516. [Coins Apatosaurus ajax, Apatosaurus grandis, renames Titanosaurus montanus to Atlantosaurus montanus.]
• Marsh OC (1879) "Brontosaurus exelsus
" in "Notice of new Jurassic reptiles
Journal of Science, Series 3, 18: 501-505.
• Marsh OC (1878) "Principal characters of American Jurassic dinosaurs. Pt. I
". American Journal of Science, Series 3, 16:
411-416. [Refers Apatosaurus grandis to Morosaurus.]
• Hatcher JB (1901) "On the structure of the manus in Brontosaurus
". Science, 14: 1015-1017.
• Peterson OA and Gilmore CW (1902) "Elosaurus parvus: a new genus and species of the Sauropoda
". Annals of Carnegie Museum 1:490-499.
• Riggs ES (1903) "Structure and relationships of opisthecoelian dinosaurs. Pt. I. Apatosaurus
Publications of the Field Columbian Museum Geology, 2: 165-196.
• Holland WJ (1916) "A new species of Apatosaurus
". Annals of Carnegie Museum 10: 143-145. [Coins Apatosaurus louisae.]
• Mook CC (1917)
"Criteria for the determination of species in the Sauropoda with description of a new species of Apatosaurus
". Bulletin of the American Museum Natural History 37: 815-819. [Coins Apatosaurus minimus.]
• Gilmore CW (1936) "Osteology of Apatosaurus
, with special references to specimens in the Carnegie Museum". Memoirs of the Carnegie Museum. 11 (4): 175–300.
• de Lapparent AF and Zbyszewski G (1957) "Les dinosauriens du Portugal [The Dinosaurs of Portugal]
". Mémoires des
Services Géologiques du Portugal, nouvelle série, 2:1-63. [Coins Apatosaurus alenquerensis.]
• Filla J and Redman PD (1994) "Apatosaurus yahnahpin
: A preliminary description of a new species of diplodocid dinosaur from the Late Jurassic Morrison Formation of Southern Wyoming, the first sauropod dinosaur found with a complete set of belly ribs". Fieldguide from the forty-fourth Annual Field Conference of the Wyoming Geological Association: 159-178.
• Parsons KM (1997) "The Wrongheaded Dinosaur
". Carnegie Magazine.
• Upchurch P, Tomida Y and Barrett PM (2004) "A new specimen of Apatosaurus ajax (Sauropoda: Diplodocidae) from the Morrison Formation (Upper Jurassic) of Wyoming, USA
". National Science Museum Monographs, Tokyo, 26 pp. 1-108. [Coins Apatosaurus parvus.]
• Upchurch P, Barrett PM and Dodson P (2004) Chapter Thirteen: "Sauropoda" in Weishampel, Osmólska and Dodson (eds.) "The Dinosauria: Second Edition
". University of California Press.
• Tschopp E, Mateus OV and Benson RBJ (2015) "A specimen-level phylogenetic analysis and taxonomic revision of Diplodocidae (Dinosauria, Sauropoda)
". PeerJ 3:e857.
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