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Remember that kid from second grade? You know, that kid?

(Who actually WEARS their science fair ribbon??)


The one you ran up to on the playground that one day and said, "HEY! CHECK OUT MY AWESOME NEW BRONTOSAURUS ACTION FIGURE!"


(It's REAL plastic!)

And he was like...

"You moron. There's no such thing as a Brontosaurus. It's a made-up dinosaur that only little kids think is real. That's actually an Apatosaurus."

And, if he was really super that kid-ish, he probably went on to explain that in the late 1800s, paleontologist Othniel Charles March brought back basically the same huge herbivore skeleton on two different expeditions out west and named it two different things. And since the Apatosaurus came first, that's the name that scientists ultimately agreed on in 1903.

And you were like, "Uh, duh, I knew THAT."

But deep down, you were devastated beyond human comprehension.

Because the Brontosaurus was your favorite dinosaur. But according to science, it never even existed.

(What is left to live for?)

After that, you made do the best you could. You grew up. Made friends. Fell in love. Lost love. Got a job. Got married. Applied for a mortgage. Life ... went on. But it was never really the same.

Until now.

Because — brace yourselves — some big news just dropped.

The Brontosaurus might be real after all!

Charles Choi, Scientific American:

Some of the largest animals to ever walk on Earth were the long-necked, long-tailed dinosaurs known as the sauropods—and the most famous of these giants is probably Brontosaurus, the "thunder lizard." Deeply rooted as this titan is in the popular imagination, however, for more than a century scientists thought it never existed...

Now a new study suggests resurrecting Brontosaurus. It turns out the original Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus fossils appear different enough to belong to separate groups after all. "Generally, Brontosaurus can be distinguished from Apatosaurus most easily by its neck, which is higher and less wide," says lead study author Emanuel Tschopp, a vertebrate paleontologist at the New University of Lisbon in Portugal. "So although both are very massive and robust animals, Apatosaurus is even more extreme than Brontosaurus."


Yep. That's right. Turns out a group of scientists now has cause to believe that the Brontosaurus is actually a distinct genus of dinosaur — similar to, but not completely the same as, you guessed it, the Apatosaurus.

(For maximum confusion, this is an Apatosaurus skeleton.)

And! There's enough evidence to suggest that there wasn't just one type of Brontosaurus, but three entirely separate species of them, known as Brontosaurus excelsus, B. parvus, and B. yahnahpin.

As with most scientific revelations, this probably won't completely end the controversy.

James Gorman, The New York Times:

"Dr. Tschopp and his colleagues Octávio Mateus at the New University and Roger B. J. Benson at the University of Oxford in England decided that although Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus are similar, there are actually two different genera and the Yale specimen is really a Brontosaurus after all. So are several other museum specimens, they said, including one at the University of Wyoming, and a baby Apatosaurus at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.

Their paper, released online on Tuesday in the journal PeerJ, with all of its nearly 300 pages freely available to anyone, will not be the last word on whether the Brontosaurus name should come back into scientific use. Names of species and genera are matters of expert opinion. There is no national or international board of official dinosaur names that decides who is right."

But this news is still really freaking cool.

The bottom line of all this?

There's a lot about our own history and the history of our planet that we still don't know. There's still a lot to learn. Which is pretty incredible, when you think about it.


(Oooooooooh).

The even bottomer line?

Isn't it cool that scientists are always trying to prove themselves wrong? Like, for 100 years, scientists thought they were certain that the Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus were the same dinosaur. But still, a bunch of them were like, "Nope. Not good enough. Let's look into this again." Science is freaking fantastic.


The bottomest line?

Take that, that kid!

(And put away that smug little ribbon too.)

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via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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