Bros. The Brontosaurus Is Back.
If scientists have one passion, aside from tormenting rats with extreme experiments you would never, ever subject a human to, it’s shitting all over the things children hold near and dear.
Quick, what is every kid’s favorite planet? Pluto. Not so fast, say the hoity toitys in white lab coats and perfectly trimmed fingernails. Scientists are so annoyingly immaculate.
And dinosaur? After Tyrannosaurus and Stegosaurus and Triceratops, every kid loved the Brontosaurus. Actually, says the dweeb in glasses who works in the paleontology department at Stanford, Brontosaurus isn’t really a dinosaur.
Fuck that guy, but he’s right. Back in, I don’t know, let’s say 2002, scientists said Brontosaurus was not real. Nope, children, you have to be fans of the Apatosaurus, which is a dumb fucking name for a dinosaur. Apatosaurus became exactly zero people’s favorite dinosaur, because Apatosaurus sucks. Bring back Bronti!
Now, a couple of science saviors have heard my harried, frenetic shrieks. From Wired:
By cross-referencing the digitized bones from hundreds of long-necked cousins, a team of European scientists now says that they’ve identified enough unique anatomical details to reinstate the Brontosaurus at the head of its own genus.
Yeaaaa. Yeaa. Had I read further into the article, I would see that it was all the way back in 1903 that Brontosaurus was found to be a fallacious dino. That’s a long time to not exist.
The great de-bronto-ing came in 1903, when a paleontologist named Elmer Riggs said this classification was wrong-headed. The mistake, he said, was in the number of sacrum bones (where the tail attaches to the spinal cord). The Apatosaurus sacrum was made of three bones, while the Brontosaurus had five. Rather than being different species, Riggs contended the Brontosaurus was just a younger version of the Apatosaurus, and the sacrum bones would have fused together as the dinosaur aged (bone fusing happens in many species, including humans). According to Riggs, the two skeletons were the same species.
But now we have computers, and computers rule. And they show this Elmer Riggs guy is an idiot. All people named Elmer are dumb.
Digital libraries contain high-res scans of every diplodocid bone ever dug up. These span the earliest bones ever dug up all the way to brand new specimens from a museum in Switzerland, near where one of the [study’s] co-authors grew up. In fact, it was these bones that inspired Emanuel Tschopp to undertake the huge reclassification. “I grew up very close to the museum and the people working there, so I had easy access to the bones and could study them in deep detail,”
The main purpose was to re-examine this family tree of long necked dinosaurs, he says. “We were very surprised when we got these results that Brontosaurus was valid again.” So surprised in fact, that they called in another researcher, Roger Benson, an Oxford University expert in using statistical analyses to verify speciation, to check their results. His answers said the same thing. “It was a number of small differences that were important, but probably the most obvious features that would help distinguish the two is that the Apatosaurus has an extremely wide neck, where Brontosaurus‘ is more high than wide.”
Boom. Different dino. Welcome it back with open arms, Bros. I know you will. Brontosaurus rules. Apatosaurus drools.