Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Finally! He's back.....

"But other will be more than happy to hear that one of the most famous dinosaur genera of all time-Brontosaurus-is back," stated Emanuel Tschopp.

The Brontosaurus excelsus was named in 1879 and then later renamed has now been given the go ahead to return to it's former glory.  Paleontologist Othniel Marsh were working in the Colorado Morrison formation and in 1877 when Marsh discovered the huge bones to a new dinosaur he named Apatosaurus ajax.  In the rush to beat out rival paleontologist Edward Cope, he named his second discovery two years later, Brontosaurus excelsus as a separate species.

In the early 1900's yet another discovery of gigantic bones that were similar to both the previous ones led scientists to decide that they were all the same dinosaur and by the naming rules drafted in the 18th century, the first name had priority.  Brontosaurus disappeared and Apatosaurus reigned as the species until a recent new study of the various fossils that have been found.

Tschopp and his colleagues did not set out to prove that Brontosaurus did exist in their five year study.  They had planned to analyse the diplodocid family which contains about 20 species of giants to create a family tree.  They carefully examined nearly 500 anatomical traits within the various specimens worldwide and concluded that Brontosaurus was a separate species.

Several other dinosaurs in that group were shuffled around such as one receiving it's own genus and another was shifted back into a larger existing genus.  The race between Cope and Marsh had led to many of the same fossils being given different names by the pair in an attempt to create a larger record for themselves in "discovered" species of dinosaurs.  Science has advanced with incredible technology that allows scientists to reexamine fossils found decades ago and come to more accurate conclusions about their origins and family trees.

The Brontosaurus is back............ finally.

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