Explaining about Brontosaurus

Yesterday and another trade fair as our buyer goes round selecting items that can go into our testing programme for launch in 2010.  Lots of new things to see and discuss with those manufacturers that we work with and some new companies to talk to as well.

One of the common problems that we encounter when we work with a new firm is that if they have a long-necked dinosaur based product in their range, it inevitably gets called a “Brontosaurus”.   Our experts patiently explain the problem with this particular dinosaur genus, it simply does not exist anymore.  It is no longer valid.  This animal is now known as Apatosaurus.

The famous American palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh described and named Apatosaurus in 1877 from fossils found near the town of Morrison in Colorado, USA. Two years later, bones of what was thought to be another dinosaur were found at a quarry at Como Bluff, Wyoming.  This animal was described and named as Brontosaurus “Thunder Lizard” by Marsh.  As more skeletons were found, scientists realised that these two dinosaurs were actually the same genus, and since Apatosaurus was described first, the name Brontosaurus had to be disregarded.  However, in 1905 when the world’s first long-necked dinosaur skeleton went on display at the American Museum of Natural History it was wrongly labelled as Brontosaurus.  Thanks to this and many Hollywood films, the name Brontosaurus seems to have stuck in people’s imaginations and for many years “Thunder Lizard” was one of the best-known dinosaurs.  The name change was officially ratified in 1974, it seems that manufacturing has yet to catch up.

Our dinosaur experts do their best to explain the difficulties we have with the “Thunder Lizard” name.  Ironically, a number of new genera and species of Sauropod have been recently discovered.  Although the Ornithopods such as the Hadrosaurs and Iguanodontids were probably more numerous, it seems that these long-necked dinosaurs were far more common in the Cretaceous than previously thought.

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