Apatosaurus is a member of the family Diplodocidae which are gigantic sauropod dinosaurs from the Jurassic period. The family includes some of the longest creatures ever to walk the earth, including Diplodocus, Supersaurus, and Barosaurus. The name means “deceptive lizard”. It was formerly known as Brontosaurus, which means “thunder lizard”.
Apatosaurus was a long necked quadrupedal animal with a long whip like tail. A computer simulation of the tail, reported in Discover Magazine in 1997, concluded that sauropods were capable of producing a crack with their tail comparable to a cannon. Its forelimbs were slightly shorter than its hind limbs. It had only a single large claw on each forelimb, with the first three toes on the hind limb possessing claws. Fossilized footprints indicate that it probably lived in herds which may have helped deter predators. It is thought they slept upright. The cervical vertebrae and the bones in the legs of Apatosaurus were bigger and heavier than that of Diplodocus. The skull was small in comparison to the size of the animal and the jaws were lined with chisel like teeth which were well suited to a diet of plants. It may have swallowed gizzard stones (gastroliths) in the same way that many birds do today, as its jaws lacked molars with which to chew tough plant fibers. It had very long ribs giving it an unusually deep chest.
The Apatosaurus is a collaborative effort between the University of Wyoming Geological Museum and Triebold Paleontology, Inc. the parent company of the Dinosaur Resource Center. Collected in the 1800's, the specimen has been on exhibit in Wyoming since the 1960's. TPI painstakingly took the dinosaur apart, restored the fossil, mold and cast it, and then remounted it in the museum. The specimen exhibited here will reside in the new Discovery Park of America in Union City, TN scheduled to open in 2013. This specimen is one of many collaborations conducted by TPI with leading museums and universities around the country.
Triebold Paleontology, Inc. is a comprehensive company that collects, prepares, molds, casts and mounts specimens, and also designs museum exhibits for facilities around the globe. TPI’s lab is located in the Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park, CO, the all of the specimens on display at the center are part of the TPI collection.
Soooo big, we can't fit the finished skeleton in one photo. Come see for yourself!
As seen on news-journal.com, Longview, TX:
Posted: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 4:00 am | Updated: 7:38 am, Tue Sep 13, 2011.
By Frank T. Pool FrankTPool@gmail.com
For the past two summers I have been inspired by a remarkable book, John McPhee's “Annals of the Former World.” It is simultaneously a travel book, a series of character sketches of geologists and a geological history of North America.
This year I wanted to visit paleontological and geological sites, to get outside of printed words and to see for myself the record of the planet's past.
My first encounter with dinosaurs came as I drove through Woodland Park, Colo., and happened upon the Dinosaur Resource Center. This is a private institution devoted to reassembling, preparing and making replicas of dinosaur fossils for museums and other institutions.
Visitors can observe the staff at work on various restoration projects. Actual fossils are on work tables, and multiple projects happen simultaneously in a very busy environment.
On the Colorado-Utah border, just south of Wyoming, is Dinosaur National Monument. One morning I hiked one of the most beautiful trails I have ever seen, out to a point overlooking the canyons of the Green and Yampa rivers. Ten million years ago, both rivers meandered over a flat plain, but a geologic uplift caused them to stay in their beds and slice downward, creating sheer, sinuous canyons.
At the Utah entrance to the park I took a trail and saw dinosaur bones. Uplifts have turned the alluvial deposits so they are almost vertical. I was able to run my hands across what was likely the radius bone of a sauropod, about four feet long, embedded in the rock.
In Wyoming I went to Fossil Butte National Monument, which is an ancient lake bed from Eocene times, about 50 million years ago. Fish, turtles, and freshwater rays are preserved in the limestone. I also met a man who digs fossils on private property for his rock shop in Evanston. Together we pulled blocks of limestone from the quarry face and split them with hammer and chisel, revealing the fossils inside. I also used a power drill, like a dentist drill, to finish preparing a specimen.
At John Day Fossil Beds in Oregon I interviewed the head paleontologist, who took me into the work area and showed me the skeleton of a Miohippus, a small ancestral horse that lived 30 million years ago. This particular specimen was covered in protective plaster and burlap and had been lifted by helicopter from a precarious cliff face in the park.
The horse evolved in North America, migrated across the Bering Land Bridge, and then went extinct in this continent within the past 10 thousand years, a sneeze in geological time. I stopped at Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument in Idaho, where more than 200 complete skeletons of extinct North American horses have been excavated.
I gained three insights from this trip. First, the evidence in the fossil record for evolution is overwhelming. Second, after interviewing a geologist and a paleontologist, I came to understand how mass extinctions can be caused by climate change. Third, I sensed the scale of deep time, of the age of this planet and the ways it changed before we humans existed.
Walking alone on western trails, as clouds scudded across the sky. I thought of time, and how 50 or a 100 million years ago, the winds sighed the same, the sun set slowly, the streams still gurgled among stones in the twilight. Venus and the moonrise looked much like they do today, but the constellations were utterly different. An ancient fish jumping in a pond made exactly the same sound. We are latecomers to the world.
— Frank Thomas Pool is a poet and English teach er working in Austin. He grew up on Maple Street in South Longview and graduated from Longview High School. Email him at FrankTPool@gmail.com.