Fork and scissor lifts carefully placed skeletal pieces of an Apatosaurus Friday at the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park. This giant 3D skeleton stretches 80 feet long and stands 17 feet high in the atrium of the RMDRC. The Apatosaurus is only one of over 30 specimens on exhibit at the center. “This is the largest dinosaur to be displayed in at RMDRC to date,” according to JJ Triebold, the museum’s director “We’re excited to bring this amazing specimen to Woodland Park for the residents and visitors from Colorado Springs and around the region.
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!