A new scientific paper argues that Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus, while similar, are actually two different genera. “Brontosaurus is at least as different from Apatosaurus as Diplodocus is from Barosaurus,” [said Dr. Roger B. J. Benson at the University of Oxford in England.] – The New York Times, April 7, 2015
Well—and I mean this in the most scientific way possible—duh. Really, how could anyone fail to perceive the obvious differences between an enormous, long-necked, small-headed, quadrupedal, herbivorous sauropod with a whip-like tail and forelimbs slightly shorter than its hindlimbs (Brontosaurus) and a humongous, small-headed, long-necked, herbivorous, quadrupedal sauropod with a tail like a whip and hindlimbs slightly longer than its forelimbs (Apatosaurus)? Especially when one was bright yellow and the other red with blue stripes!
Indeed, it now seems absurd that we ever thought the two creatures were one and the same. For we now know that while Apatosaurus was a ground-height nonselective browser, enjoying a diet of ferns, cycadeoids, seed ferns, horsetails, and algae, Brontosaurus was partial to tossed salads—Caesar and Greek, to be sure, and possibly Waldorf as well. Moreover, Brontosaurus likely consumed some 70 gallons of water per day. On the other hand, the fossil known as “CMC VP 7180,” discovered in 2011, was notable for being the first specimen of Apatosaurus to be found with a skull, and next to that skull was an incomplete bunch of petrified fermented grapes, revealing that Apatosaurus was a wine drinker.
It should come as no surprise that Brontosaurus—meaning “thunder lizard”—was very much into heavy metal music; Apatosaurus (“deceptive reptile”) liked jazz. Brontosaurus read Brontë, of course. Apatosaurus also read Brontë, but preferred Emily to Charlotte. Both dinosaurs were preyed upon by Tyrannosaurus; neither trusted Iguanodon to keep a secret. It is not scientifically significant that the letters of APATOSAURUS can be rearranged to spell BRONTOSAURUS; that’s merely a coincidence of interest only to the anagrammarian (not to be confused with Amygdalodon, a very large quadrupedal, herbivorous dinosaur with a long neck).
According to one paleontologist (not to be confused with a paleopathologist—or, for that matter, a pole-dancer), “Apatosaurus has a relatively wider neck than Brontosaurus.” At the same time, Brontosaurus has a relatively narrower neck than Apatosaurus. Another scientist remarked: “It’s as if they had a pizza and cut it in six pieces. Why not cut it into four pieces?” This dinosaur expert was referring to the human decision to place the two dinosaurs into different taxonomic genera, but also to the fact that Brontosaurus liked to cut its pizzas into six pieces, whereas Apatosaurus typically cut a pizza into four. A third scientist has suggested this is because Apatosaurus was not confident that it could eat six pieces of pizza.
To be fair, to the untrained eye Dinosaur A (Brontosaurus) and Dinosaur B (Apatosaurus) might seem indistinguishable. Fortunately, highly-educated men and women who maybe could have been working on such other things as eradicating smallpox, splitting the atom, and/or achieving heavier-than-air flight instead spent the past 110 years looking at Brontosaurus fossils, then at Apatosaurus fossils, then back at Brontosaurus fossils, then back again at Apatosaurus fossils, et cetera ad museum, until they (the men and women) had concluded, definitively, that these two beautiful, dignified, and completely imaginary creatures are not just extinct but also distinct.
Matthew David Brozik wrote this and many other short humor pieces, which have been published in print and online by The New Yorker, Adult Swim, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Grin & Tonic, The Big Jewel, and no one.