Chai Book Club: There is No Brontosaurus?

There is no Brontosaurus? I was fascinated listening to CBC’s Quirks & Quarks interview of My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs author Brian Switek (listen here). The intro:

Many people have wonderful childhood memories of their favourite dinosaur, especially the magnificent Brontosaurus. The only problem is that scientists have known for more than a century that there is no such thing as a Brontosaurus. It is actually an Apatosaurus that was mistaken for a new species.

Tour the world of dinosaurs as what you thought you knew is upended again and again.


Please leave a comment with valid email address by Monday, May 13 at 23:59 EDT. Available to US addresses only. One winner will be selected at random.


And the winner is #7, kodoma. (note: #5 was a follow-up comment from #1, so I excluded #5 and if it had been drawn there would have been a re-draw).

Chai Book Club 12May13

Thanks for the great discussion and happy reading!

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11 Comments on "Chai Book Club: There is No Brontosaurus?"

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Yup–the Brontosaurus/Apatosaurus “problem” is a magnificent example of how difficult it is to remove something from the public mindset once it’s in. Every month I swear see some illustration of a sauropod with the name Brontosaurus affixed to it. It’s fascinating–despite the fact that the name has been invalid since 1903, “Brontosaurus” arguably remains what Steve Gould called the canonical herbivorous dinosaur, and it’s mostly the specialists that are familiar with the name Apatosaurus (Indeed, as I’m sitting here writing this comment, my browser recognizes the spelling of Brontosaurus but does not recognize the spelling of Apatosaurus).


Screw you and your lies. And by the way, Pluto is a planet.


My 8 yr old son will be disappointed…


Ohhhh….this makes sense now! My 3 yr old has some dinosaur plastic figures. Everytime he brought over what looked liked a brontosaurus, he would call it an apatosaurus. My husband and I kept correcting him but he would shake his head and insist it was an apatosaurus. We finally checked the underside and sure enough, it was an apatosaurus! We just asked ourselves tonight, whatever happened to the brontosaurus? Now we know.


@Mae–does that set of plastic dinosaur figures include a winged critter and/or some ocean-going beast that looks like what we would imagine the Loch Ness Monster to resemble?

If so, then this might burn your brain even more than Apatosaurus–neither or those types of animals are dinosaurs at all, even though they’re usually called such. They lived with the dinosaurs, but they themselves weren’t dinosaurs.

Michael H.(oldfox)

I love science, so the book sounds fascinating.However, I can’t imagine it is more interesting than some of the comments posted here. Incredible! Anyway…….I just hope I win to find out!


Good thing I was already sitting down when I read that… first Santa wasn’t real and now this!

Pamela T

My 16 yr old grandson will wonder if nothing is sacred.


My childhood dreams were crushed after walking into the natural science museum in New Haven, CT (could be considered Yale’s natural history museum as much of the museum was put together from their collection). So sad.


I had vaguely registered that there was no brontosaurus quite a while ago, but after all the Dino shows my kids watch (with nary a bronto in them) I had to figure out what the real story was. Kind of interesting, but it’s still surprising to me that it’s taking so long to get rid of the brontosaurus.


So you mean to tell me Fred Flintstone was eating Apato Burgers all those years ago?