Brontosaurus vs Apatosaurus: What’s the Difference?

Brontosaurus vs Apatosaurus What's the Difference

Source by: Only Dinosaurs

You’ve probably heard of both Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus, but you may not know much about them. Are they two different dinosaurs? Are they the same? Or are they different enough that one is always better than the other?

This article will help you understand what makes these two dinosaurs so different, and whether there’s an argument to be made for preferring one over the other.

What is a Brontosaurus?

A long neck dinosaur is standing on the ground

Source by: Natural History Museum

A Brontosaurus was a dinosaur that lived in the Jurassic period and was among the largest of its kind. These dinosaurs could grow up to 85 feet in length and weigh more than 30 tons.

The dinosaur used its long neck to feed on vegetation from high branches or leaves from tall trees. The long tail would help keep it balanced when eating off the ground or when bending down to drink water from lakes, rivers, or ponds.

Each foot had four toes and was equipped with strong claws for climbing trees to reach food sources high in the air.

You can check the blog Journey Back in Time: Discovering the World of Brachiosaurus altithorax to learn more if you are interested in Brachiosaurus.

What is an Apatosaurus?

A long neck dinosaur on the ground with a sunrise background

Source by: ArtStation

Apatosaurus is a diplodocid sauropod that lived in North America during the Late Jurassic. They have quite an interesting history, being discovered and described by a half dozen different scientists who had no idea what they were looking at.

At least 15 specimens of apatosaurs have been found so far, including 13 complete skeletons, so we know much more about them than other dinosaurs of similar size.

They range from juveniles to adults and show a number of variations in their construction. The basic animal can be summarized by just two parts: the trunk and tail; these are made up of long vertebrae stacked on top of each other like pine logs in a log cabin-style home.

Brontosaurus vs Apatosaurus: What Are Their Difference?

A grey four legs dinosaur is eating leaves on the tree

Source by: The Fact Site

Apatosaurus vs Brontosaurus is a big debate among paleontologists, students, and fans of these dinosaurs. Both animals are known for their size, but the truth is that they have many differences between them.

Let’s take a look at the different characteristics of Apatosaurus vs Brontosaurus.


Brontosaurus size compare with an elephant

Source by: Britannica

The difference between Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus is that Apatosaurus was bigger than a horse, whereas Brontosaurus was significantly smaller. The largest Apatosaurus weighed about 23 tons, which is about the weight of an adult African elephant. A similar-sized Brontosaurus was only 5 or 6 tons.

Brontosaurus was much smaller than Apatosaurus because of its elongated neck and tail and other features that indicate that it had a long slender body. Its head was almost as long as its tail, suggesting that it had a low center of gravity. This would have made it appear more graceful during movement, even if it did not move faster than other dinosaurs.

When comparing their sizes directly, however, the difference between them becomes less clear-cut due to the fact that we cannot know how tall they actually were when alive.

Physical Appearance

An apatosaurus is drinking water beside a river

Source by: ABCDino

The first difference between the two dinosaurs is their physical appearance. While both dinosaurs had short forelegs, long hind legs, and long necks, the Brontosaurus had additional leg bones (namely femora) that were fused together into a single bone called a tibia. This feature made it possible for the animal to stand up on its hind legs without having to bend over like in most other sauropods such as Apatosaurus.

The second difference between these two dinosaurs is that while both had large heads with long necks, Apatosaurus’s head was not as large as that of Brontosaurus. Another difference between these two dinosaurs is their teeth; while Brontosaurus had teeth that were very flat in shape with no cutting edges, Apatosaurus had teeth that were more pointed at both ends with serrated edges along their length which would make it easier for them to break through hard plant material.


Many people are watching a giant apatosaurus

Source by: Jurassic Outpost Encyclopedia

It may be a question of semantics, but brontosaurus seems to be faster than apatosauruses when you compare the scientific findings. Both were members of the same genus and are thunder lizards (apatosaurs excelsus means thunder lizard). In terms of speed, there is a difference between these two animals. 

Brontosaurus excelsus is believed to have run at speeds up to 30 miles per hour whereas apatosaurus excelsus ran at speeds between 10-20 miles per hour. The longer legs of the latter might have been an adaptation for running while its tail helped it maintain balance while running like other sauropods.

Genus Debate

The apatosaurus fossils in a museum

Source by: NPR

There has been a recent debate as to whether or not the Brontosaurus actually existed and if it did, should it be in the same genus as the Apatosaurus? There are a few different views on this subject but from a natural history perspective, both seem like they could be classified in the same genus.

This topic can be debated further but from what has been gathered so far, it seems like both would be classified into the same genera.


Many dinosaurs are eating grass beside a lake

Source by: ZME Science

Both Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus have long necks with four to five vertebrae separating the skull from the neck. The general consensus today is that the tail of Brontosaurus could have been straight, though this remains a controversial topic among paleontologists.

Both Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus had three large toes per foot. However, some scientists believe that at least one of these toes may have been prehensile, as a nod to the future orientation of their feet. Additionally, they also lacked claws on their front limbs – a key distinction when you are trying to figure out how close they were related. And both of them are on A Fun Guide to Long Neck Dinosaurs [With 10 Dino Names], you can also learn about some other long neck dinosaurs.

FAQ About Brontosaurus vs Apatosaurus

Are Brontosauruses Smarter than Apatosauruses?

A giant dinosaur statue on the ground

Source by: The Atlantic

The genus of the Brontosaurus excelsus, an apatosaurus, can sometimes be referred to as a thunder lizard. The Brontosaurus excelsus have a larger skull and are thought to have had higher intelligence than other dinosaurs of its time. This would indicate that they are smarter than the genus Apatosaurus. However, there has been no evidence found to support this idea.

Brains are not well preserved in fossilized remains so it’s hard to say if they were really more intelligent or not.

Scientists do know that some animals today have their brain in their spinal cord, but others keep it in their heads. When we talk about skulls on extinct animals, we’re talking about just the bone itself and not what might have been inside it at one point in time.


A grey brontosaurus on the ground

Source by: Only Dinosaurs

In conclusion, both animals are different but equally awesome. Brontosaurus are herbivores and come from a family of dinosaurs called sauropods while Apatosauruses eat plants and shrubs along with insects.

If you’re looking for something larger than the other, there’s no need to argue about it! There are plenty of both species out there to satisfy your wildest dreams.

Also, if you want to see them in the real world, don’t miss our Brontosaurus costume. With the help of it, you can have a special experience of becoming a real dinosaur! 

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