September 15, 2009
Despite the fact that it was rejected over 100 years ago, “Brontosaurus” still remains one of the most recognizable dinosaur names. Today we know the same fossils as Apatosaurus, the name given to the bones first and thus having scientific priority, yet there is something pleasantly evocative about “Brontosaurus.” The name translates to “Thunder Reptile”, a title that makes me think of the sounds that herds of such creatures might have made while walking across an ancient landscape. Apatosaurus, while scientifically proper, just does not have the same effect on me.
Indeed, there is something romantic about the name “Brontosaurus”, and some of the out-of-date skeletons I saw in museums while growing up gave me a soft spot for the appellation. The author of the science-themed webcomic XKCD must feel the same way;
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