If you have watched the first of Jurassic Park films, you will be sure to remember the scene in which Dr Grant first lays eyes on one of, if not the largest dinosaur to ever walk the earth, that dinosaur was the Brachiosaurus.
However, spoiler alert – it has since been suggested by Palaeontologists that Brachiosaurus could not rear-up on its hind legs and come crashing down making the ground shake… sorry.
With its instantly recognisable long neck to reach the tallest tree tops Brachiosaurus was a phenomenal dinosaur.
Brachiosaurus was part of a group of dinosaurs called sauropods (long-necked dinosaurs). Sauropods were the biggest type of dinosaur that ever walked the Earth. Various kinds of sauropods lived almost throughout the entire age of the Dinosaurs right up until the huge extinction event.
Brachiosaurus’ most obvious feature apart from its colossal size was of course its long neck which was estimated to be around 30ft or 9meters in length.
Interestingly the neck of Brachiosaurus only contained only around 13-14 vertebrae. When considering the sheer size of this dinosaur the vertebrae were massive.
Quick Brachiosaurus Facts
|First Found:||USA by Elmer Riggs|
|When it lived:||Late Jurassic Period, 145-199 million years ago|
|Weight:||Fifty six tons|
|Length & Height||Up to 25m in length, 12m to 16m in Height|
|Diet:||Soft plants, leave and shoots|
what did Brachiosaurus eat?
Brachiosaurus was an sauropod, herbivore, and its diet would have been leaves from trees and shoots of small trees.
Scientists believe that Brachiosaurus diet would have consisted of the main types of vegetation found in the Jurassic period, which may have included coniferous trees, ginkgo’s, and cycads.
It is estimated that a fully grown Brachiosaurus would eat around 400kg of the above-mentioned food types every day. Having to eat that much food everyday meant that Brachiosaurus did not have time to do anything else.
Since Brachiosaurus needed to consume so much food to fuel its huge body, a study in 2008 hypothesised the theory that Brachiosaurus would not have chewed any of its food and simply just swallowed it whole. This would have allowed Brachiosaurus to use its teeth to strip the coniferous trees quickly, and instead of chewing it wasting energy it gets the vegetation into its stomach as quickly as possible.
It is an accepted theory that Brachiosaurus would have lived in herds. Several reasons include safety in numbers practically around protecting young Brachiosaurus. You can imagine if a single Brachiosaurus could consume up to 400kg of food per day, a herd of Brachiosaurus would have stripped a huge area of vegetation before moving on. Brachiosaurus would not have just eaten vegetation that would have been high up in the trees, it would have eaten plants at a ground level.
How big was Brachiosaurus?
Brachiosaurus size is hard to quantify when compared to today’s large animals. Brachiosaurus was just so heavy – estimated to be around 56 tons – when Brachiosaurus was first discovered scientists thought that Brachiosaurus would have had to live in or around lakes and rivers to support its weight and size.
Scientists have since discovered plenty of evidence that Brachiosaurus lived on the land. After studies around Brachiosaurus legs were proved to be so strong and would have supported its massive weight as it lumbered through the prehistoric forests around 145-155 million years ago.
Some scientists believe that when threatened Brachiosaurus may have entered the water to protect itself from being attacked.
Brachiosaurus weight was not the only thing that was impressive. It is believed that Brachiosaurus was roughly 82ft (25 meters) long. That is the same length of a modern Tennis court, impressive right?
From the tips of Brachiosaurus toes to the top of its head it is believed that Brachiosaurus stood around 40-50ft in height (12-16 meters), so it would have towered over almost every other animal around at the time. However, Palaeontologists have suggested that we may never know just how big Brachiosaurus may have been.
Unlike most dinosaurs Brachiosaurus front legs were longer than its back legs, which helped to support the weight of its super long neck. Brachiosaurus feet had short toes, and underneath the bones of each foot was a pad that would have helped to cushion the legs against the jarring shock of its weight. It is believed that Brachiosaurus would have kept its legs straight as often as possible, as bending its legs may have caused significant damage to them under the strain of its body weight. This movement behaviour is common to what we see today in the way Elephants move.
a powerful heart
Brachiosaurus had a large, powerful heart to pump blood all the way up its neck to its small brain, (Brachiosaurus was huge, but unfortunately, its brain was tiny).
Some scientists believe it may have had several hearts to help to pump the blood around its massive body. With such huge muscles in its legs and to help support its neck this theory is plausible.
Palaeontologists have also found a selection of bones that were so big that they were given the name ‘Supersaurus’ and ‘Ultrasaurus’. So, it may not be long before Brachiosaurus steps down from being the largest dinosaur, when more bones of these two recent discoveries are uncovered.
Who discovered Brachiosaurus?
Brachiosaurus was first discovered in 1900 buried in the Grand River Valley in western Colorado by a Palaeontologist call Elmer Riggs. It was not a complete skeleton and it wasn’t until 1903 that Elmer Riggs, named this his discovery Brachiosaurus.
In 1998 it was proved that Brachiosaurus was discovered much, much earlier in 1883 by a chap called Othniel Marsh in Garden Park, Colorado. Othniel Marsh thought at the time that he had discovered a Apatosaurus or ‘Brontosaurus’, but scientists were able to correctly identify it as a Brachiosaurus skull nearly 200 years later.
A nearly complete skeleton of Brachiosaurus was discovered in Tanzania, Africa in 1907. This skeleton of Brachiosaurus was painstakingly chipped out of the rock using only hammers and chisels. Hundreds of workers and Volunteers then carefully carried these huge bones to the nearest port. This almost complete skeleton of Brachiosaurus now stands pride of place in the Berlin Natural History Museum.
The Jurassic period was the perfect environment for large sauropod dinosaurs to thrive. There would have been large Forests packed full of ferns, cycads, and conifers which Brachiosaurus and other sauropods would have eaten.
The temperature would have been warm, with a decent tropical breeze to keep these giants cool.
This was the Jurassic habitat that Brachiosaurus would have lived in wouldn’t have been too dissimilar to the forests found in subtropical environments today. All took place an astonishing 145-199 million years ago.
Similar dinosaurs to Brachiosaurus
The name “Diplodocus” was given to the dinosaur in 1878 and it comes from the Greek words ‘diplos’ which means double. ‘Docus’ which means ‘beam’ refers to the double beamed bones in the underside of its tail.
Diplodocus was around 24m (79ft) long, with a super long neck that was over 6m (20ft). In comparison to its size, diplodocus was a lighter build than other giant sauropods such as Brachiosaurus. Its weight estimates range from 10 to 20 tonnes which is still incredibly heavy.
Palaeontologists believe that Apatosaurus (‘Brontosaurus’) reached lengths of 70-75ft in length which is around 21-23 meters, so certainly not a small dinosaur. In terms of weight, Apatosaurus (‘Brontosaurus’) is estimated to weigh up to 39 tons which is roughly the same as 16 Elephants.
Summary of Brachiosaurus
- From the tips of Brachiosaurus toes to the top of its head it is believed that Brachiosaurus stood around 40-50ft in height (12-16 meters)
- Some scientists believe it may have had several hearts to help to pump the blood around its massive body.
- Lived in or around the prehistoric forests around 145-155 million years ago.
- In 1998 it was proved that Brachiosaurus was discovered much, much earlier in 1883 by a chap called Othniel Marsh in Garden Park, Colorado.
- A nearly complete skeleton of Brachiosaurus was discovered in Tanzania, Africa in 1907, which is displayed in Berlin’s Natural History Museum.
Last Updated on 16/04/2021 by admin