One of the most famous dinosaurs of the Jurassic era, the Apatosaurus is an ancient herbivore that embodied all the significant characteristics of a sauropod: intimidating, plodding and colossal.

Key Facts

Apatosaurus pronunciationAh-Pat-Oh-Sore-Us
What does Apatosaurus mean?Deceptive lizard
Dinosaur typeSauropod
On the menuHerbivorous
Length21 meters (69 feet)
Height5 meters (16 feet)
Weight35 tons (about 70,000)
Life expectancy70-80 years
Legs used to get aroundQuadruped
Estimated top speed20 km/h (12.4 mph)
When they livedLate Jurassic era 154 to 145 million years ago
Where they have been found?USA

When & Where

In 1877 Arthur Lake and Henry C. Beckwith discovered the first Apatosaurus fossils in Colorado. The remains were analyzed at Yale University and the name Apatosaurus ajax was given to the new species. Professor of Paleontology Othniel Charles Marsh chose this name because of the animal’s chevron bones, which showed notable similarities with those of mosasaurs.

Size & Weight of the Apatosaurus

This dinosaur was large, had a long neck and an even longer tail. The herbivorous dinosaur had a length of approximately 21 meters and weighed about 35 tons, though estimates of their mass are highly varied. Some suggest they might’ve been heavier than some titanosaurs.

Mobility & Diet

The Apatosaurus was likely fully terrestrial. Typical of sauropods, they were relatively slow. Their trackways indicate that the Apatosaurus may have had a top speed of 20 to 30 km/h. Like all other theropods, they were herbivorous. Despite its long neck, they were likely not exclusively high-feeding. Their neck vertebrae had adapted for ground feeding as well.

Interesting Points on the Apatosaurus

  • Arthur Lake, who found the first remains, was not a paleontologist at all, he was a miner.
  • They likely had an immense amount of blood pressure to get blood all the way up their long necks.
  • It’s possible that it used its tail as a whip to scare off predators.
  • They were herbivorous, having specialized necks for both high-feeding and ground-feeding.