One of the most iconic dinosaurs, the Brachiosaurus has made appearances in countless magazines and films, most notably the 1993 movie “Jurassic Park”. This giraffe-like herbivore was once considered the largest land animal that has ever existed.

Key Facts

Brachiosaurus pronunciationBrae-Kee-Uh-Saw-Ruhs
What does Brachiosaurus mean?Arm lizard
Dinosaur typeSauropod
On the menuHerbivorous
Length23 meters (75 feet)
Height6 meters (20 feet)
Weight35 tons (about 70,000 lbs)
Life expectancy100 years
Legs used to get aroundQuadrupedal
Estimated top speed16 km/h (10 mph)
When they livedLate Jurassic era 161.2-145 million years ago
Where they have been found?Tanzania, Algeria, Portugal and USA.

When & Where

In 1900, paleontologist Elmer S. Riggs and his crew discovered a partial postcranial skeleton in the valley of the Colorado River. Upon coming across the large humerus of the holotype specimen, he and his crew were convinced erroneously that they had found the biggest land animal ever. Riggs named the genus Brachiosaurus, meaning “arm lizard”, in reference to the dinosaur’s long arms.

Size & Weight

The Brachiosaurus is famous for once being considered the largest land animal that has ever lived. It is now known, however, that larger and more massive sauropods existed. The Brachiosaurus was more than 20 meters in length. Its weight, however, has been notoriously difficult to determine. Estimates have ranged from 28 tons to 58 tons.

Mobility & Diet

The dominant view throughout the 19th century was that heavy sauropods, like the Brachiosaurus, spent most of their lives partially submerged in water because they were unable to support their own weight on land. Elmer S. Riggs was the first one to compellingly argue that they were fully terrestrial, pointing out the lack of analog organs between sauropods and aquatic animals. The Brachiosaurus would’ve been particularly suitable for life on dry land, due to its slender limbs and high chest. Like all other sauropods, the Brachiosaurus was herbivorous.

Interesting Points

  • In the species name “B. altithorax”, the specific name means “deep chest”.
  • The expedition leading to the discovery of the holotype specimen was made possible by curator Oliver Cummings Farrington, who wanted to add a large sauropod skeleton to his collection.
  • The Brachiosaurus lived approximately 150 million years ago in North America, Europe and Africa.
  • The Brachiosaurus is thought to have been a “high-feeder” like giraffes, feeding on tree leaves nearly 10 meters high.