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Brachiosaurus (Nobu Tamura)


Brachiosaurus (Greek for "arm lizard"); pronounced BRACK-ee-oh-SORE-us


Woodlands of Europe, North Africa, and North America

Historical Period:

Late Jurassic (150 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 85 feet long and 30-40 tons



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Extremely long neck; tiny head; longer front than hind limbs


About Brachiosaurus:

One of the most popular of all dinosaurs, for a long time Brachiosaurus was thought to be the biggest dinosaur of them all--but in recent years it has been outclassed by even larger sauropods like Argentinosaurus and Sauroposeidon. In fact, compared to some of these giants, Brachiosaurus was petite, "only" stretching about 85 feet from head to tail and weighing in the vicinity of 50 tons. (See 10 Facts About Brachiosaurus and a gallery of Brachiosaurus pictures.)

Aside from its enormous, elephant-dwarfing girth, the most noticeable feature of Brachiosaurus was its extremely long (about 30 feet for an adult) neck. Most paleontologists think this indicates that Brachiosaurus led a giraffe-like lifestyle, nibbling the tops of tall trees, but there's some disagreement about whether this sauropod's heart would have been powerful enough to pump blood to that height. (An alternative theory is that Brachiosaurus extended its neck parallel to the ground, like the hose of a vacuum cleaner, and used its long tail as a counterweight.)

It was once thought that the nostrils of Brachiosaurus were located on top of its head, but now it appears that they punctuated the end of its snout, just as in other land creatures. (By the way, paleontologists also once thought that Brachiosaurus lived underwater, the better to support its enormous weight, and stuck out its head like a snorkel--one of the biggest dinosaur blunders of all time.) Read How Was Brachiosaurus Discovered? for the in-depth details of this dinosaur's tangled history.

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