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A Juvenile Apatosaurus Makes Its Debut

Many newly hatched sauropods were so diminutive that they could have stood in the palm of your hand. A new reconstruction goes on display this month

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The reconstructed skeletal cast of the juvenile Apatosaurus that will go on display at the Sam Noble Museum. Photo courtesy the Sam Noble Museum.

Sauropod dinosaurs were some of the largest animals to walk the earth, but they started off small. Many newly hatched sauropods were so diminutive that they could have stood in the palm of your hand. It’s easy to forget this fact. Both because juvenile sauropod specimens are rare and because museums often make room for only the most impressive specimens, dinosaur exhibits the world over often feature the remains of adult (or near-adult) animals without providing any indication of how the behemoths started their lives. Now, with the addition of a small Apatosaurus, Oklahoma’s Sam Noble Museum will be among the exceptions.

The Sam Noble Museum will introduce the public to the reconstructed skeletal cast of a juvenile Apatosaurus on Friday, October 15. The dinosaur, which stands just under three feet high, will be placed beneath a much larger representative of the same genus in the museum’s “Clash of the Titans” centerpiece. According to a press release announcing the specimen’s unveiling, the cast is principally based on the bones of an incomplete young Apatosaurus found in Oklahoma by paleontologist John Willis Stovall in the 1930s. As far as I am aware, there is only one other baby Apatosaurus on display, an even smaller reconstructed skeletal cast nicknamed “Ajax” at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.

About Brian Switek
Brian Switek

Brian Switek is a freelance science writer specializing in evolution, paleontology, and natural history. He writes regularly for National Geographic's Phenomena blog as Laelaps.

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