Apatosaurus Was a Deceptive Dinosaur

Apatosaurus means “deceptive lizard,” and a short cartoon offers a new interpretation of that name

Feedloader (Clickability)

Apatosaurus means “deceptive lizard.” It’s really the perfect name for the bulky Jurassic sauropod. “Brontosaurus“—a dinosaurian fan favorite whose memory lives on even after being relegated to the taxonomic dustbin—turned out to be a species of Apatosaurus, and for decades, paleontologists assigned the wrong head to Apatosaurus because of a confused view of who the dinosaur was most closely related to. Apatosaurus continues to play tricks. The sauropod tracks placed behind the American Museum of Natural History’s Apatosaurus skeleton were actually made by much different sauropods that lived millions of years later.

The cartoon series “I’m a Dinosaur” presents a different interpretation of the sauropod’s name. A grey, blunt-headed Apatosaurus—who sounds like the Jurassic precursor to Mortimer Snerd—tells the tale, while delivering a few basic facts along the way.

Apatosaurus isn’t the only dinosaur to present a short cartoon autobiography. The same series also features a regal Tyrannosaurus, a Baryonyx suffering ennui, and an anxious Beipiaosaurus who dreams of flying. The educational content is pretty thin—generally how big the dinosaurs were, where they lived and what they ate—but this is cartoon kid’s stuff, after all.

Then again, if Apatosaurus is such a deceptive dinosaur, why should we believe anything he says?

Get the latest Science stories in your inbox.