145572178 e13fb86ac7 o

As seen in Walking With Dinosaurs Special - The Ballad of Big Al.

Apatosaurus lived during the Late Jurassic of North America, 154-145 Million Years Ago, during the Kimmeridgian and the Tithonian Stages. It belongs to the Diplodocidae Sauropods, obviously a relative of Diplodocus. Apatosaurus, means "Deceptive Lizard", in Latin/Greek. It was a 23-27 Metre Long, bulky 35-40 tonne Sauropod; a 'fortress of flesh'.

Apatosaurus formed into herds and probably migrated looking for food throughout the year from area to area. They were a particularly thickset, heavily built Diplodocid, far bulkier than their gracile relatives, Diplodocus.

They were, like virtually all Sauropods, obligate quadrupeds, meaning they always had to walk on all fours (unless briefly rearing up on their hind legs, to reach for higher vegetation or to threaten predators such as Allosaurus)

Only the young, injured, sick or old were at risk of predation. On the other hand, a lone Allosaurus, or even a pack, could stand little chance of taking on a fully grown and mature Apatosaurus, hence why they would likely target smaller, weaker and generally more vulnerable animals. Herds of adults and sub-adults would collectively have weighed hundreds of tonnes, all moving together. Individual adults at full size, would weigh as much as anything between 4 and sometimes even 6 or 7 African Elephants for the very largest individual Apatosaurus specimens! Apatosaurus are classic Late Jurassic Sauropods.

Apatosaurus ajax (type) A-pat-oh-sore-us 23-27 metres USA,‭ ‬Colorado,‭ ‬Oklahoma,‭ ‬Utah and Wyoming.
louisae 23-27 metres
  • Name: Apatosaurus ‭(‬Deceptive lizard‭)‬.
  • Phonetic: A-pat-oh-sore-us.
  • Named By: Othniel Charles Marsh‭ ‬-‭ ‬1877.
  • Systematic Palaeontology/Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Dinosauria,‭ ‬Saurischia,‭ ‬Sauropodomorpha,‭ ‬Sauropoda,‭ ‬Diplodocidae,‭ ‬Apatosaurinae.
  • Species: A.‭ ‬ajax‭ (‬type‭)‬,‭ ‬A.‭ ‬louisae.
  • Diet: Herbivorous.
  • Size: Individuals roughly between 23-‬27‭ ‬meters long.
  • Known locations: USA,‭ ‬Colorado,‭ ‬Oklahoma,‭ ‬Utah and Wyoming.
  • Time Extant: Kimmeridgian to early Tithonian of the Jurassic.
  • Fossil representation: Many individuals,‭ ‬usually of partial remains.


Apatosaurus only appeared in the Walking With Dinosaurs Special - The Ballad of Big Al. In this, it receives two short scenes. Firstly, it is shown in the explanation of the various kinds of prey in Al's Late Jurassic World, seen moving across screen as a herd of Sap Green coloured (with a dappled pattern of lighter greens over this) Sauropods, described as being, "too large to attack, even for fully grown adult Allosaurus". The second and last time we see them is when a small herd of them are seen moving through deserts in a brief scene showing the plight of Big Al after his fatal fall. However, it could also be said that we also see the Apatosaurus before and after the story of Big Al plays out - as a skeleton in the Wyoming Geological Museum during the intro and the lead up to the end credits.

External/further reading for Apatosaurus (links and papers) Edit

Further reading (references)

  • Structure and Relationships of Opisthocoelian Dinosaurs. Part I, Apatosaurus Marsh - Publications of the Field Columbian Museum. Geological Series (2): 165–196. - Elmer Riggs - 1903.
  • Description of the palate and lower jaw of the sauropod dinosaur Diplodocus (Reptilia: Saurischia) with remarks on the nature of the skull of Apatosaurus. - Journal of Paleontology 49 (1): 187–199. - J. S. McIntosh & D. S. Berman - 1975.
  • Remarks on the North American sauropod Apatosaurus Marsh. - Sixth Symposium on Mesozoic Terrestrial Ecosystems and Biota, Short Papers, A. Sun and Y. Wang (eds.), China Ocean Press, Beijing 119–123 - J. S. McIntosh - 1995.
  • Ontogenetic histology of Apatosaurus (Dinosauria: Sauropoda): new insights on growth rates and longevity. - Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 19 (4): 654–665. - Kristina A. Curry - 1999.
  • Neck posture and feeding habits of two Jurassic sauropod dinosaurs. - Science 284 (5415): 798–800. - K. A. Stevens & J. M. Parrish - 1999.
  • A new method to calculate allometric length-mass relationships of dinosaurs. - Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 21: 51–52. - Frank Seebacher - 2001.
  • Dinosaurian growth patterns and rapid avian growth rates. - Nature 412 (6845): 429–33. - Gregory, M. Erickson, Kristina Curry Rogers & Scott A. Yerby - 2001.
  • A new specimen of Apatosaurus ajax (Sauropoda: Diplodocidae) from the Morrison Formation (Upper Jurassic) of Wyoming, USA. - National Science Museum monographs 26: i-118 ISSN:13429574. - Paul Upchurch, Yukimitsu Tomida, Paul M. Barrett - 2004.
  • Bully for Apatosaurus. - Endeavour 30 (4): 126–130. - P. Brinkman - 2006.
  • Burly Gaits: Centers of mass, stability, and the trackways of sauropod dinosaurs. - Journal of Vertebrae Paleontology 26 (4): 907–921. - Donald M. Henderson - 2006.
  • Inferences of diplodocoid (Sauropoda: Dinosauria) feeding behavior from snout shape and microwear snalyses. - In Farke, A. A. PLoS ONE 6 (4): e18304. - J. A. Whitlock - 2011.
  • Aging, Maturation and Growth of Sauropodomorph Dinosaurs as Deduced from Growth Curves Using Long Bone Histological Data: An Assessment of Methodological Constraints and Solutions. - PLoS ONE 8(6): e67012. - E. M. Griebler, N. Klein & P. M. Sander - 2013.
  • ‬A specimen-level phylogenetic analysis and taxonomic revision of - Diplodocidae‭ (‬Dinosauria, Sauropoda). - PeerJ 3:e857. - E.‭ ‬Tschopp, O. Mateus & R. B. J. Benson -2015.