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The Apatosaurus, whose name means "deceptive lizard" in Greek was one of
the largest land animals ever. For many years, this dinosaur was sometimes

What did they look like?
The Apatosaurus was one of the largest land creatures that have ever lived.
They were 20-27 metres in length, 3-5 metres in height and weighed an
enormous 30-35 tonnes! This is over 6 times heavier than an elephant!

They walked on four legs with a big muscular body, but a much smaller head
attached on a long neck. They held their tail up a little above the ground as
they moved. The main purpose of this tail was to make sure that the
dinosaur would not fall over due to its heavy long neck. It was also used for
defence against predators. Their heads were long and narrow.

What did they eat?
They were herbivores - that is, they ate plants. They used their long necks to
reach up into trees to get leaves and branches. They could not chew, most
scientists think that they swallowed stones called gastroliths to help grind the
food in their stomach!

When did they live?
They lived in the late Jurassic Period, about 157-146 million years ago.

Where did they live?
When they were first discovered, scientists believed that because of their
large size they could not live on land. So they would have to walk in water
with their heads sticking out. Now scientists think that this is not true – no
bones were found in any ancient watery places. They most likely lived near
river banks where they could find both water and trees. They could not live in
the forests, because they were simply too big to walk around in a forest!

Their fossils have been found in Colorado, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming,
in the USA, North America.

How were they discovered?
Professor Othniel Marsh discovered parts of the first fossils of a young
Apatosaurus in 1877. The first Apatosaurus skeletons were found without
heads. Because of the confusion with the Brontosaurus, the head of
Apatosaurus was not conclusively identified until 1972. By this time many
examples of the correct head had been found. Apatosaurus means
"deceptive lizard," because its fossils were so similar to those of other

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