Brontosaurus Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Cheryl Likins

An experienced middle school and adult education instructor, Cheryl taught science, business and humanities courses. She completed doctoral work in science.

Fossils of ''Brontosaurus'' are displayed in museums. Movies and cartoons made ''Brontosaurus'' the star of the show. But, what do we really know about this dinosaur that no longer exists? Keep reading to find out.

Thundering Lizard

Just imagine an animal about four times the size of an elephant. We don't have anything like this walking the Earth today, but many years ago these gigantic creatures were here. The dinosaur Brontosaurus was bigger than any animal that we will ever see in our lifetimes. But we're lucky that we can at least read about them.

The name Brontosaurus means 'thundering lizard'. This name probably referred to the way the Earth shook when Brontosaurus walked. However, not everyone agrees about the name of this dinosaur. Brontosaurus was first named in 1879 by scientist Othniel Charles Marsh, who found the fossils or the bones remaining from the dinosaur. In 1903 another scientist, Elmer Riggs, thought that this kind of dinosaur had already been named Apatosaurus, which means 'deceptive lizard'.

Brontosaurus Skeleton
Skeleton Brontosaurus

Now some scientists think that the fossils of these dinosaurs are so unalike that they must be two totally different species of dinosaur: Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus. It may be a long time before most scientists agree about this.

What Kind of Dinosaur was Brontosaurus?

No one really knows what Brontosaurus' personality was like. We do know, however, that Brontosaurus was a sauropod. These were giant dinosaurs that had very long necks and small heads. Sauropods lived about 150 million years ago during a time called the Jurassic period. Our friend Brontosaurus was one of the larger sauropods.

Brontosaurus was about 75 feet tall and weighed 23 tons. Some cars weigh about one or two tons, so this dinosaur weighed about the equivalent of 23 small cars! In addition to its long neck and small head, Brontosaurus had four thick legs and a massive, 50-foot tail.


Food and Habitat

Brontosaurus lived in western North America in the area where Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Oklahoma are right now.

These dinosaurs had peg-like teeth that were not very sharp. They ate only plants. They would rip leaves and even whole branches from the trees using their teeth, but they could not chew with them. This hungry dinosaur likely ate many of them.

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