Remember how Prince went from being Prince to the Artist Formerly Known as Prince (aka that symbol thing) to the artist formerly known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince (i.e. back to just Prince)? Same thing just happened to the brontosaurus — brontos are back and they're ready to rock the Super Bowl!
That is to say that new research has made it so that we again can call brontosauruses brontosauruses and not apatosauruses, as killjoys have been urging us to do for years. Rejoice! Saying words just got a little more fun.
Despite being iconic sauropods for many '80s children, it has long been the contention of the scientific community that brontosauruses, the thunder lizards of our hearts and imaginations, never actually existed, per se. You're supposed to call them apatosaurus, just like you're supposed to eat your vegetables and you're supposed to do your homework (yuck). It was in 1903 that a paleontologist named Elmer Riggs started shaming people into using a much less enjoyable word for brontos, explains Wired:
The mistake, he said, was in the number of sacrum bones (where the tail attaches to the spinal cord). The Apatosaurus sacrum was made of three bones, while the Brontosaurus had five. Rather than being different species, Riggs contended the Brontosaurus was just a younger version of the Apatosaurus, and the sacrum bones would have fused together as the dinosaur aged (bone fusing happens in many species, including humans). According to Riggs, the two skeletons were the same species.
It took decades for this to actually stick—in 1989, the U.S. Post Office issued a series of dinosaur stamps and was criticized by scientists for including the brontosaurus in its lineup.
The postal service responded to criticism in a statement: "Although now recognized by the scientific community as Apatosaurus, the name Brontosaurus was used for the stamp because it is more familiar to the general population."
Well fuck you all with a dino dick because the Post Office was right. It once again appears that brontosaurus is its own genus. From that same Wired piece:
By cross-referencing the digitized bones from hundreds of long-necked cousins, a team of European scientists now says that they’ve identified enough unique anatomical details to reinstate the Brontosaurus at the head of its own genus. That’s not all. “The real importance of this paper is this is the first time that this group of sauropods have been analyzed in a big fashion,” says Mark Norell, the top paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
The world is a slightly better place today than it was yesterday.