Brontosaurus vs. Diplodocus: Know the Difference
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on November 10, 2023
Brontosaurus was a large, heavy-set sauropod, while Diplodocus was more slender with a longer tail and neck.
The Brontosaurus, meaning "thunder lizard," was a massive, long-necked dinosaur from the Late Jurassic period. It had a strong, heavy body, with a robust neck and larger, bulkier proportions. Diplodocus, on the other hand, known for its characteristic double-beam tail, was also a long-necked dinosaur from the same period, but it boasted a more elongated frame and was generally more slender than the Brontosaurus.
Diplodocus is distinguishable from Brontosaurus by its incredibly long tail and neck, which were proportionally longer than those of Brontosaurus. While both dinosaurs are sauropods, the Diplodocus's skeletal structure was lighter and more gracile, suggesting it was better adapted to a different ecological niche than the sturdier Brontosaurus.
Fossils of Brontosaurus have been primarily found in the Morrison Formation of North America, indicating its habitat. Diplodocus fossils, which are found in the same geographic region, suggest that despite coexisting, they may have had different feeding habits and social behaviors to minimize competition.
The Brontosaurus had larger, broader feet and its legs were stout, which supported its greater weight. Diplodocus, conversely, had more narrow feet, and its legs were comparatively slender, allowing for different locomotive capabilities and feeding strategies between the two genera.
Both Brontosaurus and Diplodocus are iconic in the world of paleontology, capturing the public's fascination with their massive sizes and distinctive shapes. They have been subjects of numerous studies aiming to understand sauropod biology, paleoecology, and evolution.
Heavier and robust
Slender and elongated
Neck and Tail Length
Shorter neck and tail
Longer neck and tail
Stout legs and larger feet
Slender legs and narrower feet
Morrison Formation, North America
Same, but suggests different ecologies
Brontosaurus and Diplodocus Definitions
A genus of large sauropod dinosaurs.
The Brontosaurus roamed the earth during the Jurassic period.
Renowned for its lengthy tail and neck.
The Diplodocus could probably reach high branches thanks to its neck.
Characterized by its large, heavy build.
Children are often amazed by the size of a Brontosaurus when they first see a reconstruction.
Exhibits a more slender build than some sauropods.
Compared to the Brontosaurus, the Diplodocus had a more graceful appearance.
Known for its massive body and long neck.
The museum displayed a Brontosaurus skeleton in the central hall.
A genus of long-necked, whip-tailed sauropods.
The Diplodocus was one of the longest dinosaurs ever discovered.
Name means "thunder lizard."
The Brontosaurus was named for the earth-shaking effect it might have made while moving.
Its name translates to "double beam," referencing its tail bones.
The tail of the Diplodocus had unique double-beamed chevron bones.
Once mistakenly thought to be the same as Apatosaurus.
The Brontosaurus has been reclassified as a distinct genus from Apatosaurus.
Lived during the Late Jurassic period.
The Diplodocus and the Brontosaurus shared the same time period.
A very large herbivorous sauropod dinosaur of the genus Diplodocus of the Jurassic Period, having a long neck and tail and a small head, and hind legs longer than the front legs.
One of the largest land animals to ever walk the earth; a Brontosaurus.
Any of several herbivorous sauropod dinosaurs, of the genus Diplodocus, known as fossils from the late Jurassic in North America.
A genus of large sauropod American dinosaurs of the jurassic era, or an individual of that genus. A length of sixty feet is believed to have been attained by these reptiles. The genus is also called Apatosaurus, and individuals of the genus are also called brontosaurs.
Huge quadrupedal herbivore with long neck and tail; of late Jurassic in western North America
Huge quadrupedal herbivorous dinosaur common in North America in the late Jurassic
Repeatedly Asked Queries
How long was Brontosaurus?
Brontosaurus could reach lengths of up to 72 feet (22 meters).
When did Brontosaurus live?
Brontosaurus lived during the Late Jurassic period, about 156-146 million years ago.
What did Brontosaurus eat?
Brontosaurus was a herbivore, feeding on plants.
When did Diplodocus live?
Diplodocus lived around the same time as Brontosaurus, in the Late Jurassic.
What does the name Brontosaurus mean?
The name Brontosaurus means "thunder lizard."
How was Brontosaurus discovered?
Brontosaurus was first discovered in the 1870s by Othniel Charles Marsh.
What does the name Diplodocus mean?
The name Diplodocus means "double beam," referring to its tail vertebrae.
Who discovered Diplodocus?
Diplodocus was discovered by S. W. Williston in 1877.
Is the Brontosaurus the largest dinosaur?
No, Brontosaurus is not the largest, but it was among the largest land animals.
Was Brontosaurus a social animal?
Some evidence suggests that Brontosaurus may have lived in herds.
How long could Diplodocus get?
Diplodocus could grow up to about 90 feet (27 meters) long.
Are there any Brontosaurus species?
Yes, there are several species like Brontosaurus excelsus.
How did Brontosaurus move?
Brontosaurus moved on all fours, with its massive legs supporting its weight.
What distinguishes Diplodocus from other sauropods?
Diplodocus is distinguished by its extremely long tail and neck.
Did Brontosaurus and Diplodocus have predators?
Yes, they had predators like Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus.
What's a key feature of Diplodocus' skull?
Diplodocus had a skull with nostrils on top and peg-like teeth.
Where have Brontosaurus fossils been found?
Brontosaurus fossils have been found primarily in the Morrison Formation of Western USA.
What kind of habitat did Diplodocus live in?
Diplodocus likely lived in semi-arid environments with seasonal wetlands.
Could Diplodocus raise its neck vertically?
It's debated, but the structure suggests Diplodocus had a more horizontal neck posture.
How many Diplodocus species are known?
There are a few species, with Diplodocus longus being the type species.
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Written byShumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.