Although it’s already one of the most legendary dinosaurs in history, the Brontosaurus hasn’t been an officially recognized dinosaur in more than a century. Originally discovered in 1879, the Brontosaurus was declassified soon after as a younger specimen of the closely related Apatosaurus genus.
That’s about to change. A team of paleontologists recently carried out the largest-ever fossil analysis of the Diplodocidae family — the family to which the Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus belong. Their findings? The Brontosaurus is a unique genus after all. Scientists are now seeking to reclassify the famously long-necked dinosaur. Experts say the big change should take effect by 2020.
According to Wired:
Apatosaurus and (the off again, on again) Brontosaurus are both Diplodocidae, a family of dinos characterized by long necks, short legs, and thin, whip-like tails. As with all long-extinct creatures, piecing together their family tree is a pain in the ass. And owing to size, the diplodocids are especially hard to study. Paleontologists build their taxonomies by looking for subtle clues in fossil bones—a neck bone with a slightly different ratio of length to width, or a shoulder blade that’s a slightly more square shaped. Based on the percentage of these similarities and differences, scientists can determine taxonomy—which fossils are different individuals of the same species, which are species in the same genus, and which are distinct genera within the same family.