Horrible sauropod skulls of the Yale Peabody Museum, part 2: Brontosaurus; and no, I do not mean Apatosaurus

April 15, 2014

How can it be?

IMG_0517

All credit to the Yale Peabody Museum for having the courage to display this historically important object in their public gallery instead of hiding it in a basement. It’s the skull from the original mount of the Brontosaurus (= Apatosaurus) excelsus holotype YPM 1980.

Needless to say, it bears no resemblance at all to the actual skull of Apatosaurus, and the one they now have on the mount is much, much better:

IMG_0500-skull

But how did the YPM people ever arrive at this double-plus-ugly skull above? We see a similar skull in Marsh’s (1891) second attempt at restoring the skeleton of Brontosaurus:

Marsh1891-plateXVI-Apatosaurus-skull

But even this is not as ugly and Just Plain Wrong as the physical model they made. (Marsh’s first restoration of the Brontosaurus skeleton, in 1893, had a much less clear skull.)

So how did the YPM come to make such a monstrosity? What was it based on? Tune in next time for the surprising details!

Bizarrely, we’ve never really featured the  YPM 1980 mount here on SV-POW! — we’ve often shown individual bones, but the mounted skeleton appears only in the background of the much less impressive Morosaurus (= Camarasaurus) lentus mount. We’ll fix that real soon.

 

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7 Responses to “Horrible sauropod skulls of the Yale Peabody Museum, part 2: Brontosaurus; and no, I do not mean Apatosaurus


  1. […] after being subjected to the horror of the Yale Brontosaurus skull, I figured you all deserved a little […]


  2. “So how did the YPM come to make such a monstrosity? What was it based on? Tune in next time for the surprising details!”

    But… but was it based on? I still want to know.

  3. Mike Taylor Says:

    I have a draft post, unfinished, on this subject. (Actually, it’s unstarted, too — it’s just a placeholder so I don’t forget to write the post.) It should be along fairly soon.


  4. […] while back, Ben Miller reminded me that when I posted about the old Yale “Brontosaurus” skull, I […]


  5. […] your lot for now. We’ve long promised a proper photo post of the Brontosaurus mount itself, and I’ll try to get that done soon. For […]


  6. […] we described in a previous post, this skull was also apparently the inspiration for the horrible, horrible sculpted skull that was originally used on the mounted Brontosaurus. (And let me reiterate my praise of the Yale […]


  7. […] skull has never been found, only extrapolated from other sauropods (like the Apatosaurus) or extrapolated from completely the wrong animal. I was very upset when the people smarter than me decided that the brontosaurus wasn’t really […]


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