Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/487

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

the vertebræ, limb-bones, etc., of the brontosaurus, which have been found in these beds. If, according to these remains, we make a restoration of the whole skeleton, the result is an animal of about sixty feet in length. But this is not all. The bone of the upper hind-leg, the femur, of the brontosaurus is smaller than six feet.

PSM V34 D487 Skull of ceratosaurus.jpg
Fig. 6.—Skull of Ceratosaurus, one seventh natural size.

But in the same museum there is, besides other remains, the femur of a very similar dinosaur, found in the same beds, which is about eight feet long, and belonged to an animal the length of which has been estimated at from eighty to a hundred feet. It has been called atlantosaurus, on account of its size. This atlantosaurus must have been a beast able to sweep down an elephant with a stroke of its tail as a crocodile would a dog. Of all the known land-animals, living or fossil ones, it is the largest, and it is probable that Nature reached a limit in producing land-animals of this size.

If we compare with the atlantosaurus the smallest known dinosaurs, we find an enormous difference. In the lithographic lime-stones of Solenhofen, in Bavaria, which have yielded so many well-preserved and interesting animals of the Jurassic formation, a dinosaur has also been found. This animal, called compsognathus, had posterior legs which were much longer than the anterior limbs. It therefore probably walked or hopped on its hind-legs like a kangaroo or a bird, and altogether, with its long neck and small head, must have resembled a good deal the birds of the same period.

The name of dinosaurs means terrible saurians (δεινός, terrible); and, indeed, the aspect of animals like the atlantosaurus and others was probably such as to justify this name. One of the oddest-looking creatures of this order must have been an animal called