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ALL ABOUT DINOSAURS!
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Simple Brachiosaurus Printout
Brachiosaurus Skeleton Printout
Brachiosaurus Questions and Answers
Brachiosaurus Fact Sheet
Brachiosaurus walked on four legs and, like the other Brachiosaurids and unlike most dinosaurs, its front legs were longer than its hind legs. These unusual front legs together with its very long neck gave Brachiosaurus a giraffe-like stance and great height, up to 40-50 feet (12-16 m) tall.
Brachiosaurus was about 85 feet (26 m) long, and weighed about 33-88 tons (30-80 tonnes). It had a claw on the first toe of each front foot and claws on the first three toes of each rear foot (each foot had five toes with fleshy pads).
Like other Brachiosaurids, it had chisel-like teeth, its nostrils were on the top of its head, and it had large nasal openings indicating that it may have had a good sense of smell. Brachiosaurus had 26 teeth on its top jaw and 26 on the bottom for a total of 52 teeth towards the front of the mouth.
Among the contemporaries of Brachiosaurus were other giant Sauropods including Camarasaurus, Supersaurus, Ultrasauros, and Haplocanthosaurus.
Brachiosaurus was a terrestrial animal. It was assumed for many years that giant sauropods spent most of their time in water, letting the water support their weighty bodies while breathing through their lofty nostrils. Now it is believed that they were fully terrestrial, just as Elmer S. Riggs, who first described Brachiosaurus, argued in a 1904 article. He believed, as most modern scientists do, that Brachiosaurus' feet and limbs were not broad enough to support the heavy animal in mud, that its back was flexible enough to support it on land, and that its chest was narrow and deep, which is insufficient for breathing underwater, and inconsistent with modern-day water-dwelling large animals (like hippos).
A healthy, adult Brachiosaurus probably had no predators. The largest-known meat-eaters from that time (the late Jurassic period) and place (North America and Africa) were Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus, and Torvosaurus. These theropods were less than half the size of Brachiosaurus, and probably had much easier prey to hunt (like smaller sauropods and ornithischians like stegosaurs).
BLOOD PRESSURE PROBLEMS
Brachiosaurus and some of the other large sauropods (the huge long-necked plant-eaters) needed to have large, powerful hearts and very high blood pressure in order to pump blood up the long neck to the head and brain. The heads (and brains) of Brachiosaurus was held high (many meters) above its heart. This presents a problem in blood-flow engineering. In order to pump enough oxygenated blood to the head to operate Brachiosaurus' brain (even its tiny sauropod brain) would require a large, powerful heart, tremendously high blood pressure, and wide, muscular blood vessels with many valves (to prevent the back-flow of blood). Brachiosaurus' blood pressure was probably over 400 mm Mercury, three or four times as high as ours.
(and Other Prehistoric Creatures)
For brief dinosaur fact sheets, click here.
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