One of the best known Dinosaurs is Brachiosaurus, who was featured in the move, “Jurassic Park,” (Spielberg, 1993). This giraffe-like Dinosaur blew snot out of his nasal opening in the middle of his forehead, onto the people below. Small wonder since Brachiosaurus belonged to the Family of Dinosaurs called Macronaria, who are noted for their long necks and big noses.
However, the movie got the function of this opening wrong. The big hole on the forehead of Brachiosaurus was probably not used for blowing snot out. The nasal opening at the end of his snout was for that. The hole in his forehead had other uses: what they were are hotly debated by modern paleontologists. The earliest naturalists believed that it acted as a snorkel since they thought that Brachiosaurus lived underwater. When that theory was proven false, then the scientists said that the forehead cavity was for breathing and blowing out snot. When that hypothesis was questioned, some paleontologists then reasoned that the tissue in the opening was a thermostat to regulate heat. Others think that perhaps it was used as a sound sac. More than likely, his forehead opening probably had multiple uses.
Discovered in Colorado in 1900, Brachiosaurus (which means “arm reptile”) was named by Elmer Riggs, a noted paleontologist, three years later. In examining the fossil bones, he noted that they resembled a modern giraffe’s skeleton. In fact, this Dinosaur is known for having the longest front legs of any animal. (They were higher than his rear legs.) With his steeply sloping back and long neck, Brachiosaurus did resemble a giraffe. Since He was the first of his type of Dinosaur to be discovered, other similar fossils were usually classified with Him, which led to some confusion. For example, Giraffatitan, found in Tanzania, by Werner Janensch in 1906, has been the object of intense debate. Are Giraffatitan and Brachiosaurus, the same or different species? Adding to this debate is that much of what people know about Brachiosaurus comes from studying Giraffatitan.
In reconstructing his life, paleontologists think that Brachiosaurus did live like a giraffe. With his immense height and long neck, He could graze the tops of trees. To pump blood so high up to his head, Brachiosaurus probably had the same circulatory system as Giraffe. Unlike Giraffe though, Brachiosaurus had a sharp claw on the inner toe on each of his feet. With it, he could uproot plants for eating.
Seeing beyond the obvious is what Brachiosaurus teaches. The big hole on his forehead first encouraged people to imagine Him snorkeling under the water. Later they believed He blew snot out of it. Today, scientists are not really sure what all of its uses are. Brachiosaurus encourages people not to assume the obvious, but to investigate and ask questions. Remember that just because He is tall, does not mean that Brachiosaurus plays basketball.