Role-playing reviews

Reviews related to role-playing games, with a focus on Gods & Monsters, and a bit of superhero gaming.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

Bronto burgers for everyone!

Jerry Stratton, April 12, 2015

Grinning Brontosaurus

Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

In my article “The Yellow Forest” for Fight On! issue 9, one of the encounters under the dinosaur breakout table was d6 brontosauri. The editors changed this to d6 apatosauri, keeping the faux-plural but using the generally-accepted replacement of the great thundering brontosaurus with the deceptive apatosaurus.

It’s a disappointment I’ve learned to live with. Ever since discovering that the brontosaurus, the great thunder lizard, never existed, I’ve refused to believe it, refused to replace it in my childish thoughts with the deceptive lizard.

Now I have been vindicated:

After spending more than a century dismissed as a mislabeled Apatosaurus, Brontosaurus may be getting its identity back… The original Brontosaurus excelsus (meaning “thunder lizard”) was named in 1879. But in 1903, paleontologists decided that Brontosaurus excelsus was so similar to species in the Apatosaurus genus that it belonged there as well.

A small number of paleontologists have been campaigning for the dinosaur’s restoration since the 1990s, says Mossbrucker. “I certainly agree with the analysis that Brontosaurus excelsus deserves to be recognized as its own genus.”

The paleontologists pored over 81 skeletons of diplodocids and related dinosaurs, comparing more than 400 features in the animals’ bones. Instead of taking any species for granted, the team tallied up similarities between individual specimens.

“We can see which specimens group together and have particular characteristics that help identify them as a species,” says study coauthor Emanuel Tschopp, a paleontologist at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa in Monte de Caparica, Portugal. In most cases, the original designations about species held true, he said.

But the original Brontosaurus was distinct enough to deserve its own genus separate from Apatosaurus.

I’ve stuck with the old name because brontosaurus is so much richer a name than apatosaurus. Even its derivation evokes the image of great monsters thundering across the prehistoric world. The derivation of apatosaurus just confirms that scientists are easily confused.

So welcome back, brontosaurus. I knew you had it in you. It is somewhat ironic that this news comes out just a few days after I picked up a “definitive” guide to prehistoric life. In science, a few days is the difference between definitive and overturned.

Now if we can just restore Pluto to its former glory…

In response to Prehistoric life: The Definitive Visual History of Life on Earth: This lavishly illustrated book is a great resource for Guides wanting to go prehistoric on their players.