The Brontosaurus 'is back'

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The Brontosaurus Is Back

The world's most iconic dinosaur -- and the largest to ever roam the earth -- is finally getting some respect from science.

We were all taught to identify the long-necked Brontosaurus through kindergarten coloring books, beloved childrens' toys and films over the years -- but until now, all those teachers and pop culture classics were technically mischaracterizing the dino, or at the very least, jumping the gun.

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The Brontosaurus 'is back'
 Brontosaurus (Apatosaurus ajax), Diplodocidae, Late Jurassic. Artwork by James Robins. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

brontosaurus skeleton

photo: ilbusca via Getty Images

Brontosaurus (Apatosaurus ajax), Diplodocidae, Late Jurassic. Artwork by James Robins. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

Dinny, 150 ft long apatosaurus at the Cabazon dinosaur park, Cabazon, California

(photo: Ron Levine via Getty Images)

Brontosaurus (Apatosaurus ajax), Diplodocidae, Late Jurassic. Illustration. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
A life-sized animatronic dinosaur is seen at Field Station: Dinosaurs, a 20-acre outdoor Jurassic learning expedition and family tourist attraction in Secaucus, N.J. on Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision for Field Station: Dinosaurs/AP)
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For the past century, paleontologists have favored the less-sexy 'Apatosaurus' name for the late Jurassic species.

The saga began in the 1870s. Rival paleontologists raced to name new discoveries in what was known as "The Bone Wars." Two dinos' bones were found within a few years, but in 1903, scientists decided the two were basically the same, and Apatosaurus won out.

Now, paleontologists are advocating for a Brontosaurus revival. A new study out of Portugal reveals the two actually are different enough to be classified separately.

According to lead author Emanuel Tschopp, "Generally, Brontosaurus can be distinguished from Apatosaurus most easily by its neck, which is higher and less wide. So, although both are very massive and robust animals, Apatosaurus is even more extreme than Brontosaurus."

That means Brontosaurus, otherwise known as the "Thunder Lizard," is "back from extinction" -- so to speak.

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