The apatosaurus was basically a slow-moving magnitude-4 earthquake. Paleontologist Philip Currie teamed up with Microsoft computer wizard Nathan Myrhvold to create a computer model of a living one, and together they found that the dinosaur's extremely long, tapered tail could be whipped at supersonic speeds -- a theory bolstered by the fact that the apatosaurus fossils they examined had an area of fused vertebrae near the end of the tail, indicating repeated stress. What does all this mean? Well, have you ever gone to a circus and seen a performer put on a show with a bullwhip? And do you remember the loud crack the whip made when snapped? That's because the loop of the whip breaks the sound barrier and produces a miniature sonic boom. Now, take that crack and amplify it by a factor of apatosaurus.
This basically entails hitting multiply over and over until the calculator breaks.
Of course, other paleontologists say the bullwhip theory is a bunch of bunk, and to those paleontologists we say, "Shhh, it's better this way. Some truths are not meant for man."
But just in case they're right, we feel obligated to supply you with equally awesome backup information: Brontomerus, rather cruelly translated to "thunder thighs," is a species of sauropod recently discovered in Utah. It had a massive bone in the upper part of its hip, and where there's a massive bone, there are also massive muscles attached to it. If apatosaurus was the dinosaurs' answer to Indy, brontomerus was their Pele: While most sauropods looked like defenseless walking buffets of exposed neck meat, scientists believe that if you were to call a brontomerus "thunder thighs" to its face, you could have found yourself on the receiving end of a full-bore dinosaur punt, pictured here, in the single best paleontological rendering ever commissioned.
Francisco GascÃ³, via Smithsonian
"I SAID I'M SENSITIVE ABOUT MY FIGURE!!"