Brachiosaurus is a genus of extremely large sauropod dinosaur in the family Brachiosauridae known from the late Jurassic period, 154 to 153 million years ago. The closely related genus Giraffatitan, which most popular depictions of Brachiosaurus are based on, lived during a slightly broader span of time ranging from 150 to 145 million years ago. The first of these two to be discovered was Brachiosaurus; its name means “arm reptile,” in reference to its characteristically long forelimbs. It was first discovered near Fruita, Colorado in 1900, a location that is now part of the Morrison Formation. The specimen consisted of a partial skeleton, lacking a head, but was immediately recognizable for its distinctive anatomical features. In 1901, it was described in a report by paleontologist Elmer S. Riggs, who had excavated the skeleton during the previous year. At the time, it appeared to be the largest-known dinosaur; it was named Brachiosaurus altithorax, meaning “high-chested arm reptile,” in 1903. Remains of this dinosaur are rare, but have been found in Colorado, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming.
Another species was discovered in 1906 by mining engineer Bernhard Wilhelm Sattler near the Tendaguru, a hill near Lindi in German West Africa (what is today Tanzania). The next year, the discovery had brought in paleontologist Professor Eberhard Fraas to investigate; research by German paleontologists at the Tendaguru would continue through 1912. The brachiosaur fossils themselves were excavated between 1909 and 1912, with the species being named Brachiosaurus brancai in 1914 by Werner Janensch. The specific epithet honors Carl Wilhelm Franz von Branca, the State Geologist for the Prussian Geological State Service, who considered the Tendaguru expeditions to be a matter of German national pride. A smaller, more poorly known species was later described as Brachiosaurus fraasi in honor of Eberhard Fraas.
The skull of Brachiosaurus was unknown until 1975, though it had actually been discovered far earlier. A skull discovered by Othniel Charles Marsh in 1883 was theorized by Jack McIntosh and David Berman in 1975 to have been classified incorrectly. McIntosh suggested that it might actually belong to Brachiosaurus, and this possibility was studied by Virginia Tidwell and Kenneth Carpenter over the next several years. In 1998, the skull was conclusively found to belong to Brachiosaurus, based on similarities to other brachiosaur skulls.
The validity of both Tanzanian species of Brachiosaurus was brought into question in 1991 by paleontologist George Olshevsky, who placed them into a new genus called Giraffatitan (intended to mean “titanic giraffe,” in reference to its giraffe-like posture). This was disregarded by many paleontologists until 2009, when paleontologist Michael P. Taylor supported the classification. It has been largely supported by the paleontological community since. The two genera are very similar, but can be distinguished by the larger size of vertebrae and longer, taller tail in Brachiosaurus.
Brachiosaurus fraasi is now considered to be the same species as Giraffatitan brancai, and neither genus is currently known to have any other species than those discussed above.
International Genetic Technologies, Inc. succeeded in cloning Brachiosaurus in approximately 1986 utilizing mosquitoes and other parasites found in Jurassic amber samples. The species cloned is said to be B. altithorax on the InGen IntraNet website, and is referred to as Brachiosaurus in material released after the African species was reclassified. This all suggests that InGen cloned the North American Brachiosaurus altithorax rather than the African Giraffatitan (formerly “Brachiosaurus“) brancai. However, as the physical appearance of InGen brachiosaurs resembles Giraffatitan, Jurassic-Pedia staff have traditionally listed it as B. “brancai“.
Brachiosaurus is famously among the largest of the dinosaurs, growing to heights of 52 feet (15.85 meters); including its neck, its total head-to-tail body length can reach 70.5 feet (21.5 meters) to 90 feet (27.4 meters). The neck alone reaches 30 feet (91 meters) long. An adult brachiosaur may weigh up to 60,000 pounds (27,215.5 kilograms), or thirty U.S. short tons. It is not the largest dinosaur known to science, though for around a century it was; today, larger dinosaur species have been discovered. It is the bulkiest dinosaur so far cloned by InGen, though it is not the longest, as this honor belongs to Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum. The marine reptile Mosasaurus maximus may grow longer than both if the conditions are proper, though it is not a species of dinosaur. Like all dinosaurs, Brachiosaurus is endothermic and maintains a warm internal body temperature. Its blood pressure is very high, about twice that of a giraffe’s, in order to pump blood from its huge, powerful heart all the way up to its brain.
Giraffatitan fossils are generally somewhat larger than those of Brachiosaurus, though InGen’s specimens have a size range that spans those of both genera. It has been suggested that genetic hybridization between these two genera of brachiosaurs may have taken place, but there is currently no confirmation or denial of the hypothesis.
The anatomy of brachiosaurs such as Brachiosaurus differs strikingly from that of other sauropods. Contrasting with the classical “brontosaurian” profile of genera such as Apatosaurus, this dinosaur’s front limbs are noticeably longer than its hind limbs. This places most of the dinosaur’s weight in the front of its body and gives its back a distinctive slope; its shoulders are placed higher than its hips, meaning that its already long neck starts at a greater height than other sauropods. It is able to rear up onto its hind legs (it is questionable whether the fossil animals could have done so), but it has little need to reach any higher than it already can, so it rarely does this.
Its neck is generally held mostly upright, though fossil remains indicate that a forty-five or sixty-degree angle would be more natural. The neck terminates in a proportionately small head, which has a shorter and wider snout than many other sauropods and tall nasal chambers forming a kind of crest. InGen’s Brachiosaurus has nostrils located on its broad forehead, which may or may not be a phenotypic error. Other skull features are fairly normal of sauropods; the teeth are chisel-like and the eyes possess birdlike, round pupils and orange sclerae. Brachiosaurs have excellent color vision and can distinguish different patterns, even responding emotionally to certain patterns and colors over others. Its jaw is more mammalian than dinosaurian, however, permitting it to chew its food unlike its fossil counterparts. The tongue is thick, somewhat pointed, and usually a pinkish color.
Like most sauropods, the front and hind feet have differing numbers of toes. On the front feet, Brachiosaurus has only one clawed toe; the hind feet have three visibly clawed toes and one toe that lacks a claw. The remaining toes on all of its feet are harder to distinguish and may not appear visible. All four of its limbs are extremely powerful and pillar-like, necessary adaptations to support this huge animal’s weight. The body is thick and barrel-shaped, though it narrows toward the hips; its tail is comparatively short, unlike the long, sinuous tails of other sauropods like Mamenchisaurus and Apatosaurus.
Two color morphs are known in Brachiosaurus. The best-known morph, though it was historically less common, exhibits a yellowish tan, gray, or brown coloration over most of its body; the underside is often countershaded with lighter brown or tan. There may be teal or turquoise patterning on the nasal dome. The second morph, which was once much more common, is a tan or beige color with yellow mottling over the entire body, including darker striping on the necks of some individuals; there is also countershading in this morph. The nasal dome and sides of the face are red, with some animals showing much brighter facial colors. It is not currently known if any of this color morph are still living; it may have become extinct.
Hatchling Brachiosaurus have proportions similar to the adults. However, the neck is shorter and the back proportionally longer in the juvenile. Sauropods are quite small when they hatch, and at least in Brachiosaurus, the coloration appears to be simpler and darker than the adults. This may help them hide in shady forests while they are still vulnerable enough to be killed by predators. Growth begins quickly and progresses at a rapid pace, putting these young animals on track to reach their eventual tremendous size.
Adolescence is reached at around six years of age in this dinosaur. The adolescents have proportions more like the adults at this age, though they tend to be skinnier and more lightweight. Skeletal maturity is reached in around ten years. Even after the full size is reached, coloration may change somewhat as the animal ages; increased age has been known to bring a general darkening of color over the dorsal side as well as new color patterning on the head.
Its lifespan is unknown, but some sources suggest that it may live for one or two centuries.
At one point, the two color morphs were suggested to be sexually dimorphic (with the gray or brown morph as the female and the yellow morph as the male), but there is no evidence to confirm this. Females of the gray or brown morph have been observed, but none have been confirmed to be male.
In the yellow morph, at least one male was positively identified by Dr. Alan Grant. Some members of this morph can be seen to have more vibrant colors, including brighter red nasal domes and bold, dark stripes on the back of the neck. It has been suggested that these more vibrantly-colored animals are the males of the yellow morph.
Because of its huge size, Brachiosaurus requires room to roam as well as access to very large quantities of food. It is generally observed in large ranges containing open grassland, forests, and larger bodies of water; its habitat usually consists of flatter areas. Water sources are not only necessary for hydration, but for health, as this dinosaur bathes regularly for hygenic purposes. It cannot, however, survive in deep water; if submerged too deeply, the water pressure will be too great for it to inhale, and it will suffocate even if its neck and head are above the surface. Because of this, it cannot swim in deep lakes or the ocean.
Fossil evidence suggests that they could have inhabited seasonal floodplain environments with some coniferous forests nearby. As such a large animal, it would create scrubland and prairie as it traveled through its environment by knocking down trees and trampling smaller plants.
In the game Jurassic World: Evolution, a habitat for Brachiosaurus needs to include at least 21,000 square meters of forest and 21,000 square meters of grassland.
InGen introduced this species to Isla Nublar for Jurassic Park beginning in 1988 at the earliest. Brachiosaurus were kept in two different herbivore paddocks which they shared with Parasaurolophus. The primary such paddock, located somewhat farther to the north, was heavily-forested to the east and open and grassy to the west. It bordered the secondary Dilophosaurus paddock to the north, the Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus paddocks to the east, and the Gallimimus paddock to the southeast. Twenty-four-foot electric fencing kept these animals separate. The remainder of its borders were separated from the main tour road by a moat. The secondary herbivore paddock, located farther south and centered around the Watering Hole, also consisted of both forested and open regions. It bordered the Park’s perimeter fence to the west, the Jungle River to the south, and a service road to the east and north; on the other side of this service road, separated by a five-foot electric fence, were the future Proceratosaurus paddock in the north and an undeveloped area of land to the east.
As of June 11, 1993, there were three adult females of the gray/brown morph in the secondary paddock; five adult females of the gray/brown morph were later seen in the primary paddock that evening. However, official InGen reports state that, at the last point that Isla Nublar was monitored in 1993, there were six brachiosaurs on the island. This suggests that either two of the brachiosaurs died during or shortly after the incident itself, or that the animals from the secondary paddock escaped and entered the primary paddock during the tropical storm that struck on June 11 while the electric fencing was turned off. The latter is generally considered more likely.
Following the 1993 incident, the Brachiosaurus remained more or less within the area defined by their original paddock range. The 1994 cleanup operation on Isla Nublar reported as of October 5 that one of the brachiosaurs had died due to malnutrition in the intervening time.
Beginning in 2002, InGen returned to Isla Nublar as a member of Masrani Global Corporation with the intention to rescue the abandoned Jurassic Park project. Between 2002 and early 2004, the surviving Brachiosaurus were temporarily relocated to Isla Sorna. The first to be reintroduced to the island were two mature females which park staff dubbed “Olive” and “Agnes;” these animals were among the oldest of their species, and were among the five survivors from the original Park. They were introduced to the Gyrosphere Valley area sometime prior to January 15, making them the first herbivores in that region of the island. By the summer of 2004, a six-year-old adolescent female named “Pearl” and an adult female named “Dot” had also been introduced to the valley. While Dot was younger than Olive and Agnes, she was also a survivor of the old Park. InGen Security’s Asset Containment Unit had considered relocating Pearl to a more isolated habitat due to behavioral concerns, but as of September 2004 these plans had been cancelled and Pearl remained with the other brachiosaurs in the valley. During that summer, eggs from this species were also incubating in the Hammond Creation Laboratory, but none had yet hatched by the summer’s end.
Between late 2004 and Jurassic World’s opening date on May 30, 2005, the remaining Brachiosaurus from Isla Sorna were all introduced to Isla Nublar. Some likely resided in the valley, while others may have been maintained in habitats located in Sector 5 away from visitors. Some were kept in Sector 3 near the hotel complex in the Brachiosaurus Grove, presumably a reserve paddock as it was not displayed on visitor maps.
Brachiosaurus were actively bred on the island during this period of time. At least one gray morph female was confirmed to have hatched between May 16, 2006 and May 15, 2007; this individual was said to be an eleven-year-old adult as of May 15, 2018 and was still living at that time. The yellow morph appears to have disappeared by 2015, suggesting that the gray/brown morph is dominant when the two interbreed.
Eventually, however, the Brachiosaurus were relocated out of the Valley and introduced to habitats within Sector 5. This was likely sometime shortly before 2014; Brachiosaurus was not advertised on official park merchandise or the Jurassic World website, but its silhouette could still be seen on the Gyrosphere Valley map schematic. InGen was planning a new attraction called Treetop Gazers which would have housed the brachiosaurs; this attraction would have opened in 2018, but its planned location is currently undisclosed. In Sector 5, brachiosaurs were a part of Herd M, which spent daytime at the grazing grounds and stayed overnight in the nighttime enclosures. Their daily route would take them past the Camp Cretaceous Observation Tower.
On December 22, 2015, a subadult brachiosaur was ambushed and killed by the Indominus rex while feeding near the Observation Tower. At that point in time, there were at between five and ten adults living in Sector 5. A further thirteen inhabited the Grove; during the incident, their invisible fencing was disabled due to damage to the park security systems and the animals left their habitat. They migrated northwest to Sector 4, where they took up residence in the central valley. The day after the incident, at least one had wandered south, being sighted near a crashed monorail not far from the golf course.
With the park’s restraining technologies deactivated, the animals could roam freely about the island. They appear to have ranged across Isla Nublar; they have been sighted primarily in the north, but also the central and eastern parts of the island. An artistic depiction by the Dinosaur Protection Group depicts three brown-morph adults living in the remains of the old tyrannosaur paddock, though this may not be based on actual observations. The individuals from Herd M appear to have remained in the north, congregating near a watering hole, while others were seen farther south in the region around the golf course. In June 2016, one brachiosaur may have died from a fall during a stampede caused by a Scorpius rex. It is not known whether it tripped during the panic or was envenomated, but either way, it was probably severely injured when it fell and likely did not survive. Despite this loss, the brachiosaur population remained constant during this time because one juvenile had survived infancy; it was briefly separated from its mother during a hasty migration of its herd, but the two were reunited and traveled onward to safety.
One adult brachiosaur was seen near the NMS Genetics Centre on February 17, 2018; this animal could be identified by its darker-than-average color, but it has not been seen since, suggesting it may have died.
Footage of two adult and one subadult gray/brown Brachiosaurus, possibly a family group, was captured sometime prior to June 22, 2018; this footage was featured prominently in a BBC news segment regarding Isla Nublar. Other records indicate that these animals inhabited the Gyrosphere Valley area as of 2018, along with a likely presence in the north near Mount Sibo. A single adult gray-morph brachiosaur was sighted on Main Street on June 23; this individual along with at least two others of the same color morph were driven eastward by the volcanic eruption occurring on that day, all of which perished. At least one gray-morph brachiosaur was removed from the island via the S.S. Arcadia; its 26,520kg (58,466.59lb) weight indicates that it was an adult. This animal was cosigned by Sam Churchill and logged into the Arcadia‘s manifest at 13:55, kept in Container #35-1016-0403 (Cargo #37777). Its name was highlighted green in the manifest, potentially indicating that it was in good health.
Additionally, the skeleton of a subadult-sized animal was obserbed near Radio Bunker 02-17 on June 23.
Together, this means that there were a minimum of four living brachiosaurs on Isla Nublar as of the eruption in 2018 with one having died pior to this. Three adults were seen during the eruption itself while a fourth adult was already on board the Arcadia. The skeletal remains near the radio bunker may have belonged to the subadult seen in the news footage, but the subadult could also have matured into an adult by June 23, meaning there had been two subadults. It is also possible that the three animals from the footage were not present during the eruption at all, and that the captured individual was not one of them either, meaning that there could have been up to eight brachiosaurs on Isla Nublar (including the deceased animal) in 2018. In any case, there were more than twenty adult brachiosaurs living on Isla Nublar as of 2015 when the park closed (with one subadult having died during the incident), indicating a likely population drop after this point.
According to film director J.A. Bayona, the Brachiosaurus which is last seen on the East Dock on June 23, 2018 is the same individual seen on Main Street earlier that day, as well as being the same individual that was first seen on June 11, 1993. It is possible that this animal was Agnes, as the lack of a distinctive neck scar means it cannot be Olive, but it may also be another unnamed brachiosaur from the original Park that was brought to the island after September 2004.
Following the June 23 eruption of Mount Sibo, Brachiosaurus is extinct on Isla Nublar.
Brachiosaurus was likely among the first dinosaurs cloned by InGen. Two older females were said to be approaching their twenties as of August 2004; if they hatched in 1986, they could have been eighteen years old. This is the earliest they could have been cloned, as no dinosaurs were successfully brought back from extinction any earlier than 1986. Between six and eight brown-colored females were eventually shipped to Isla Nublar between 1988 and 1993; most of the adults seen on Isla Sorna from then on appear to be of the yellow morph.
It is not known exactly how the population dynamics of this animal on Isla Sorna changed over time. According to the InGen IntraNet website (which was created to promote Jurassic Park: The Ride as well as tie in with the 1997 film The Lost World: Jurassic Park), InGen’s first brachiosaurs were introduced to a lagoon environment with the assumption that they were semi-aquatic. The website states that this resulted in the deaths of the animals, and subsequent clones were introduced to grassland areas instead. The website also indicates, in hidden emails, that InGen Security may have clandestinely poisoned some of the brachiosaurs in order to eliminate what they believed was a waste of resources. The canon status of these statements is currently unknown, but by the time InGen abandoned Isla Sorna in 1993, there were ten living brachiosaurs left on the island.
In Eric Kirby‘s book Survivor, an unnamed sauropod is seen on the island’s western coast on May 23, 2001; illustrations indicate that it may have been an adult or subadult Brachiosaurus. Evidence of sauropod feeding grounds existed farther inland, though no animals were there at the time. Roughly eight weeks later on July 18, his rescue team observed a large group of yellow-morph brachiosaurs on a grassy plain in the island’s western region; the herd consisted of at least twenty-five animals led by an alpha male. Five subadults and two juveniles could be seen in the herd. The following day, four yellow-morph adults were seen on the central channel’s eastern coast, inclduing one more vibrantly-colored animal which may have been a male.
While the brachiosaur population’s growth rate is surprising, it is not impossible given the time frame during which it occurred. If the adult brachiosaurs had reproduced in 1993, their offspring would be nearing adulthood by 2001; with a total adult population of between 18 and 23, eight to thirteen of the 1993 season’s hatchlings would have had to survive to adulthood. The five subadults and two juveniles seen in 2001 would have hatched in the intervening years.
The Brachiosaurus named Pearl was six years old as of August-September 2004, meaning that she hatched on Isla Sorna between the autumn of 1997 and the summer of 1998. She would have been three years old in 2001, so she may have been one of the younger juveniles seen during the 2001 incident.
Between 1998 and 1999, InGen illegally performed genetic research and development on the island in violation of the Gene Guard Act. This led to an increase in dinosaur population on Isla Sorna, which imperiled the already unstable ecosystem. Furthermore, InGen retaking Isla Nublar in 2002 under the guidance of Masrani Global Corporation ended up introducing between two and five adult female brachiosaurs to Isla Sorna. In early January of 2004, two of the oldest brachiosaurs originally from Isla Nublar (named Agnes and Olive) were shipped back to Isla Nublar again. The animal populations of the island were collapsing at that point due to resource scarcity and poaching, prompting the remaining dinosaurs to be rounded up and transported between 2004 and 2005. Sometime during the spring or early summer of 2004, Pearl and Dot were shipped to Isla Nublar, and after September of that year any surviving brachiosaurs would also have been shipped over. Official sources claim that there are no brachiosaurs left on Isla Sorna today.
It is not known if any Brachiosaurus fell victim to poachers in the Muertes Archipelago or on Isla Nublar between 1997 and 2018, though if any were, they likely would have had to be juveniles. It is not likely that any would have fared well in illegal captive conditions on the mainland, as only a highly advanced and well-funded facility could provide for their needs.
At least one adult Brachiosaurus was removed from Isla Nublar via the S.S. Arcadia on June 23, 2018 by mercenaries headed by Ken Wheatley. It was housed at Benjamin Lockwood‘s estate overnight on June 24 and was released into the wild to save it from hydrogen cyanide poisoning. Its current whereabouts are unknown, though it was last seen fleeing into the woods near Orick, California.
Behavior and Ecology
Brachiosaurus is diurnal, and can be seen feeding and bathing during the morning and midday. They typically bask on the shores of rivers or lakes during the early hours of the morning. In the evening, they typically will rest and socialize; their singing may go on into the night. Social behavior can be observed throughout other times of day. Survivor describes a brachiosaur resting around midday; it sleeps standing up, which allows it to make a swift escape from danger. Resting and bathing around noon may help the animals avoid the heat of the day.
Diet and Feeding Behavior
As with all sauropods, Brachiosaurus has an enormous diet; it spends as much as sixteen hours a day feeding. It may consume around 400 pounds of foliage in a day, eating up to 130 pounds at a time (paleontological estimates suggest eating 440 to 880 pounds of food in a day would not be unreasonable). Jurassic World scientists found that the largest sauropods can eat up to 12,000 pounds of food in one day. An adult brachiosaur feeding on one hundred or fewer pounds of food per meal is cause for concern. A healthy food-to-waste ratio should be one pound of waste produced for every 4.3 pounds of food consumed, meaning that it digests around 77% of the food it eats. Excess fluid retention may be a health concern diagnosed by a lesser quantity of waste produced per amount of food eaten. Brachiosaurus produce copious amounts of dung and flatulence as a result of their diet.
This herbivorous animal is a forager and feeds on a wide variety of plant life. It primarily eats the leaves of trees; it has been seen to eat from monkey puzzle trees, Moreton Bay figs, eucalyptus, and palm trees. These latter two types of trees are known for their low nutrient content; fairly few animals can gain any useful nutrition from eucalyptus or palms, but Brachiosaurus appears to favor these and eats them even when other options are available. This may be an adaptation to avoid competition, choosing to feed on plants that other herbivores would not bother with. Fossil evidence suggests that they lived in environments with coniferous trees, such as members of the genus Araucaria, and in the modern day they are confirmed to feed on the monkey puzzle tree, which belongs to that genus.
The entire body of a brachiosaurid is designed with feeding in mind. It is built uphill, with its neck extending from the trunk at a fairly high angle. This allows it to browse on the highest trees, where other animals are unable to reach. InGen’s Brachiosaurus are exceptionally adept competitors for these resources; they are able to rear onto their hind legs to reach the absolute highest leaves, and are able to chew their food due to abnormally mammal-like jaw structure. This means that they do not require gastroliths to help digest their food. The nostrils, located on the forehead in InGen’s specimens, are sometimes believed to be an evolutionary adaptation to help the animal breathe while eating and drinking. However, not all paleontologists agree that the nostrils were located here in fossil animals, suggesting that this is a mutation in InGen’s brachiosaurs rather than a natural feature.
InGen’s IntraNet website describes a more unusual feeding strategy in this animal. It will use the claws on its hind feet to uproot brush and other low-growing plants, using its front feet for support while it does so. After tearing up the undergrowth, it will eat as it pleases. The long neck of this dinosaur allows it to reach as high as the treetops as well as all the way to the ground. Part of its diet may consist of bracken ferns, which can be poisonous if consumed in large quantities.
In captivity, some Brachiosaurus have been known to eat watermelon and other fruits and vegetables. Artwork in the Jurassic Park Visitors’ Centre appears to depict a sauropod feeding on aquatic plants, but this has never been observed in life and is likely based on outdated hypotheses. Brachiosaurus will bathe in shoulder-deep water, but cannot survive in an aquatic environment.
Jurassic World: Evolution demonstrates its favored food to be tree ferns; it will also eat conifers and ginkgoes. However, it has difficulty digesting pawpaws, mosses, and horsetails, and may suffer deleterious health effects from eating these.
While earlier reports from InGen’s IntraNet website indicated that this animal was solitary, further observations have proven this incorrect. In fact, the Brachiosaurus is a highly social animal, and simply is able to communicate over very long distances using its cries. As a result, a group of animals can spread out over a wide area and keep in touch, gathering back together to rest. This allows them to avoid overgrazing their territory. Animals of different sexes and age groups can be seen living together, with only minor squabbles over food when they are pressed for space.
Though they will peacefully live alongside any members of their species, they appear to prefer family groups somewhat like those of modern-day elephants. Animals with genetic relation can be seen staying close to one another, while herd members that are not related may ignore each other. A herd is led by a dominant individual (at least one alpha male has been reported), though how the alpha is determined is currently unknown.
In the game Jurassic World: Evolution, social groups of Brachiosaurus may contain up to five individuals, though they can live solitarily. A solitary brachiosaur was also reported in Survivor.
While breeding in Brachiosaurus is documented, the exact details of how they choose their mates and reproduce are still largely unknown. Presumably, the dominant males would have first mating rights, and likely use the colors of their nasal domes and/or resonance of their songs to attract females. A very young juvenile was sighted in June 2016, appearing a few months old; this suggests eggs hatch during the dry season after being laid around the same time the previous year.
In the Jurassic Park junior novelization, Dr. Alan Grant notes that brachiosaur songs heard around sunset sound like mating calls, but as no male brachiosaurs were present on Isla Nublar at the time, standard reproductive behaviors would probably not have occurred. Same-sex pairing among brachiosaurs is far from impossible, but has not been witnessed explicitly.
All dinosaurs lay eggs to reproduce. Sauropod eggs tend to be rather large and round; fossil evidence suggests they are laid in large numbers. Most dinosaurs, like modern birds, have cloacae that house their reproductive organs, and presumably Brachiosaurus does as well. According to Jurassic Intel’s Guide to Dinosaur Eggs, the eggs of larger dinosaurs incubate for around a year.
Younger brachiosaurs, as they approach adolescence, can be highly independent and curious about their environments. At this age, they will test their surroundings to determine what is food and what hazards to avoid. Juveniles and adolescents usually remain near the adults for safety from predators, but thrive best in the company of their own age group. Even an age difference of one or two years may be enough to deter different brachiosaurs from engaging in play behavior together, and non-breeding adults do not provide any form of surrogate parent care. This leaves orphaned younger brachiosaurs vulnerable to the dangers of their environment, suggesting that a parent-offspring relationship is vital to their survival in the wild.
Further evidence that brachiosaurs do provide parental care comes from the Hammond Creation Laboratory. In 2004, InGen scientists discovered that certain dinosaur embryos and hatchlings respond positively to different genres of music; Brachiosaurus appears to derive comfort from classical music. This was hypothesized to be due to the music simulating the heartbeat of an adult standing near the nest. A mother and offspring Brachiosaurus were directly witnessed on Isla Nublar in June 2016. The juvenile was quite young, probably only a few months old. When separated from its mother, it remained in place and emitted distress cries. When they reunited, the mother (which had run off due to a panicked relocation of the herd) appeared visibly relieved and comforted her offspring with vocalizations and close contact before they moved on to rejoin their herd. Notably, no other herd members accompanied the mother. The other adults would have left behind the juvenile if the mother had not found it.
In the InGen IntraNet website, Brachiosaurus is said to be difficult to breed in captivity, with the animals showing little interest in mating. However, internal documents from InGen Security’s internal database describes the Head of Security Jim Boutcher using neurotoxins to poison the brachiosaurs due to their being a massive expense for InGen with low tourism appeal. While the extent to which this was actually carried out in the film canon is unknown, there is no evidence that Vic Hoskins (Head of Security 2001-2015) performed any similar operation.
Fossil evidence suggests that brachiosaurs reach sexual maturity when they are 40% of their adult size, significantly before they reach skeletal maturity. InGen research in 2004 demonstrated that while brachiosaurs of differing age groups will coexist, they really only socialize with animals within their own age group. An age difference of even a year or two may discourage adolescent brachiosaurs from socializing. This may be an adaptation to ensure that adult-sized brachiosaurs have no desire to mate with those that are still growing, as this would be extremely dangerous to the smaller animals.
Brachiosaurus communicate using a variety of loud wailing, hooting, trumpeting, and moaning sounds. Their calls are fairly simple, mainly being used to communicate over distance. They can be heard calling to one another while spread out feeding over an area, keeping in touch by broadcasting their locations. A brachiosaur’s cry can carry for up to ten miles, so within an area as small as Isla Nublar or western Isla Sorna, one animal would be able to communicate with most of the others from any location.
Juveniles have been said to make burbling sounds during play or when satisfied, and make mournful noises when distressed.
By the time it reaches its adult size, a Brachiosaurus has no natural predators. A 1994 InGen report documented this animal successfully fending off a mature and healthy Tyrannosaurus rex, though a surprised brachiosaur in a multi-species herd may join in stampeding away from this carnivore. On Isla Sorna, they lived alongside both of the island’s apex predators, Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus, as well as smaller carnivores including Velociraptor, Compsognathus, and Ceratosaurus. The size of the adults protected them from being preyed upon, but juveniles and subadults may have been vulnerable to attack. On Isla Nublar, other carnivores existed in their habitat from late 2015 onward, such as Teratophoneus, Carnotaurus, and Allosaurus as well as the fish-eating pterosaurs Pteranodon and Dimorphodon. As there were no juveniles known on the island at that time, few if any of the brachiosaurs were vulnerable to predators, aside from the Indominus rex on December 22 (which succeeded in killing one subadult brachiosaur by ambush) and Scorpius rex in June 2016 (which felled at least one adult using potent neurotoxins). Smaller predators such as the territorial Pteranodon can do little more than ineffectually harass this giant, and the brachiosaur may not even perceive such small carnivores as threats. However, a dead adult brachiosaur would provide vast amounts of meat to scavenging carnivores in its environment.
The size of Brachiosaurus does not only protect itself from danger, but provides smaller animals with safety as well. These huge sauropods are frequently seen alongside other creatures. Hadrosaurs such as Parasaurolophus and Corythosaurus often appear alongside brachiosaur herds, and small birds also take shelter among them. Other modern fauna such as monkeys, sloths, lizards, and snakes can be found in the forested areas where brachiosaurs live. Armored dinosaurs such as Triceratops, Sinoceratops, Stegosaurus, Ankylosaurus, and Peloroplites are also known from brachiosaur territory, though Triceratops have been known to show aggression toward juveniles. Other dinosaurs seen in their ranges include Stygimoloch, Ouranosaurus, and Gallimimus.
Brachiosaurus has been observed alongside fellow herbivore Apatosaurus, but not the longer Mamenchisaurus. In fact, some competitive exclusion between Brachiosaurus and Mamenchisaurus was observed on Isla Sorna; the former was only known in the western island, while the latter inhabited the east. On the other hand, Brachiosaurus and Apatosaurus inhabited the same regions of northern Isla Nublar without issue. This is likely due to niche partitioning; Brachiosaurus feeds mainly on the upper branches of trees, while Apatosaurus feeds largely on the middle branches and undergrowth. Eric Kirby’s Survivor suggests that, on Isla Sorna, Diplodocus existed in the same territory as Brachiosaurus in a similar manner. All three of these sauropod genera are known to have coexisted in the Jurassic period, feeding on different food sources to avoid competing with one another. Brachiosaurus and Apatosaurus even make similar sounds, raising the possibility of interspecies communication. The game Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis states that it prefers to live alongside Camarasaurus as well, though this species has not been cloned in the film canon.
Such a huge animal supports a considerable microbiome. Digestion of all the plant matter it eats is accomplished through hindgut fermentation, which requires the help of many species of microorganisms. As InGen would probably not have been able to clone these microorganisms with precision, Brachiosaurus may have acquired modern species to fulfill this role. It is vulnerable to bacterial infections such as bumblefoot, which it regularly bathes to prevent, as well as viral diseases including the common cold. External parasites such as blood-drinking insects related to mosquitoes affected it during prehistory, and likely still affect the animals today.
The copious amounts of dung it produces can act as fertilizer for local plant life, so while the brachiosaur can clear away forests of trees, it also provides nutrients to other plants. It is known to feed on the invasive Moreton Bay fig and its epiphytes, which would be beneficial to Isla Nublar’s native ecosystem. It also preys on low-nutrient plants such as palm trees and eucalyptus, which other animals likely would not feed on, and the introduced monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana).
In the game Jurassic World: Evolution, most sauropods including Brachiosaurus are incorrectly portrayed as being immune to the common cold. This dinosaur has been directly observed suffering from a cold, and the Dinosaur Protection Group confirms that infections in this dinosaur are still known.
This is easily one of the most famous and recognizable sauropods, owing to its having been the largest known for a generation of paleontological science. Today, even larger dinosaurs have been discovered, but Brachiosaurus is still famous as the “original” biggest-ever. It is almost universally found in dinosaur encyclopedias, and virtually every paleoartist will try their hand at reconstructing this animal sooner or later. However, most historical representations and even many modern ones use the African genus Giraffatitan as a reference for depicting Brachiosaurus.
In culture, it is often depicted as a peaceful and docile, if unintelligent, creature. Sauropods in general are thought of by the public as gentle dimwitted animals, and to some extent most herbivores are imagined this way. Brachiosaurus is concieved as some kind of combination of a cow and a whale. In reality, though, its closest living relatives are birds, and it is closer to crocodilians than to any mammal. There are no perfect analogues to this dinosaur, but the mammal with the most anatomical similarities is the giraffe. The “gentle giant” stereotype is frustrating to animal behavior experts since herbivores must be capable of defending themselves, and very large ones are quite capable of throwing their weight around and crushing predators. Sauropods like Brachiosaurus are not usually aggressive toward humans, but this is only because humans are too small to be a threat.
An asteroid in the Solar System’s main belt, 9954 Brachiosaurus, is named after this genus of dinosaur. It was given the name in 1991.
Brachiosaurus was among the first dinosaurs to be successfully cloned by InGen, and was one of the major attractions to the original Park. Two separate paddocks were constructed to house the creatures, which lived alongside Parasaurolophus; the primary paddock could be viewed from the main tour road while the second was visible from a service road used to bring VIP guests and staff in from the helipad. While InGen CEO at the time John P. Hammond was very fond of the brachiosaurs and the Park’s endorsement tour was impressed by them, the animals would have been a major expense, eating hundreds of pounds of food every day. While the extent of its relevance in the film canon is unconfirmed, the InGen IntraNet website describes the brachiosaurs as a burden to InGen; their upkeep was highly expensive and their low activity levels aside from eating reduced their tourism appeal. Hammond had considered shipping them to poorer countries as a source of meat, but found the expenses too great. He was opposed to euthanizing any of the dinosaurs, which led to Head of Security Jim Boutcher doing so clandestinely without the knowledge of his superiors in Operation Clean Sweep.
Brachiosaurus continued to be a troubled species when Jurassic World was constructed. The few that remained on Isla Nublar were temporarily relocated to Isla Sorna in 2002 and then returned to the island between January 2004 and May 2005. Reintroducing the animals was a massive undertaking and one of the major functions of the Masrani Global Corporation internship programs of 2004. The January-May internship program oversaw the introduction of two older brachiosaurs, Olive and Agnes, who had been present in the original Park. Attending to their health and wellbeing was paramount as they were reintroduced to Isla Nublar, where they would reside in the central valley and exhibited in the gyrosphere attraction. They were affected by health issues, particularly a highly acidic mutant strain of indigenous cyanobacteria.
During the second internship, the Bright Minds program, interns oversaw the introduction of more species to the valley, but still provided care for the Brachiosaurus. By this time, two others named Pearl and Dot had been introduced to the island. The adolescent Pearl was a particular source of concern, as she lacked parental guardians and was highly energetic. This meant that she needed more attention from her caretakers than other dinosaurs. She frequently used empty gyrospheres as playthings; InGen’s ACU division recommended isolating her in a separate habitat to avoid damage to property. However, several of the Bright Minds interns were able to develop toys to keep Pearl stimulated, allowing her to remain within the valley.
Prior to 2014, the brachiosaurs were relocated out of the valley in preparation for a new attraction, Treetop Gazers, which would have allowed visitors to view the brachiosaurs much more personally than the gyrospheres permitted. Unfortunately, Jurassic World closed in late 2015, so this attraction was never completed. Many of the brachiosaurs were kept in an enclosure in Sector 3 called Brachiosaurus Grove, but this was not on park maps and so was probably not an attraction. A few were also kept in Sector 5 near Camp Cretaceous and would have been visible from the zipline at the Observation Tower.
Brachiosaurus are often stereotyped as dull and unintelligent, like many herbivorous animals. Direct observation, though, has demonstrated that they are actually curious, sociable, and can become affectionate. They can be trained to respond to basic commands using clicker devices and food rewards and will investigate new, unfamiliar objects or creatures in their environment. This is another reason they must be given large habitats; they naturally roam in search of food, but will also explore their territory thoroughly. Doing this keeps their minds sharp, which is necessary for survival in the wild but helps keep them stimulated in captivity. Water sources are also vital to their health, since they bathe for hygeine purposes and to cool themselves during the heat of the day.
Brachiosaur dung was used as fertilizer by Masrani Global Corporation in their research greenhouse, which housed modern and de-extinct plants as well as experimental hybrids. The manure was held for a period of six months before use. It is likely that, once the public greenhouse and research greenhouse were merged with the arboretum to form the Botanical Gardens, manure from dinosaurs such as Brachiosaurus was still used for this purpose.
The holotype fossil of Brachiosaurus is fairly complete and has provided a considerable amount of information about their biology, as well as the nature of the prehistoric ecosystems they inhabited. It was among the first truly gigantic dinosaurs ever found and is well-established in the public consciousness; this makes it and its relatives popular features in museums around the world. Brachiosaurus itself is fairly rare.
For many years, dinosaurs were assumed to be cold-blooded due to their relation to reptiles. Brachiosaurus has been beneficial in dispelling this argument. Some earlier paleontologists had suggested that it could not be warm-blooded as this would necessitate an unreasonable quantity of forage, but studies in more recent history have demonstrated that an animal this size could not by wholly cold-blooded. If it were, it would lack sufficient blood pressure to send oxygenated blood to its brain, and would not survive. Today, Brachiosaurus and all other dinosaurs are considered to have more in common with warm-blooded animals, though their huge size would also help them retain body heat.
Much research into brachiosaur intelligence took place during 2004, with a six-year-old female named Pearl being studied by a group of interns from the Bright Minds program including future Jurassic World Senior Assets Manager and Operations Manager Claire Dearing. The program found that certain patterns and colors would stimulate the regions of her brain associated with pleasure; spots and hexagons were the most effective patterns, while red and orange were the most effective colors. It was hypothesized that these features were the most stimulating because they differed visually from food or terrain. Pearl was also excited by particular sounds, but would not play with gyrospheres that still had occupants. She was very affectionate toward her caretakers, though older adults were more accustomed to human contact. Still, even adults can be curious of human activity and will sometimes approach humans to investigate them. Some brachiosaurs appear to recognize humans as caretakers after a lifetime in captivity and may seek them out for help when they are frightened or distressed.
In real life, Brachiosaurus helped to advance computer technology for its groundbreaking role in the film Jurassic Park, being the first dinosaur seen on-screen rendered using computer-generated imagery. This has revolutionized special effects and computer science. In the universe in which the film takes place, of course, the movie does not exist, making it unclear what spurred on the CGI revolution in the world of Jurassic Park.
While its film-canon status is uncertain, the InGen IntraNet website describes Brachiosaurus as a controversial issue for the company as its low activity levels and expensive upkeep made it a drain on Park resources. According to the site, these dinosaurs were considered for use as food animals for impoverished countries, but the expenses and logistics of shipping them ended this project before it began. InGen Security was said to have culled some of them to cut back on costs, though John Hammond was unaware and opposed euthanizing any dinosaurs. In the film canon proper, Brachiosaurus was known to be an issue; in 2004 there was an animal rights debate among InGen and Masrani Global staff as to whether a rowdy juvenile named Pearl should be forcibly relocated to another area. While her behavior did not usually endanger human life, she had damaged park property during play. Therefore, this was primarily an issue of animal rights versus property protection, though human safety was also discussed.
2017 saw the reawakening of Isla Nublar’s dormant volcano, Mount Sibo, which threatened to decimate the island’s environment if it erupted. By early 2018, an eruption was considered inevitable, but Masrani Global Corporation opted to take no action citing expenses as an obstacle.
The Dinosaur Protection Group took advantage of the popularity of Brachiosaurus, using imagery of this dinosaur to attract public support for a planned rescue mission to Isla Nublar. Despite months of lobbying, the United States Congress voted to take no action, ruling that Isla Nublar was on lease from Costa Rica by Masrani Global and therefore was outside U.S. jurisdiction. However, the real reasoning behind the decision was not even veiled: the government, and many public figures, wanted the dinosaurs to die out so that the controversy surrounding their existence would end without having to take decisive action.
The Lockwood Foundation stepped in, led by Benjamin Lockwood, to rescue the Isla Nublar dinosaurs; the DPG’s leader Claire Dearing was recruited for this mission. This was carried out illegally and in secret. Dearing had worked with Brachiosaurus in the past, during the Summer 2004 internship, and so this species was close to her heart as an animal rights activist. At least one adult brachiosaur was captured by the operation’s lead hunter, Ken Wheatley, since its large size made it easy to find. However, the dinosaurs were not intended for Sanctuary Island as Lockwood had wanted; the Foundation’s manager Eli Mills instead sought to sell them on the black market to finance Henry Wu‘s research. The dinosaurs were held at the Lockwood estate during the night of June 24, but the one known Brachiosaurus was not sold. However, a case of DNA samples including Brachiosaurus DNA was sold to a Russian buyer, potentially notorious criminal Anton Orlov. The living brachiosaur was released during the night to avoid death by hydrogen cyanide poisoning after the DPG interrupted the auction.
Famous, gigantic, and surprisingly safe, Brachiosaurus draws massive crowds in any setting and therefore is a popular addition to de-extinction parks. Both Jurassic Park and Jurassic World exhibited it. However, it is not without drawbacks. Being so large means that it needs vast amounts of food, which is prohibitively expensive, especially as this dinosaur likes to live in herds. It also requires large territories to roam, taking up space that could otherwise be used. It is useful in curtailing forests and maintaining grassland. Brachiosaurus also provides a calming presence for smaller and more vulnerable dinosaurs, as its gargantuan frame tends to keep most predators at bay.
It is also a source of valuable substances, not the least of which is its dung. Jurassic World used aged brachiosaur dung as fertilizer in their greenhouses. Producing over a hundred pounds of feces in one sitting, this dinosaur is a very efficient source of fertilizer which can be used to provide nutrients to large quantities of plant life. Its meat has not been tested for success on the market, though the InGen IntraNet site suggests it (though acknowledges that shipping it any distance for slaughter would be too expensive to justify). Finally, like other de-extinct animals, Brachiosaurus is potentially a source of biopharmaceutical products found nowhere else.
Such biopharmaceuticals were one of a few possible reasons it was targeted by the illegal Lockwood Foundation-funded capture operation. Eli Mills hoped to sell a live Brachiosaurus on the black market to one of many buyers, which included pharmaceutical representatives, industrial tycoons, weapons dealers, and other white-collar criminals. Had the animal been sold, the money it generated would have funded Henry Wu‘s research into artificial hybridogenesis. While the live brachiosaur was not sold and instead was released during the night, its DNA made it onto the black market successfully. This means it may soon go open-source.
Many herbivorous animals are incorrectly assumed to be docile, the logic being that since they do not eat meat, they have no reason to kill a person. This is fatally wrong: many herbivores are aggressive and territorial, and plenty of larger ones will not hesitate to attack if they think they are under threat. Fortunately, Brachiosaurus is not among the more problematic herbivores, and has never been known to attack unprovoked. This does not make it inherently safe to be around: weighing in at thirty tons and with legs far larger than a human body, it could crush a person with very little effort. The sole reason brachiosaurs do not attack humans is because we are not nearly big enough to endanger them, and they have yet to learn how devastating our weapons can be. It is, perhaps, better that we do not hunt them. Were they to discover that we could indeed pose a threat, they might pay us more unwanted attention.
Witnessing this dinosaur is a must for many people, but it is imperative to do so safely. Do not get too close to it (you can see it from a distance fairly well anyway), and keep an eye out for its movements. It cannot run very fast, but it can still make sudden movements and cover a lot of ground faster than you might expect; get out of its way immediately if it starts to come in your direction. Move perpendicular to its path, and if it is moving quickly try to find obstacles that will slow it down. Sturdy buildings are preferable; it can overturn or crush all but the largest vehicles. It is unlikely to chase you, but being in its path would be extremely dangerous. If startled, it will react by barrelling away from the stimulus without a second thought; avoid making loud noises or shining bright lights at it, since this could take it by surprise. You may try to make it aware of your presence by mimicking its social vocalizations. People have had success with this before, since it puts the dinosaurs at ease and lets them know where you are.
Juvenile Brachiosaurus are smaller and therefore faster, and can be playful compared to adults. Hatchlings and younger juveniles are fairly safe on their own, but do not approach them unless an expert confirms it is safe. Young brachiosaurs in the wild may have parents nearby, and the parents are sure to be protective. Older juveniles, including adolescents, are large enough to be a danger; though they are not aggressive by nature, they are playful and may not know their own strength. Humans are simply too delicate to be used as playthings by a Brachiosaurus weighing several tons. Like with young juveniles, do not approach too closely to an adolescent in the wild; these dinosaurs form family groups and remain near their parents for most of their lives. Just because it is large enough to fend off most predators does not mean that its parents will not protect it anyway.
There is no way to fight a Brachiosaurus. You cannot reach its vulnerable parts, and you cannot overpower it. Few obstacles will stop it completely; most will merely slow it down. It could be killed with modern weapons, but unless you are quite heavily armed or very lucky, the odds are you will aggravate it or be crushed before you can defend yourself. Being charged by a multi-ton Brachiosaurus is a terrifying experience, and your first instinct will probably be to run. Heed this instinct: the only way to survive a sauropod attack would be to run very fast, and very far.
Behind the Scenes
Brachiosaurus was selected to be featured in Jurassic Park due to its unusual physiology, which Industrial Light & Magic animator Phil Tippett considered to be more of an interesting challenge than the Apatosaurus which appeared in the original novel. The brachiosaur scene in the first film has often been cited as a turning point in digital animation, and was ranked 27th in an Empire Magazine listing of most magical movie moments. It has influenced other film franchises as well; in the 1997 re-release of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, the Brachiosaurus CGI model was modified to create a creature called a “ronto” which appears in the film. The name of the ronto is derived from “bronto,” as in Brontosaurus, with which Brachiosaurus is sometimes confused. Similarly, the Brachiosaurus CGI model was reused and modified in The Lost World: Jurassic Park to create the Mamenchisaurus.
The species referenced for the appearance of Jurassic Park‘s Brachiosaurus has since been reclassified as a species of Giraffatitan. However, since 1997, promotional material for the films has largely treated the animal as Brachiosaurus altithorax, with the mobile game Jurassic World Alive even including Giraffatitan as a separate dinosaur.
Agnes – female individual bred for Jurassic Park
Olive – female individual bred for Jurassic Park
Dot – female individual bred for Jurassic Park
Pearl – female individual bred in the wild on Isla Sorna in 1998