Riggs published a short report of the new find in 1901, noting the unusual length of the humerus compared to the femur and the extreme overall size and the resulting giraffe-like proportions, as well as the lesser development of the tail, but did not publish a name for the new dinosaur. In 1903, he named the type speciesBrachiosaurus altithorax. Riggs derived the genus name from the Greekbrachion/βραχίων meaning "arm" and sauros/σαυρος meaning "lizard", because he realized that the length of the arms was unusual for a sauropod. The specific epithet was chosen because of the unusually deep and wide chest cavity, from Latinaltus "deep" and Greek thorax/θώραξ, "breastplate, cuirass, corslet". Latin thoraxwas derived from the Greek and had become a usual scientific designation for the chest of the body. The titles of Riggs' 1901 and 1903 articles emphasized that the specimen was the "largest known dinosaur". Riggs followed his 1903 publication with a more detailed description in a monograph in 1904.
Preparation of the holotype began in the fall of 1900 shortly after it was collected by Riggs for the Field Museum. First the limb elements were processed. In the winter of 1904, the badly weathered vertebrae of the back and hip were prepared by James B. Abbott and C.T. Kline. As the preparation of each bone was finished, it was put on display in a glass case in Hall 35 of the Fine Arts Palace of the Worlds Columbian Exposition, the Field Museum's first location. All the bones were, solitarily, still on display by 1908 in Hall 35 when the Field Museum's newly mounted Apatosaurus was unveiled, the very specimen Riggs had found in Quarry 12, today catalogued as FMNH P25112 and identified as a Brontosaurus exemplar. No mount of Brachiosaurus was attempted because only 20% of the skeleton had been recovered. In 1993, the holotype bones were molded and cast, and the missing bones were sculpted based on Giraffatitan material in Berlin. This plastic skeleton was mounted and, in 1994, put on display at the north end of Stanley Field Hall, the main exhibit hall of the Field Museum's current building. The real bones of the holotype were put on exhibit in two large glass cases at either end of the mounted cast. The mount stood until 1999,
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