Sauroposeidon by Fred Bervoets
by Fred Bervoets
Fossil remains unearthed in southeastern Oklahoma in 1994 possibly reveal one of the largest know dinosaur in history. Sauroposeidon as the name was given in press, was standing 60 feet (18,3 metres) high and most probably possessed one of the the longest neck in the fossil record which was more specialized than that of its relative Brachiosaurus. The formal description wil appear in the March issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
According to paleontologist Richard Cifelli this dinosaur was one of the the largest creatures ever to walk the earth. The neck bones of the creature are each about 4 feet ( 1,2 metres) long. When first cataloged, Cifelli thought they might be the trunks of prehistoric trees.
But closer examination revealed that they belonged to a larger relative of the betterknown Brachiosaurus, which was about 45 feet (13 metres) tall and 82 feet (25 metres) long.
The neck was 39-40 feet (12,2 m) long, which would be about as long as or even longer than the extrapolated neck lengths for the Chinese sauropods Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum and Hudiesaurus sinojapanorum.. This would make it one of the longest known necks of any terrestrial vertebrate. The length of the animal was about 100 feet (30,5 meter).
A CAT-scan of the fossils with computerized equipment at the university\'s hospital revealed the massive bones were filled with tiny air cells that lightened the load the creature had to carry.
Sauroposeidon most likely lived during the Early Cretaceous probably during the Albian period (112 to 97 million years ago) in the delta of a massive river system.
With a length of nearly 11 meters (36 feet: as long as a whole Euhelopus!), the neck of the type specimen of Mamenchisaurus is among the longest known of any animal. However, a series of colossal sauropod cervicals discovered in 1987 in the Junggar Basin by the Canada-China Dinosaur Project which according to Dale A. Russell of Canada\'s National Museum of Natural History possibly belong to another Mamenchisaurus hochuanensis possessed a cervical rib that measures over 9.8 feet (3 metres) the \"eggshell thin\" neck itself could have been 15 meters long.
The North American Barosaurus lentus (Lull,1919) differs from Diplodocus in its enormously elongated cervical vertebrae, which are relatively 33 percent longer than those of the latter. The number of cervical vertebrae is unknown but with a reduction by one of the dorsals, it is likely that there are 16 or perhaps more. The enormously elongated cervicals are generally similar to those of Diplodocus if the latter were stretched. They resemble those of Brachiosaurus superficially but differ in several respects. Rising on her hind limbs a Barosaurus could towers 49 feet (15 m.) high as she guards her vulnarable young against attack from a hungry allosaurid theropod.
Brachiosaurus altithorax was present in the Late Jurassic of North America, Brachiosaurus brancai in eastern Africa, and Brachiosaurus atalaiensis in Europe. There are 13 cervicals. The ribs of the caudal cervicals are very much elongated, continuing backward under the next cervical or two.
Our knowledge of Brachiosaurus would be terribly incomplete were it not for the discovery of considerable material -including skulls - in Tendaguru, Tanzania by German paleontological expeditions a few years before World War I. This was described in a series of papers by Werner Janensch, starting in 1914, and it proved possible to construct a complete skeleton from the remains of several individuals. This skeleton, rescued from destruction during the air raids of World War II, now stands nearly 12 meters (40 feet) tall and 23 meters (75 feet) long, in the Humboldt Museum fur Naturkunde in Berlin.
Representing an animal with an estimated body weight of almost 50 tons, it is still the largest mounted dinosaur skeleton in the world.
And than there is Seismosaurus \"earth shaker\" named for its enormous size, estimated at over 130 feet (40 m.) in length, based on parts of an extremely long tail, a robust sacrum and some elongated neck vertebrae.