STL Science Center

STL Science Center

30 November 2013

Looking at Europa

©Paulo Marcio
This image has been featured before here. It was featured back in March of 2012 in a discussion about Germanodactylus. This week, of course, we are highlighting the other animal (not the fish or lizard) that are seen here. We can tell, assuming that the Germanodactylus is not enormous, that the sauropods they nearly rival in size are rather small. Europasaurus was a small sauropod resulting from insular dwarfism, the same phenomenon that created the likes of the Sicilian Dwarf Elephant and Balaur bondoc the Romanian Maniraptorid discovered only a few years ago. The small size of these animals results from generations of adaptation that lead to a large dinosaur that was large enough to still be a large dinosaur but small enough to not eat all of the limited vegetation on the small islands. Dinosaurs this small in proportional situations are almost funny looking, but it is important to see them in a relative size to other animals when it is claimed that they are miniatures of their relatives.

©Andrey Atuchin
Other illustrations, however, barely show the relative size of insular dwarf species. If we assume, regardless, that the small pterosaurs to the right and in the background are the same or similar in size to the Germanodactylus shown in the previous illustration then this must be an adult where the previous illustration was showing juveniles. Even at an adult size this is a rather small dinosaur, especially for a sauropod. The close relationship with Brachiosauridae is fairly evident in this interpretation as well especially in the posture of the animal, its neck, and the makeup of the skull of the little sauropod.

29 November 2013

Big Nostril Lizard Foot

Picture by Nils Knötschke
Latin and Greek roots make for some rather fun to say dinosaur names and hierarchical categories. The macronarian sauropods of the Late Jurassic and Cretaceous were one such group of funny named animals; macronarian sauropod effectively translates to "Big nostril lizard foot". One member of the group, at the basal end of the family tree, was Europasaurus holgeri (meaning European lizard of Holger Lüdtke, who discovered the first fossil remains). This macronarian taxa is slightly more derived than the North American Camarasaurus but less so than Brachiosaurus and is therefore considered the sister to Brachiosauridae. The chief character marking Europasaurus as more derived than Camarasaurus is the resultant size of the body due to insular dwarfisim. That is correct ladies and gentlemen, we have here a "tiny" sauropod dinosaur. Weighing in at somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds and ranging between 5.6 and 20.3 feet (1.7 and 6.2 meters) 11 individuals are known from the initial quarry at Langeberg near Goslar, Lower Saxony (that is in central Germany for the geographically stumped). The idea that central Germany was once comprised of many small islands with dwarf sauropods inhabiting those islands is pretty funny, unique, and very interesting.

28 November 2013

Turkey Day Tribute

Compsognathus is a good little dinosaur. It has been an interesting dinosaur to discuss and research. I wish to keep things short today as I have a lot of Thanksgiving related things to do and so too does the American audience. However, Compsognathus is so popular in popular culture that I feel it is of great importance that I need to share the above Spore creature, a plush dinosaur from a friendly Finnish artist , and this wonderful image of what a turkey wing could look like if it came off of Compsognathus or another theropod:

27 November 2013

Grasping Hands For Grabbing You Up

©Shelley Kornatz (Eykoart)
There are a lot of things that have not yet been discussed in terms of Compsognathus, though the papers yesterday and the discussions about feathers have given us quite a lot to talk about already. Regardless, one thing that has not been mentioned and cannot be ignored is the hand anatomy of a dinosaur like Compsognathus. Early German specimens appeared to possess only two digits, while later French specimens have three digits clearly seen. The third digit, Digit I, was short and incompletely preserved in the German specimens, but the implications of the digit arrangement is that the hand appears to possess the ability to grasp prey. Grasping hands certainly appear in the Maniraptoriformes and in the earliest relatives of birds. The grasping ability of the forebears of the Maniraptoriformes are sometimes used to differentiate theropods as well. Regardless of how the character is used, it is fairly evident in Compsognathus and a lot about the diet can therefore be conjectured at including the ability of the dinosaur to grasp and eat its prey rather than having to relay on jaw muscles and teeth alone.

26 November 2013

All the Papers

©Karola (Caimryo)
Almost "turkey day" here in the US (strange how the colloquialism has become solely about a food that was possibly not even present at the historical Thanksgiving feast), and what better way to celebrate than reading papers about the great (x 15 million, give or take a few generations) grandparents of modern turkeys? I like to think of the following list of reading material as following the bouncing Compsognathus literature, hence the use of the image above. Let us not argue about the exact evolution of turkeys and Compsognathus given the previous statement but instead enjoy the original naming and description of Compsognathus, if one can read German; English translations of this are, as far as I can tell, not available. One could also read about the synonymization of C. corallestris with C. longipes in Peyer's 2006 paper. Gishlick and Gauthier in 2007 examined the hand morphology of Compsognathus and restructured our vision of the digit count ad use of the digits in Compsognathus. For those interested in taphonomy, I found a paper by Reisdorf and Wuttke that uses decay in modern domestic chickens (referred to as "Gallus gallus L.", which is a hybridized Sri Lanka Junglefowl) to describe taphonomy in Compsognathus as well as Juravenator. There is plenty to read here today.

25 November 2013

Compy Puppets!

I am going to let the videos do the talking today. There is a puppet video as well as the I'm A Dinosaur version for Compsognathus.

24 November 2013

Coloring and Learning

©Emily Sheldon
There are a variety of sites that offer some knowledge on Compsognathus in literature that is written for a younger audience; which we always love to see. The sites that get used the most are represented quite well today including KidsDinos and Enchanted Learning. I am far more excited about the coloring today. Share the information with those around you, but share the coloring more today, because there is a lot of it!

23 November 2013

Staring Pretty

©NRG (a good fellow from Argentina)
Compsognathus, as a near relative of some of the earliest known feathered dinosaurs, may or may not have had feathering. These could have been fibrous filaments or it could have been downy tufts or even full fledged feathers, depending upon how long ago feathers actually did begin to develop as more highly evolved and adapted keratinous scales. Regardless, older illustrated versions of Compsognathus or those illustrations at least done in older styles, show scaled individuals. Some show them as highly active predators while others show them as simply stereotypical small dinosaurs walking about in ferns and other prehistoric backgrounds. Rarely do they appear illustrated, feathered or scaled, with any sort of anthropomorphic intelligence. In this scene it almost appears that our little Compsognathus friend is surveying the world and taking a relaxing moment. Most of the physical features of the dinosaur are obscured enough that the neck and tail anatomy are about all we can comment on in terms of the physical build of Compsognathus.

©Nobu Tamura
As far as newer versions of illustrations are concerned, the feather fibers of Compsognathus are a little debatable overall. This version highlights an early version of feather evolution with the appearance of downy fibers all along the body. The snout, feet, and hands are lacking in feathers as they would not require nearly as much insulation as the body of Compsognathus would. Physiologically, blood traveling from the body to the feet, hands, and snout would heat the blood returning to the body from veins in/from the feet. This would keep the body warm in the same way that birds keep their bodies warm while allowing their feet and beaks to remain cold. Insulation in this manner would be the practical physiological purpose of filamentous feathers like these, but additionally these feathers would be pigmented and be able to be used for display purposes.

22 November 2013

So Small I Missed It All This Time

I've seen this before, but I cannot make out the illustrator's name.
"The compys didn't look dangerous at first sight. They were the size of a hen and walked nervously like a hen. But he (John Hammond) knew that they were venomous. Their bites delivered a slow-acting poison that they used to kill wounded animals." —Jurassic Park (novel)

Granted the above quote is in reference to the novel's Procompsognathus denizens and we are covering their descendant, Compsognathus, it is still a wonderful little quote from the novel about a somewhat understated lineage of dinosaurs. Both Procompsognathus and Compsognathus were small theropod dinosaurs with "elegant jaws" (the meaning of Compsognathus). Compsognathus consists of a single species, C. longipes, though a now synonymous species was once purported to exist as well (C. corallestris). The originally described size was slightly smaller than the full grown adult size of just over a meter or about 3.3ft. The reason for this is that a juvenile specimen was initially described as an adult. Regardless, at approximately a meter long and between 1.8 and 7.7lb (0.83 and 3.5kg) Compsognathus was the smallest non-avian dinosaur known for many years. An obligate biped, Compsognathus was quite gracile and agile, able, more than likely, to chase down many smaller prey items like large insects and small mammals and lizards. Though often depicted (in Jurassic Park related media primarily) as pack hunters, no evidence of this behavior exists that has been documented. Feather coverings, though not depicted often, may have been present on living members of the species, as they are closely related to known feathered dinosaurs such as Sinosauropteryx and Sinocalliopteryx.

21 November 2013

Exciting Times!

There is little to discuss in terms of the popular culture impact of our small basal Ornithopoda friend Atlascopcosaurus this week. As such, we will discuss the world in which this dinosaur lived. Atlascopcosaurus was discovered in Dinosaur Cove's Eastern area in 1984. 104 million years ago the Dinosaur Cove area was closely associated, geographically, with the landmass of Antarctica and well below the Antarctic Circle. Current research indicates that the areas within the southernmost area of the globe near the Antarctic Circle potentially occurred dark and light seasons. More famous denizens of this light and dark season land include Muttaburrasaurus (the taxon in which Atlascopcosaurus is sometimes considered a member due to its fragmentary nature), Leaellynasaura‎, and even a carnivore simply referred to most often as Dwarf Allosaurus. It is unfortunate that more of this little dinosaur has not been recovered (and also that it actually be a nomen dubium that belongs to another species). Regardless, the adaptations to light and dark seasons that could potentially be seen in this taxon would be wonderful. Should more ever be discovered it will tell us a lot about the dinosaur and it will definitively answer the question regarding the position of the dinosaur itself.

20 November 2013

Once A Hypsilophodont

©Robinson Kunz
Originally diagnosed as a middle of the group Hypsilophodontid, Atlascopcosaurus, has since been reassigned to the honored position of one of the basal-most Ornithopoda. Hypsilophodontidae would still be recognized as the family to which Atlascopcosaurus is assigned had it not been deemed paraphyletic and effectively banished from dinosaurian systematics. Regardless, as a basal member of the Ornithopoda Atlascopcosaurus possesses many characters that define the clade later on. Bipedal herbivores, Ornithipoda like Atlascopcosaurus, possess predentary beaks and occluding grinding teeth in a distinctive cheek region along the maxilla and dentary. They also should, remember that Atlascopcosaurus remains are exceedingly fragmentary postcranially, possess ossified tendons along the caudal vertebrae that stiffen the tail, making structurally very much like a cantilever bridge; it provides stability and support to balance out the center of gravity oriented in the upper thoracic area. The nearly horizontal body position is well exhibited in this illustration, and the feathering or filamentous fibers, are a fairly certain reality as well at this point. Small basal members of Ornithopoda are no longer so bland as they used to be thankfully.

19 November 2013

A Book Star

Atlascopcosaurus has not made a significant impact, overall, in the peer reviewed scientific publication world. It has, however, appeared in a number of books as passing information and even as a key character. Some of these books may have been mentioned in prior entries given that they have information contained with that discusses other Australian dinosaurs. These include books like Minmi and Other Dinosaurs of Australia as well as World's Smallest Dinosaurs. Rich and Vickers-Rich published the initial naming and describing paper, as previously stated, but they also co-wrote a 1999 paper which was much more about the Hypsilophidontids of Australia as a whole; the abstract can be found through this link. Chapter 18 of Dinosaur Systematics describes the basal Ornithopoda and here too Atlascopcosaurus is touched upon. The Witmer Lab at Ohio University hosts a PDF version of this chapter, making it available online; Dr. Witmer is a co-author of the chapter.

18 November 2013

Australia in Motion

Atlascopcosaurus is not a vividly in motion Australian dinosaur. There are few resources that show Atlascopcosaurus in motion adequately but there is a tribute video, and that is a step in at least a somewhat progressive direction. Beyond that there really is not much in the way of videos. Below is the tribute video that shows Atlascopcosaurus, however briefly it is; it is a video highlighting all Australian dinosaurs afterall.

17 November 2013

Atlascopcosaurus and Little Fact Pages

Atlascopcosaurus shows its face rarely if at all in terms of reliable internet sites. This is not much different from the types of things that exist to present on normal Sundays; in a perfect world there would be far more sources for every animal for younger readers. However, today the only quality links, and thankfully they are quality links that happen to exist, come to us from About and the NHM in London. I also took the liberty of clearing out a rather blank image to begin with for coloring purposes.

16 November 2013

Blank Faced Ornithopods

©Karkemish (via Deviantart)
Today I have decided that we will only have on illustration. There is a reason to such madness. The fragmentary nature of the discovered cranium makes it difficult to illustrate or even describe what the post cranial skeleton looks like. Therefore, any recreation is little more than an approximation based on a generalized Ornithopod body plan. Some studies have gone as far as to determine that Atlascopcosaurus is a nomen dubium (none cited in the Paleobiology Database though this is where the original claim of nomen dubium originates) while others have claimed that the likelihood of a relationship between Atlascopcosaurus and Muttaburrasaurus requires a redefinition of the Iguanodontia including the designation of the family Muttaburrasauridae. Atlascopcosaurus is a much smaller animal than Muttaburrasaurus but the likelihood of a parallel evolution of body shape within the closely related Australian Ornithopods is more than likely what most illustrators and descriptors are basing their images on.

15 November 2013

The Riches

The world owes a fairly big chunk of its knowledge of Australian dinosaurs to Tom and Patricia Rich (more correctly known as Patricia Vickers-Rich). Using the equipment of a company known as the Atlas Copco Company in 1984 (naming and describing taking place during 1988 and 1989) the duo dug out and named a dinosaur after their tool company! Additionally, the specific epithet honors the state manager of Atlas Copco, and an assistant in the dig, William Loads. Therefore, the name Atlascopcosaurus loadsi, was coined in the description of this dinosaur. A small basal Ornithopod dinosaur, Atlascopcosaurus is known from fragmentary cranial skeletal material and not well known at that. Since the postcranial material is missing, not much is known about the overall shape of these dinosaurs other than that they were basal bipedal Ornithopods, and this is hypothesized from the skull. Difficult weeks are a lot of fun around here!

14 November 2013

Star Tyrannosaur

The story behind the long narrow snout of Alioramus remains quite unsolved and a little bit conjectural. The purpose of such a snout clearly has an embedded purpose and we have certainly entertained many interesting and educated guesses/hypotheses during this week. Alioramus is something of a star also, having had many mentions in many different areas of popular culture. Brian Switek has written about the horned features, that we never covered, in the skull of Alioramus altai. More importantly, in terms of pop culture, the nearly always represented Dinosaur King and Spore video games once again give us pop culture links for our dinosaur of the week. The Spore model is pretty well done actually, even going so far as to include the ridged nasal bones seen in many of the illustrations:
This one dances, so it may be more inaccurate, but... it dances, so really it is also pretty awesome:

13 November 2013

Alioramus is Unique Enough

Whenever an image says only "artist's rendition" I cringe a little for the artist and hope that someone knows someone that did the artwork. That stated, this Alioramus is even more unique than expected of the long snouted and interesting dinosaur that we have come to love (or at least enjoy thinking about how this clearly tyrannosaur-like dinosaur looks so very much like an allosaur). What sort of necessity is there to this interesting camouflage scheme though? Is it artist's fancy or is it well thought out considering the ecosystem of the Nemegt Formation? Floodplains with large river channels and the related soil deposits make up the majority of the Nemegt Formation sediments. Hardened calcium carbonate deposits mark periodic droughts in the Nemegt sediments as well. A variety of prey items lived alongside Alioramus, and Tarbosaurus as well, in this periodically dry floodplain in present day central Mongolia. Camouflage for the smaller tyrannosaur would most likely be a must not only for ambushing prey but for hiding from the larger Tarbosaurus as well. Camouflage, of course, is not the only reason for markings on any animal; species recognition and looking attractive are also quality reasons to have some wonderful and interesting markings. A strangely white background in the environment, such as chalk cliffs, would make sense with this illustration's color scheme.

12 November 2013

Looking at Brains and Heads

There are quite a few studies of Alioramus out there to be read. There is a little for everyone in fact. There are studies on osteology of Alioramus specimens out there. The study referenced in this paper even questions the validity of A. altai based on the fact that it appears to represent a younger individual that may in fact only have ontogenetic differences separating it and A. remotus. Additionally, this paper makes note of, and reinforces, the point made here earlier that the jaw, unique amongst Tyrannosaurids, was probably not used in a typical tyrannosaur method of excising large chunks of food for swallowing. An alternative is not mentioned specifically, but instead it is proposed that that mode of feeding may in fact be present in adults of the genus; unfortunately only individuals deemed to be immature have been discovered.

A second paper of interest examines the braincase, via CT scanning, and describes the structure in a highly detailed manner. 21 characters from this structure were used in redefining the tyrannosaur phylogeny recently and all of these characters are addressed and discussed in this paper. It is certainly well worth the read if one has the time. Interest in a somewhat separate area of tyrannosaur phylogeny is represented in this PLOS ONE paper that expounds upon the hypothesis that the rise and fall of  tyrannosaur lines can be used to parallel the rise and fall of the Cretaceous oceans. Much of this paper discusses Larimidia (the western half of North America) and the Western Interior Seaway, but there is also mention of the Asian tyrannosaur families as well. Of these North American tyrannosaurs, those from Utah are most highly discussed and the parallels of the ocean habitats of the Cretaceous are drawn from these animals. Despite not being of particular central interest to this paper, Alioramus is a tyrannosaur and, supposedly at least, the same conclusions ought to be able to be drawn by studying Alioramus in a similar fashion.

11 November 2013

Disney Has Fun

A minute into the Dinosaur! ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom an Alioramus rears back and ingests what is supposed to be a Champsosaurus according to the accounts I have read. The only real problem with that is that Champsosaurus is a North American genus that, to my knowledge, has no representative species seen in Asia where Alioramus resided. Regardless, the long snouted Alioramus digging into the ground to pull out the long bodied Champsosaurus kind of meshes well with the statement made Saturday that the long snout allows for extension into cavities, though body cavities not caves and caverns, in search of food. Regardless, digging for food was probably not the primary means of extracting prey items for a dinosaur with a long snout based on its shortened forelimbs. As hypothesized earlier, the snout was probably used as the primary weapon, inflicting quick and sudden bites on prey items during hunting expeditions. The idea that the elongate snout could be used for digging or extracting animals from crevices, while not entirely farcical, would most likely have been a last ditch attempt at procuring food items.

10 November 2013

Kids Play with Alioramus

Alioramus shows up in a few kid related areas, which is always nice. Notable sites that I love to reference include, of course, Dinosaurs for Kids and Academic Kids. For the higher level students there is an entry on the Tree of Life site that discuss Tyrannosaurid systematics a bit more in depth. There is also a nice coloring sheet that really accentuates that Allosaurid snout that has been mentioned.

09 November 2013

Two Species and Not A Single Skeleton

Constructed by Steveoc86
Alioramus remotus is the more fragmentary skeleton of the two named species. However, it is still distinctive enough to be both Alioramus and a distinct second species of the genus. The skull, obviously lacking in many aspects, does contain the majority of the dentary and maxilla as well as a good portion of the postorbital surface of the skull. The postcranial skeleton is represented entirely be two toes and a portion of the ankle. Fortunately, it appears, that the general size and shape of this dinosaur can be approximated using the few bones we have knowledge of, comparative proportions of other Alioramus specimens, and most likely proportional comparisons to its close relative Tarbosaurus as well.

Constructed by Conty
Alioramus altai, however, consists of quite a bit more skeletal remains, overall at least. Regardless, the dimensions of the dinosaur are quite well known from the collective fossil assemblage of all of the Alioramus specimens. The most distinctive feature of the skull as a whole is the long narrow snout of Alioramus. This type of snout, overall, appears to be appropriate for reaching deep into prey items as well as lunging attacks with quick snaps of the powerful and solid built jaw. Given the apparently agreed upon configuration of the forelimbs as highly tyrannosaurid, a long quick jaw related attack would more than make up for these rather small forelimbs.

08 November 2013

A Different Branch of Dinosaur

Tyrannosaurids are always a fun branch of dinosaurs to discuss. After last week's nearly non-existent information on Aeolosaurus I think we ought to cover a nearly equally difficult to fossil carnivore. The love people show to tyrannosaurs ought to somewhat offset the little available fossil material of Alioramus remotus Kurzanov 1976 or Alioramus altai Brusatte 2009. Alioramus is a bit of problem child as fragmentary evidence of the two species has been recovered only from Asia and only as fragments. There is no real problem with being an Asian dinosaur, it is just that the fragments have only been discovered in Asia and that the dinosaur has been noted only as being related to Tarbosaurus bataar which, itself, has debated origins and positioning in the phylogenetic tree. There are some rather interesting similarities between Tarbosaurus and Alioramus that will need to be highlighted to understand where Alioramus belongs on the tyrannosaurid tree, and hopefully we can go over what makes this dinosaur an Asian tyrannosaur during the course of the week!
©Nobu Tamura

07 November 2013

What We Know

We know that Aeolosaurus is not a popular dinosaur, unfortunately. That has been borne out over the week. No one has offered any answers to any of the questions that remain without closure, sadly. However, I do have one more image I can share that is attributed to Aeolosaurus. The image has no attribution as far as I can find in terms of illustrator though.

06 November 2013

Aeolosaurus and Its Tail

The tail of Aeolosaurus had some rather interesting neural spines on their vertebrae. We mentioned previously that Aeolosaurus has anteriorly deflected neural spines on the caudal vertebrae. What is the precise reason for having a neural spine that is positioned forward rather than the typical convention which faces posteriorly, or backwards? Neural spines are used for muscle attachment, as well as other attachments such as stiffening tail rod ligaments in some species of dinosaur. There are other instances, other than closely related titanosaurs, which have anteriorly directed neural processes. Searching for for some valid reason, other than a different configuration of muscle attachment that serves the same purpose as posteriorly deflected processes, that neural spines would be deflected forward rather than to the rear has been fairly difficult and, honestly, nearly impossible to find in morphological studies. Muscle configurations that serve the same purpose but are aligned differently would not necessarily be farcical; it could simply be that Aeolosaurus was built differently. It could also be that something was put together incorrectly, it has happened before. I hope that someone somewhere is studying the configuration or that someone knows the answer already and I just have not found it or do not see the answer clearly at this moment, but will sometime soon!

05 November 2013

Writing Like A Maniac

Aeolosaurus has been written about a lot more than it has starred in documentaries. The mentions of it in scholarly articles are pretty fantastic as well as the number of papers dedicated solely to Aeolosaurus. One of these papers that is of great importance is a 2007 article by Casal, et al. which details the discovery of a new species of Aeolosaurus from Argentina. This species is the second named species, which is why it is an important paper. Additionally, Martinelli, Riff and Lopes wrote a paper discussing when and where fossils of Aeolosaurus have been discovered in South America that makes for a rather fun and interesting read. I encourage everyone to read the first paper if you have to choose between them for any reason!

04 November 2013

Motionless Winds

Sadly, for a dinosaur so rooted in winds, by virtue of its name, Aeolosaurus is rather motionless. There are a variety of reasons that this could be, but the sad fact is that there is simply not any documentaries or even wireframe models out there constructed by dinosaur enthusiasts. There are not even modded models in games like Zoo Tycoon. The most important thing about Aeolosaurus that should not be forgotten, despite this lack of wonderful motion and images of a rather unique and interesting sauropod, is that there are many individuals, fragmentary as they are, that are known and therefore the ability to create models in the future becomes greater with every discovery. Since that does not exist, however, please enjoy this wonderful image of Aeolosaurus today:

03 November 2013

Kids and Dinosaurs

Aeolosaurus is not well known, we can accept that many of the titanosaurs are not well known I think. Cutting out a lot of the speculative and scientific debate of many other articles online, Academic Kids does a good job of just posting the bare minimum of information to introduce kids to the dinosaur. Unfortunately, the bare minimum for a poorly understood dinosaur is a very little amount of information to begin with. For a little more in depth information, after gathering the bare minimum, the outline version of information presented on Bob Strauss' About pages again offer a good place to direct the children eager to read more and talk about this dinosaur more. Sadly today we have no coloring pages to offer up while children read or are read to, but perhaps the kids out there could draw one of these dinosaurs for themselves.

02 November 2013

Pointing Forward

From Garcia and Salgado 2013
One of the most unique features that allies Aeolosaurus with other titanosaurs, specifically Gondwanatitan, is that the neural spines on the caudal vertebrae are angled forward in the direction of the head (anteriorly). That sort of trait is not common in the titanosaurs meaning that Gondwanatitan and Aeolosaurus are closely related. As some of the only material discovered with the type species, these caudal vertebrae were an important piece of the puzzle as to what this animal was exactly. They united Aeolosaurus with other titanosaurs as well because they were elongated medially from front to back and they possessed shallow fossae on the lateral sides of the centra; both are titanosaurid characters of caudal vertebrae. The initial puzzle pieces consisted of these few vertebrae, elements of the forelimbs, and the right hindlimb. These elements also aided in identification of the animal, of course.

Picture ©Marco Aurelio Esparz
The femur of Aeolosaurus was a rather large bone, as we expect from titanosaurs. The size, dimensions of proportion, and general shape of the femur all attributed to the diagnosis of belonging to a titanosaurid dinosaur. The relationships alluded to by the femur are hazy and basically educated guesses at this point as titanosaurid material is both rare and incompletely understood. However, the femur of Aeolosaurus is rather large and quite a nicely preserved bone all in all.

01 November 2013

Keeper of the Winds

Aeolus, keeper of the winds in Greek mythology, would probably be a little more light on his feet than the dinosaur that can claim him as a namesake. Aeolosaurus is a genus consisting of three recognized species; A. rionegrinus Powell, 1987 (type), A. colhuehuapensis Casal et al., 2007, and A. maximus Santucci & De Arruba-Campos, 2011. This South American titanosaur of the Late Cretaceous measured in at approximately 45 ft (14 m), however, weight estimates are not accurate when available due to the loss of much of the skeleton. There are a number of distinguishing characters in the skeletal material that has been recovered and these, of course, will be topics of much consideration and discussion over the course of this week. We will start bright and early tomorrow in this discussion.