Nearly complete Brachiosaurus brancai tail

December 17, 2007

Now that the Xenoposeidon frenzy is over, we seem to be settling down to about one SV-POW! post per week … which on the face of it is not too unreasonable for a blog with “of the week” in its title.

Continuing with our drive not to show you presacrals all the time, but completely failing in our drive not to show you Brachiosaurus all the time, I present this photo of a nearly complete tail of B. brancai that I took in the basement of the Humboldt Museum, Berlin, in March 2005:

Nearly complete tail of Brachiosaurus brancai

To my shame, I have to admit that I paid almost exactly no attention to the tail while I was there, for what seemed like a perfectly sensible reason: I was (and still am) working on another Tendaguru brachiosaur, and my specimen has no caudal vertebrae, so this tail was no use to me for comparative purposes. I know, I know, how dreadfully utilitarian. I don’t believe I’d make that mistake today.

Janensch (1950a) figured two nearly-complete caudal sequences of B. brancai, in plates II (specimen Fund Aa) and III (Fund D), and described these two plus a third, Fund no, in his description (p. 60). In a separate paper, Janensch (1950b:98) explains that the third tail skeleton, Fund no, was used for the skeletal mount in the public gallery, so the tail skeleton in the collections must be either Aa or D. Judging by eye it more closely resembles the elements in Plate III, so I guess it is Fund D. Don’t quote me on that, though. I must get back over there some day and check.

Actually there are lots of good reasons to return to Berlin now. The remount of the big brachiosaur skeleton is done, and it looks absolutely spectacular. (My thanks go to Gerhard Maier, who sent me a CD full of photos that he took of the new mount.) Also the collections are open again for the first time in a couple of years. Also, I am nowhere near as ignorant now as I was when I made my earlier visit. And, finally, there is a sushi restaurant just around the corner from the museum (why not?) which, foolishly, does an all-you-can-eat fixed-price deal. I don’t think I actually drove them out of business when I was there before. but it must have been a close-run thing.

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6 Responses to “Nearly complete Brachiosaurus brancai tail”

  1. Mike from Ottawa Says:

    What are the cylindrical things on the shelf behind the tail?

    Might you get permission from Herr Maier to post some of his pics, or are you going to use them as SV-POW! posts later on?

  2. Zach Miller Says:

    Yes, I would like to see pictures of the new mount, too. Does it still have a vertical neck?

  3. Mike Taylor Says:

    I’ve dropped Gerhard a line asking him how he feels about our posting one of his pictures. If he’s OK with that, then I’ll discuss the neck posture when the picture goes up. If not, then, well, we’re probably about due a neck-posture post anyway.

  4. Darren Naish Says:

    Ooooh, controversial. Can we rush out a paper that’ll see print at the same time as the blog post then?

  5. Mike Taylor Says:

    Well, I wasn’t planning to say anything controversial or novel — just to summarise what’s in the recent literature on neck posture.

  6. Mike Taylor Says:

    Good question — what are those cylindrical objects on the shelf behind? They are too cylindrical to be ribs, and too long to be limb bones. Anyone?


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