Getting a look at Supersaurus
May 5, 2008
Unbelievably, despite the fact that it is one of my favorite places in the world, despite the fact that it is just 10 fast hours away by car, across some of the most desolate and beautiful country on the planet, I have not been to BYU since the fall of 2005.
The highlight of my last trip was spending a little quality time with the Dry Mesa Supersaurus cervical. You’ve seen it here before so you know it’s dimensions…sorta. As I am always saying, there is a big difference between knowing something in your head and knowing it in your gut. So here are a couple of gut-level facts about this vert.
First, it’s so darn big that once the forklift has it down from it’s shelf, it can’t turn or maneuver, and the driver has to crawl out through the window (true; I watched him do it). I have no idea how they got this thing up there in the first place. It’s not there anymore, it’s been moved to the gigantic shiny white new big bone storage room (a.k.a. the Vault of Awesome) that was just about completed when I was there last. How they moved it is another mystery, since the forklift can’t turn.
Second, if you want to get it all in one frame with minimal distortion, you have to get up on a very tall ladder and shoot straight down. Which I did. The scale bar is in cm (top) and inches (bottom).
This is one of my hand-full of favorite fossils in the world, and I’m looking forward to seeing it again in its new home. The barn it was in before was not air-conditioned, and the two hours I spent in there on a hot August afternoon had me sweating like a fat kid in a garbage sack. But it was more than worth it. Dirty is temporary. Science last forever (or close enough for me).
STOP THE PRESSES!! (May 7)
The paper describing the new Supersaurus specimen from Wyoming has finally been made public. It’s Lovelace et al., with a claimed date of 2007, which for all I know is when the thing actually came out. I’d appreciate details on that from those in the know. In any case, the paper is freely available by emailing co-author Scott Hartman on firstname.lastname@example.org – I haven’t even had a chance to read it yet, but I salute the authors for getting it out, and salute them for offering it to interested parties. Everyone should be so kind.