Denver Diplodocus

November 5, 2011

Taken by me–or rather, my camera in automatic mode–earlier today, because the ole sauropod blog has been a bit light on sauropods lately.

I spend a lot of time thinking about Sauroposeidon, Supersaurus, and the like. It’s good to be reminded that even an ‘average’ sauropod like Diplodocus is still pretty awesome. And weird. I don’t know if we can be reminded often enough.

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15 Responses to “Denver Diplodocus

  1. Mike Taylor Says:

    Interesting to see what looks like a pronounced upward kink between cervicals 13 and 14, yet the zygapophyses seem reasonably overlapped. Were you able to see this closer up?

    And is that the putative Brachiosaurus altithorax skull USNM 5730 over on the left? Please tell me you got some good photos.

  2. Matt Wedel Says:

    Maybe, yes, and I did. Sorry to be vague, but I am crunching through photos from this morning’s excavation. More soon!


  3. Awesome! Glad to see some more sauropod pics.

    I agree that the kink in the neck is interesting–does this mount belong to a particular specimen, and has it been described in the literature?

    Also, are those supposed to be gastralia or sternal ribs in the mount? Would these delimit the extent of the soft tissue of the stomach?

  4. Jack Bertram Says:

    Good to see you posting. I have followed SVPow for years.

    Having very little luck tracking down Sonorasaurus… perhaps a musing post on Barachiosauroids/Titanosaurians from the mid-Cretaceous might be a delight for others besides just me.

  5. Mike Taylor Says:

    Zach, my understanding is that the Denver Diplodocus mount uses a cast of the CM 84 neck (i.e. the holotype of D. carnegii).

  6. Matt Wedel Says:

    Zach, my understanding is that the Denver Diplodocus mount uses a cast of the CM 84 neck (i.e. the holotype of D. carnegii).

    I’m pretty sure that’s not right. The neck looked like it had quite a bit of real bone in it, plus some plaster (or possibly fiberglass) reconstruction. I’ll post better pictures soon.

    Irritatingly, I didn’t think I’d have a chance to hit the museum, so I left the good camera at home and just took my little point-n-shoot. So my pictures are on the sucky side, quality-wise. Total bush league mistake.

  7. Mike Taylor Says:

    Zach, my understanding is that the Denver Diplodocus mount uses a cast of the CM 84 neck (i.e. the holotype of D. carnegii).

    I’m pretty sure that’s not right. The neck looked like it had quite a bit of real bone in it, plus some plaster (or possibly fiberglass) reconstruction. I’ll post better pictures soon.

    Hmm. It had better be right, otherwise those geniuses Taylor et al. (2009) were mistaken when they wrote (p. 216):

    Manipulation of vertebrae can lead to different conclusions regarding range of motion: whereas Stevens and Parrish’s digital model indicated a straight, horizontal and inflexible neck in Diplodocus carnegii, physical manipulation of the mounted Diplodocus skeleton DMNH 1494, by Ken Carpenter, resulted in a mounted posture in which the neck is extended farther vertically and horizontally than is allowed by Stevens and Parrish’s digital model (personal observation). Since the neck of this mount is a cast of the Diplodocus carnegii holotype CM 84, the very same individual used by Stevens and Parrish (1999), it is evident that the results of such computerised studies are not as objective as they may appear.

    Hmm.

    OK, looking back over my notes on that paper, I see I was working from an email sent by Jeff Martz, which quotes the DMNS online catalogue:

    The DMNS online catalogue gives the specimen # as 1494 (I could confirm that if I had a copy of the exhibit tie in book “Prehisoric Journey” by Kirk Johnson and Richard Stucky in front of me, as it gives numbers for a lot of the specimens, but unfortunately I don’t) , and also gives the following information in the reconstructed portions:

    “Majority of specimen exhibited in Prehistoric Journey; skull cast from CM 1161, cervicals cast from CM 84, Left scapula, and L & R humeri, radii, & ulnae all cast from HMNS 175 (Houston Musuem of Natural Science), distal 6 caudals cast from Western Paleontology Laboratory specimen”

    I’ve had a poke around on http://dmns.org/ but not been able to find the online catalog yet.

  8. Mike Taylor Says:

    (The URL that Jeff gave for the online catalog was http://www.dmns.org/collections/ but the museum has evidently broken its web-site: that location is now redirected to http://www.dmns.org/science/web-collections which is itself a 404. The site-map at http://www.dmns.org/site-map does not mention any catalog at all.)

  9. Matt Wedel Says:

    All I know is that when I was standing directly underneath it, the neck did not seem to be a cast. It looked like real bone plus some reconstructed bits. Also, my off-the-cuff observation is that the verts don’t look particularly CM 84-ish; the neural spines in particular seem different. But I don’t have Hatcher right in front of me, either. This is going to be a hellish week in a hellish month for me, but I will try to get some better pictures posted soon.

  10. Tom Johnson Says:

    Just wondered if anyone resolved the questions about the Denver Diplo’s cervicals. The plaque below the mounted specimen shows it in situ at DNM, and including five cervicals.

  11. Tom Johnson Says:

    Thanks so much. I asked Virginia Tidwell and understand the five posterior cervicals are included in the specimen and the mount. Well now I can sleep soundly again.

  12. ijreid Says:

    Hmm. Just throughing out a (not so) random guess, but I’m thinking that the fantastic picture of the Denver Diplodocus mount is *gasp* not my Matt, is it?

  13. ijreid Says:

    Oops, correction. I ment to type “not by Matt” not “not my Matt”. Stupid hard-to-press keys.


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