Your neck is pathetic

February 1, 2008

These are stressful times as SV-POW! towers, with all three of in various ways involved in the aetosaur ethics business that is — finally — getting the coverage that it deserves. So I don’t want to talk about that here, not only because it’s nothing to do with sauropod vertebrae but also because it’s getting a lot of coverage elsewhere.

Instead, I give you the wonder that is our old friend Sauroposeidon:

Sauroposeidon C8 with your pathetic whole neck

As you all know, Sauroposeidon is the dinosaur with both the second-coolest name and — more relevant — the third longest neck (estimated at 11.5 m), being surpassed in that respect by Supersaurus (at least 13.3 m) and Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum (maybe 12 m).

What we have here is C8 — the eighth and longest of the four preserved cervical vertebrae that constitute the holoype of Sauroposeidon, in right lateral view. Because it’s from the middle part of the neck, where vertebrae are most elongate, it is — just — the longest known vertebra in the world, coming it at a mighty 140 cm from the tip of the prezygapophysis to the cotyle. That gives it all of 2 cm over the 138 cm cervical of Supersaurus — although the latter’s prezygapophyses might be broken off, which would mean that this vertebrae would have been longer when complete.

But what is that unsightly blob floating above the cervical, I hear you ask? That’s your neck. It’s an articulated sequence of the seven cervical vertebrae that make up a human neck, at about the right size for a largish adult male — a six-footer. I think you will agree that your neck is pathetic.

For one reason and another, there are no decent published photographs of the Sauroposeidon material — just the tiny and frankly inadequate photo of the four-vertebra sequence squashed into about four square inches on page 353 of Wedel et al. 2000b. So you’re seeing this material for, really, the first time. Unless you count this.

20 Responses to “Your neck is pathetic”

  1. Graham Peter King Says:

    LOL at the ‘YNIP’ line… and your idea of putting it there alongside. I didn’t guess what it was at first, it looked like a little feather!

    (But I know which neck I would rather have.)

    I’ve looked at your documentation re the aetosaurs ethics. Wow guys. Sorry you have had this hassle; leaves a sick feeling, that some people end up acting that way. Credit to you for a thorough and admirably professional response. Glad to see standards upheld and people called to account.

    I don’t like getting into confrontation myself, but find there’s a kind of compensating satisfaction after all, when you know you’ve done the right thing – though, you would rather the need had not arisen!

    Looks to me like you done good, here. I find that heartening to see. Well done.

  2. Darren Naish Says:


    Not published either, but you get the point :)

  3. Julia Says:

    This is one of those Total Perspective Vortex moments. Other moments include handing one’s lawyer husband a piece of Torridonian sandstone and saying “See this, that’s a billion years old”.

    In other words – “Holy crap, look at the size of that thing!”

  4. Mike from Ottawa Says:

    That is a superb picture. I doubt the usual silhouettes would have near the impact.

    And I only just noticed the ‘stinkin’ mammals’ category. LOL!

  5. Matt Wedel Says:

    That’s no moon–it’s a space station!

    Seriously, thanks for putting this up. It’s nice to see my baby in hi-rez and full color. We must do it more often.

  6. Amanda Says:

    Beautiful :) I’m experiencing cervical vertebra envy.

  7. Zach Miller Says:

    Yeesh. I suddenly feel so inadequate. Well, more than usual.

  8. […] 21, 2008 Following on from Your neck is pathetic, I offer you the fifth presacral vertebra of the Brachiosaurus altithorax holotype specimen FMNH […]

  9. […] 5, 2008 Every once in a while it’s good to remember that no matter how big you end up, everybody starts out […]

  10. […] 24, 2008 In the spirit of Your neck is pathetic and Your torso is also pretty lame, I note that your sacrum is […]

  11. […] 8, 2008 Those of you who have been paying attention to my recent posts will have pretty much known this was coming. I’d hate to disappoint you, so here […]

  12. […] Brachiosaurids kept a fairly primitive cervical count of  13 but made the individual vertebrae crazy long. Diplodocids recruited dorsals into the neck, and some (like Barosaurus and Supersaurus) also made […]

  13. […] me in picking my favourite series: it would have to be the four posts of axial-anatomy humiliation, Your neck is pathetic, Your torso is also pretty lame, Your sacrum is negligible and Your coccyx is […]

  14. […] (or torso), sacrum and tail.  The spine is composed of vertebrae: those in the neck are called cervical vertebrae, or cervicals for short; those in the trunk are called dorsal vertebrae (in crocs and mammals these […]

  15. […] for the record: C8 of the Sauroposeidon holotype OMNH 53062 is slightly longer overall, at 140 cm. But that includes overhanging prezygapophyses. […]

  16. […] visit to the OMNH in 2007. If you’re a regular you may recognize it from several older posts: 1, 2, 3. The bottom one was taken by Mike Callaghan, the former museum photographer at the OMNH, […]

  17. […] been the basis for classic SV-POW! posts such as Your neck is pathetic and Darren’s new indeterminate Wealden maniraptoran is […]

  18. […] The holotype of Sauroposeidon, OMNH 53062, is similar to Giraffatitan in that the two anterior cervical vertebrae (possibly C5 and C6) have no visible epipophyses, but epipophyses are prominent in the two more posterior vertebrae (possibly C7 and C8). Click to enlarge – I traced the articular facet of the postzygapophysis in ?C8 to more clearly separate it from the epipophysis. For a high resolution photograph of that same vertebra that clearly shows the postzyg facet and the epipophysis dorsal to it, see this post. […]

  19. […] Why was I thinking about C10, particularly? I traced and also stacked Gilmore’s (1936) drawing for my 2002 paper with Kent Sanders, and recycled the trace for my 2007 prosauropod paper, and recycled the stack-o-C10s for my 2013 PeerJ paper with Mike. So for better or worse C10 is my mental shorthand for A. louisae, the same way that their respective C8s seem to capture the essence of Giraffatitan and Sauroposeidon. […]

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