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:
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.