That’s gotta be one of the widest neck-bases in history

February 27, 2008

NHM camarasaur

Here’s a photo that – for several reasons – I find interesting (and I hope you agree). It depicts the neck base and pectoral skeleton of the Camarasaurus mounted in London’s Natural History Museum (and is thus © NHM). I should say to begin with that the specimen is a notorious composite, combining the bits of several different-sized animals (and with some parts duplicated from the same individual). This explains why the more anterior of the cervical vertebrae look strangely narrower than the more posterior ones (in a natural series of cervicals, the vertebrae became gradually broader the further posteriorly you travel along the sequence), and why the cervical ribs are all over the place and not neatly in alignment, lying in contact for part of their length. Anyway…

We’ve seen in previous posts here (e.g., Matt’s Russian doll post on Apatosaurus) that at least some sauropods had shockingly broad cervical vertebrae, the transverse processes and cervical ribs combining to form great ‘handles’ sweeping out laterally from the sides of the vertebrae (if you need help with those terms go to Tutorial 2). This mount is nice in showing how wide the neck base was in broad-necked taxa like Camarasaurus and Apatosaurus: rather than having subparallel lateral margins and in being narrow along its length (like a swan’s neck), the neck is damn near half the width of the thorax at its base, and then gradually tapers anteriorly. Camarasaurus cervical vertebrae are interesting in lots of other ways (did I mention the particularly large prezygapophyses and bifid neural spines?), but that’ll do for now.

4 Responses to “That’s gotta be one of the widest neck-bases in history”

  1. […] you’ll all recall the previous post where we looked at the absurdly broad neck base of the Upper Jurassic macronarian Camarasaurus. […]

  2. […] heart of the matter is your dog’s got no nose and why people going ape on dead bones? Yet other speakers are so fine while Noel killed my peace of […]

  3. […] Camarasaurus, the base of the neck was a substantial fraction of the width of the thorax (discussed here). Consequently, the cervico-thoracic junction probably appeared more abrupt in narrow-necked taxa […]

  4. […] in the cervical rib department. It bears repeating: the cervical ribs of Camarasaurus are certainly wide, but they’re not nearly as massive or ventrally expanded as in […]

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