Can you identify these five sauropod cervicals?

January 26, 2012

Sorry to have written so much about publishing politics recently, and so little about sauropod vertebrae!  That stuff is important, and I give you fair warning I will be returning to it soon.  But for now, here is a quiz:

[Click through for a much bigger version.]

This is one of the figures from the as-yet last unpublished last chapter of my dissertation, slightly modified for its forthcoming submission to Palaeontologia Electronica.  As you can see, it shows five sauropod cervicals, each one in left lateral and either posterior or anterior view.

But can you tell me what they all are?  Points will be awarded for getting the right taxon, the particular specimen, and the serial position, for an available total of fifteen points.  I will award fractional marks as and when necessary (e.g. right genus but wrong species; serial position close but not quite right).  And I might give bonuses for interesting and relevant historical asides.

Do not look at other peoples’ answers before deciding on your own!

I will leave some blank space at the end of this article, before the comments, so that you don’t see them inadvertently before you make your choices.














(Spoiler space ends)

16 Responses to “Can you identify these five sauropod cervicals?”

  1. David Hone Says:

    This is easy Mike:

    “Can you identify these five sauropod cervicals?”


  2. AbrashTX Says:

    Dave took the words right out of my mouth. Why is there a string tied around Specimen A?

  3. Mike Taylor Says:

    Dave: come on, come on — you must be able to get one or two of them!

    Abrash TX: the string attached a catalogue card to the specimen — you can actually see it, almost directly side-on to the camera, in the lateral-view photo. (But you won’t be able to read the answer!)

  4. Here’s my guess at three of ’em:

    A. Apatosaurus ajax

    B. Apatosaurus excelsus

    D. Giraffatitan brancai

  5. Without checking references, I’m guessing…

    Top left- Camarasaurus ?supremus, based on the bifurcated spine, general robustness and fact it seems like a photo from an American museum.

    Top right- Apatosaurus ?ajax, since it’s also robust and bifurcated with a crazy low cervical rib and looks like an early 1900’s monograph or something.

    Middle left- maybe an anterior cervical of Dicreaosaurus ?hansemanni[sic?] because it’s very short and looks like it could be by Janensch. Maybe all of their cervicals aren’t bifurcated.

    Middle right is Brac… er… Giraffatitan brancai. Elongate, single spine, looks Janenschy.

    Bottom is Erketu… whatever its species is. Elongate with slight bifurcation and I remember the cervical ribs reminded me of a sled.

  6. Mike Taylor Says:

    Great to see some attempts! I won’t say anything in detail about reptilianmonster’s or Mickey’s offerings so far, because I don’t want to give hints to others who might follow, but all will be revealed in due course.

  7. Matt Says:

    Maybe, I need to read more of McIntosh’s papers(The Dinosauria) but heres a guess………..
    A. Apatosaurus excelsus
    B. Diplodocus longus
    C. Haplocanthosaurus delfsi
    D. Giraffatitian branci
    E. Mamenchisaurus sinocandorum
    Lesson I learned here, time to read more about sauropod osteology and morphology.

  8. A. Apatosaurus ajax
    B. Apatosaurus excelsus
    C. Isisaurus colberti (formerly “Titanosaurus” colberti)
    D. Giraffatitan brancai
    E. Erketu ellisoni

  9. Mike Taylor Says:

    Let me remind everyone that there are points to be had not only for naming the taxa, but the specimens and the serial positions.

  10. Nathan Myers Says:

    Trick question! They are all from holiday dinners.

  11. Leo Sham Says:

    Totally humbles me… but:
    (A) Apatosaurus
    (B) Diplodocus
    (C) Amargasaurus
    (D) Giraffatitan
    (E) Sauroposeidon
    Isn’t all of them cervicals?

  12. Nima Says:

    A. Apatosaurus ajax holotype YPM 1860 (C10?)

    B. Apatosaurus excelsus holotype YPM 1980 (modified from Ostrom and McIntosh 1966:pl. 12)

    C. Isisaurus colberti holotype ISIR335/2 (mid-cervical C6?) from Jain and Bandyopadhyay, 1997 (figure 4) – that paper originally described it as Titanosaurus colberti.

    D. Giraffatitan brancai paralectotype HMN SII (C8) from Janensch (1950)

    E. Erketu ellisoni holotype IGM 100/1803 (C4) from Ksepka and Norell, 2006 (figure 5)

  13. Mark Robinson Says:

    Looks like Nima has beaten me to it. I’ll italicise mine for an extra point!

    A. Apatosaurus ajax YPM 1860, posterior cervical (C12?)

    B. A. excelsus YPM 1980, mid cervical (C10?)

    C. Isisaurus colberti ISI R335, mid cervical

    D. Giraffatitan brancai HMN SII, C8 (the only one I knew without checking)

    E. Erketu ellisoni IGM 100/1803, C4

  14. Vertebrae D is from some kind of brachiosaurid… and that is it. Do I get a point? Please!

  15. Eric Morschhauser Says:

    I’m not much of a sauropod person, but I think E is Erketu ellisoni and it’s dang weird.

  16. […] Apatosaurus and Erketu displace them very far ventrally (see Taylor and Wedel 2013a: fig. 7 and this post). So, thin jackets of muscle around proportionally large vertebrae–or, if you like, […]

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