Accidental mailbag #1

March 8, 2014

As I noted last time, I had a reason for going through the SV-POW! search logs. Inspired by a feature at Math with Bad Drawings, I’m going to interpret unusual or interesting search terms as questions, and answer them here.

brachiosaurus vs brontosaurus. Brachiosaurus wins on mass, height, not being a junior synonym, general awesomeness and probably length. Brontosaurus wins on date of naming. Despite this imbalance, if it came to a fight, my money would be on the Brontosaurus: it’s just insanely robust compared with pretty much all other sauropods. If they got into a neck-bashing contest (as giraffes sometimes do), it would kick Brachiosaurus‘s butt.

how long is a supersaurus. Lovelace et al. (2008:542) said of the WDC specimen “Jimbo” that “Supersaurus was neither the heaviest nor the longest sauropod, although it is well enough known to place confidence in its estimated length of 33-34 meters, and mass of 35-40 tons.” That rather modest length is only a quarter as long again as Boring Old Diplodocus (hereafter BOD), and doesn’t chime well with Matt’s estimate of 13.3-16.2m for the neck alone of the BYU specimen (Wedel 2007:195-197). That neck is, conservatively, 7 m longer than the neck of BOD, which would make the total body length 34 m even if the torso and tail were identical to those of BOD! Either someone made a mistake, or the two specimens are significantly different sizes.

giraffe skeleton labeled and labeled skeleton of a bird. We’ve never done either of those — but we should, to go with our Camarasaurus, Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops. Skeletal homology for the win!

gross neck bird. We don’t have any of those: all bird necks are beautiful, at least once divested of soft tissue. (Though we’d admit that the neck of a flamingo is weird.)

breviparopus skeleton real. Ha, we wish!

гигантораптор. Apparently this is Macedonian for Gigantoraptor. We don’t have a lot of that around here. It does crop up in Figure 1 of Taylor and Wedel (2013a), looking weedy.

cannot login jstor. Yes, it’s a very common problem. Two years ago, we calculated that five people every second are denied access to JSTOR.

images of sauripasidan. Learn to spell. A certain amount of room for error is reasonable, but four incorrect vowels in a single word suggests someone who’s not even trying.

how did a plateosaurus act. You’d need to ask Heinrich Mallison about that.

does a crocodile has eye under his neck. Nuh-uh.

skeleton made from drinking straws. An excellent idea, but not one that we’ve attempted. Perhaps this year when Matt’s over in the UK for SVPCA, we’ll try a drinking-straw-skeleton challenge. Or perhaps we should get a whole bunch of packets, hand them out on the opening night of SVPCA, and let that be the ice-breaker.

cool heart made out of pincel led. This would make a good name for a progressive rock album.


  • Lovelace, David M. Scott A. Hartman and William R. Wahl. 2008. Morphology of a specimen of Supersaurus (Dinosauria, Sauropoda) from the Morrison Formation of Wyoming, and a re-evaluation of diplodocid phylogeny. Arquivos do Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro 65(4):527-544.
  • Taylor, Michael P., and Mathew J. Wedel. 2013. Why sauropods had long necks; and why giraffes have short necks. PeerJ 1:e36. doi:10.7717/peerj.36
  • Wedel, Mathew J. 2007. Postcranial pneumaticity in dinosaurs and the origin of the avian lung. Ph.D dissertation, Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA. Advisors: Kevin Padian and Bill Clemens. 290 pages.

4 Responses to “Accidental mailbag #1”

  1. Dave Lovelace Says:

    Re: Supersaurus –
    Not sure what Matt had in the dissertation (interested in seeing that), but I’d (of course I’m biased) suggest that the 33-34 m is a reasonable low end estimate for the WDC specimen (we assumed minimal intervetebral spacing to remain conservative in our estimates), but regardless, the BYU specimen is at least 5% larger/longer that the WDC specimen (Lovelace et al., 2008). The WDC specimen has 7 cervicals with (nearly) complete centra that range from C3 to approximately C12. Compared to the 1? cervical (“spaceship” vertebrae) from BYU).
    Prior to the Lovelace et al., 2008, many of the caudals associated with the BYU Supersaurus actually belong to a barosaur specimen – artificially making the tail longer. So given the paucity of cervicals in the BYU specimen a 13.3 m long neck (per Wedel, 2007) is not far off of the 12.5-13 m long neck predicted by the ~5% increase over the WDC specimen (Which, I think is a pretty close estimate by Wedel considering the absence of nearly the entire cervical series – for the low end anyway).
    Also, Supersaurus is a LONG necked critter, akin to Barosaurus, but has a very apatosaurine body and tail, which just adds to the reasoning for it being only a 1.25 times longer than BOD. After all BOD has a long neck and tail for its body.

    Just ‘weighing in’ here for fun :)

  2. […] be nice to think that our site views have octupled in the last day because of Mike’s fine and funny posts about what search terms bring people to SV-POW!, the real reason is that we were blessed by […]

  3. anderov Says:

    You have actually posted a labelled bird skeleton – (I remembered because I’ve taken classes with Dr. Holtz and saw the same diagram in class ;)

  4. Mike Taylor Says:

    Ha! It’s a good job someone is paying attention around here!

    But still, it would be nice to do a proper large-scale one, unencumbered by copyrights, to go with the three big ones we’ve done before.

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