Mid-Mesozoic Field Conference, Day 3: Dinosaur Journey Museum

May 2, 2014

Actually we had the Jurassic talks today, but I can’t show you any of the slides*, so instead you’re getting some brief, sauropod-centric highlighs from the museum.

* I had originally written that the technical content of the talks is embargoed, but that’s not true–as ReBecca Hunt-Foster pointed out in a comment, the conference guidebook with all of the abstracts is freely available online here.


Like this Camarasaurus that greets visitors at the entrance.


And this Apatosaurus ilium ischium with bite marks on the distal end, indicating that a big Morrison theropod literally ate the butt of this dead apatosaur. Gnaw, dude, just gnaw.


And the shrine to Elmer S. Riggs.


One of Elmer’s field assistants apparently napping next to the humerus of the Brachiosaurus alithorax holotype. This may be the earliest photographic evidence of someone “pulling a Jensen“.

Cary and Matt with Brachiosaurus forelimb

Here’s the reconstructed forelimb of B. altithorax, with Cary Woodruff and me for scale. The humerus and coracoid (and maybe the sternal?) are cast from the B.a. holotype, the rest of the bits are either sculpted or filled in from Giraffatitan. The scap is very obviously Giraffatitan.

Matt with MWC Apatosaurus femur

Cary took this photo of me playing with a fiberglass 100% original bone Apatosaurus femur upstairs in the museum office, and he totally passed up the opportunity to push me down the stairs afterward. I kid, I kid–actually Cary and I get along just fine. It’s no secret that we disagree about some things, but we do so respectfully. Each of us expects to be vindicated by better data in the future, but there’s no reason we can’t hang out and jaw about sauropods in the meantime.

Finally, in the museum gift shop (which is quite lovely), I found this:

Dammit Nova

You had one job, Nova. ONE JOB!

So, this is a grossly inadequate post that barely scratches the surface of the flarkjillion or so cool exhibits at the museum. I only got about halfway through the sauropods, fer cryin’ out loud. If you ever get a chance to come, do it–you won’t be disappointed.

10 Responses to “Mid-Mesozoic Field Conference, Day 3: Dinosaur Journey Museum”

  1. sueslaght Says:

    The photo with you showing the scale is a jaw dropper. Wow!

  2. dinochick Says:

    Talks are not embargoed now. We just asked the people respect the active research portions and not take pictures of all the slides. The abstracts are publicly available at utahpaleo.org

  3. Mike Taylor Says:

    Here’s the reconstructed forelimb of B. altithorax, with Cary Woodruff and me for scale. The humerus and coracoid (and maybe the sternal?) are cast from the B.a. holotype, the rest of the bits are either sculpted or filled in from Giraffatitan

    Sadly not the sternal, no — there’s no sternal material in FMNH P25107.

    The scap is very obviously Giraffatitan.

    … or more specifically it’s very obviously a sculpt based on HM Sa 9, one of at least three scapulae that Janensch (1961) assigned to “Brachiosaurus” (= Giraffatitan) brancai. In his 1961 monograph on the limbs and girdles of Tendaguru sauropods, he illustrates Sa 9, Y 18 and Ki 74 (parts 1, 2 and 3 of the plate respectively) and they differ from each other in non-trivial ways.


    I’m not sure what to make of that. My sense is that limb-girdle bones tend to be more susceptible to individual variation than most (any?) other bones, so it could easily be that. Or it could be more evidence corroborating the idea that there’s more than one brachiosaurid in the Tendaguru Formation.

  4. Mike, judging from OBVIOUSLY (skull detail) same-species Plateosaurus‘ scaps I’d say you’re on the right track with individual variation.

  5. ijreid Says:

    I assume that you intended to say an Apatosaurus ischium, because that is obviously not an ilium.

  6. Matt Wedel Says:

    Yep, good catch. Now fixed.

    That is a pretty impressive specimen. Rarely have I seen such a clear sign saying, “A theropod bit here.”

  7. Nima Says:

    HMN Y 18 (figure 2) looks very deep in the bottom anterior portion… almost like the scap of Ligabuesaurus. I would venture to say this scap may not even be a brachiosaur, but could be a very basal somphospondylian like a laurasiforme or a chubutisaurid. Of course the location and taphonomy is important too, something which I’m thinking wasn’t all too detailed back in the site maps of 1914

  8. […] to visit the Dinosaur Journey museum. You’ve seen photos from DJ here before, from the 2014 Mid-Mesozoic Field Conference and the 2016 Sauropocalypse. Here’s an apatosaur pubis with some obvious bite marks on the […]

  9. […] Reconstructed right forelimb of Brachiosaurus at Dinosaur Journey in Fruita, Colorado, with me for scale, photo by Yara Haridy. The humerus is a cast of the element from the holotype skeleton, FMNH P25107, the coracoid looks like a sculpt to match the coracoid from the holotype (which is a left), and the other elements are either cast or sculpted from Giraffatitan. But it’s all approximately correct. The actual humerus is 204cm long, but the distal end is eroded and it was probably 10-12cm longer in life. I don’t know how big this cast is, but I know that casts are inherently untrustworthy so I suspect it’s a few cm shorter than it oughta be. For reference, I’m 188cm, but I’m standing a bit forward of the mount so I’m an imperfect scale bar (like all scale bars!). For another view of the same mount from five years ago, see this post. […]

  10. […] by predators or even scavenged. There are some dramatic tooth-marked sauropod bones out there (f’rinstance), but not among the “monographically prominent” specimens like CM 3018 (Apatosaurus […]

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