Sauropods were toblerones, not smarties tubes

September 9, 2015

As we’ve previously noted more than once here at SV-POW!, apatosaurine cervicals really are the craziest things. For one thing, they are the only dinosaur bones to have inspired the design of a Star Wars spaceship.

One result of this very distinctive cervical shape, with the ribs hanging down far below the centra, was that the necks of apatosaurines would have been triangular in cross-section, rather than tubular as often depicted. (The Apatosaurus maquette that Matt reviewed gets this right.)

Here’s how I conveyed this in two slides of my SVPCA talk:

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 23.38.07

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 23.38.12

Although apatosaurs take this to the extreme, the same was essentially true of all sauropod necks. The ventrolateral position of the cervical ribs would have lent the necks a rounded triangular shape, or diamond-shaped in the case of less extreme sauropods whose neck soft-tissue hung below the cervical ribs.

(Previously: Sauropods were tacos, not corn dogs; and Sauropods were corn-on-the-cob, not shish kebabs.)

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6 Responses to “Sauropods were toblerones, not smarties tubes”


  1. Certainly sauropod necks aren’t tube shaped, but when restoring muscle cross-sections I get more of a triangle on top of a square rather than a simple triangle – maybe a Toblerone on top of a Starburst package?

  2. Mike Taylor Says:

    Well, Scott, I challenge you to produce a counter-post showing what you mean! (Please link it from a comment here when you do.)

    As far as I’m aware, the third image in this post is as yet the only half-credible apatosaur-neck reconstrction in cross section that has been in any sense published.


  3. That’s totally fair. And I accept your challenge, but I can’t promise it will be super quick. And in the meantime, a Toblerone is MUCH better than a tube-neck.

  4. Mike Taylor Says:

    Excellent! Something to look forward to!


  5. […] was my privilege to present a talk on our hypothesis that the distinctive and bizarre toblerone-shaped necks of apatosaurs were an adaptation for intraspecific combat. This talk was based on an in-progress […]

  6. jrabdale Says:

    I’m wondering if there were any sauropod necks that were diamond-shaped in cross-section.


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