Diplodocus skull and first three cervicals in 3D

June 20, 2019

Here’s a bit of light relief, in the middle of all those looong posts about Supersaurus and its buddies. When Matt and I were at NAMAL on the last day of the 2016 Sauropocalypse, we took a bunch of tourist shots. Two of them were of a skull and first three cervical vertebrae from what I take to be Diplodocus or something close, and happened to be from sufficiently close angles that they make a pretty good anaglyph. Here it is!

(If you don’t have the 3D glasses that you need to see this, get some. Seriously, how many times do I have to tell you?)

If anyone out there is familiar with NAMAL (on indeed with diplodocid skulls) and can confirm or contradict my identification, I’d appreciate it. Best of all would be a photo of the signage associated with this specimen, such as I should have taken.

By the way, if you’re not used to the ways of sauropods, you might be thinking “Mike, you dummy, there are only two vertebrae there”. But in saropods, the atlas (1st cervical) is a tiny, inconsequential element that frequently fuses to the axis (2nd cervical). So what looks like the first cervical here is really 1+2. If you look closely, you can see the blades of the atlas projecting backwards and upwards, across the surface of the axis.

4 Responses to “Diplodocus skull and first three cervicals in 3D”

  1. llewelly Says:

    but … is this an actual Diplodocus skull, or one that got reassigned to Galeamopus?

  2. Mike Taylor Says:

    That is a very good question, to which I do not know the answer.

  3. Mike Taylor Says:

    By the way, I notice that the cervical rib of C3 is much longer here than we expect in a diplodocid, where they are typically not long enough to reach the back of the centrum.

    Why? I can think of three reasons.
    1. The cervical rib is a fiction, sculpted by the NAMAL folks to look they felt it ought to be. (Its general shapelessness perhaps supports this.)
    2. This is not Diplodocus, which has maybe too strongly influenced our ideas about diplodocines in general, but something else with longer CRs.
    3. This is an unusually mature specimen of Diplodocus, and ossification of the cervical tendons has advanced more than in other known specimens to produce a longer bony rib.

    Did I miss any?


  4. […] I was thinking about Diplodocus atlas ribs, I was reminded of the ribs on the atlas of a diplodocine skull-and-three-cervicals exhibit that Matt and I saw at MOAL(*) back in the heady days of the […]


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