Towards a catalogue of complete sauropods necks

January 27, 2021

Early in my 2015 preprint on the incompleteness of sauropod necks, I wrote “Unambiguously complete necks are known from published account of only six species of sauropod, two of which are species of the same genus”, and listed them.

Taylor 2015: Figure 3. W. H. Reed’s diagram of Quarry C near Camp Carnegie on Sheep Creek, in Albany County, Wyoming. The coloured bones belong to CM 84, the holotype of Diplodocus carnegii; other bones belong to other individuals, chiefly of Brontosaurus, Camarasaurus and Stegosaurus. Modified (cropped and coloured) from Hatcher (1901: plate I). Cervical vertebrae are purple (and greatly simplified in outline), dorsals are red, the sacrum is orange, caudals are yellow, limb girdle elements are blue, and limb bones are green.

Haha, stupid me! I had hugely under-counted. With thanks to the three peer-reviewers of the submitted manuscript and to SV-POW! commenters, I have revised this list, in preparation for forthcoming resubmission. The table as it stands currently consists of 24 candidates, not all of them very solid. Of these, 15 were found in articulation, the others mostly not — though we don’t know for sure in all cases. Not all of the necks have been properly described, and not all of the ones that have been described have been named. And other questions hang over some of them, very briefly summarised in notes.

Here is the list, sorted by date of description. If I got the Google-docs permissions right, you should be able to see it but not edit it. (If you can edit, please don’t! And let me know.)

Please let me know if you find any mistakes, or if you think I have missed anything. Everyone who contributes will get a mention in the acknowledgements.


37 Responses to “Towards a catalogue of complete sauropods necks”

  1. Looks like a handy list! Offhand, I can think of one specimen you seem to have missed: The holotype of Xinjiangtitan shanshanesis has a complete neck preserved in articulation (described by Zhang et al. 2018, seemingly excavation of the site was not complete as of the original description).

  2. You might check with Dr Poropat to see if this qualifies for your list:
    It doesn’t seem to have been formally described yet.

  3. Matt Wedel Says:

    John, pardon my ignorance, do you have the full ref for that Zhang et al. paper? I don’t think I have a copy, and I need to track one down.
    EDIT: I should have attempted a simple Google Scholar search! Here’s the ref:
    Zhang, X.Q., Li, D.Q., Xie, Y. and You, H.L., 2020. Redescription of the cervical vertebrae of the Mamenchisaurid Sauropod Xinjiangtitan shanshanesis Wu et al. 2013. Historical Biology, 32(6), pp.803-822.

  4. Do none of the ones from Dinosaur National Monument count? I have admittedly not done a vert count yet.

  5. Justin Tweet Says:

    The titanosaur specimen MAU-Pv-AC-01 from the Río Colorado Group of Rincon de los Sauces, Argentina reputedly has a nigh-on complete vertebral series, but is not particularly helpful at the moment, having been only reported in abstracts (Calvo et al. 1997; Coria and Salgado 1999) and in passing in other publications.

    A *second* unnamed titanosaur specimen from Rincon de los Sauces (Bajo de la Carpa Formation) was found more recently. This one is a comparative slacker, “only” complete from the skull to the last sacral (

    *Calvo, J. O., R. A. Coria, and L. Salgado. 1997. Uno de los más completos titanosáuridos (Dinosauria-Sauropoda) registrados en el mundo. Ameghiniana 34:534.

    *Coria, R. A., and L. Salgado. 1999 [also given as 1998]. Nuevos aportes a la anatomía craneana de los saurópodos titanosáuridos. Ameghiniana 36:98.

  6. Matt Wedel Says:

    Oh, you mean the camarasaurs in the wall? They should count, if any of them are complete. I can’t remember off the top of my head if any are.

  7. Mike Taylor Says:

    Many thanks, John D’Angelo, I have added Xinjiangtitan shanshanesis to the table!

  8. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, Stephen: with “only” ten cervicals recovered, Judy doesn’t look like she’s going to fit the bill, but she is certainly a promising specimen and I’ll be dropping Dr. Poropat a line to see how that work is progressing.

  9. Mike Taylor Says:

    Matt, ReBecca: haven’t the complete camarasaurs (CM 11338, USNM 13786) long ago been taken out of the wall? Or are there others? I don’t think I see any other in Ken Carpenter’s (2013) quarry map.

  10. […] comparison, the second- and third-longest complete cervical series (of anything, ever, to date) belong to Mamenchisaurus hochuanensis, at 9.5 meters […]

  11. Mike Taylor Says:

    Justin, thanks for these titanosaur references. I’ll see what I can find as I follow them up.

  12. Daniel GONCALVES Says:

    They are the cotypes AMNH 5760′, AMNH 5761, AMNH 5761a and AMNH 5760″ but none are complete I think. The whole form a complete neck but I guess that none of the specimens are articulated ?

  13. Daniel Gonçalves Says:

    Sorry, I was wrong. I throught that you talk about only holotypes…
    But the specimen SMA 002 of Cathetosaurus desciribed by Tschopp, Wings, Frauenfelder and Rothschiled in 2016 is articulated .

  14. hopdobby Says:

    None of the type specimens of Camarasaurus supremus specimens preserve a complete neck.

  15. Mike Taylor Says:

    Daniel, hopdobby: Indeed, the cervicals of the Camarasaurus supremus type series are hugely uncertain: as Osborn and Mook say in the caption to their plate LXVII, “The association of these vertebrae with each other is not definitely determined. They comprise a consistent morphological series”. They basically took a whole sackful of cervicals and lined up a set that they thought looked good together.

  16. Mike Taylor Says:

    Daniel, the referred C. lewisi SMA 002 is already in the spreadsheet — but down at the bottom, as it’s never been described.

  17. The DINO wall specimens have the two Cam skulls, but I do not believe either are on an intact, complete neck series. But near the less visible of the two there is another neck section or two, w/o skulls. I am just not sure what the vert count is. I will look after I get past this week.

  18. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, ReBecca, that will be appreciated. If you are able to get photos of any intact neck, that would be great, too! (I know it’s not always easy to frame photos while climbing the wall.)

  19. Matt Wedel Says:

    According to Sereno et al. (1999), the holotype of Jobaria, MNN TIG3, has 12 cervical vertebrae making up 403-cm neck.

    FWIW, there is not a complete neck for Nigersaurus. According to Sereno et al. (2007: p. 5), “In Nigersaurus the relatively short neck length and cervical vertebral count of 13 is established on the basis of two overlapping individuals that together compose a complete presacral series from the axis to the mid dorsal vertebrae.”

  20. Mike Taylor Says:

    Regarding Jobaria, there’s not nearly enough information in the WIJP to know whether the material was articulated, or on what basis they concluded that there are 12 cervicals. Once it’s actually described, I may be able to add it to future version of the table.

    Regarding Nigersaurus, yes, I read that when compiling the table, which is why it’s not in. (Also, would it really have killed them to say which verterbae were included in each of those two individuals, and what their specimen numbers are?)

  21. Matt Wedel Says:

    “Information” on Jobaria and Nigersaurus must be taken on faith.

  22. Mickey Mortimer Says:

    Is Judy the specimen recently described in-

    Stephen F Poropat, Martin Kundrát, Philip D. Mannion, Paul Upchurch, Travis R. Tischler & David A Elliott (2021)
    Second specimen of the Late Cretaceous Australian sauropod dinosaur Diamantinasaurus matildae provides new anatomical information on the skull and neck of early titanosaurs.
    Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, zlaa173 (advance online publication)

    I don’t have a copy, but that would probably resolve if it qualifies.

  23. No, that isn’t Judy; I believe that it describes the specimen referred to in the Judy press release as “Alex”. The specimen—AODF 836—was previously briefly described in the same paper that named Savannasaurus. I think Judy is the specimen mentioned as “the most complete sauropod ever found in Australia” in an SVP 2019 abstract by Poropat et al.

  24. Mike Taylor Says:

    John: “I think Judy is the specimen mentioned as “the most complete sauropod ever found in Australia” in an SVP 2019 abstract by Poropat et al.” Yes, Poropat has confirmed this.

  25. Thanks, that’s good to know! I have to say I’m looking forward to that specimen being published—previous sauropod descriptions by Poropat et al. have been top-notch.

  26. Daniel Gonçalves Says:

    For the “DGM Series A”, I believe that the atlas is missing but the series is articulated with 3 dorsals vertebrae.

  27. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, Daniel. What is your source?

  28. Daniel Gonçalves Says:

    Gomani (2005) talk about that and take Powell, J.E. 1979. Sobre una asociacion de dinosaurios y otras evidencias de vertebrados del Cretacico superior de la region de la Candelaria. Provincia de Salta, Argentina. Ameghiniana, 16:191-204. in reference

  29. steveoc86 Says:

    Just a slight detour from the topic; what is the real specimen number of the ‘Mamenchisaurus hochuanensis’ type? Paul lists it was IVPP 3 whereas you’re are listing it as CCG V 20401? The translation of the description doesn’t seem to state it. Was it given a new number at some point?

  30. Mike Taylor Says:


    I’ve been referring to that specimen as CCG V 20401 for a long time now — in the formal literature at least since the Brontomerus description (Taylor et al. 2011) and on SV-POW! at least since my 2008 visit to the basement of doom. I don’t remember where I got it from, but this DML thread shows that Matt was using it by 2000.

  31. Steve O'C Says:

    Ok, thanks! CCG V 20401 also seems to get the most search results. I wonder where Paul got that number?

  32. Matt Wedel Says:

    I think that’s the number I used in the second Sauroposeidon paper, and I think I got it from Don Glut’s Dinosaurs: The Encyclopedia, which IIRC is pretty good about listing holotypes. My guess is that CCG V stands for Chengdu College of Geology – Vertebrate, and that the specimen might have been given a separate IVPP number after being transferred there. The Chengdu College of Geology is now part of the Chengdu University of Technology.

  33. Steve O'C Says:

    FWIW, The most recent paper I’m aware of to use CCG V 20401 is Moore et al. (2020) in their Klamelisaurus osteology paper. Paul uses IVPP 3 as far back as 2010 in a mass estimate table. I’m not aware of anyone else using it.

    Rereading the ”M. hochuanensis” description, it refers to image plates that aren’t in the translated version from Polyglot Paleontologist; would you happen to know if these are available online anywhere?

  34. Steve O'C Says:

    Awesome! Thanks!

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