Here’s that ventral-view apatosaur cervical anaglyph you ordered

December 4, 2022

Just to wash our mouths out after all the theropod-related unpleasantness yesterday:

What we’re seeing here, in glorious 3D, is the 7th cervical vertebrae of BYU 1252-18531. This is an apatosaurine at the Brigham Young University Museum of Paleontology which the museum has catalogued as “Apatosaurus excelsus” (i.e. Brontosaurus excelsus), and which Tschopp et al. (2015) tentatively referred to Brontosaurus parvus, but which I suspect is most likely good old Apatosaurus louisae.

It’s in the rarely seen ventral view, which really emphasizes the ludicrously over-engineered cervical ribs. Get your 3D glasses on and marvel at how they come lunging out of the screen at you, like giant insects in a 1950s B-movie.

So beautiful.

2 Responses to “Here’s that ventral-view apatosaur cervical anaglyph you ordered”

  1. Brad Lichtenstein Says:

    Not over-engineered if they end up taking some of the compressive load of the underside of the neck. Referring to the theropod unpleasantness, that is effectively what intertwined chevrons are doing. The intertwined superior (dorsal?) caudal ribs are clearly tensive elements of that beam.

  2. Mike Taylor Says:

    Hi, Brad. The idea that sauropod cervical ribs were absorbing the compressive load of the underside of the neck was proposed by John Martin et al. (1998) in a paper that he himself doesn’t have much love for, and which Matt and I have been on the verse of rebutting for maybe two decades now.

    Matt, as I recall, we took a long section on this subject out of what became our 2013 PeerJ paper for some reason, probably intending it to become its own standalone short-paper. Is that how you remember it? What happened?

    Anyway, Brad, that idea doesn’t work for Apatosaurus because the ribs are just too short — each one doesn’t reach its neighbour, so there is no continuous incompressible column of bone down there. Ventral compression stress of bending is absorbed, as always, by the centra.

    What the cervical ribs were doing is another question, and to which, as you know, we think we have the answer — though it’s taking a dreadfully long time to bring it to print.


    Martin, John, Valérie Martin-Rolland, and Eberhard (Dino) Frey. 1998. Not cranes or masts, but beams: the biomechanics of sauropod necks. Oryctos 1:113–120.

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