A page from my 2018 research notebook illustrating some of the neural canal projects I was thinking about at the time.

This is the clearinghouse page for all of my projects and papers with Jessie Atterholt on archosaur neural canals.

If you’re here for the papers and other published artifacts, here they are, in reverse chronological order:

All of these papers, along with related preprints, abstracts, and blog posts, are explored in the following sections.

The Projects

Listed below are the various neural-canal-related projects that Jessie and I have been working on, listed more or less in the order that we started working on them.

Atterholt and Wedel (2022: fig. 3)

1. Paramedullary diverticula in birds and other archosaurs

Pneumatic diverticula of the respiratory system come into contact with the spinal cord and invade the neural canal in many birds. These paramedullary diverticula can leave diagnostic fossae and foramina on the bony walls of the neural canal, and these bony traces allow us to infer the presence of paramedullary diverticula from dry skeletal remains and from fossils. As of this writing (May, 2023) we’ve published one peer-reviewed paper on paramedullary diverticula, surveying their gross morphology and phylogenetic distribution in extant birds. We have further papers on paramedullary diverticula in other archosaurs in the works.



Blog posts

Atterholt and Wedel (2019: slide 1)

2. Neural canal ridges

In non-mammalian vertebrates the dura mater that surrounds the spinal cord is often fused to the periosteum that lines the neural canal, and the denticulate ligaments that support the spinal cord can pass through the dura and periosteum to anchor to bone. These neural canal ridges or bony spinal cord supports are only widespread in fish and salamanders among extant animals, but we have found them in a number of non-avian dinosaurs, particularly sauropods. Paper in prep.


Wedel et al. (2021: fig. 1)

3. Expanded neural canals in Haplocanthosaurus

MWC 8028, a partial skeleton of Haplocanthosaurus from Snowmass, Colorado, has weirdly expanded neural canals in its caudal vertebrae. We used the method of multiple working hypotheses, based on plausibly similar structures in extant birds, to infer the likely soft tissues that occupied the enlarged neural canals in life.



Blog posts

Wedel and Atterholt (2023: fig. 1)

4. Expanded neurocentral joints in sauropod dinosaurs

In unfused vertebrae of skeletally immature sauropods, the neurocentral joints are often shifted dorsally or ventrally, so that the neural canal lies mostly or entirely with either the neural arch or the centrum. We hypothesize that this shift in the position of the neurocentral joints enlarged the surface area of the joints and thereby strengthened them, which may have been mechanically important in large-bodied animals that fused their skeletons late in ontogeny.


Blog posts

All the Neural Canal Posts

Posted for Matt’s future reference, but possibly useful for others? Includes posts on neurocentral fusion and supramedullary/paramedullary diverticula.

Updated May 25, 2023

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