Friday, January 05, 2007

Finally, some hot giant amphicoelian action

[click for larger version. Diagram produced by Ken Carpenter]


After years of suffering all-too-brief mentions, asides and speculative remarks, the oft-alluded-to but long-neglected gigantic diplodocoid sauropod Amphicoelias fragillimus has been re-examined. Named by Edward Drinker Cope in 1878, it is known only from scant material (a single partial vertebra and fragment of femur) that – to make a bad situation worse – was somehow lost prior to the 1920s. But scant and lost or not, this material shows that A. fragillimus was immense, and in fact the most immense of all mega-sauropods. Full post to follow soon…

Thanks to Mike P. Taylor for the heads-up.

And for the latest news on Tetrapod Zoology do go here.

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Blogger Ivan said...

Hooray! Giant sauropods! I can hardly wait. Hurry up! =D

2:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard something about Amphicoelias being a forgery, especially with the physical remains gone. Is there any truth in this?

4:05 PM  
Blogger Darren Naish said...

Yo Nemo. Indeed some scepticism towards the reality of Amphicoelias fragillimus has been voiced on occasion (including by me). However, there is good reason to think that the type specimen really existed.. all will be revealed.

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Darren, I'm waiting for the post, then.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope writing this post won't take as long as the beast was! I CAN'T WAIT ANYMORE!!! *shivering with withdrawal*

1:55 PM  
Blogger Peter Mc said...

Not surprised that went extinct: never fit two of those on the ark. Imagine finding a whole skeleton...

4:26 PM  
Blogger Michael said...


I've always wondered how paleontologists are able to say so much about a creature from one or a few bones, such as the single vertebra in this case. I'm guessing one would compare the bones to the corresponding bones of another, closely related species of which there is more material, then extrapolate. That approach sounds pretty speculative to me. (Please understand that I'm not knocking paleontology. As an optical scientist, I'm just not professionally familiar with this kind of science.) Can you talk about this issue in your full post on the giant critter?

8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah the joys of extrapolating. What always annoyed me in this animal was the name. For such a wondrous beast _Amphicoelias fragillimus_ is a terrible name indeed.

There are some cool names like Seismosaurus, the best name yet, but wasted on a "small" beast.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, it was thought to belong to the genus Amphicoelias which had already been named for a rather small diplodocid, and it is "most fragile" in incorrect Latin. The genus assignment is probably not based on sufficient evidence, which means that someone should publish a new one, but we'll probably read all about that soon :-)

I don't like the name Seismosaurus all that much. First of all, the animal is not a lizard, and like elephants, sauropods apparently didn't trample.

2:23 PM  

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