ATTENTION, Dino-fans! It has come to my attention that 'Clash of the Dinosaurs' is bunk. It's not science, it's pseudoscience.

'Well', you might say. 'Big deal!' You'd be right - because that's not even close to the worst part of it. It has more recently come to my attention that the producers of the show also have engaged in some extremely dishonest QUOTE-MINING, taking quotes out of context to distort their meaning. In other words - "SPIN"! You know... the same BS tactic that crooked politicians in America use to talk about imaginary 'death panels' and 'taxpayer-funded abortions' in the hopes that their money-grubbing insurance company campaign contributors never have to worry about REAL health care reform putting a damper on their rampant greed and ungodly price-gouging profits. The same BS tactic that Creationists use to claim that such and such respected paleontologist is against evolution when they are really for it, etc...

Except now the Discovery Channel is doing it. Or rather, more precisely, the production company they hired to do the show, Dangerous Ltd. This is a very influential documentary production group with lavish offices in the famous and expensive Covent Garden district of London. What exactly did they do that was so dishonest?

Well, let's make it short and simple: Dr. Matt Wedel, the PhD paleontologist who described Sauroposeidon, was deliberately edited out of context on Clash of the Dinosaurs to make it look like he supported the outdated (and nonsensical) notion that sauropods had a "second brain" in their hips. In fact he was merely discussing and then rejecting this popular but false myth.

Judge for yourself; here is what Matt Wedel REALLY said in the full video interview (bold letters and underlines mine):

Ok one of the curious things about sauropods is that they did have a swelling in the spinal chord in the neighborhood of their pelvis.  And for a while it was thought that maybe this was sort of like a second brain to help control the back half of the body.  Erm there are a couple of misconceptions there.  One is that most animals control large part of their body with their spinal chord.  If you’re going through day to day operations like just walking down the street and your minds on something else your brain isn’t even involved in very much controlling your body.  A lot of that is a reflex arc that’s controlled by your spinal chord

So its not just dinosaurs that are controlling their body with their spinal chord its all animals.  Now the other thing about this swelling at the base of the tail is we find the same thing in birds and its called the glycogen body.  It’s a big swelling in the spinal chord that has glycogen which is this very energy rich compound that animals use to store energy.  Problem is we don’t even know what birds are doing with their glycogen bodies.  Er the function is mysterious – we don’t know if the glycogen is supporting their nervous system – if its there to be mobilised help dry [should be 'drive' -ed.] their hind limbs or the back half of their body and until we find out what birds are doing with theirs we have very little hope of knowing what dinosaurs were doing with their glycogen bodies.

Here is what the show had him saying, courtesy of Dangerous Ltd's inane editing room staff:

One of the curious things about Sauropods is that they did have a swelling in the spinal cord, in the neighborhood of their pelvis.  This was sort of like a second brain to help control the back half of the body.

Wow! They actually CUT OUT the "And for a while it was thought that maybe" part! That wasn't even a whole sentence separating those two lines, it was like 2 seconds worth of airtime difference, so WHY did they cut that out to make it look like Wedel endorses the "second brain" myth? I mean, assume you forget about the whole glycogen body part (which isn't too terribly hard to make understandable for non-scientist viewers; glycogen is basically nothing more than a sugar compound, and sugar = energy, not brain). Even THEN, it's very odd that Dangerous Ltd. would edit out those few words "And for a while it was thought...." to make it look like Matt was expressing his own personal view if they simply were editing things for brevity's sake. They are flat-out LYING in his name.

Here is Matt's own testimony from SV-POW:

"I was very clearly explaining why a misconception is no longer held, and they edited the tape to make me regurgitate the misconception as if it was not just a commonly accepted fact, but a fact that I accepted. That is beyond quote-mining, it is the most blatantly dishonest thing that you can do with someone’s recorded words. Let’s see what they have to say about it (quote continues with no omissions):
In your email, you said: ‘Someone in the editing room cut away the framing explanation and left me presenting a thoroughly discredited idea as if it was current science.’ In your interview you carefully set out a context in which you made your argument, a context that was perhaps not included in the show as carefully as it could have been. Whether this was in the interests of brevity or not, I entirely appreciate your position. We had no wish to suggest you were presenting an old, discredited argument, we were simply working on the show ever aware of the demands of our audience. This does not excuse a part of the program which was perhaps not edited with as much finesse as it could have been and consequently I will make your concerns clear to the production team in the hope that we may avoid such situations again.

While I hope this clarifies our position, I will endeavour to call you to ensure all your concerns are properly heard.
Notice that there is not even a whiff of an apology anywhere in here. They were “ever aware of the demands of [the] audience”, this part “was perhaps [!] not edited with as much finesse as it could have been”, and they’re going to try to do better next time.
This is crap, crap, crap, just total crap from top to bottom. If you have a segment of an interview that covers ground that you decide is too complex for the audience, JUST DON’T AIR IT. Or, if you insist on presenting this very old and very stupid idea is if it is accurate and current, LEAVE ME OUT OF IT."
.
That should make things pretty clear. The producers deliberately cut Matt's sequence to support this inane "second brain" theory that, much like a bad case of shingles, just won't go away....

This isn't just a case of misinforming the public; Dangerous Ltd. has also put Matt's credibility (and quite possibly his very career as a published researcher) on the line and may have already damaged it severely by dragging his name through the mud of pseudoscience-inspired LIES. This is nothing short of SLANDER and it is both UNETHICAL and ILLEGAL. Frankly, they deserve to be sued for every last dollar they made from that show.



UPDATE:

I wrote to Dangerous Ltd. as well as Discovery (as did a number of other dino-bloggers), and to my knowledge, Matt Wedel and the other SV-POWsketeers were also contacting them regularly. Eventually, a man at the Discovery staff (who has asked to remain anonymous) promised to fix the problem today, which was a lot faster than anyone had expected. In Matt's words:

"He said that the program would not be broadcast again until that segment was fixed, and that the fixed version would be in the DVD/Blu-ray release."

This is an amazingly good response by Discovery to this whole embarrassing quote-mining situation. And they are to be commended for their speedy resolution to this problem. However, there is one burning question in my mind - WHY did Discovery or Dangerous Ltd. let this happen in the first place?

I mean think about it:

1. They had plenty of interview material from Matt Wedel, from which it is obvious that the second brain is not even a valid theory - more like a whimsical tongue-in-cheek hypothesis that was long ago discarded for sheer lack of evidence in the face of far more credible and well-supported possibilities.

2. There were plenty of paleontologists that were interviewed for the show and served as consultants. They had Robert Bakker, Tom Holtz, Larry Witmer, Mike Habib... does Dangerous Ltd. expect us to believe that NONE of them had any objection to the "second brain" myth in all the time it took to produce the show? Sorry, no dice there.

3. It takes months of planning, animation, production, filming, and post-production to make such a series. They had months to get it right and listen to Wedel's advice. Yet it seems that months before the final cut, the production staff already was hell-bent on presenting the "second brain" myth (and plenty of other dinosaur myths) as absolute fact. According to Matt Wedel, they had indeed been pushing the idea for months. Indeed, this is a pattern I've seen with a lot of science programs. It seems that only NOVA and a few other PBS documentaries have any scientific integrity these days. I haven't seen a decent dinosaur show on ANY corporate network since the days PaleoWorld aired on TLC in 1995 (in those ye olde days, The Learning Channel wasn't plagued by its present pitiful lineup of endless house-hunting fad shows and 3-hour long blocks of  "who-has-the-cutest-baby-after-40" programming - back in those days, it was a lot less dumbed-down and actually lived up to its titular obligation of promoting LEARNING).

In fact, I'd venture to say that the more corporate a science program becomes, the more idiotic and less scientific it's bound to be. And it's flat-out shameful how they claim their BS myths are "fact" in order to drive up their ratings. If dinosaur fact is truly stranger than fiction (and let's be honest here - it often IS) then why do corporate production teams feel such a need to support so many blatantly FALSE and ridiculous theories for their shows? Aren't REAL dinosaurs already interesting enough without having to turn them into magical dragons, or circus sideshow pinheads with the IQ of a cactus? Why are these guys so obsessed with things like second brains? Come to think of it, why did Spielberg make his Velociraptors too big and leave them unfeathered when they had both Robert Bakker and Gregory Paul as consultants, both of whom supported feathered raptors? There's just too much of a profit motive in producing stereotypical movie monsters. A real dinosaur film or series would DUMP the stereotypes and shock audiences with the TRUTH so they don't have to wait 15 years to learn that raptors actually did have feathers... And the same is true of Clash of the Dinosaurs. There was a good deal of BS "junk science" in Walking with Dinosaurs and Jurassic Fight Club. But that all pales in comparison with what was done in Clash. Because NOW, for once you have a literally all-star lineup of the top experts in the field, offering their commentary, but the show still manages to get so many things wrong! And in Wedel's case, the producers deliberately and dishonestly twisted his words to SUPPORT an obviously wrong conclusion! And then they claimed that they were merely doing this to "meet the needs of the audience" which is an insult to the audience, the scientists, and the science itself. Basically they're TRYING to say: "we lied and quote-mined because we felt the audience is too stupid to understand the real science".

Well then, if that's the case, you're producing nothing more than dumbed-down entertainment, so don't call it a frickin' documentary!

What were these guys thinking? Here's one quick guess: "Hey Mac... lets make some changes to the script to "meet the needs" of our "audience".... A smart sauropod that cares for its eggs? No way, scratch that - it will hurt our ratings and profits because it isn't what we think the "audience" wants to see. Big plant eaters HAVE to all be dimwits who can't tell their front from their rear! Didn't you new guys ever see Fantasia as a kid? And what's this - a raptor that actually has some realistic limitations on its strength? No way, that will also hurt our ratings and profits, everyone likes to see the bad guy win, the plant eater can only be allowed to live if he has horns..."

And in the end Dangerous Ltd. STILL never apologized, it was the Discovery Channel that finally bit the bullet and promised to fix Dangerous Ltd's dishonest editing of Matt's comments. Once again, Dangerous Ltd. has FAILED to apologize for its actions, which are still SLANDEROUS, UNETHICAL, and ILLEGAL.

I won't even bother putting up a "Wall of Shame" for the unrepentant guilty parties at Dangerous Ltd. - they've already done that job for me! Just click HERE to see who's who....

But let's just quickly go over what ELSE the Dangerous Ltd. production staff got wrong besides the "two brains" fiasco - the list is indeed damning:

1. They claim T. rex was so slow that it often needed to scavenge to survive. This is pure outdated NONSENSE to anyone who has actually bothered to look at a T. rex tibia, let alone read Bakker's and Paul's papers on giant theropod limb biomechanics. Seriously people, just save yourself the embarrassment and buy a secondhand copy of The Dinosaur Heresies. If you can't understand it, RESIGN!!!!

2. They claim T. rex could see fine details from four miles away. In reality there's no way to tell how far it could see because the eyes are soft tissue and don't get preserved! They just pulled that figure out of their asses. All we know for sure is that T.rex had binocular vision and PROBABLY had large and very good eyes. How good? We just don't know.

3. They claim Sauroposeidon had a cheeseburger-sized brain with a barely developed cerebrum - in reality, the brain they're talking about is a 3D model of a Camarasaurus brain, a creature barely a third the size (i.e. mass) of Sauroposeidon. Nobody has ever found the braincase of Sauroposeidon, and the Camarasaurus brain wasn't even scaled up. In addition, the cerebrum of Camarasaurus actually looks to be the BIGGEST part of its brain...

4. They claim Sauroposeidon just abandoned their eggs and moved on - and then they show animation of Sauroposeidon leaving its eggs UNCOVERED in the middle of a barren desert. This is bullcrap; even animals as primitive as sea turtles hide their eggs before returning to the sea - and sauropods were not bound by any aquatic lifestyle. Even cold-blooded crocodiles care for their young for weeks or months. Even if they wanted to push the whole outdated "dinosaurs were cold-blooded idiots that didn't care for their young" myth down our throats, they could AT LEAST show it correctly with them COVERING the nest with sand or leaves!

5. They show a teenage Sauroposeidon the size of a house, being killed by TWO puny dog-sized raptors (meanwhile they show Matt Wedel describing how a LARGE PACK of raptors could kill Sauroposeidon HATCHLINGS). Are these guys so incurably addicted to portraying sauropods as pathetic failures unworthy of their 100 million-year survival record, that they will blatantly animate anything that CONTRADICTS the simultaneously broadcast statement of the foremost sauropod expert on the show, just to have their way???

6. They misspell Sauroposeidon and also mispronounce Parasaurolophus REPEATEDLY. That's just stupid. Learn your ABC's, Dangerous Ltd! It's Para-sauro-LOAF-us, not "Para-sa-ROFL-us". Methinks these guys have been chatting a bit too much on AIM. ROFL-us... next they'll have an "LMAO-a-saurus". Just watch them.

7. They make all kinds of bogus claims about the supposed "abilities" of creatures, such as the claim that Quetzalcoatlus could detect dino-urine from miles above in some sort of infrared vision, or the claim that "Parasa-ROFL-us" produced some insanely loud, eardrum-shattering noise form its crest to keep predators away. In reality, the crest was only acoustically capable of producing a harmless mating call.

8. They claim that Sauroposeidon had stomach acid strong enough to dissolve iron. Again, total BS. And it's not even necessary BS. Acid doesn't even digest the food! It only weakens the chemical structure of the plants, and provides an environment where pepsin and other digestive juices can function. Those are what REALLY breaks down the plants, and it's bacteria in the cecae of the intestines that digest the cellulose into more manageable compounds. Crazy-corrosive iron-melting acid isn't necessary, and it would probably also kill the animal by eating through its stomach mucus layer and thus the stomach wall as well!

9. They show T. rex attacking a Triceratops HEAD ON and trying to bite off one of its horns, losing an eye in the process! This is ridiculous - would any SANE predator try such a needlessly risky attack? Is it worth breaking all your teeth, let alone losing an eye? I thought predators were supposed to be opportunists, picking off the sick and weak, and always going for vulnerable spots on the flanks and the ribs, never the front of a horned animal! That T. rex truly deserves the Darwin Award for eliminating herself from the gene pool...

10. They imply in the baby T. rex segment that Deinonychus and T. rex lived at the same time. In reality, Deinonychus was already extinct millions of years before T. rex evolved. Someone really needs to teach those ignorant producers at Dangerous Ltd. the difference between Early and Late Cretaceous.

11. There are some mistakes that are just plain silly and unnecessary - for example in one of the T. rex segments, the narrator is talking about T. rex while a silhouetted scientist is shown examining the skull of Acrocanthosaurus instead! Another segment shows a Camarasaurus skull while the narrator talks about the teeth of Sauroposeidon. ARRRGH! Camarasaurs are NOT brachiosaurs! They don't even look the same! And brachiosaur skulls are not that hard to locate... there's the Felch Quarry skull in Wyoming, the O' Hare airport mount's skull (for which the Field Museum undoubtedly has casts and molds) and of course the three Giraffatitan skulls in Berlin. Any of these would have been a far better stand-in for Sauroposeidon than a Camarasaurus skull. And don't tell me that Dangerous Ltd. can't afford the plane tickets! They filmed American paleontologists in the USA, but their headquarters are in London! A film company with an international presence surely has the budget for a couple of cameramen to fly to Berlin and film the correct damn skull... Berlin isn't THAT far from London. Heck, they could just buy the licenses for some stock photos of the Berlin skulls at the very least!

12. A whole HOST of anatomical errors: the Sauroposeidon's neck is too short. Just call it a Brachiosaurus altithorax instead, it'll be a lot more believable. Sauroposeidon, if nothing else, is most famous for having a freakishly long neck even by brachiosaur standards. Also, their T. rex has these big ugly jowls under its lower jaw, which are completely copied from horizontal-necked crocodiles. No theropod had this sort of neck-throat structure, it looks like the Dangerous Ltd. guys didn't know a bloody thing about dinosaur throat/hyoid anatomy...

And unlike the quote-mining disaster, the Discovery Channel staff has shown no inclination or even INTEREST in remedying these obvious errors! And I've done my part by making them known to Discovery... This is corporate "science" at work my friends, and until you make your opinions known to Discovery Channel (which hired Dangerous Ltd. to do such a crappy job in the first place) then nothing will change. I encourage you all to write to Discovery about your concerns HERE. Just keep your complaints about the mistakes short and to the point, and avoid any insults or threatening language. Also be sure to make your voice heard by Dangerous Ltd. HERE, and inform their parent company Zodiak Entertainment of their subsidiary's dishonest and illegal behavior HERE (choose the "scripted products" email address). And this isn't some airy-fairy utopian fantasy ideal. Discovery did, after all, cave in and promise to fix the quote mining issue after Wedel and company turned up the heat on them. With enough grassroots email pressure they and Zodiak/Dangerous may well feel inclined to fix these other mistakes as well.

Clash of The Dinosaur TV Specials!

Posted by Nima On Sunday, December 13, 2009 6 comments



Have you ever anticipated some new event with excitement – perhaps a movie or a concert, or something more mundane, that is of particular importance to you…. But then once you experience it, it just keeps promising and not really delivering all the way? 
It’s only every so often that a scientific TV series on dinosaurs gets produced. In fact there have been only a handful of good ones since “Walking with Dinosaurs” was made by the BBC in 1999. So you can imagine my interest when I heard about the newest title: “Clash of the Dinosaurs”.
 
I recently watched the new Discovery Channel series “Clash of the Dinosaurs” after I read Dr. Matt Wedel’s comments on it on SV-POW, and I must say, I was impressed by the quality of the animation. A decade on from “Walking with Dinosaurs” the computer animation quality had improved nicely. And watching it was no doubt fun. The dinosaurs came to life as never before and the look of real living pulsating flesh was insanely well-done. But as for scientific ACCURACY, I had some big issues with it as well. And if you’re wondering what any of this has to do with paleo-art…. well, paleo-television IS paleo-art, just as film-making is an art in general. A well-done dinosaur series is just as pleasing and satisfying to the Paleo King (and any other real dino-fan) as a beautiful lifelike painting by Greg Paul or Raul Martin. And a bad series is just as distasteful as a lousy, inaccurate painting by…. well, that’s another critique for another post.
Zach Miller already posted about “Clash of the Dinosaurs”, but I thought I’d go into more detail about exactly how bad the errors in this otherwise good series were. I don’t like to complain, but this series was in many ways a mixed bag. It had some okay science and some very nice animation, but also a lot of mistakes and outdated theories.
First though, let’s cover THE GOOD: -Great animation, very lifelike. A lot of proportions are based on the real skeletons, not cheesy maquettes or models.  
-Smooth movements  
-Good, accurate scenery and foliage (for the most part). The CG trees are also a lot better than they would have been a few years ago.  
-The show actually features commentary by REAL paleontologists – not just self-proclaimed “experts” with no qualifications. You get the TOP scientists at the cutting edge of paleo-research, like Larry Witmer, Pete Larson, Matt Wedel, Tom Holtz, Mike Habib, and the legendary maverick himself, Bob Bakker. YES – after his ‘mysterious’ near-absence from TV for the past decade, Bakker is BACK! And what’s funny is, this time nobody is really disagreeing with him anymore.  
-The transparent skeletal/muscular/circulatory system models are top-notch, I haven’t seen 3D models of dinosaurs this good… EVER. The Discovery CG guys really did their homework this time, with few exceptions. Now, THE BAD: This series for all its skillful animation and its impressive roster of PhD paleontologists, still has a LOT of MISTAKES that prove its producers didn’t really listen to those same aforementioned paleontologists – if they had, you wouldn’t have such tomfoolery as follows: -Triceratops is described by the narrator as having forelimbs splayed out like a lizard. Not simply bowed out like rhino. Not even semi-erect like a croc. But fully sprawled like a LIZARD (lizard sprawls are easily a full 90 degrees between humerus and lower arm… which makes no sense for horned dinosaurs whatsoever, as the producers would have known if they actually READ Bakker’s book, which isn’t exactly hidden knowledge). The real Triceratops arm posture was erect but slightly bowed out by about 15 degrees at the elbow, and ceratopsian trackways show that the hands and feet were DIRECTLY under the body, not out to the side. There was no sprawl. Oddly, the 3D skeletal model in the show features sprawling arms (a rare exception to the CG staff doing their homework), but the actual live animated Triceratops has the correct, erect rhino arms!   
-The narrator couldn’t pronounce “Parasaurolophus” if his life depended on it! He switches the ph and the l. For those of you that are confused about this, the correct way is to pronounce it: “Para – sauro – LOAF – us” (or “loff-us” if you are David Weishampel…. but I’m not). The narrator instead said “Para – saur – OFFalus”. What the hell is that? Para – Garofalo? Pay czar offal-puss? Snuffle-upagus? (BTW, “offal” means entrails… not exactly Parasaurolophus food). These shows just may need a bona-fide dino-nerd to narrate them. When I was in third grade the class used to say “Para-sa-loph-o-saurus” even though it doesn’t have a “saurus” at the end of its name. And I corrected them. Congrats, narrator: a third grader knew better in 1995 - because he actually read the name and watched PaleoWorld, where the narrator somehow did his homework and got the pronunciation right. -The T. rex is a bit too, er, fleshy. The head-neck junction is swollen with “jowls”, a bit too much like a crocodile or komodo dragon neck. The throat is too fat to the point where the head is poking out of the neck, looking a bit small – but it’s really because the underside of the neck is too fat. They overflesh the throat muscles as well. Sure it was a big predator, but this neck was no fat squat crocodile neck. It was lean and s-curved, but the only time when the animated T. rex in the series seems to curve its neck is when it bites down on Triceratops’ face. No more Disney T. rexes please! (ugly) And a few cryptic camouflage patterns on their T.rex wouldn’t hurt either - so far it just looks like a big tan blob.  
-T. rex was made out to be some insanely smart brainiac whereas all the other dinosaurs were supposedly idiots that relied on instinct alone. But in reality other dinosaurs were not necessarily any dumber than T.rex. They just had smaller olfactory lobes, which in T.rex, make up nearly half of the brain. That’s right, T. rex wasn’t exceptionally smart for a dinosaur – it just had an exceptional sense of smell. 50% of its brain mass was dedicated to the nose alone! Raptors had a bigger cerebrum, and most dinosaurs had fairly well-developed senses – and all but a few had pretty decent social communication abilities like birds today.  
-The T. rex is too slow. This series hired Bakker to make some appearances, but they totally disregarded his writings on T. rex! T. rex was a runner –not as fast as smaller predators, but still a cursorial animal with athletic legs. Here instead we get a slow, ponderous T. rex that walks not much faster than an elephant. They simply regurgitate MacNeill Alexander’s old discredited theory that “if it’s as big as an elephant, it must be as slow as an elephant” without ever stopping to think that T. rex’s leg design has nothing to do with elephants and everything to do with fast running ground birds. Same goes for the new pet theory about chicken models for T. rex indicating that a fast T. rex would have needed 90% of its mass in its legs (this theory seems to have influenced the producers). A chicken the size of a 'rex might need that much leg mass, but T. rex had proportionally much longer legs and stride than some tubby poultry! An ostrich would be a much more logical model.    
-The narrator claims T. rex could see fine details from four miles away. LOL did he just pull this number out of his ass? Who makes up these “facts”? None of the experts on the show said it! Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying T. rex had bad eyesight like they claimed in Jurassic Park - there’s no doubt that T.rex had excellent vision, since it had forward-facing eyes and deep eye sockets like those of birds, as well as a big visual cortex in its brain. Good eyesight, but in all honesty you simply can’t measure it! There are no living T.rex eyes to dissect today, all we have is their eye sockets, which only tell us that the eyes faced forward – NOT how far they could see. Perhaps it could see a mountain from four miles away. But a prey animal? Please. These guys took T. rex vision to the opposite extreme from Jurassic Park’s equally whimsical legally blind T.rex. Perhaps just saying “It could see very far and in great detail” would be more scientifically credible than any of this “lets just pick a cool number” BS.    
-T.rex attacks a Triceratops head-on and tries to bite one of its horns off, losing an eye in the process! Now ask yourself, would any sane predator EVER attack its prey in its most well-protected area? NO! They would go for the flanks or the ribs or other exposed areas. That T.rex should win the Darwin Award for being stupid enough to rush headfirst into the most dangerous part of a very dangerous herbivore, and thus getting blinded and incapable of hunting and living to pass on its genes. I don’t care how strong your teeth are, biting the horns is a lot dumber, more dangerous and self-defeating than simply going for the obvious weak spots!  
-The narrator claims Sauroposeidon’s stomach acid was corrosive enough to dissolve iron. This is total imagination. It wouldn’t take acid that strong to digest plant cellulose (even though cellulose is a LOT tougher to digest than meat). In fact, stomach acid only weakens the chemical structure of the plants, it does not digest the food. That’s the job of pepsin and other digestive juices and enzymes. Without them, all the acid in the world would only soften the plants, not turn them into manageable compounds the body can actually absorb. Furthermore, if the acid could dissolve iron, wouldn’t it also be able to dissolve the mucous membrane of the stomach and then eat through the stomach lining? I don’t care if the stomach wall is a foot thick, if iron can’t survive the acid, neither can mucus or flesh.    
-Larry Witmer claims in one segment that Sauroposeidon had a brain the size of a cheeseburger (just a regular one, not a double or triple cheeseburger FYI, as Witmer demonstrates with hand geatures). In reality, even its smaller relative Brachiosaurus had a brain larger than a cat’s brain. So Sauroposeidon’s brain would have been even bigger than that.    
-Also they use a CG model of a brain purported to be from Sauroposeidon, and claim the cerebrum was barely developed (even though the highlighted area in the model was the very CENTER of the brain to which all the other lobes attached! This was the core of the brain they showed, not some rudimentary lobe.)    
-In addition, the “Sauroposeidon brain” in the show was a hoax – they actually showed a CG model of a Camarasaurus brain (Camarasaurus was a much smaller sauropod, and the brain wasn’t even scaled up). The actual skull and braincase of Sauroposeidon have NEVER been found. The CG model of the skull and skeleton was essentially copied from Brachiosaurus, with an unscaled CT scan of Camarasaurus' brain added in. A scaled-up Brachiosaurus brain would have been a better choice at least, but nobody bothered to scan either a B. brancai (Giraffatitan) skull, OR the Felch Quarry skull referred to B. altithorax.  
-Larry Witmer claims Sauroposeidon is “dumb as a fencepost”. In reality, it would have needed a complex brain for social herd behavior and also storing data on the long journeys, landmarks, etc. required to find food and water in a seasonally dry landscape. A small brain does not necessary imply stupidity, nor does a small brain-to-body mass ratio. You don’t need a huge brain unless you need lots of dexterity or precision acrobatics – and considering sauropods were slow, 4-legged graviportal animals whose fingers and toes were pretty much immobile and permanently bound together by tight tendons, acrobatics and dexterity weren’t really important for them.    
-The Sauroposeidon’s neck is shown TOO SHORT. They basically animated a bulked-up B. altithorax and just called it Sauroposeidon. And yet the main reason this guy is so famous is the freakishly long neck… freakishly long even proportionally, and even for a brachiosaur, so as to dwarf the already impressive neck of B. altithorax. This is one of the few times they messed up the skeletal CG as well.    
-A young Sauroposeidon sixty feet long and as massive as a few elephants gets killed by only TWO dog-sized Deinonychus. And doesn’t even fight back. Matt Wedel talks about big packs of raptors killing baby Sauroposeidons, not merely two of them tackling the huge half-grown ones that could crush a house! Yet the animators chose to have precisely just such a large teenage Sauroposeidon being killed, not by a whole pack of raptors as Wedel said, but only by a single PAIR. What should have happened is the Sauroposeidon whacking those wimpy raptors with its tail and breaking their spindly legs and paper-thin rib cages. In fact, it’s unlikely they would even try to take on something that big – the speedy little raptors were not sauropod-killers, they were built for hunting much smaller, faster dinosaurs like beaked Ornithopods. The only predator of the time who could take down even a half-grown Sauroposeidon was the huge allosauroid Acrocanthosaurus, which was only a bit smaller than T.rex. And it would take at least four or five strong Acros to take down even a half-grown Sauroposeidon. Matt Wedel himself was understandably angry at this visual bowlderizing of his words, as you can read in Zach Miller's comments section HERE.  
-The show has Sauroposeidon dumping its eggs in an open nest in the middle of a barren desert and just LEAVING them there UNCOVERED! No burying the eggs to hide them from predators, no foliage nearby for the babies to eat, no first meal, not even laying them somewhere secluded for protection! This runs flat in the face of the actual evidence: every sauropod nest ever excavated shows evidence of the mother having hidden the eggs under sand or dirt. And the nests are often found in clusters or colonies, indicating that several sauropods purposely made nests in the same area instead of haphazardly dumping and abandoning eggs any old place - and that only makes sense if they collectively cared for the babies at least for a while. Indeed, there is NO group of dinosaurs that’s actually been proven to abandon their eggs. Their maternal instincts were at least as developed as those of crocodiles, which guard and care for their hatchlings for at least a week or two. Basically the Discovery guys show sauropods as land-living sea turtles! And even creatures as primitive as sea turtles still COVER the eggs with sand before they abandon them! If Discovery’s that hell-bent on ramming the outdated notion of stupid cold-blooded egg-abandoning dinosaurs down our throats, they should at least do it correctly! There’s an understandable way to be wrong, and then there’s a simply idiotic way – apparently it’s called the Discovery channel way.  
THE UGLY, ODD, AND JUST PLAIN WEIRD:  
-In the "Infamous Jaws" clip, at about 00:12 seconds, the narrator is talking about T.rex, but a silhouetted scientist is shown inspecting the skull of an Acrocanthosaurus (lol, I bet the post-production team didn’t catch THAT one).  
-In the "Cretaceous Meatball" clip with the baby T.rex, Deinonychus was shown as one of the many threats a T.rex hatchling would face growing up. But this is plainly WRONG because Deinonychus lived millions of years earlier! It was already extinct by T.rex’s time. Somebody should really teach the producers the difference between Early and Late Cretaceous.  
-At one point they even show a Camarasaurus skull when talking about Sauroposeidon’s teeth. Camarasaurs are NOT brachiosaurs. Although the teeth are roughly similar, the two animals have distinctly different skulls and are not even in the same family! At least show a Giraffatitan skull, a flight to Berlin can’t be that pricey for just one cameraman to get 5 seconds of footage! The days of the Soviet Bloc and the Cold War are over! Is East Berlin that hard to get into? And if that’s too far, then how about the Field Museum in Chicago? They casted their own Brachiosaurus skull, so might they also not have a duplicate cast? And what about the Felch Quarry skull from Wyoming? You don’t have to compromise for a Cam when a Brach is present and not locked away by some hostile foreign bureaucrats. It’s a bit like Loma Linda hospital when a surgeon transplanted a baboon heart in the patient instead of a chimp heart – and when the patient died, the doctor claimed there was no real difference and that evolution and genetics aren’t legit sciences. Yeah. Sure. If humanity still manages to confuse species so horribly when it comes to surgery, that doesn’t say much for dino-television!  
-The same stock footage of the animated dinosaurs was played OVER AND OVER AGAIN. I know this was a short program, and fairly low-budget compared to things like Walking with Dinosaurs, but at least the animators could have rigged up some more scenes or settings! Even showing the Sauroposeidon herd making the exact same movements in a forest or a floodplain rather than just that same desert over and over, would have made my day. And that’s just a matter of quickly making and texturing a different setting in CG, something that’s way easier to do than the dinosaurs themselves, since the setting is static and doesn’t move or need to be animated! As far as CG technology has come in the past decade, you’d think this would be a piece of cake compared to most of the things the animators pulled off.  
  
-The narrator is the same guy that narrated whale wars. Not saying that’s a bad thing, it’s just a bit funny to hear that cold, monotone voice again… he should either stick to whales or at least spend an hour or two reading up on dinosaurs BEFORE making a bunch of unfounded BS claims about T. rex visual range, sauropod nesting behavior, or butchering the name of Parasaurolophus. Bring back well-narrated dinosaur shows like PaleoWorld! Long live Ben Gazzara!    
Well, that’s my rant on the topic so far. Not that I like to complain about stuff like this, but even a more entertainment-based dinosaur series like Jurassic Fight Club didn’t make as many mistakes! JFC had a lot fewer paleontologists giving commentary on the show, and more armchair amateurs who were simply labeled as “experts” not curators or PhDs or professors…. but despite all that, it still didn’t make such openly unsupported claims about so many different things. Nor did it show the wrong skull or brain for any animal.
But don’t just eat up what I say. Watch the clips for yourself, and you be the judge. PS. sorry for any messy formatting errors. Blogger is giving me a real headache.

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Brachiosaurs have always been my favorite sauropods - indeed, my favorite dinosaurs period. (Although titanosaurs, especially the big basal ones, are constantly jockeying for that position in my mind...). So with the new discoveries of the past decade expanding the numbers of genera in the ranks of Brachiosauridae, I thought the time was perfect to produce a "brachiosaur parade" of the most well-known and some of the most legendary animals in this amazing group.

In fact there are over 20 genera that are likely brachiosaurs, but only about fourteen of them are solidly described. Fourteen is plenty though - the diplodocids would easily be envious of such a number. This was going to be a pretty big affair, so instead of the standard 8.5 x 11 heavy paper, I used a not-so-heavy 11 x 17 sheet. Much bigger, and I have a big stack of 'em - but these sheets are not so well-textured. But this is a small sacrifice for drawing most of the known brachiosaurs - including everyone's favorite, Brachiosaurus, and its new headline-grabbing cousin (or should I say nephew, in evolutionary terms), Sauroposeidon.

The brachiosaur family is very complex despite the remains of most species being poorly known or fragmentary. They survived for at least 90 million years, from Middle Jurassic to Late Cretaceous (there are brachiosaur tail vertebrae known from the Campanian of Mexico), before going extinct. In this respect they were the most successful of all the sauropod families, except for their titanosaur cousins. Brachiosaurs are in a sense the rare gems of the sauropod world. Everyone's heard of them (or at least Brachiosaurus) yet they are far less common in museums, books, and even the artist's portfolio than, say, Diplodocus or even Camarasaurus. They are less often studied, less often dug up, but in my view, they are far more interesting - just altogether a way more awesome animal!

The brachiosaur parade involved fourteen different genera (based on their respective type species, with the exception of Brachiosaurus brancai and Pelorosaurus, presently a jumble of unrelated specimens whose true Brachiosaur material may not be the eroded non-diagnostic type P. conbeyari).

The genera are as follows, in an order roughly from the most primitive to the most advanced (except for little Europasaurus - I only had enough room for him at the end, even though he lived before the ones just behind him):

Volkheimeria
Lapparentosaurus
Daanosaurus ( = Bellusaurus/Klamelisaurus???)
Bothriospondylus
Lusotitan
Brachiosaurus (B. brancai HMN XV2 in this case - no I am not calling it Giraffatitan. Deal with it!)
"The Archbishop" (a brachiosaur somewhat bigger than B. brancai, with a longer neck as well, it was originally mis-labeled as a B. brancai for decades. Presently yet to be officially named, it's under research by Dr. Mike Taylor of SV-POW).
Pelorosaurus
Pleurocoelus ( = Astrodon???)
Cedarosaurus
Sonorasaurus
Sauroposeidon
Breviparopus (= Brachiosaurus nougaredi? Scaled from Morocco footprints as per Ishigaki 1989, with proportions based on Sauroposeidon).
Europasaurus - dwarf basal brachiosaur from Germany - likely a "feral migrant", it made its home on a Jurassic island and dwarfed to cope with limited food supplies.

I also included the biggest known T. rex for size comparison - this is the "B.rex" specimen, not Sue. It's a little bit bigger. But notice how this stinkin' theropod's torso is so tiny compared to most of the brachiosaurs' torsos.

The initial size of the scan was gigantic - I used FedExKinko's because I had to submit this thing to Prehistoric Times last-minute, and I was unable find another scanner big enough in time (my university had one that could be used for free by students and alumni, but it was down for maintenance). So there's ten bucks down the drain. Anyway Kinko's gave me something on the order of 20,000 pixels copied onto my flash drive and I almost passed out waiting for the thing to load onto Pixia (a quick, free image editor available for download online, basically the poor man's photoshop). Only this time with these huge files it wasn't so quick.

So I resized the thing on photoscape and used a blue tint feature to bring out any smudges and smears that still had to be removed. So here's the "ultraviolet" version I suppose...




Note that I also included scaled footprints for Breviparopus, and for Pleurocoelus (the Paluxy trackway prints called "Brontopodus birdi" which were almost certainly from a large Pleurocoelus or similar Pleurocoeline brachiosaur).

Afterwards, I made several shrunken photocopies of the original and colored one of these, and then scanned it on my own puny scanner to get this, leaving the T.rex uncolored:





Then I want back to the original scan of the uncolored version, and after editing out the smears and smudges (which is a chronic problem with standard non-heavy copy paper) I undid the "ultraviolet" masking to reveal the cleaned up image. Then I refined the height scale, drew some of the tongues that were missing (*gasp!*) and replaced the sketchy human figure with a high-contrast pic of Eugen Sandow.



Wait, you've never heard of Eugen Sandow? Here you go! If you're familiar with Charles Atlas, well, Sandow came a couple of generations before him.




And here is the labeled version. The height scale it, unusually, in feet rather than meters. So if you live outside the UK or the USA, feel free to bust out the calculator and do that x feet/3.3 thing...

I don't have much more to say about this piece, other than it's huge, it took over a month to finish, and the colored version was published in the latest issue of Prehistoric Times (grab one here), and special thanks to the editor Mike Fredericks for publishing it. Ironically, the black-and-white version that I scanned at Kinko's didn't even end up getting sent to the magazine. I figured the color version would grab more attention one I finally fixed the contrast on both. But the un-colored one has much better detail.

It's also featured in the ArtEvolved Sauropod Gallery (albeit in an earlier version). Thanks to Peter Bond for posting it there.



WHAT NEXT?

Coming up soon there will be a series of works entitled....



This will cover exclusively titanosaurs, from gargantuan limb bones discovered over 100 years ago, to armored tank-like oddities that have turned up just recently. For over a century titanosaur remains have been known, yet for most of that time they have been very poorly understood, and even the record-breaking ones were not much more than huge curiosities sitting on a dusty museum basement shelf or perhaps featured in some odd photograph in a remote corner of Donald F. Glut's dinosaur encyclopedia. While Argentinosaurus is fairly well known today, many similar titanosaur giants simply never got their fifteen minutes of fame, and aside from paleontologists and dino-geeks, barely anyone knew they existed.

For example, how many people know that while Brachiosaurus was considered the "biggest dinosaur" for most of the 20th century, there already at least two super-titanosaurs known that were easily twice as massive, one of which was actually discovered a decade BEFORE Brachiosaurus?

Titanosaurs have just been largely neglected, plain and simple. Most species don't even have a decent illustration to their name - even the relatively complete ones! That's going to change. Both old and new titanosaurs, some never before depicted, will soon make their entrance HERE, in the Paleo Kingdom.

Only recently have titanosaurs begun to be truly understood, and in many ways, rediscovered and reclassified as a cohesive group - and as the research yields important details about new titanosaur species, the group as a whole is coming into sharper focus - including the older finds that have sat gathering duast all these years. So my new series of titanosaur art, boldly illustrating beasts that have been long ignored, and that the majority of paleoartists haven't even dared to touch, shall be called: FORGOTTEN GIANTS.

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WOOHOO! After nearly a month of working on and off, it's finally done. Here is the Dashanpu scene (also known as "The Impossible miniature") in all its phenomenal, stunning presence. No detail overlooked.... like a J. R. R. Tolkien novel, or a Gogol short story, or even perhaps a Rameau harpsichord suite!


The impossible Jurassic miniature - Omeisaurus tianfuensis and Shunosaurus lii,
denizens of a lively Dashanpu Quarry.



Okay so perhaps I exaggerate just a tiny slight little bit. But rarely (or perhaps never) have I seen someone cram this much detail and just flat-out stuff going on into a single 8x11 sheet! Challenging? That's an understatement. I didn't want to put this much detail at first, but then I thought, back in March my Styracosaurus herd scene set the bar pretty high, so I had to at least do something comparable for my live blogging... especially now that I have much better paper to work with. So here's the full Dashanpu quarry scene with those real-life dragons, "Omeisaurus" tianfuensis and Shunosaurus lii - and their live surroundings as they would have appeared in the Middle Jurassic, with monkey-puzzle trees, reflections in the water, and shiploads of other details that would take hours to discuss, though they're easy to spot here. Enjoy basking in the glory...

LOL, as if regular-sized detail weren't crazy enough...
and those Shunosaurus are just too cute ;)


And yes - there is indeed a crocodile.

Dashanpu quarry is mostly lake sediment, indicating that there was a large inland lake there in the Middle Jurassic (Bathonian-Callovian epochs) fed by several rivers, which washed the remains of dead dinosaurs into the lake along with tons of sediment over the millennia. The dinosaurs were certainly not water-dwellers - their corpses simply got thrown in there by rivers and perhaps floods, and those that didn't were not preserved. There are also crocodile and turtle remains, and these were obviously native to the lake.

Here, the dinosaurs are feasting near shallow, seasonally dry streams near the start of the wet season, on the edge of the lake. The first rains of the wet season flooded the area days before and choked the streams with silt and sandbars. It's not known exactly why "Omeisaurus" tianfuensis evolved such crazy long necks so rapidly, while Shunosaurus lii kept them short like the old cetiosaurid body plan (apparently as if there was never a brachiosaur-style middle ground for Chinese sauropod neck proportions!) However, the difference in feeding ranges which allowed the two to coexist without competing for the same food, is obvious.

* P.S. - I'm thinking of doing a big group reconstruction of all the known "Omeisaurus" species to show that they are probably separate genera that may have next to nothing in common with the type specimen. It's just an idea for now, though I do have other sauropod projects actually in the works.

LIVE BLOGGING: Post # 10: Correction, THIS is almost done!

Posted by Nima On Monday, November 9, 2009 4 comments

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Finally the REAL end is in sight... a bit late for ArtEvolved - but well worth the wait, methinks!



Here's the Dashanpu scene with more Omeisaurus patterned and shaded. And a lot more detail on the ground. Next I'll put in the croc, fill in a few more ground features and water surfaces, pattern the Shunosaurus herd, and that will pretty much be it!

LIVE BLOGGING: Post #9: Almost done!

Posted by Nima On Sunday, November 1, 2009 7 comments

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Here it comes.... Looks like I'll be done soon.



Already got the patterns on one Omeisaurus, now to do the rest, and the Shunosaurus herd (can't forget those little guys, can we?) and the lake up front. That lake needs a crocodile. Trees are pretty much done.

LIVE BLOGGING: Post #8: Deepening the forest

Posted by Nima On Saturday, October 31, 2009 4 comments

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Here's the latest update! More Omeisaurus in the background and more conifers to fill out the forest. There's at least three types of them here...perhaps four, if you can spot 'em.



The whole piece is slowly coming into view!

LIVE BLOGGING: Post #7: Herd in the background

Posted by Nima On Monday, October 26, 2009 13 comments

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Here is the newest update!



More Omeisaurus in the distance with some new trees. I also shortened the tail of the rearing one in the foreground, as it was previously too long. The stream on the left is also more clear.

LIVE BLOGGING: Post # 6: rearing Omeisaurus

Posted by Nima On Friday, October 23, 2009 23 comments

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Ok, here's the most recent update:



I added two more Omeisaurus, one of which is rearing to eat higher branches.
I think I got the neck a bit TOO thin on that one, but I'll iron it out on the next update.
Also the dynamics of this graceful creature as it walked must have been truly marvelous, considering that most sauropods are usually depicted (incorrectly) as super-obese, ponderous hulks just barely plodding along at snail pace. This guy was the sports car model, while titanosaurs were the bulky "SUVs" of sauropod-dom. Also if you look closely notice the big thumb claws. There were a lot of sauropods that had them, but Omeisaurus and its kin had possibly the most oversized ones ever known. I can only guess that this was a very useful active defense for a creature that was not quite massive enough to rely on size alone as a deterrent for the packs of big predators of the day.


Also I added more trees and more background to the Shunosaurus area, with one on the hills just behind. It's shaping up very well so far, IMO. The most tedious part will be the trees.

LIVE BLOGGING: Post #5: fern-covered hills

Posted by Nima On Tuesday, October 20, 2009 7 comments

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Here is the next installment of my live blog on the sauropods of Dashanpu.


Basically I more or less completed the outlines of the whole Shunosaurus herd and drew some ferns and other foliage on the rolling hills behind them. The cool thing about using heavy "legal" texture paper is that is allows much better shading and "fog" techniques. These will be easier to spot in the final version (I'm never going back to cheap untextured copy paper again). I also corrected some minor details in the Omeisaurus (and I plan to add more of them). The rocks in the lake also got a facelift.

As for Marica's question on this being a miniature: it's an 8.5 x 11" sheet like most of my pieces here... but it's more of a "miniature" because I drew the dinosaurs from a far distance so they look small. On the paper, those Shunosaurus are barely bigger than a postage stamp! Usually I would go for more of a "close-up shot" but this time I wanted to go panoramic and capture the massive scale of the habitat these sauropods lived in. Sometimes it's about the overall scene just as much as the animals in it. Those super-tall tree trunks will be conifers soon.

Til next time ;)

LIVE BLOGGING: Post #4: Shunosaurus and rocks

Posted by Nima On Monday, October 19, 2009 7 comments

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Here's the next installment in our live sauropod blog of the Dashanpu quarry fauna scene.


I drew more Shunosaurus on the right (it's starting to get a bit crowded there, don't ya think?) and also some unusual large rocks and a tree fern behind them. That whole background region is going to be covered in conifers and ferns with a warm misty glow radiating through it - at least that's the effect I'm going for.

I like it so far but it's nowhere near done so I will continue blogging tomorrow and possibly the rest of the week. This is a miniature, so I am confident that it will be done or close to done in less than a week. Keep checking in for more progress pics.

LIVE BLOGGING: Post #3: outlines

Posted by Nima On Sunday, October 18, 2009 4 comments

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Done with the tree, and now the outlines of two Omeisaurus and a little Shunosaurus are more or less done. Next it will be the trees in the background and several more dinosaurs of both types.



As you can see, Omeisaurus had crazy long necks. And they were unbelievably thin near the head-neck joint.

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Here's the beginnings of it. An araucaria sp. conifer. Dinosaurs coming soon! I'm going to have an Omeisaurus munching on it.


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Ok here's my first live blog post. Basically we have a scene from the Callovian epoch at the end of the Middle Jurassic in China.

We've got a forest of araucaria conifers and some cycads and ferns near a lake. And some Shunosaurus and Omeisaurus.

Well, not YET, but here's the basic sketch of the design.


Yeah, it kinda sucks - for now.

This is just the preliminary sketch, it's not even on good paper. My actual drawing (which I will begin shortly) will be much better. I often do these rough sketches before attempting the final precise Paleo King-quality image, so I don't have to make radical changes and do too much erasing.

Check back in soon!


Well, it's the big day, dino fans! Today at 3:00 pm I will do a live blogging event for drawing sauropods.

And I have made my final decision.... it's going to actually feature TWO sauropod species. Shunosaurus lii and "Omeisaurus" tianfuensis. So thanks to DerKompsognathus and EmperorDinobot of DeviantART for their suggestions.

If you're wondering why I chose these two, it's actually pretty simple. Both suggestions are incredibly amazing animals, and they're not illustrated very often (and good illustrations of them appear even less often... aside from Greg Paul, I don't know of a single artist who even comes close to doing these majestic creatures justice). Also both are Chinese sauropods, which are by all accounts extremely fascinating and exotic animals by North American sauropod standards. And finally, they are the only two suggestions I received that lived at EXACTLY the same place and time! There were so many other good ideas people gave me, and I had a hard time choosing... So I decided to stick two species in the same picture, give two paleo-fans equal credit, and these two were the perfect choice.

Shunosaurus was either a cetiosaurid or a primitive "Euhelopodid" (yes I still casually use the old family classification - which may yet prove to have some validity...). It was once thought to be a missing link between the two families, though the fact that it's the same age as Omeisaurus pretty much rules this out. Shunosaurus is actually one of the best-known sauropods. It was the compact version, at only 33 feet long, with a large body but a much shorter neck than many other Chinese sauropods. It was almost certainly a very social animal, with the remains of an entire herd being found in the Dashanpu quarry. Not surprisingly, the entire skeleton is known, including its most peculiar feature - a spiked tail club, something extremely rare in sauropods. It was a low-level browser with large thumb claws, an upturned top jaw typical of cetiosaurs, and large strong teeth.

"Omeisaurus" tianfuensis also lived the the Dashanpu area, and likely interacted with Shunosaurus. Though by having a much longer neck (indeed, freakishly long!) it probably did not compete with Shunosaurus for food. O. tianfuensis is not the "true" Omeisaurus - it's a totally different animal from the type species O. junghsiensis. However, O. tianfuensis is the most complete of all the species that have been thrown together in the "Omeisaurus" wastebasket, and as a result also the most popular. So whatever it really is, I will also stick my foot in the evil taxonomic tar, and call this real-life dragon Omeisaurus for the time being.

...Incidentally, the insanely long neck of Omeisaurus (or that of its even more long-necked relative Mamenchisaurus) may well be the original inspiration for the Chinese dragons of legend... it is known that such fossils have been dug up and labeled "dragon bones" for thousands of years. The serpentine shape of the dragon may be based on only a neck or spinal column having once been found centuries ago, lacking the ribs and legs...

At about 60 feet from snout to tail tip, Omeisaurus was light for its length, weighing only 8 to 10 tons. This makes more sense when you realize that its body was actually not much bigger than a large elephant, and most of its length was neck and tail. The tail is strongly arched at the base, and also appears to have possessed a club, though it was smooth and not spiked as in Shunosaurus. Some experts think the club actually was from Shunosaurus (which was found in the same quarry) and got assigned to the wrong skeleton. Though I disagree...
Like Shunosaurus, Omeisaurus also had huge, and likely prehensile, thumb claws. Considering its lightness, it probably needed them as a very dangerous active defense against predators like Sinraptor and Yangchuanosaurus. Omeisaurus didn't scratch at predators - it impaled them.

Check back at 3:00 for Live Blogging! See you then.