Sauropods and Storms

Posted by Nima On Saturday, May 8, 2010 34 comments

Greetings Paleo Fans! Last few weeks have been a bit slow, but the news of the eruption in Iceland and the insane economic collapse in Greece jolted just about everything I was thinking of... where was I again?

Well, in case you haven't noticed yet, ArtEvolved is getting a revamp! It's actually been an ongoing process, but now the title banner is also up for some radical changes, and we're getting ready to do several series of new posts on all aspects of paleo-art, the do's and don'ts, the importance of imagination and style to mesh with the science, and even the philosophy behind paleo-art iteslf! If you thought it was all about throwing some dinosaurs together with some trees and volcanoes (LMAO), prepare to be blown away!

With that said, there's also been an interesting array of developments here at the Paleo Kingdom....

...including the FIRST EVER life restoration of Hudiesaurus sinojapanorum, the mysterious "King of Jurassic China".

Wait a second... you've never heard of Hudiesaurus? Well you're not alone. This giant mamenchisaurid is one of China's most mysterious dinosaurs, and this only adds to the mystique. We've all heard of those one-hit-wonders that dominate the pop charts and ride the wave of public hysteria for a few weeks only to fade away immediately afterward. This little-known giant is what you might call a one-bone-wonder.

That's right. It's only known from one bone. A dorsal vertebra to be exact, probably the animal's first dorsal.

A dinosaur is forever. Well, not quite. Maybe for some of us.

Well that's precious little to base a new species on, let alone a new genus, but it was different enough from previously known mamenchisaurs that Dong Zhiming, China's leading sauropod paleontologist, classified it as a separate genus from the already over-crowded taxon Mamenchisaurus in 1997.

There are also a few other remains attributed to Hudiesaurus - mainly an arm and some teeth from a smaller individual, though these were found quite far away from the vertebra and there's no proof that they belonged to another Hudiesaurus. In all likelihood these may just be the remains of an unrelated sauropod that happened to get buried in the same formation.

Estimating the size of Hudiesaurus presents a notoriously difficult challenge. Even with better-known (and larger) behemoths like Argentinosaurus, where most of the dorsal vertebrae and a good portion of the sacrum are known, size estimates vary wildly. You have huge estimates like Greg Paul's (which probably inspired the 120-foot long museum reconstruction in Atlanta, Georgia), and much smaller ones like Ken Carpenter's, which is basically a blown-up Saltasaurus clone. There are literally hundreds of variables that could be changed in the animal's appearance and it would be hard to say "this one is the most accurate". Now imagine pulling that off with just one bone. Fortunately, the Hudiesaurus dorsal does show some very close similarities with Mamenchisaurus (which is known from nearly complete remains), and it's fairly reasonable to assume that the two animals had the same basic super-neckalicious shape, so the overall proportions are not that hard to calculate - unlike the case of Argentinosaurus, where NONE of its close relatives are known from anything even approaching a complete skeleton.

 Nice, but could you estimate the size and shape of a dinosaur using just this?

Though there have been several controversies surrounding the size of Hudiesaurus, it's reasonable to assume that it got a good bit larger than most species of Mamenchisaurus, reaching perhaps 100 feet (30m) rather than the 70-something foot range typical of most Mamenchisaurus specimens. It still probably didn't exceed 20 tons, as most mamenchisaurs were basically compact bodies with crazy-long necks. But what a neck it must have had...

Here's the first concept, darkened to enhance visibility:

It's a bit of unintentional "what if" regarding that smaller specimen: a mother Hudiesaurus with a teenager. It's a bit ironic considering mother's day is practically here. Here they are surveying the landscape from a cliff in a Lion King-ish scene - which normally would seem WAY overdone, but in this case I made a tasteful exception ;)

Next there came some experimentation with the patterns:

Stripes or spots alone seem pretty bland in most cases, but together they are one killer combination.

It quickly turned out that without a dramatic background this piece would be a bit bland, most of the area is background anyway, and most of that is the sky. You know what that means... clouds, and lots of 'em!

Arrgh.... the pixels.... they buuurn!

Okay, now perhaps those are a bit too crazy for reality TV. There is a storm approaching, almost volcanic in its fury. Every tree was drawn individually, that's a whole forest-covered river basin down there. This is the last calm before the storm, these dinosaurs have less than half an hour to get out of the way before disaster strikes, and the few pterosaurs still flying through the area are noticeably nervous. Now for the fun part... don't you just love digital editing software!

That's more like it. A lot less grainyness in the sky, courtesy of the miracle we call the "blur" button. I don't do a lot of digital manipulation in most of my pencil drawings, but this one was was practically screaming to get the "wash" treatment.The clouds look more dynamic and have more of that realistic fuzzy look to them.

Now run for your lives, don't get trapped, zapped, drowned and fossilized! For at least one Hudiesaurus, it was indeed too late ;)


Steve o'c said...

Great drawing! My only criticism would be the slight ''halo'' look around the neck and maybe it could have more 'depth/atmosphere' separating the foreground and background. If that makes sence.

Back when the SV POW people were trying to estimate Hudiesaurus size, I knocked this image together.

They were trying to mathmatically estimate it by scaling linear dimensions from M.Hoch.

I thought I'd try a more visual approach, scaling M.hoch to have vertebra approximately similar size to that of the known Hudiesaurus vert. I can't remember the exact size, but I think it came out about 130somthing % bigger.

Scaling form M.youngi it came out bigger.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nima, this is Tom from the previous post on Puertasaurus. Thanks for the pleasant surprise of the Hudiesaurus facts and in process drawings. Its said that variety is the spice fo life nad this post demonstrates that.
Is this the same sauropod that Gregory Paul brought up recently as of unprecedented size in his estimation?
Its said that variety is the spice of life and this post demonstrates that.
I also appreciate the skeletals that you and Zach Armstrong posted on Futalognkosaurus.
How would you describe the differences in your approaches?
I noticed that you mentioned a two + meter pelvis width. What do you feel about the Novas comment in his South American Dinosaur book that mentions a 280 centimetre maximum width "... at the leval of the broadly expanded preacetabular lobe of the ilia" in his description of the Futalognkosaurus ?
At any rate I'm looking forward to both of your upcoming works as well as the ongoing ones.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the repitition of the old chestnut in the last post-I forgot to delete one of them while editing.
As an example of the differences between Zach's and your skeletals of Futalognkosaurus his version seems to have a broader pelvis in proportion to the forequarters than yours- that is if I am looking at it clearly. I know your works are still in process and they both fascinate so there is no quarrel with even very differing views but it is a distinction that would be nice to hear about sometime.

Zach Armstrong said...

Hi, Tom, since you referred to my skeletal in comparison to Nima's, I figured I might as well make a brief comment on it. According to the follow-up paper on the anatomy of Futalognkosaurus, the width of first sacral (including its sacral ribs) was 200 cm. Inferring from this, and seeing how expanded the ilia were, I reconstructed a maximum pelvis width of about 350 cm. So, my pelvis is too wide if you go by Novas's listed measurement. I should decrease its width by about 20%.

At the same time, Nima's reconstructed sacral vertebrae widths are too narrow in comparison with the anterior dorsals. In the paper that I refer too, the anterior dorsals are described as having a tranverse width of 100 cm (I am fairly confident of this measurement, as going off the photo of the anterior view of these dorsals and the included scalebar, one gets a max. tranverse width of ~100 cm, too). If you notice in Nima's recon, the width of the anterior dorsal is about equal with the width of first sacral vertebrae. Actually, the sacral vertebrae width should be twice that of the anterior dorsals. So either Nima should shrink his anterior dorsals' width by 50%, or enlarge his pelvis width by 100%.

There are other differences in vertebral shape and articulation between mine and Nima's recon that I would talk about, but that is all I have time to discuss for now.


Calvo, J.O., Porfiri, J.D., Gonzalez-Riga, B.J., and Kellner, A.W.A. 2008. Anatomy of Futalognkosaurus dukei Calvo, Porfiri, Gonzalez-Riga & Kellner, 2007 (Dinosauria, Titanosauridae) from the Neuquen Group (Late Cretaceous), Patagonia, Argentina. Arquivos do Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro 65(4):511-526.

Nima said...

Steve - thanks for the link to the Hudiesaurus scale diagram. I think it's spot-on, the Greg Paul skeletal's a great choice too. Not sure if either Mamenchisaurus or Hudiesaurus should be restored with an upward arch at the tail base like Scott Hartman does with M. youngi.... Paul's M. hochuanensis gets rid of this altogether.

Tom: I'm pretty sure Greg Paul's "record size" Mamenchisaur mass estimate (72 tons?) does NOT refer to Hudiesaurus. It's based on a totally new Mamenchisaurus specimen that doesn't seem to be referred to any known species (perhaps it might be M. jingyanesi?) but it's something around 130ft long, downright CRAZY huge for a mamenchisaur. Here's the skeleton:


Link 2

This David Hone pic might be another one:

David Hone and giant Mamenchisaur

It's frakking' HUGE, though I don't know if its "72 tons huge".

Nima said...

As for my Futalognkosaurus skeletal...

Zach's done an admirable job trying to refute it, but I can assure everyone that it's perfectly valid given what we actually KNOW about this animal.

First of all Zach's hips are proportionally too wide (not his own hips LOL, those of his skeletal!) second, the entire premise of Zachs skeletal seems to be the assumption that this creature was HUGE in the hips and tiny everywhere else. In other words, basically a big Saltasaurus. This MAY also be the assumption of Calvo et. al. which could explain why their scale bars turned out so oddly small. But based on the photos of Dr. Juan Porfiri next to the bones on SV-POW, it's evident that the front part of the animal was a lot larger and wider than anything a Saltasaur of similar proportions could muster.

Also as regards sacral width... the first sacral including the ribs is so completely fused to the ilia that it's hard to tell where the ribs begin and end. BUT even then it's pretty clear they are nowhere even CLOSE to Zach's estimate of 200cm. 200 cm is 2m or roughly 6 feet. Juan Porfiri is 175cm tall. Therefore, the sacrals, including their ribs, should be wider than Porfiri is tall.

But they're NOT! They're barely wider than 1 meter! Don't believe me? Look HERE.

Porfiri isn't even standing straight at his full height, and it's pretty obvious that the sacral column (without the ilia) would be roughly as wide as it is long - and that's NOWHERE NEAR Porfiri's 175cm, LET ALONE the 200cm that Zach suggests.

Now I understand Zach went off the published scale bars, but nearly ALL of them and all of Calvo's other published measurements are anything but consistent! Read HERE and HERE for more info, it's mind-blowing how much data Calvo's papers screwed up!

I'm not saying any of it was intentional, but when you have the world's most phenomenally complete giant titanosaur at your fingertips and Duke Energy corporation is paying for the entire dig, I doubt Calvo et. al. were really short of funds to buy a simple tape measure!

I based my skeletal's proportions off of actual photos with Porfiri in them (sacrum and cervical C14), then I cross-scaled other published spinal elements one after another by cotyle depth/centrum length ratios and then calculated width by cross scaling the resulting centrum lengths with published top-view photos of the dorsal column. It was painstaking and took over 4 months until I was satisfied - and that's just for the version currently on DA, which isn't even the final one - I will post revisions but rest assured, the dorsal width is not something I had to change.

No offense to Zach or his efforts, but it seems he just went verbatim off of Calvo's inconsistent scale bars. As a result, in his version, most of the creature came out a lot smaller than it really is.

Zach Armstrong said...

Nima, in my original comment I already admitted my pelvis was restored too wide, and needed to be decreased in width by about 20%. (I restored at 350 cm wide at the widest point of the iliac flare. As Tom noted above, in Novas' "The Age of Dinosaurs in South America", the widest point was actually listed as 280 cm--this is not going off a scalebar, it is an actual measurement, so there is not reason to doubt it. Note that 80% of 350 is 280, and 100%-80% is a 20% reduction like I admitted).

Your charges against my skeletal, while partially correct, are mostly wrong. I originally went off known measurements that were actually listed in the paper. The 200 cm width of the first sacral vetebrae including its ribs is not my measurement based off of a scaled photo, but it is actually listed in the paper I referenced above on p. 520. And I quote, "The first sacral width, including ribs and the preacetabular laminae is 255 cm. The length of the first sacral rib from tip to tip is 200 cm." Other measurements are also listed in the paper, Nima, such as the length of the dorsals (The paper refers to the functional lengths of the dorsal vertebrae. It lists the first dorsal as having a length of 43 cm (excluding the anterior ball which would not have contributed to the overall length), the second dorsal as 2/3 the length of the first and the rest of the dorsals gradually decreasing to a functional length of 28 cm for the last dorsal. Also, the tranverse width of the anterior dorsals is given as 100 cm wide, also listed in the the text of the paper--not my measurement purely based off photos. However, I should note that scaling off the anterior view photo of the anterior dorsals using the scale-bar, I get an exact width of 100 cm using the scale-bar also.

Finally, Nima, the only vertebrae that I scaled from the scale-bar in the photos were the cervicals and the caudal. Now, according to Novas' book, which I have in my possesion, on p. 201 at least one of the mid-cervicals was 113 cm tall, and 102 cm long. Now, scaling from photo 9 in the paper I referred to, the length of the mid-cervical there is 100 cm long and about 90 cm tall. Unfortunately, Novas does not list which cervical the measurements he published is based. However, the scaling from the photo in the paper is reasonably close both in length and height (however, note that this vertebrae could never have the proportions listed for the cervical in Novas' book because it is longer than tall in general without even regarding the exact measurements).

One last point, the in situ skeleton of Epachthosaurus suggests that the flared ilia in most--if not all--titanosaurs was the widest point of the torso so the dorsal ribs should not extend beyond the flared ilia. Photos of mounts of titanosaur skeletons confirm this, too. This has implications in how you restored the dorsal view of Futalognkosaurus.

I also, must point out for the record, that I did not hold your skeletal in derision or disdain, I just pointed out some inaccuracies. You, Nima, however basically gave my skeletal a word-thrashing based on a bunch of personal assumptions.

I understand that you put a lot of time into your skeletal, far more than I admit that I did. However, this doesn't necessarily make your skeletal more proportionally accurate.

Lastly, I should point it appears you may have misinterpeted the ventral view of the pelvis with Porfiri. If you look at the top of the iliac flare, you will see a kind antler-like lighter shape on the edge of the ilium--that is the first sacral fused to the ilia and extend most of the width of the ilium. Indeed, it was about 200 cm in length as the paper says.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to both of you for your quick responses.
It looks like the published measurement issue
is a good part of your very individual results. Thanks for the links too-they are fascinating. The pictured Mamenchisaurus-like dinosaur is on another plane for its type than any I have ever seen.
Has there been any sauropod with a recovered pelvis/sacrum anything like the Futalognkosaurus? I remember Edward? Colbert in his dinosaur book saying there was nothing quite so impressive as a sauropod pelvis for bony immensity. I think he was looking up at the Apatosaurus pelvis at the NMNH museum for reference. How would that compare to the Futalognkosaurus?
Of course some of the other giants like the Puertasaurus lack fossils of these parts.
Its impressive to me and others how much work and thought you are both putting into your work. I admire this.
Although it would be added work what do you think of putting in a scaled human or elephant figure for reference in your skeletals?
Sometimes this gives a better perspective for imagining your reconstructions. Something like a ballpark estimate for size. A figure or figures emerging partly "behind" your sauropods would help with the illusion of depth
if that was needed.

Nima said...

Tom: There are several titanosaur pelvises (forgive the awkward spelling!) that are well-preserved and look fairly similar to that of Futalognkosaurus. Most of these are Saltasaurs, and, in correction of a previous statement I made, the width of the sacrals is not ALL that extreme in comparison to the sacrals of Lognkosaurs. Actually I doubt even most saltasaurs had the extreme hip proportions of Zach's Futa skeletal. Neuquensaurus and Opisthocoelocaudia are two decent examples - the hips are wide but the openings between the sacral ribs are still vairly circular, not long ovals. The front of the ilia, however, is greatly widened and flared out in all titanosaurs. I figure that at least in some cases this may have served to anchor an even wider torso.

The Futalognkosaurus pelvis is extremely wide at the front due to the huge flared ilia. The middle and rear portions of the hips are of more modest width, and there the sacrals are definitely not 2m wide. But in any case it makes Apatosaurus look tiny. Interestingly, judging by the girth of the sacrum's extremely robust centra, the hips probably didn't look so big compared to the rest of the animal. As for scale figures.... glad you asked!

I have added a human figure in an updated version of my Futa skeletal which will be up on DA soon. As before with Puertasaurus, it's our good friend, old-school strongman Eugen Sandow. An elephant figure might help with scale too but IMO it's not really necessary as long as you have a human figure. Every artist does it differently. Dr. Mike Taylor uses a silhouette of a man walking a dog, Greg Paul uses a silhouette of a running nude woman (I'm guessing it's Raquel Welch but DON'T quote me on that...) and in Dr. Michael Benton's books the scale figure is a fossil hunter with a hammer. Nobody had used Sandow for scale so I figured I'd do it. He was about 5'9" or so from what I've read...

Zach: I appreciate your efforts to clarify the skeletals matter, however I'm a bit confused about the measurements you used. Did you go off Calvo 2007 for any of them? SV-POW did a pretty good smackdown on their measurements, scale bars or not. Or did you use a different set of measurements from Novas' book? I haven't read it but I'm perplexed as to why Novas would publish measurements for Futalognkosaurus if Calvo's crew are the ones working on it. Did Novas actually measure the skeleton, and if so why is there no news of him publishing a paper on it?

With sacrals... I drew the hips in anterior view with the exact proportions they have in the photo, it appears you define the margins of the first sacral ribs a bit differently than I do, so if the "antlers" are 2m wide, it's somewhere in my skeletal... regardless, the ACTUAL fusion points of the ribs are not that far apart in posterior margin, and the later sacrals are still nowhere near 2m wide.

And as for the "tongue thrashing"... seriously, chill out. And I'm being very diplomatic here, I used words like "seems", not definite statements. This is offering my honest opinion, not "assumptions" because I have no way of assuming anything for certain about your specific methods. There does appear to be a Saltasaur-leaning bias in several of your non-Saltasaur works - doesn't make them bad, I just don't agree with them on some points. This is simply honest opinion and debate, not in any way a tongue lashing or "charges against your skeletal". If we can't have honest debate, science simply turns into dogma.

Now my bad if you disliked my words, however if you post criticism of my work on MY blog (and to boot, even before I had a chance to answer Tom's original question!), it's a bit odd NOT to expect a direct rebuttal. I may be wrong, so may you. Like I said, it wasn't meant to offend personally, how you choose to take it is totally up to you.

Zach Armstrong said...

I listed the ref above at the end of one of my comments. It is the follow-up 2008 paper by Calvo et. al on the anatomy of Futalognkosaurus. Of note, is that in this paper they do not include the skeletal that was in the original paper. Also of note is that they give no estimated total length in this paper either. This is significant for two reasons: first, as was shown on SV-POW! the scaling in the original paper's skeletal was off both internally and in comparison to the photos of the actual, and second it indicates that the photos have correct scale-bars in the second paper.

Also, the original SV-POW! post lamenting the measurements was based off of the 2007--not 2008--paper and was specifically targeted at the contradicting scale-bars, as no actual measurements of elements were given in the 2007 paper. However, in their MYDD! post they did reference the 2008 paper, saying it lacked tables of measurements, which is true. Now, I'm not sure how detailed Matt Wedel went through that paper, but there are enough measurements to get a general idea of the proportions and to cross reference with the photos and scale-bars to see if they match up closely. As I noted above in my earlier comment, they do match up closely: for the vertebrae that measurements are given in the text of the paper, the scale-bars in the photos match these dimensions very closely (within one or two centimeters) and sometimes exactly right on. This suggests to me that the scale-bars in the photos are actually not as bad as might have been implied on SV-POW! In fact, in the MYDD! post, Matt refrains from saying that the scale-bars in the new paper are not accurate, just that they may be. As I have said above, I have done a lot of comparisons with measurements given in the text with the scale-bars in the photos, and they appear to be in agreement. In fact, they appear to be darn good.

Also, Nima, I freely admitted that my pelvis was restored too wide, again, like I said in previous comments. I also pointed out that your skeletal appears to contradict some of the known measurements especially with regards to the pelvis width to anterior dorsal width ratio. This was because Tom wanted to know what the major differences in our skeletals were (as they indeed do look quite different).

I should point out that I never said the latter sacrals were 200 cm wide. I said that the first one was. The last sacral is given a width of 117 cm as listed in the paper (including the ilium, the paper says it was 136 cm wide). The problem with going off the photo you refer to is that (1) the vast majority of Porfiri is hidden behind the pelvis, so one wonders how you could accurately scale from his known height when most of his dimensions are hidden? and (2) the pelvis is at a slightly oblique angle, which makes going off the photo more prone to error. Even in the photo of the posterior cervical (where you can see Porfiri's total height), the angle of the photograph is slightly oblique making it diffucult to get an accurate measurement.

However, I would be interested to hear what your measurements are of the various elements and compare them to my estimated measurements.

I don't know if Novas himself measured the pelvis, or he got the measurement through personal communication with Calvo et. al, but the measurements are listed. Furthermore, Novas did publish on Futalognkosaurus in his book, so I'm not sure what the issue is there.

Zach Armstrong said...

As for the "tongue thrashing", I actually said "word-thrashing", but nevermind. And I actually was fairly chilled out in my previous comment--I didn't use italics or all-caps words or anything so I don't see why you think I'm not chilled out. However, your use of all-caps words like "nowhere even CLOSE to Zach's estimate",etc. above seemed a little over the top, that's all I was saying.

My Futalognkosaurus is "small" as you say because that is what the measurements and the scaling indicate. As I have repeatedly referenced, this abstract on the topic by the original authors gives a maximum length of 26 meters (and this is with the really long tail they suggest, which you ignore in your skeletal) for Futalognkosaurus and an atlas to sacrum length of 11.9 meters. If you have anything longer than this, than somethings off. I have a scale-bar in my skeletal, and if you scale it, I am confident that my atlas to sacrum length is just under 12 meters along the vertebral column. So a 27 or 28 meter length you listed on deviantArt is an over measurement by quite a bit, especially since you give it a relatively short tail. You seem to like to give over-estimates of size, number of dorsals (your skeletal has 11, not 10 as the paper says), and torso widths for sauropods.

As an aside, since Puertasaurus seem to be longkosaurian, and going off the published drawings and photos of that specimen, the D2 had a functional length (i.e., excluding the anterior ball) of slightly over 30.2 cm, which is only marginally longer than the 28.7 cm length of the D2 for Futalognkosaurus (its functional length was listed as 2/3 the functional length of the D1, which was 43, implying a D2 of 2/3*43=28.667 cm long). Judging from this, Puertasaurus was no more than 31 meters in length (and this is with a long tail, not a brachiopsaur-like one with which you restore it), a far cry from the 130 ft (or ~39 meter) length you listed in your previous post.

I guess I'm not seeing why my titanosaur skeletals look like a saltasaur to you. True, the neck is fairly thin side-to-side, but even your drawing of the posterior dorsal in apparently posterior view shows this. It should be noted also that the angle of the neck tends to make it look more narrow than it actually is in the dorsal view. Also, the neck itself is long and tall like I show, so I'm not seeing the saltasaur resemblance (maybe the long tail? Well, an abstract suggests that titanosaurs had long tails with around 65 caudal vertebrae).

Zach Armstrong said...

Since everything I have said so far is off-topic for this post, I should mention that I honestly think your Hudiesaurus drawing is spectacular, I especially like the clouds. A very nice piece.

Zach Armstrong said...

Actually, I was wrong concerning the scale-bars to a certain extent. While the anterior view dorsals and their scale-bar match the length listed in the paper, the scale-bars between the various cervical vertebrae are not consistent.

It seemed like things were not matching up when I went back to review my scaling after having this discussion, so I got the idea of copying and pasting the images into Microsoft Word and comparing the scale-bars, so I just did that and it turns out that the scale-bars appear to not be consistent in regards to the cervical vertebrae at the very least. Because of this I am going to say the accuracy of my skeletal is probably not accurate in the cervical series. Another issue: Novas' book has a scale-bar for the posterior cervical figured in the paper and it differs from both the posterior and lateral views in the 2008 paper by Calvo et. al, so now it is difficult to know which (if any) are correct.

I guess my disclaimer is that I am now certainly not confident that an accurate skeletal can be made with the given photos and information (even the additional photos on SV-POW! will probably not clear up this confusion, IMO). Sorry for the confusion...

Nima said...

Thanx for the Hudiesaurus compliments Zach! Yes the clouds were the real challenge, the dinosaurs were easy part!

As for Futalognkosaurus.... don't mean to be an "I told you so", but yeah.... the scale bars suck. Really the Porfiri photos are the only thing we can rely on for raw size measurements, all the published scale-bar photos so far are only good for figuring out proportions and cross-scaling, IMO - and that's an art I had to learn through trial and error, what with this being my very first skeletal and all!

I wish Calvo and company would at least put tic marks or incremental numbers on their scale bars so it would be easier to tell if they got the measurements even close to correct. 100 years ago we could at least trust published measurements because everyone was expected to get it right and it was just an expected part of doing your job as a paleontologist - and if you were even a few millimeters off your colleagues would rip your careeer apart in peer-reviewed journals.

I admit you are correct about the first sacral though. I took another look and it turns out the "antlers" ARE part of the sacral ribs which makes the first sacral 2m wide!

My Futa skeletal actually has the exact same dimensions for them! The newest version (which I'll post soon) has a scale bar and a Sandow figure included, I just measured the antlers using that scale bar and I also got 2m! I wasn't aware originally that the antlers were part of the sacral ribs, I thought the 1st sacral ribs ended at the edges of those "spectacle" fossae on either side of the spinal cord. By that standard, you get a width of 1m, but if you include the antlers it comes out to 2m.

So I got it right after all even though I wasn't aware of it... (I did work on this beast for 4 months so I'm pretty sure I got all the reliable proportions down correctly, it just so happened that the antlers weren't one of the benchmark measurements I used, but they came out just fine since everything else was well-scaled).

However the later sacrals are all about 1m wide, 117cm seems realistic for the last sacral, it's pretty close to what I got as well. Basically my point was that most of the sacrum at was no wider than the anterior dorsals, obviously the first sacral is much wider and I was not initially aware of just HOW wide it extended. Since the dorsals were about 1m wide (and the sacrum, except for the first sacral, is also of similar width in my skeletal) I'd say I didn't make any mistakes in the width ratios. The anterior dorsals are still not too wide in my version.

Nima said...

BTW, Zach...

The reasons I said your Futa looks like a saltasaur are as follows:

1. Huge hips and narrow shoulders - even the trackway gauge would be mismatched. These proportions are hindlimb-dominant to well beyond diplodocid or even dicraeosaurid levels. I just don't consider that realistic.

2. skinny narrow neck - this is a trait of all saltasaurs, even long-necked ones like Rapetosaurus and Alamosaurus. Lognkosaurs had much heftier necks, even in the case of Futa, where the neck was considerably deeper than it was wide, MOST of the neck was still pretty wide.

3. Long tail.... this can be argued either way, but I'd shorten it a bit for lognkosaurs - not "brachiosaur" short (I think you're exaggerating there with my Puertasaurus) but somewhere in between. More a matter of personal opinion than anything else, though a long tail does resemble saltasaurs. My Futa's tail came out short because I ran out of space on the page, I actually would have liked to make it a bit longer, but as I'm doing a matching fleshed out version, I won't do any digital lengthening at least until that one's done as well.

4. Short compact torso (necessitating very short strides) almost looks like it was copied straight from Alamosaurus. If the neck weren't so deep, I could easily have mistaken your Futa for an Alamosaurus.

5. The neural spines look more like Rapetosaurus that Futalognkosaurus - Futa's spines, though tall, didn't have the same extremely curved "shark-fin" shape. They were straighter and more angular.

BTW, as for Porfiri in the photo.... he should actually be "taller" since the Futa's pelvis is sitting on a pair of two-by-fours, and from the perspective it's clear that Porfiri's not standing on either of them.

Interestingly, I actually reduced the size of the hips in my new revised version of my skeletal. The sacrum looked too long relative to my human figure and scale bar (which I had mainly scaled from measurements of C14 in Porfiri's photo). I re-measured the centra of the dorsals and sacrals and it turned out I'd made the hips too big the first time around. So I shrank them a bit. No worries though, I mainly reduced the length and depth, so the sacrals (except for the first one of course) are still about 1m wide, and the first sacral (including antlers) is exactly 2m wide.

Hehe sorry if you found the caps a bit too intense. I wasn't angry when I used caps, in fact I rarely am. I don't find caps all that emotionally charged, guess it's just a difference in perception and it's an issue we all face when communicating over the internet.

Also something else - I noticed in the Porfiri photo that sacrals 4 and 5 seem to be fused (along with their ribs) - something that neither of us included in our skeletals. Though I don't know if this is natural, a pathology, or simply the result of looking at the bones from a bad angle.

Zach Armstrong said...

I understand where you are coming from Nima, and your skeletal is very good in how it is executed (it reminds me of Greg Paul's). However, I would still say from the listed measurements that even the narrowest sacral (presumably the last) is still wider than the anterior dorsals. Going from your skeletal (I actually printed it out to compare the proportions), your anterior dorsals are still wider than the last sacral. Going from your skeletal, including the ilium, the last sacral is sub-equal in length to the anterior dorsals. As I said above, the paper says that the last sacral width including the ilium was 136 cm (compared to 100 cm for the anterior dorsals). So it should be visibly apparent that the anterior dorsals are narrower than the posterior portion of the pelvis. Like I said, going from the paper the total max width of the pelvis should be at least 2.5 times--if not 2.8 times--the width of the anterior dorsals. Going from your skeletal the maximum width of the pelvis is approximately 1.9 times the the width of the anterior dorsals.

As regards your second comment (on the saltasaur-ishness of my skeletal):

1) I already admitted my pelvis is restored too wide at its widest point, by about 70 cm. I'll re-do it eventually, and probably put a disclaimer on deviantArt.

2)/5) The neck was more saltasaur-like than you think. The dorsal/posterior views of the cervical vertebrae show a proportionally narrow neck. Also, as regards the neural spines looking like Rapetosaurus I quote from the paper (p. 517), "The neural spine is very high and sail-shaped as in Malawisaurus and Rapetosaurus. Futalognkosaurs shares with
Rapetosaurus higher neural arches in anterior and middle cervical vertebrae, three times higher than the centra." So, the authors comment that the neural spine is in fact like Rapetosaurus for the mid-to-posterior cervicals, and this can be especially seen from the published photo of the mid-cervical in the paper.

3) Titanosaurs tails were looong (for the most part--most notable exception (and only one that I know of) probably is Rapetosaurus, although this may be a feature of ontogeny). Not as long as diplodicids, but nearly so, and were certainly longer than in brachiosaurs and camarasaurs and most other neosauropods with the exception of the diplodicoids and had elongate, biconvex distal caudals that probably drooped. They probably had a total of 55-65 caudal vertebrae. A titanosaur specimen that comes from the Río Colorado Formation, in the Rincon de los Sauces locality of Neuquén Province is very complete, and reportedly similar to Futalognkosaurus, has ~65 caudals. I understand the space-issues involved in tail length. Most common way to get around this is to do the tail on another sheet of paper, and use photo-editing software to blend it together with the rest of the skeleton.

4) As regards the short compact torso, the paper that I refer to says that that the first dorsal was 43 cm long, the second was 2/3 of the first's length (i.e., ~28.7 cm), and the succeeding vertebrae gradually reduced in length to the last dorsal,the 10th, which was 28 cm long. That means a dorsal column length of just over 298 cm.

No worries about the all-caps issue, I get it now. As for the fused sacrals, the paper says the 2nd and 3rd sacrals are fused, not the 4th and 5th.

A couple tips for your skeletal if you plan to re-edit it at all before you upload a new version: (1) You have one-too-many dorsals (Futalognkosaurus had 10, not 11, dorsals--easiest way to fix it would be to delete the posterior most dorsal) and (2) the third and subsequent dorsal neural spines become strongly inclined posteriorly.

Nima said...

Hmmm.... so the pelvis does need to be wider.

I wouldn't be surprised if the thing was 3m wide at the front of the ilia, once you restore the chipped edges. Mainly I wanted to reduce the length, it was a bit too long in the recon - it should not rise above a man's chest height when propped up on the last sacral like in Porfiri's photo. (you'll see what I mean in the newer versions).

Thanks for the Greg Paul compliment, just curious - has Greg Paul come out with a Futalognkosaurus skeletal yet?

I'm still skeptical of the measurements from both Calvo and Novas, but I'll keep your notes in mind. I do admit the chest/anterior torso looks a bit wide, I may make the whole thing narrower, not only the anterior dorsals... If my Puertasaurus was any indication, these guys were a bit plumper near the hips... heck, even Giraffatitan was wider near the hips!

That may take a while to complete though, I might mess around with the slant of the ribs in the top view too... all the same I wouldn't expect mine to come out looking like yours.

As for the dorsal count, either Calvo's skeletal is wrong, or his published data is wrong, or both. I'll go by the skeletal for the count, mainly because it was based on a field diagram that his crew used and I doubt all of them could have gotten the count wrong, but to get a typo in a published paper and have others unknowingly repeat it is a lot more common. Also, titanosaurs normally have 11 dorsals, and the ones that have less usually make up for it with well over 14 cervicals. Brachiosaurs reduced the total presacral vertebra count from more basal forms, titanosaurs increased it again. The same can be said to some extent for the evolution of thumb claw size and shape (Janenschia and Diamantinosaurus both have larger thumb claws than Giraffatitan, as did early brachiosaurs and basal eusauropods...)

The tail may become longer in future versions. I generally don't illustrate bones for parts of the body where no bones are known (i.e. most of the tail in Futa's case) so the length of the tail is an open question. The notion of a long-tailed Futalognkosaurus is not a bad one, I actually rather like it.... Though not in the sense of making the tail twice as long as the neck or anything like that. The neural spine of the first caudal is proportionally nowhere near as elongated as in diplodocids, so I doubt the anterior caudals could have anchored enough ligaments to hold up a very long diplodocid-like tail. Indeed you yourself correctly drew the spines looking rather short, even though your speculative tail is far too long to be feasibly held up by the ligaments they could have realistically anchored.

In terms of measurements of torso and other elements, I'm skeptical. Like I said before, when figures are hard to verify, I rely on photos for proportional cross-scaling. Even in the Porfiri dorsal pic, which is foreshortened, I'd still venture to say the dorsal column is a good bit longer than 298cm (and I'm very good with perspectives). As for the highly inclined neural spines of the dorsals.... I've seen the photos of ths spines in dorsal view, in both Calvo papers, in both cases there's no side view so it's impossible to tell how much of the incline is natural (I doubt it is) and how much is due to crushing. Calvo's own diagram of the dorsals shows a more moderate incline than your skeletal. Strongly inclined dorsal spines are a very Saltasaurid trait by the way - and very UN-Andesaurid, so I'd say Lognkosaurs were somewhere in the middle.

Also I did not say that the cervical neural spines of Futa were totally unlike those of Rapetosaurus - they both have very tall sail-like spines indeed - my point was that on Futa they are more angular and not as curved back on the leading edge - hence the term "shark fin spines" I used for Rapetosaurus. The anterior surfaces of the Futa spines are mostly concave in side view, not convex as in Rapetosaurus.

Nima said...

As regards your skeletal, I can also offer some suggestions.

Make the dorsal centra more visible - they look downright stringy in side view, and in dorsal view they are invisible (and you're not putting in any prezygapophyses, postzygapophyses, or laminae to cover them either - and the photos showed all of these in abundance). There is no way the centra were narrower laterally than the neural spines. Another thing is that the centra get abysmally small in the posterior torso, but monstrously deep in the base of the tail! It just looks odd. The back inevitably has to support more weight than the tail, I don't understand why you made it so much more spindly - do the sacral centra just suddenly get huge and deep out of nowhere? I thought they actually look proportionally reduced in the photos...

I'd also beware of spacing the legs so much further apart than the arms... though if you reduce the hip width as you proposed, I think this could easily be corrected.

Not only is the anterior neck too narrow IMO, so is most of the tail. Im the middle it gets very thin very suddenly, then actually gets thicker in a couple of places befor tapering off at the end. I'm sure this isn't intentional, just putting it out there. There are also some symmetry issues with the top view, and the hypothetical limb bones lack the curved endings one usually finds in sauropod femora and humeri, though perhaps this is just due to software limitations.

It looks like you did yours purely digitally, am I correct? What program did you use? It's not bad at all for a first attempt at all-digital, if I recall most or all of your earlier skeletals were largely hand-drawn. I did mine hand drawn and then filled in the black areas and did the editing digitally. It's a pain in the neck (literally hehe!) but I think the results are well worth it.

I have to say, I really like how you did the head. Look almost the same way I imagined it!

Zach Armstrong said...

I'm not sure what you mean about the length of the pelvis in your restoration simply because I have not checked the specifics out. The paper says it was 96 cm long and may have been under some dorso-ventral compression, so restoring it at about 100-105 cm in length would certainly be defensible.

Greg Paul does not have a Futalognkosaurus skeletal out (however, I'm sure there will be one in his Princetong Field Guide to Dinosaurs which comes out in late September/early October of this year); your skeletal just reminds me of the style that he does his all of his skeletals in.

About Novas' measurements: they're out of date. Novas doesn't even reference the 2008 paper on Futalognkosaurus, and all his details (with the exception of the pelvis width) are from an early, short report from the original authors in 2001 (!), much of (but not all of) the measurements and details that were reported on in there have been revised or not included in the newer papers; so I would take them with a grain of salt. However, the total pelvis width appears to be a new measurement given to him by Calvo et. al. At any rate, a similar measurement for the pelvis width is included in the newer papers.

The original paper's skeletal appears to be wrong in most everything (both internally and externally inconsistent, i.e., not only is the scalebar wrong, the elements in the skeletal itself are not scaled correctly with one another). In the follow-up paper that I refer to, the skeletal is not included. Furthermore, it is said in the paper that there are ten articulated dorsal vertebrae. Also the character matrix in the first paper lists it as having 10 dorsal vertebrae. Also, according to Gomani's lengthy description of Malawisaurus 10 dorsal vertebrae is the standard number for titanosaurs (Malawisaruus is known from 10 isolated dorsals). In fact, Trigonosaurus has a complete dorsal series of 10, articulated dorsals, and Rapetosaurus also has 10. Thus, 10 appears to be the rule, not the exception and all indications show that Futalognkosaurus has 10 also (except for the skeletal which is inaccurate in pretty much everything else, so I would not consider it as strong evidence for 11 dorsals). Only two derived saltasaurid titanosaurs are known from complete enough remains that we can say with confidence they had more than 10 dorsals (i.e., Opisthocoelicaudia has at lest 11 as well as Neuquensaurus).

The caudifemoralis muscle that titanosaurs had in general was very strong and robust judging from the strong and prominent caudifemoralis longus and brevis projections on the femurs of other titanosaurs and could have easily anchored strong muscles and ligaments that could have held a long tail like the one that I restored.

As for the dorsal column length in the photos you refer to, the dorsal column only takes up part of the length of the jacket in the photo, and parts of at least 9 dorsals are visible. And like I said, the angle of the photo makes it difficult to get a good idea of the length, no matter how good one is at perspective. Even with hi-tech CSI-like equipent, I'm almost positive you could not get an accurate length from that photo.

Zach Armstrong said...

Actually, strongly inclined mid-to-posterior dorsals are a hallmark of almost all titanosaurs, including the relatively basal titanosaur Malawisaurus and Epachthosaurus (which may be related to Argentinosaurus). I find it unlikely that starting at the third dorsal, all of the sudden the dorsal neural spines would start to incline posteriorly if it was truly an artifact of preservation, as a similar pattern is seen in nearly all other titanosaurs. I have only seen one drawing of a dorsal of Andesaurus and it is slightly inclined posteriorly (although not as strong in other titanosaurs), unfortunately it is not given a firm placement in the series. Usually the most anterior dorsals are not inclined strongly as well as the last one or two dorsals which becomes more upright in order to articulate with the sacrum.

I would disagree with your interpretation of the mid-cervicals of Rapetosaurus and Futalognosaurus, see here and here to compare the striking "shark-fin" similarities (especially compare the 10th cervical of Futalognkosaurus).

I agree with your assessment of my skeletal for the most part, in fact, I had much the same misgivings after looking at it. The only thing I disagree with in your assessment in the width of the tail: after the 9th or 10th caudal, in most titanosaurs the caudal "ribs" become absent, meaning the tail was not as strongly muscled after that point, hence the dramatic tapering of musculature. Admittedly, the distal part of the tail was not drawn as rigorously and that is why there is some noticeable variation in the width, as you note, which should be corrected. A similar reason for the legs, as they are unknown, I did not put as much detail in the limb bones as I might have.

As for my process, I drew the skeletal on paper, scanned it into my computer and then re-traced it in Painter 4 digitally. Usually, I would just fill in the black in around the bones from my original, but for some reason it was picking up the texture of the paper and not filling in completely.

Thanks for the complement on the skull, it's based off of photos of an undescribed complete titanosaur skull in Novas' book.

Anonymous said...

Hey Nima, is there a possibility of Bruhathkayosaurus matleyi making an appearance soon in FORGOTTEN the way beautiful Hudiesaurus reconstruction!

Anonymous said...

Hi Nima, this is Tom another Anonymous than the last. I'm responding in part to your Deviant Art post. I think that Zach could be looking for another place to post maybe with more responses although thats just a guess.
Your conversations are always fascinating and I hpe they come back with full momentum soon.

Your new Futalognkosaurus skeletal makes the huge pelvis seem amost normal sized partly because of the neck size. The sale bar shows it to be close to three meters wide. This is not a criticism of course but what a neck.
Do the ribs show how much they flared?
Also is figuring out the size of the musculature of sauropods contoversial or just not readily apparent?

Nima said...

@ anonymous # 1: Thanks for the complimnt on my Hudiesaurus!

I have considered putting Bruhathkayosaurus on my list for Forgotten Giants. But there's a huge problem - I've never seen a photo of the remains, in fact no photo has ever been published. Yadagiri and Ayyasami's re-description paper only included some very bad drawings of the fragments, and it seems these are only from the distal end of a tibia. Even with so little material I could compare it to its relatives and work out a fairly good image.

But only if I see photos and get more data on the age of the formation where it was found. Until there are photos and some more data I doubt I would illustrate Bruhathkayosaurus simply because there's no good data on it. It may not even be a sauropod let alone a dinosaur for that matter. It could be petrified wood. But if enough people demand it, I may do a speculative version just for fun.

Keep in mind there are plenty of 100% legit mega-titanosaurs (Puertasaurus, Andesaurus, Argentinosaurus, Argyrosaurus, Futalognkosaurus, and a pile of new Asian species just to start with) that I can illustrate without having to go to Bruhathkayosaurus. Though I agree it would be interesting to try it, but then it would be a 100% imaginary titanosaur as there aren't even any photos of the material to go on.

@ Tom,
If Zach went somewhere with more exposure I'd like to know where since I want more exposure for my art as well... though I doubt there are too many sites that can beat DeviantArt.... I mean, doing some kind of SEO might help in the long run, but for blogs that's not an easy thing. More of a long term project for now...

And I hope the conversations come back in full momentum too hehe :) As for Futalognkosaurus.... the pelvis actually is a bit too big in the Mk-II version, I plan to make it smaller (or at least shorter from front to back) since after re-scaling the Juan Porfiri photos on SV-POW I realized I'd drawn it too long. The pelvis is indeed close to 3m wide, I'd say it was easily over 2.7m once you restore the edges. But it's a lot shorter than it is wide - which means this was one FAT sauropod, much like how I depicted its relative Puertasaurus.

For version Mk-III I am decreasing the pelvis size, I may redraw it entirely for later versions since I've come across some photos which show it from new angles. The neck was not 3m wide (not sure if that's what you meant) but only about 1m wide and 2m deep at its thickest point. The ribs are hard to restore for now since I haven't seen much of their proximal ends and thus judging the angle of attachment to the vertebrae is tough... but I've seen a couple and they look like they flared out pretty wide.

Musculature for sauropods is tough because few living animals resemble them, but I would imagine something fairly slender like elephants, just less baggy. Their leg muscles were pretty slender since muscle crests on the long bones don't stick out very far (as opposed to, say, ceratopsians!) Overall musculature of sauropods didn't bulge too far past the thickest margins of the skeleton. It's not so controversial if you follow the bones, the problem is, about 80% of artists never look at the bones and restore sauropods far too bulky, especially the limbs.

Now some sauropods did get very wide but their limbs were not bulging with huge amounts of flesh. Even the ones with robust bones, had musculature that closely followed the bones seeing as the attachment crests were never very pronounced (until you get to Opisthocoelocaudia and other "saltasaurs", and even then the musculature was still nowhere near ceratopsian levels of "bulginess").

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear from you Nima. I appreciate your thoroughness.
The giant necked sauropods cause a real shift in perception-the necks seem to almost be an extension of the torso rather than the old wrestler adage "pencil-neck" which was used to describe human necks less than 15" around.
I'm aware from the literature that the sauropod necks were much less bulky than they seem to be because of their construction. The Mark Hallet Mamenchisaurus color life reconstruction of about 20 years back showed a neck that integrated well visually even if the
anatomy was inaccurate. Do you think it looked at all like he depicted it?
What I like about what you are doing is that you are very concerned about accuracy whenever you can confirm it and at the same time are open to reasonable speculation. You have to wonder if the sauropods fought with their necks like Giraffes ?
I've noticed how you depict the "swelling" out of sauropod torsos in your life views from the side views using line and pattern. These seem to be an equivalent to the light and dark chiaroscuro approach of tradtional art school technique. I never really learned that myself but used a modified version using a lot of finger blending of black and white or color with charcoals and pastels. Titian was supposed to have used his fingers in his oil paintings. It's hard to depict the depth I bet-particuarly from a side view.

Nima said...

Thanks for the comments!

The thick-necked sauropods like Futalognkosaurus truly are changing perceptions. However, Hudiesaurus is not among them. Like Mamenchisaurus and Omeisaurus, it's basically a slim-necked form. Hallett's Mamenchisaurus was very beautiful but the neck was actually far too thick, especially at the base.

If you look at Mamenchisaurus up close, you notice its vertebrae are in fact very slim. Far slimmer than in Brachiosaurus, for example. And Brachiosaurus still had only a moderately thick neck as far as giant sauropods go.

It's true that all these types had pneumatic necks, which enabled some species to evolve necks that looked a lot more massive than they actually were. But the mamenchisaurs were not among those - they all follow a very slim-necked pattern, even that new giant specimen that tops 120 feet.

The majority of thick-necked sauropods are intermediate titanosaurs, specifically the Lognkosauria and the odd genus Isisaurus. Basal titanosaurs (i.e. Andesauridae) are known from precious little neck material, and the more derived ones (Lithostrotia) seem to have reverted back to a slim-necked condition, as in Rapetosaurus and Alamosaurus.

Outside of titanosauria, the most famous thick-necked sauropod is of course Apatosaurus, which alone out of all diplodocids possesses such massive cervical ribs and neural arches.

This all begs a very interesting question - WHY did some sauropods evolve thick necks, while their close relatives remained "pencil-necks"? Theories abound! I mean look at Apatosaurus and Diplodocus - similar in so many ways, except Apatosaurus is both shorter AND twice as bulky, including that crazy-thick neck.

Was the thick neck just for improved sexual display? Or did thick-necked sauropods do a lot more ritual "neck jousting" than their slimmer cousins? Apatosaurus' neck vertebrae are not only thicker than those of Diplodocus, they're also a lot stronger and could take a bigger impact. All the thick-necked forms seem to be bulkier everywhere else as well - torso, legs, etc. This is true of Apatosaurus, and also very true of both Futalognkosaurus and Puertasaurus - at least as far as the torso is concerned.

And then you have super robust limb bones from neckless titanosaur type specimens like the seemingly indestructible Paralititan and Argyrosaurus - did these animals also have insanely thick necks?

Also I notice that Daxiatitan, a huge but relatively basal Chinese titanosaur, has a neck that tends towards a massive deepness, though not quite to the extent of Futalognkosaurus.

As for the shading and the bulging bodies... that's a skill that indeed took a while to learn and I'm still improving it. The hardest thing is often to show an animal's 3D form without making the curves too obvious, using shading but not at the expense of patterns, etc... finger smearing and eraser smearing are both useful tools in limited measure. Titian was renaissance era but who knows, he may have used some methods that were very modern even bu today's standards, back then every master painter was an innovator and had his own carefully guarded secret methods.

I'd say my biggest inspirations outside of the paleo-art community come from M.C. Escher and Chis van Allsburg. Both are undisputed masters of black & white shading and form. A lot of times I try to replicate, in pencil, that "lithographic look" that's so iconic in Escher's ink prints.

Anonymous said... Bruhathkayosaurus will remain only in my imagination. Although I'm interested in seeing a decent restoration of the often ignored Andesaurus. BTW this is the original anonymous #1 Dean.

Anonymous said...

Nima, your responses fill in a lot of gaps. for me its like eating a chicken dinner.
I had not heard much about the uniqueness of Apatosaurus among the diplodocids. It is still one of my favorite dinosaurs.
The dorsal sequence in your recent Futalognkosaurus intrigues me- how do the dorsals change in size, width and length and height as they go back to the pelvis?
Is this similar to other titanosaurs or sauropods? Its hard for me to read the specific relationships from the skeletal at least from eyeing it.

Nima said...

@ Dean:
Bruhathkayosaurus is in my imagination as well. I'd love for it to be a real titanosaur, but there's no telling what it is... and even if we were sure it's a real one, there's precious little of it that I could compare to anything else... It would be very difficult to make anything of it besides one of those lame generic "long-neck" pictures in bookstore dinosaur dictionaries that could be of nearly any species. And we both know that my sauropods have to be of much higher quality than that...

However, your wish for Andesaurus shall indeed be granted. Andesaurus is a slippery beast, no doubt (photos of the bones are rare as diamonds, and the published paper WITH photos has so far eluded me) so illustrating the bones and the body largely depends of whatever measurements I can rack up from titanosaur survey papers and the text-only "paleoglot" censored version of the description. But Andesaurus is indeed a real mega-sauropod, and a length of 100 ft. is actually quite likely. It's definitely high on my list.

@ Tom:

That must have been some really tasty chicken!
Apatosaurus was indeed a rare oddball among the Diplodocids. Next to Diplodocus, it looks like a serious steroid overdose! Its subfamily within the diplodocids is also pretty limited... there's Atlantosaurus and Eobrontosaurus, which are practically the same in most aspects, and Supersaurus, which was far more elongated like a scaled-up "conventional" diplodocid. I was never a huge Apatosaurus fan, but I love the way Greg Paul painted it rearing up to feed, one of my favorite paintings.

The dorsal sequence for the Futa has apparently one thing wrong with it, which is the width of the anterior dorsals. In fact, the real dorsals do NOT change in width anywhere along the column - IF the published measurements that Zach posted are to be believed. I still have my doubts about that, so I didn't reduce the width of the anterior dorsals, but Zach may be right on that one. Time and a new paper will tell. the torso does need to be a bit narrower overall in the front though...

The main issue that needs fixing is the pelvis size, it's obviously too long based on what I've seen in photos. So I'm focusing on getting that corrected soon.

Dean said...

Andesaurus will indeed satisfy my desire to see some huge titanosaurs, and perhaps one day in the future the mythical Bruhathkayosaurus will have its turn in the spotlight.

Dean said...

Hey Nima, what is your opinion on the width of other super-sized titanosaurs? Were they similar to Puertasaurus or somewhat slimmer? I ask because I'm trying to get a VERY rough idea of the size of maker of the giant 1.5-1.7 meter Broome sauropod footprints. I don't even know if they are titanosaur tracks, but they sound pretty impressive.

Nima said...

The Brooms tracks (and the ones at Plagne in France) are HUGE. Big enough to be Puertasaurus, though I don't know how wide the mystery sauropod was since I don't have a solid figure of the average spacing between the right and left track lines. I would guess that other giant titanosaurs were not quite as wide as Puertsaurus, but there are 2 unknowns here.

1. We don't know if Puertasaurus had lots of relatives worldwide that made such tracks, so the trackmakers could have been as wide

2. We REALLY don't know if perhaps extremely wide bodies plus giant size evolved in other groups of titanosaurs besides Lognkosauria. Maybe some Argyrosaurs were very wide too...

Anonymous said...

Deino Joe here. I have problems with posting, so bear with me, please.

On sauropods having legs as slender as Nima and Paul draw them; I seriously doubt it. Of any vertebrates I am familiar with, only chameleons resemble your sauropod upper limbs, and their limb bones are REALLY thin. Even iguanas have muscles that bulge out past the crests, while komodo dragons have very muscular legs. The limbs you present look like small lizard legs...legs on small lizards, to be more clear. Don't take my word for it, look at the living animals.

As for mammals; elephants are decent analogs for sauropods. When muscles are flexed, they bulge, unless maybe you're endoskeletal. Take a look at living animals. I think there are many over-muscled restorations of sauropod limb elements, like prehistoric Arnold Schwarzeneggers, but, in my opinion, many others go too far in the other direction. I doubt even a starving mamenchisaurus had limbs so skinny.

That being said, I love Nima's art; very inspiring. Although he has a GSP look to his art, I think Nima's restorations are more alive looking, more nimble, and less pedantic. I am a Greg Paul fan too, so don't think I'm attacking anyone here.

You're inspiring me to do more dinosaur art soon. I hope to be uploading something to Art Evolved, where you can either laugh at my efforts, throw darts at them, or wonder at how I have the nerve to put anything up at all. said...

great blog it's wonderful.

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