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Re: Supercarnivore Models

At 11:25 AM 12/10/96 -0500, Lawrence Dunn wrote:

>I have two questions concerning several new resin sculptures of 
>the largest theropods, produced by Saurian Studios:
>1) the Theropods are Giganotosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, 
>Acrocanthosaurus, Spinosaurus, and Epanterias.  Can accurate sculptures 
>be made of all of these theropods?  In other words, will any of these 
>sculptures be necessarily inaccurate (or the product of pure conjecture)?

Tyrannosaurus, and now Acrocanthosaurus, can be restored to a very high
level of accuracy, since all/most of their skeletal anatomy is known.  The
skull of Giganotosaurus is well enough known for a very decent restoration,
and new material from the postcranium means that much of the rest of the
body will soon be better known.

Carcharodontosaurus and Spinosaurus are known only from relatively
fragmentary materials.  The former can be modelled off other theropods, so a
restoration might be pretty close to accurate.  Spinosaurus is necessarily
less accurate, since relatively little of its skeleton is known.  Saurian
Studios does an excellent job given the data they have accessible:
unfortunately, there remains a lot of missing data with regards to
Spinosaurus and other spinosaurids.

Epanterias...  Well, given the taxonomic confusion involved with this
beastie (is it Camarasaurus?  Is it Allosaurus?  Is it Saurphaganax?), there
is little we can say about this name.  The giant allosaurid of the Morrison
(for which "Saurophaganax" looks to be the proper name) is pretty well
known, but I don't know if the skull has been recovered yet.  Since a lot of
the most distinctive features within groups of large theropods are different
patterns of cranial ornaments, there is a good chance that whatever Saurian
picked for the skull may prove incorrect.  Still, it would be better than
having a headless model!!

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:th81@umail.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661

"To trace that life in its manifold changes through past ages to the present
is a ... difficult task, but one from which modern science does not shrink.
In this wide field, every earnest effort will meet with some degree of
success; every year will add new and important facts; and every generation
will bring to light some law, in accordance with which ancient life has been
changed into life as we see it around us to-day."
        --O.C. Marsh, Vice Presidential Address, AAAS, August 30, 1877