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Tyrant tails (was Re: Parrish's neck work ...)

At 11:17 PM 4/30/99 -0700, tyra-rex2@nctimes.net wrote:
>Interesting subject!  There are a lot of topics here and it is a bit hard
>to keep them all straight.  With regard to an ability to rear up, I wonder
>if the flexibility of the tail has been investigated in the same manner as
>the neck.  The old T-rex mount at the AMNH required the tail to be
>"broken" for the upright pose.

Ah, the joy of mis-remembered documentaries... :-)

In fact, the error you refer to has nothing to do with the AMNH _T. rex_
mount, but instead refers to the Bernissart _Iguanodon_ specimens.  Dollo
(and his crew) had to break the ossified tendons and mis-articulate the
vertebrae in order to get it into the vertical pose.

The problem with AMNH 5027 is that it's tail is VERY incomplete (a handful
of verts, a couple of chevrons).  The AMNH crew restored its tail somewhat
after _Allosaurus_: so doing, giving it lots of extra vertebrae it didn't
need.  The 1990s restoration got the number of caudals closer BUT:
  a) the morphology of the neural arches is inaccurate for many of the bones and
  b) the morphology of the chevrons is still wrong.

Nevertheless, some people STILL refer to that mount for details on tyrant
tails, when if they just went over to the wall-mounted _Gorgosaurus_
specimens they would see what a REAL tyrannosaurid tail looks like!


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