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Re: Sauropod spines



Dan,

1) how far might this trait extend into sauropoda? - Your guess is as good as mine. Diplodicus is the only sauropod currently known with these spines, and it is notoriously hard to plot a curve from a singe point. I would say this, it is unlikely that the spacing, height, and placement of the spines would be consistent amoungst the sauropoda, even if their presence is widespread.

2) are these spines elongated scales, as in the iguana's spines or bony scutes, as in the spines of stegosaurs?. - Definantly not bony plates ala stegosaurs. I don't know of any topological impressions found on the spines, so whether they were elongate keratinous structures (like scales) or some other soft tissue (like cartilage) covered with skin seems undecided. Perhaps someone online has seen the firsthand?

3) are these spines associated with the vertebrae under them? That is, does every vert have a specific number of spines? - Apparently not as far as they are known. Over the tail, there seems to be more spikes than vertebrae. Again, if you want to assume a broader distribution of these characters amoungst Sauropoda, then I would suspect that this varies a bit. Hopefully future finds will shed some light.

One last thing, everybody has been puting these only on the dorsal midline of Diplodicus. Certainly on the whiplash this seems to be the case, but it's been mentioned to me that the number of elements found that weren't in direct association with the body are great enough that these spikes may have extended to other parts of the body.

Scott
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