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[sauropod@socrates.Berkeley.EDU: Utahdactylus]



Forwarded on behalf of Matt Wedel.

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Date: Mon, 14 Oct 2002 12:42:13 -0700
From: Matt <sauropod@socrates.Berkeley.EDU>
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To: Mike Taylor <mike@seatbooker.net>
Subject: Utahdactylus
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Mike--

I was indeed at SVP, having a hell of a good time.  Please forward
this on to the Dinolist if you think it will still be of interest.

Re Utahdactylus--

I was cruising around the exhibits at SVP on Thursday when Mickey
Mortimer found me and quizzed me about the possibly sauropodous nature
of the CEUM 32588 vertebrae.  Fortunately one of book vendors had
copies of the 'Journal' available and we were able to peruse the
pictures together.

I think that the verts do pertain to a pterosaur and not a sauropod,
and it mainly comes down to one thing: size.  According to the scale
bars on the images, these verts are between 1 and maybe 1.25 cm long.
The smallest sauropod vertebrae I have gotten to play with are
juvenile Apatosaurus and Camarasaurus vertebrae from the OMNH
collection, including those illustrated by Carpenter and McIntosh and
many others that were not figured in their '94 paper.  The smallest of
these are about 3 cm long.  For me, the key is that those tiny
Apato. and Cam. verts are just beginning to pneumatize with shallow
lateral fossae, and they are already 3-4 times larger than the
Utahdactylus verts.  If the Utahdactylus verts do belong to a
sauropod, they're either from an embryo or a hatchling, AND the things
are pneumatizing at smaller sizes than I've ever seen in sauropods,
AND the centra are *fully* camellate, a condition so far unknown in
any Morrison sauropods (Brachiosaurus verts are only semicamellate).
Precociously pneumatic hatchling titanosaurs from the Morrison?  I
admit that it's not beyond the bounds of possibility, but the sort of
fine scale camellization seen in CEUM 32588 is much more typical of
pterosaur vertebrae.  SVP attendees may have seen a poster by Dave
Smith and Kent Sanders on Mesadactylus which included some nice CT
images of a pneumatized cervical.  In overall size and the scale of
pneumatization, the CEUM 32588 verts resemble the Mesadactylus
cervical more than any sauropod verts I've looked at.

A large grain of salt: I've never seen or scanned baby titanosaur
verts, and I don't know if the Patagonian embryos have pneumatic
vertebrae.  Still, for my money, Utahdactylus is not a poorly-named
sauropod, just a poorly-described pterosaur.

Hope this helps, and please fire back if you have questions or
comments.

Best,

Matt


- --
Mathew J. Wedel
University of California
Museum of Paleontology
1101 Valley Life Science Bldg.
Berkeley, CA 94720-4780
"The whole of the huge and profound thought collected in the field of
morphology, from Goethe to Remane, has virtually been cut off from modern
biology. It is not taught in most American universities. Even the teachers
who could teach it have disappeared."
- --Rupert Riedl, 1977
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