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Re: When carnivores kill other carnivores... (Morrison movie questions)

On 3/11/06, Karen Casino <kcasino@comcast.net> wrote:
> 1) Is Saurophaganax a distinct species, or is it just a very large
> Allosaur of another species? (And under what circumstances do you
> capitalize the name of a species?)

_Saurophaganax_ is unfortunately not very well known.

_Saurophaganax_ is not a species. _Saurophaganax maximus_ (abbreviated
_S. maximus_) is a species. As with (all too) many Mesozoic dinosaur
genera, there's just one species in the genus (i.e., the genus is
monotypic). Genus names are always capitalized. A species name
consists of a genus name followed by a trivial epithet--the epithet is
always in lower case.

Does it matter whether _S. maximus_ is placed in _Saurophaganax_ or
_Allosaurus_? Not really--in the end it's a matter of taste.
(Assuming, of course, that _S. maximus_ is not synonymous with _A.
fragilis_, the type species of _Allosaurus_.)

> 2) Huh. So there's a giant Ceratosaurus in the Morrison formation.
> Would it get to be as large as the one that seems to have been present
> in the Tendaguru? (And for that matter, how reasonable would it be to
> use species from the Tendaguru formation in a Morrison setting?)

I don't know anything about a giant Morrison _Ceratosaurus_, but
Tendaguru seems to generally have species that are different from, if
fairly closely related to, species from the Morrison. Ditto for the
Lourinha Formation in Portugal.

> 3) At this point, is it possible to reconstruct Torvosaurus with any
> degree of accuracy, and if so, where would I look for skeletal
> diagrams, etc?

Paul (1988; Predatory Dinosaurs of the World) has one on p. 282
(listed as _Megalosaurus? tanneri_). The same one is reprinted
(slightly smaller) in The Scientific American Book of Dinosaurs, p.
404. The orientation of the hands is probably incorrect, but if it's
been republished anywhere more recently, it's probably been corrected,
as Paul has done with other theropod skeletal reconstructions of his.

There are some illustrations, including a skull reconstruction, here:

> 4) How reasonable is it to use Acrocanthosaurus or a similar species in
> a Morrison setting?

About as reasonable as showing modern humans hunting _Indricotherium_
with packs of _Hyaenodon_. There are about 30 million years separating
the Antlers Fm. from the Morrison.

On a side note, I've sometimes idly wondered whether _Allosaurus_
might be paraphyletic with regard to carcharodontosaurids, including
_Acrocanthosaurus_--it's certainly a common enough genus to have left
Cretaceous descendants. That said, I have absolutely no morphological
basis for this idea.
Mike Keesey
The Dinosauricon: http://dino.lm.com
Parry & Carney: http://parryandcarney.com