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Re: News To Me

David Marjanovic wrote:

"What's particularly frustrating to paleontologists who study these beasts is that we haven't had a clue what a complete associated apatosaurus skull and skeleton looks like," said Robert Bakker,
curator at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Might this have something to do with Bakker's splitting of *Apatosaurus* and *Brontosaurus*?

Does Bakker mean that we have no complete or associated skull for the type species, _Apatosaurus ajax_?

It was my impression that a good skull was known for _A. louisae_ (CM 11162). However, this skull was not found attached to the postcranium of _A. louisae_, but close by in the same quarry. It seems likely that CM 11162 belongs to the _A. louisae_ skeleton (Berman and McIntosh, 1978), and the Carnegie Museum apatosaur skeleton was accordingly fitted with a _Diplodocus_-like skull (a cast of CM 11162, I think).

Back in 1998, Bakker mentioned a skull (TATE 099) that he referred to _A. excelsus_. (This was in his "Dinosaur Mid-Life Crisis" paper, in which he also erected the new genus _Eobrontosaurus_ for _A. yahnahpin_.) Bakker argued that the skull TATE 099 was different enough from that of _Apatosaurus_ to warrant generic separation for _A. excelsus_. Because _A. excelsus_ was originally named _Brontosaurus excelsus_ (type species for _Brontosaurus_), Bakker used this as a launchpad for resurrecting _Brontosaurus_ as a valid genus separate from _Apatosaurus_. This idea really has not really taken off, for various reasons (e.g., see http://dml.cmnh.org/2005Aug/msg00023.html).

In any case, I doubt that Bakker's comments have anything to do with the _Apatosaurus_ / _Brontosaurus_ issue - though I could be wrong. Bakker is most likely referring to either the incompleteness of known _Apatosaurus_ cranial material, or to its lack of direct association with postcranial material.



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