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Amphicoelias fragillimus (gigantic sauropod) size overestimated? (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

A new paper in open access:

D. Cary Woodruff and John R. Foster (2014)
The fragile legacy of Amphicoelias fragillimus (Dinosauria: Sauropoda;
Morrison Formation – latest Jurassic).
Volumina Jurassica 12I (2):  181-196
DOI: 10.5604/17313708 .1130144

In the summer of 1878, American paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope
published the discovery of a sauropod dinosaur that he named
Amphicoelias fragillimus. What distinguishes A. fragillimus in the
annals of paleontology is the immense magnitude of the skeletal
material. The single incomplete dorsal vertebra as reported by Cope
was a meter and a half in height, which when fully reconstructed,
would make A. fragillimus the largest vertebrate ever. After this
initial description Cope never mentioned A. fragillimus in any of his
scientific works for the remainder of his life. More than four decades
after its description, a scientific survey at the American Museum of
Natural History dedicated to the sauropods collected by Cope failed to
locate the remains or whereabouts of A. fragillimus. For nearly a
century the remains have yet to resurface. The enormous size of the
specimen has generally been accepted despite being well beyond the
size of even the largest sauropods known from verifiable fossil
material (e.g. Argentinosaurus). By deciphering the ontogenetic change
of Diplodocoidea vertebrae, the science of gigantism, and Cope’s own
mannerisms, we conclude that the reported size of A. fragillimus is
most likely an extreme over-estimation.