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Sauropod necks found distorted or incomplete

Ben Creisler

A new open access paper in PeerJ preprints:

Michael P. Taylor (2015)
Almost all known sauropod necks are incomplete and distorted.
PeerJ PrePrints 3:e1767
doi:  https://dx.doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.1418v1

Sauropods are familiar dinosaurs, immediately recognisable by their
great size and long necks. However, their necks are much less well
known than is usually assumed. Very few complete necks have been
described in the literature, and even important specimens such as the
Carnegie Diplodocus and Apatosaurus, and the giant Berlin brachiosaur,
in fact have imperfectly known necks. In older specimens, missing bone
is often difficult to spot due to over-enthusiastic restoration. Worse
still, even those vertebrae that are complete are often badly
distorted – for example, in consecutive cervicals of the Carnegie
Diplodocus CM 84, the aspect ratio of the posterior articular facet of
the centrum varies so dramatically that C14 appears 35% broader
proportionally than C13. Widespread incompleteness and distortion are
both inevitable due to sauropod anatomy: large size made it almost
impossible for whole individuals to be preserved because sediment
cannot be deposited quickly enough to cover a giant carcass; and
distortion of presacral vertebrae is common due their lightweight
pneumatic construction. This ubiquitous incompleteness and
unpredictable distortion compromise attempts to determine habitual
neck posture and range of motion by modelling articulations between