STL Science Center

STL Science Center

01 March 2015

Trunks and Facts

Trunked dicraeosaurid, illustrated in 1975 by Gregory Irons for the 1990 book All New Dinosaurs and Their Friends. Retrieved from Tetrapod Zoology.
Dicraeosaurus may or may not have had a trunk, but the image here makes for a great coloring sheet. It goes well with the fact pages that are hosted on About and KidsDinos. There are other sites as well, but today is a very snowy day and I have to do a lot of shoveling and reshoveling, and I am pooped at the moment. I suggest we all just enjoy some hot chocolate and color a picture before I have to go out to shovel once more.

28 February 2015


©Nobu Tamura
When placed alongside similarly small wide-bodied sauropods Dicraeosaurus is actually a rather large dinosaur. Size is always relative, of course, but Dicraeosaurus is a smaller sauropod as far as sauropods are concerned despite appearing to be significantly larger than the other small sauropods pictured with it here. Even considered a small dinosaur it is still enormous compared to a human being. Regardless of body size, as with all sauropods the head of Dicraeosaurus is fairly small relative to the body and neck of the dinosaur.

27 February 2015

Bifurcated Heads

©Dmitry Bogdanov
Dicraeosaurus hansemanni was named as the type of the genus in 1914 by Werner Janensch. The small diplodocid comes from Tanzania, like many other German sauropods from the early 20th century. The short wide body of the Late Jurassic was unique in a number of ways. The most obvious, looking at its head, is the feature that gave the dinosaur its name. Janensch and others, even us, could clearly see the bifurcated nasal passage that is shown here arching down the front of the face. The skull itself possessed two large fenestrae at the apex of the skull where the nares allowed air to enter the cranium. The soft tissue, represented here as tubular nostrils, is unknown, but this is an interesting interpretation. As for other interesting features, the tall neural spines of the vertebrae, the peg-like teeth (that are shown in this image in a wonderful looking overbite), and its short and wide neck and body are all very interesting aspects of the anatomy that can be seen in the skeletal remains that have been recovered.

26 February 2015

Writing A Book

Gasosaurus does not have any wonderful toys or fantastic movies featuring it. However, it is mentioned in a small book or two and has appeared as an animatronic dinosaur in the Dinosaurs Alive exhibits that travel around not and again. Mentions of the dinosaur appear in many short books or at least in many short paragraphs in longer books. The hatching hoax probably acquainted even more people with Gasosaurus that would not have otherwise known about the dinosaur, which is also important of course.

25 February 2015

Basal Trees

Gasosaurus has been defined as many things since its initial description. The carnosaur has been considered a basal coelurosausian by some. In fact, it has been mentioned as being potentially the basal most of all coelurosaurians. All of the changes concerning the position of Gasosaurus has even claimed the same authors as they changed their proposed nodes on the trees. As an example, Holtz 2000 and Holtz et al. 2004 changed its position from basal coelurosaurian to basal carnosaur (respectively). As a basal member of either defined tree Gasosaurus rests at the base of the tetanuran lineage as well. Despite being a basal dinosaur, Gasosaurus was still an effective mid-sized predator, as we can see as it chases down an Agilisaurus in the Zigong Museum in China.

Holtz, 2000. A new phylogeny of the carnivorous dinosaurs. Gaia. 15, 5-61.
Holtz TR Jr, Molnar RE, Currie PJ. 2004. Basal Tetanurae. In: Weishampel DB, Dodson P, Osmólska H, eds. The dinosauria, 2nd edn. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 71–110.

24 February 2015

Company Naming Policies

Dong and Tang 1985 named Gasosaurus. The name (Gasosaurus constructus) referred to the fact that a gasoline company discovered the quarry. The paper that named and described Gasosaurus was published in a Chinese journal in 1985 and finding the name of the actual gasoline company is apparently near impossible because of this. After much searching, though, the original paper can be found. I was fairly excited about actually finding it. Until, after I opened the English site, I was greeted with an article that is entirely Chinese (my Chinese is not good enough to translate). That is until I scrolled down and was exhilarated to see that the abstract at least is translated! Regardless of how mundane a description article may be, reading the original description of any animal, especially a fairly exciting mid-size carnosaur, is something I enjoy. I hope it is a good read, short as it is, for everyone else as well. If any of our Chinese readers are feeling a bit crazy, they could translate the article and gain our greatest appreciation.

23 February 2015

Two Movies

I do not want to say much of anything today. I am just going to let Dinosaurs Alive and the hatching hoax do the talking.

Dinosaurs Alive Gasosaurus:

Hatching hoax from Germany's Natural History Museum. The video is mostly the story of the hoax, but you can see a still from the hoax: