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STL Science Center
21 January 2012
One Mischievous Sauropod
The now Dr. Curry Rogers with her Rapetosaurus skeleton
When Rapetosaurus was originally unearthed and described it was hailed as one of those moments when human beings gain an amazing insight into something that was mostly poked and prodded by educated guesses and conjectures. A nearly complete titanosaur with a skull was basically unheard of but obviously not impossible, as seen above. The fact that it was found in Africa, on the island of Madagascar, made it that much more of an important find as a majority of the more heard about titanosaurs had to that point originated in South America.
That sense of Africa was taken by Mark Hallett and made into an almost stereotypical African water crossing, except with dinosaurs. The fact that we think of this as a stereotypical image of animals in Africa is based on the fact that life for a lot of migrating African herbivores is ended in the jaws of crocodiles and therefore it lends a lot of validity to this image. Crocodiles, even though this is Majungasuchus, have lived in African waters and waylaid African herbivores migrating across their waters for millions of years, why would it have been any different in the Cretaceous? Therefore, I have to say that this image of a Rapetosaurus migration across Majungasuchus infested rivers is, more than likely, based, though Mr. Hallett couldn't have known for sure, one hundred percent on something that has happened identically to this in the past of our planet. I love the image and I honestly did not think twice of including it in today's post.
There are so many images of sauropods and Rapetosaurus included, however, a lot of them really are not that great and a lot of the skeletals convey no sense of uniqueness to Rapetosaurus. Today, therefore, I have kind of short listed the images today. I had to include Curry Rogers with her bones and that wonderful African river crossing, but I also decided that one I really wanted in was this one. This image takes an artwork from Angie Rodrigues and overlays Mark Hallett's skeletal drawings onto it (edit 1-22-12: Mr. Hallett has informed me that he feels the skeleton is entirely too inaccurate due to new estimates on titanosaur rib dimensions and he pointed toward Paul's newest book, which I have but do not have permission to reproduce; the correct page can be found on the internet however). It came from the Buffalo News via the Minneapolis Star Tribune and was published December 18, 2011. The story itself includes an interview with Dr. Curry Rogers in which she states that her theory on the osteoderms in question are that they were used in much the same way that a camel uses its hump, to store nutrients and vital minerals such as calcium. I believe we may need to attempt to get a hold of her and discuss this further this week...