STL Science Center

STL Science Center

16 October 2013

Elaphrosaurus is Snakey

Regardless of the image I use for Elaphrosaurus, it always seems as though it is just a little bit off. This includes the use of the two different skeletal mounts that have been simultaneously attributed to Elaphrosaurus. Both of those skeletons, however, do share traits that are very similar. The difference is in the skull. The mounted skeleton, which is the newer mounting of the skeleton, that is free-standing has a robust and much more oval-like skull whereas this encased skeleton, the original mounting, has an elongated snout that is low in profile. The skeleton, post-cranial, is very gracile though, appearing rather slender and "snakey" in that it appears to have allowed for a great deal of flexion in many different planes. The newer mount reflects a much more active animal and appears a little stiffer, but still retains that rather gracile look at the same time. The older mount, we can see here, has the "classic" dinosaur profile with the tail nearly dragging. This mount is certainly based on the old way of mounting skeletons and given that the animal was unearthed from the Tendaguru Formation in 1910, that makes a lot of sense; it is also very informative as to how dinosaurs used to be viewed for younger readers that may not remember the depiction of dinosaurs as slow tail dragging beasts.

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