STL Science Center

STL Science Center

30 November 2013

Looking at Europa

©Paulo Marcio
This image has been featured before here. It was featured back in March of 2012 in a discussion about Germanodactylus. This week, of course, we are highlighting the other animal (not the fish or lizard) that are seen here. We can tell, assuming that the Germanodactylus is not enormous, that the sauropods they nearly rival in size are rather small. Europasaurus was a small sauropod resulting from insular dwarfism, the same phenomenon that created the likes of the Sicilian Dwarf Elephant and Balaur bondoc the Romanian Maniraptorid discovered only a few years ago. The small size of these animals results from generations of adaptation that lead to a large dinosaur that was large enough to still be a large dinosaur but small enough to not eat all of the limited vegetation on the small islands. Dinosaurs this small in proportional situations are almost funny looking, but it is important to see them in a relative size to other animals when it is claimed that they are miniatures of their relatives.

©Andrey Atuchin
Other illustrations, however, barely show the relative size of insular dwarf species. If we assume, regardless, that the small pterosaurs to the right and in the background are the same or similar in size to the Germanodactylus shown in the previous illustration then this must be an adult where the previous illustration was showing juveniles. Even at an adult size this is a rather small dinosaur, especially for a sauropod. The close relationship with Brachiosauridae is fairly evident in this interpretation as well especially in the posture of the animal, its neck, and the makeup of the skull of the little sauropod.

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