STL Science Center

STL Science Center

30 May 2014

Back in Sussex

In 1856 Richard Owen described a series of dinosaur vertebrae discovered earlier in the decade by Samuel Husband Beckles. The dinosaur came to be called Acrocanthosaurus altispinax after a long series of name changes: Owen (1856), Lydekker (1888), and von Huene (1923) all referred the material to Megalosaurus, von Huene and Kuhn (1939) also referred some of the material to Altispinax, Paul (1988) ultimately referred the materials to Acrocanthosaurus. However, the description of Paul was not definitive and a review by Olshevsky (1991) reassigned the material to the newly named genus Becklespinax.The genus Altispinax is considered a junior synonym at this time; for the purposes of this week Altispinax will be treated as such despite some illustration descriptions that appear to claim they are separated. The -spinax suffix of the name refers to the elongated neural arches of the vertebrae while the specific epithet, altispinax, refers to the fact that the arches are rather tall. This has given the large theropod a somewhat humpbacked appearance. This hump is unlike the one seen on Concavenator that sits only above the pelvis. The material for Becklespinax is minimal, but appears to indicate a longer humped area above the back; multiple interpretations have surfaced.

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