STL Science Center

STL Science Center

06 January 2016

Anatomical Characteristics

There are a number of anatomical characteristics discovered with the four recovered specimens of Euhelopus. The first two recovered fossils are the basis of the type species while the subsequent fossils are comprised of a number of fragments. The final recovery mostly consisted of cranial elements whereas the third find consisted of elements from many different regions of the body. All of these fossils and elements together present many anatomical characters that separate Euhelopus from the other sauropods. These characters range from shape differences to internal bone architecture. The majority of characters, though, are centered in the vertebral column, as many of the characters of other sauropods have been derived from the vertebrae, which are often the only skeletal elements that are recovered. The vertebral characters include postaxial cervical vertebrae that possess variably developed epipophyses. These also possess "pre‐epipopophyses" below the prezygapophyses. The cervical neural arches are adorned with an epipophyseal‐prezygapophyseal lamina that separates the two pneumatocoels. The anterior and posterior cervical vertebrae are differently organized as well. The anterior vertebrae have three costal spurs on the tuberculum and capitulum. Many of the characters are also concentrated in the pelvic area. The presacral neural spines are divided. The anterior dorsal vertebrae bear a median tubercle that is at least as large as the metapophyses. These are absent in the posterior dorsal vertebrae. The middle and posterior dorsal parapophyseal and diapophyseal laminae are arranged in a "K" configuration instead. The presacral pneumatic space extends into the ilium. All of these structures are enormous because of the enormity of the dinosaur itself. These are somewhat easier to see thanks to that large size, but they are not so evident that they can be seen without any kind of effort.

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