STL Science Center

STL Science Center

04 August 2012

The Incomplete Indosuchus

Indosuchus is still a bit of an enigma. The reason is that it is still an incomplete specimen, even with all of the data from the skeletons that have been found. Pieces of this large predator are just missing still. Overall, it was a theropod, which leads to various assumptions about the body which are, ultimately, mostly correct. However, in reviewing art for today, I noticed that between artists there is one part of this dinosaur which does not maintain a consensus. That body part is the hands. Being an abelisaurid the hands can be drawn like any abelisaurid hand, the problem is, there are a few different kinds of those as well. The general idea behind all of those types of hands, however, is that they would not generally reach forward and if they did, as in Majungasaurus, they would still be pretty short and have limited use and range of motion. Therefore, the above illustration, in holding abelisaurid hands as the example, is far too Allosaur-like with more than likely too great a range of motion and general use, especially given how late in the timeline Indosuchus arrived on the scene.

©M. Shiraishi
Another alternative I have seen is this. There's nothing wrong with the idea of Indosuchus only having two fingers, but I just do not feel that it fits the general arrangement of abelisaurids well enough that it is how the hands of this animal would have looked. Had Indosuchus fit into the mold of late Allosaurs or, of course, Tyrannosaurs, then surely it would have had the two fingered hands seen here, but I feel that the general agreement being that Indosuchus fell into the abelisaurid clan means it would have still had three fingers on its hand even if it did not utilize them well.

©Sergey Krasovskiy
This, however, is what I am thinking we should expect in terms of the arms of this dinosaur. True, Paul does illustrate the skeletal arms longer and thrust outward, so they should most likely be facing forward given that the skeleton has been articulated correctly, but I believe that the arm, as shown in Paul's skeletal as well, was truly very short; of course his skeletal is based off of skeletal evidence and so a short arm in his drawing was more than likely a short arm in the known skeleton. This leads us to a place where we have illustrations like the one here and where we have a dinosaur with arms nearly as befuddling and apparently useless as T. Rex's arms. What would it use those stubby little arms for exactly? I think this is a question that has been asked about every Late Cretaceous large predator in every corner of the globe whether it is an abelisaurid or a tyrannosaurid though and we may not have a concrete answer for a good long while if ever, unfortunately.

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