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Submitted on
February 15
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Abydosaurus mcintoshi skeletal by Paleo-King Abydosaurus mcintoshi skeletal by Paleo-King
Abydosaurus mcintoshi

Etymology: "Jack McIntosh's Abydos lizard" (after the Egyptian site of Abydos, in reference to burial of the head and neck and its significance to one of the Osiris myths - and John "Jack" McIntosh, prolific researcher at Dinosaur National Monument and a giant of sauropod paleontology for several decades)

Time horizon: Early Cretaceous, Albian epoch (~104 mya)

Length: ~29m (~96 ft.)

Probable mass: 55+ tons

*NOW UPDATED with corrections to the tail base and pubes*

The recently discovered (but never before completely restored) cretaceous brachiosaur Abydosaurus. This was, at least judging by the juvenile holotype skull, a rather sharp-toothed animal by brachiosaur standards. The teeth were narrower than in earlier brachiosaurs, and converged on somphospondylian tooth design (probably in adaptation to newly evolved conifer types in the Cretaceous). The dig site is, believe it or not, a vertical cliff face at the famed Dinosaur National Monument near Jensen, Utah. However it's in higher and younger rock layers than the old visitor center (which was built around Morrison formation/Late Jurassic fossils), being from the Cedar Mountain formation of the Early Cretaceous (Mussentuchit Member/Albian epoch, making it one of the last known EK brachiosaurs in North America). There are partial remains from at least five and possibly as many as seven individuals buried at the site, including three skulls and a fragment of a fourth, and perhaps even individuals may be hidden deeper in the cliffside. The stone surrounding the bones of this supposed "family group" was extremely hard, and combined with the steep incline of the matrix, this made Abydosaurus one of the most difficult sauropod digs in recent years. We're talking dynamite and jackhammers here, not scrapers and brushes.

Much of the material still awaits preparation, and the best gauge of the sizes of the various individuals is still the field map supplement included with the description paper. The adorable little holotype skull is one of the best-preserved and most complete sauropod skulls in existence, with all the teeth in place and including even the rare hyoid bones in the throat, and some of the sclerotic ring material in the eye sockets.

Although Abydosaurus is usually thought of as a small or midsized brachiosaur with an unusually small nose for its lineage, this is because the only specimen that seems to get any attention in the media is the holotype, a young animal with a typically small juvenile nasal arch. In fact the referred specimens are all larger, and the really big ones haven't even been assigned a catalog number as of the description's publication date.

The largest individual is known from a few downright colossal rib fragments, which are scaled rather conservatively here to correct for possible crushing which may have artificially widened them. And keep in mind that scaling a sauropod off of rib material, when it's larger than the more complete specimens, is fraught with allometric proportion problems due to ontogeny (the scapula and coracoid also change proportions at different stages in the growth series). Even so, this "adult" specimen seems to have been extremely large, easily pushing 100 feet and rivaling Sauroposeidon in dimensions.


Chure, Daniel; Britt, Brooks; Whitlock, John A.; and Wilson, Jeffrey A. (2010). "First complete sauropod dinosaur skull from the Cretaceous of the Americas and the evolution of sauropod dentition". Naturwissenschaften 97 (4): 379–391.

(despite being published in Springer, the paper and its supplementary material is open-access and free - though who knows for how long).
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Kazuma27 Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Didin't know the "famous" skull is a young one, interesting.
DiNoDrAwEr Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
As I may have noticed your preference on macronarians, are you planning to do skeletals of the Haplocanthosaurus species? ;)
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
That's eventually planned. And also mamenchisaurs and even a few of the larger diplodocids.

Haplocanthosaurus is an interesting animal, since it's basically a late-surviving cetiosaur-like creature, which shows some traits of basal macronarians, with other ones resembling very primitive diplodocoids. It's been restored before, but probably with the shoulders too low.
Fragillimus335 Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'd love to see your take on Supersaurus! :D
DiNoDrAwEr Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Would be really nice! :w00t:
Quite a bit of work on that I suggest... ;)
darklord86 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2014
Very nice!
Dontknowwhattodraw94 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I always get astonished by those animals. You see that juvenile "little" dinosaur and you think 'd'awww that's small' and then you notice it's more than 6 metres tall... And then you notice a human just being more than dwarfed by the adult. Djeezus, why did those guys had to go extinct?
sketcherjak Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2014
too cool!
vasix Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Abydosaurus is much bigger than anybody expected it seems
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Yes indeed. I hardly would have believed it myself if the second-largest specimen wasn't so obviously a subadult with NO fusion on the scapulacoracoid suture. That one still had some growing to do even at 75 ft. long, so you know the adults had to be even bigger - so the giant ribs of the adult aren't just a fluke of illustrator error in the quarry map, they are indeed that big (in fact they look even bigger on the map than shown here, but that may be due to crushing and flattening during fossilization).
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