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Andesaurus delgadoi by Paleo-King Andesaurus delgadoi by Paleo-King
FORGOTTEN GIANTS: species #3 - Andesaurus delgadoi

Location: El Chocón, Argentina (Río Limay Formation)
Time: Albian-Cenomanian epochs (transition from Early to Late Cretaceous)
Length: 100ft. (30m)
Probable mass: 65-70 tons

WARNING: This image is OUTDATED! Andesaurus was not 100 ft. long, it was more like 66 ft. long. The vertebrae are far smaller than those of Argentinosaurus. I produced this image due to lack of reliable information at the time (and the flat-out wrong numbers in Dougal Dixon's books...). However I am not taking it down, because I want people to know how often "accepted facts" about dinosaurs are often not based on the actual data. To see the corrected version, click here: [link]

The large basal titanosaur Andesaurus delgadoi, fully restored in hi-fi profile and frontal views for the FIRST TIME ever. The skeletal art is also the first ever done for this species.

Andesaurus was described in 1991, but since then very little research has been done on it. It's the founding member of the family Andesauridae, one of the most primitive families of titanosaurs - yet despite being the namesake of the group that includes the famed Argentinosaurus, it's very obscure and still not well-understood. It was long, with tall neural spines on its back (which was probably close to horizontal) and very robust hips. It's not a very extreme design for a titanosaur - its elegance lies in its subtlety. This animal was the template - the forerunner of all subsequent titanosaur body designs.

Missing bones whose shapes can be reasonably well-approximated are shaded, I did not figure speculative neck bones since we literally have no clue what they would have looked like. Skeletal and accompanying diagrams of specific vertebrae are based on photographs of the fossils and on scale diagrams in Salgado et. al. 1997.
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:iconpaleo-reptiles:
Paleo-reptiles Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2016
Beautiful
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:icondinosaurusbrazil:
dinosaurusbrazil Featured By Owner May 13, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Can I use it as reference for a drawing for a series that I am working?
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner May 14, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Yes, as long as you give me credit for it.

But please use the updated version: [link] because the one you see here above has some major mistakes (including being far too big).
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:iconrajaharimau98:
RajaHarimau98 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Glad to know you did this - now I have a reference for my newest drawing! Lovely reconstruction!
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Careful with that... as I pointed out in the text, this version is outdated. Andesaurus actually looked more like this: [link]
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:iconrajaharimau98:
RajaHarimau98 Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Ah, good to know, readjusted the Andesaurus in my drawing then. :)
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2011  Professional General Artist
We got us an Andesaurus. Now we need us a Barneysaurus!
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2011  Professional General Artist
Just as an afterthought...that side view is an extraordinarily beautiful drawing. Even if I disagree with some elements in your restorations, I find your art inspiring. :clap:
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks :D
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2011  Professional General Artist
I was wondering: is delgadoi named for Jose Delgado? (I think it was Jose), the guy who made models for Willis O'Brien to animate? You know, the guy who animated the monsters in King Kong, Mighty Joe Young, etc..
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
I suspect it was a different Delgado. Probably a farmer in Argentina who first spotted the bones, though I can check the paper to see for sure. That's how a lot of Argentinian dinosaurs are found and named. Puertasaurus reuili was named after two farmers who first found the bones on their ranch: Pablo Puerta and Santiago Reuil.
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2011  Professional General Artist
Congratulations to the farmer, if that was so, but Jose Delgado deserves to be remembered with a scientific name, if anyone does. I wonder if he's been honored that way?
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:iconsameerprehistorica:
SameerPrehistorica Featured By Owner May 18, 2011  Hobbyist
Very nice...
Titanosaur family Sauropods are huge monsters :)
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner May 19, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks! There will be more of them coming soon.
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:iconsameerprehistorica:
SameerPrehistorica Featured By Owner May 20, 2011  Hobbyist
Hmm...i see.Can't wait to see them.
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:iconbrooksleibee:
BrooksLeibee Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2010  Student Photographer
very nice, as always!
are you sure that you aren't Greg?
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Hehe yeah I'm sure. I'm a lot younger than Greg (and lack his decades of experience lol), I don't look much like him, and I haven't written any books yet (though I aim to change that soon). However we're both from Baltimore originally.

Greg hasn't illustrated Andesaurus yet, and my restoration is the first and so far only accurate one. Though I can see how it's easy to mistake it for Greg's work. He tends to avoid titanosaurs overall... his new book doesn't have a lot of titanosaur skeletals, and the ones it does contain look a bit rushed and reluctant compared to the rest of the book. I also recall reading somewhere that Greg doesn't restore a dinosaur unless over 50% of the skeleton is known, or that he needs the pelvis, among other requirements.

I have a much simpler rule with big sauropods including titanosaurs - if I can get a hold of photos or scale diagrams of the bones, I'm down to restore it. Whether it's one bone or twenty. I'll take the risk. Just from a few bones it's possible to tell the dinosaur's general affinities, even its family. The bigger, the better. That's why I'm doing "Forgotten Giants". To illustrate the biggest, rarest, and oddest representative members of a superfamily that's the most widespread yet least understood group of dinosaurs to this day. Most titanosaurs have NEVER gotten a decent restoration. Some have never been drawn period. There's the challenge - there's literally no artistic precedent to go on. Check out my Puertasaurus for a good example: [link]
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:iconbrooksleibee:
BrooksLeibee Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2010  Student Photographer
oh wow! I had no idea!
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:iconpalaeozoologist:
palaeozoologist Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Your Andesaurus size estimate is way too big. The posterior dorsal vertebrae was tiny, only about 24 cm long. That is about half the size of the dorsal vertebrae of Argentinosaurus which average about 47 cm long. Even assuming a liberal length estimate of 37.5 meters (120 ft) for Argentinosaurus would suggest a length of half that, or ~19 meters. Probably massed no more than 10 tonnes at max.

Also, the family Andesauridae is paraphyletic and was abandoned by Wilson and Upchurch in their review of the genus Titanosaurus. And I quote from their (2003) paper, "Andesauridae is based on primitive characters that by definition specify a paraphyletic group. Until taxa are found sharing synapomorphies with Andesaurus, ‘Andesauridae’ will remain an informal name."

If one compares the actual morphology of the dorsal vertebrae of Argentinosaurus to Andesaurus, they are quite different--the hyposphene-hypantrum complex notwithstanding (in fact, the hyposphene-hypantrum complex in Argentinosaurus is actually quite a bit different than that of basal titanosaurs; one unpublished analysis actually places Argentinosaurus as a derived lithostrotian titanosaur related to Rinconsaurus, Aeolosaurus and Ampelosaurus in fact--see Salgado et al (2008)).

Some cervical vertebrae actually have been referred to Andesaurus, sadly they have not been published outside a talk on the material at a conference years ago (this info comes courtesy of Tracy Ford's website Paleofile).

Your restoration is quite good for Andesaurus, Nima. The only thing I would change is the scale bar and your size estimates. Otherwise, good job!

Refs--

Wilson, Jeffrey A., Upchurch, Paul. 2003. A revision of Titanosaurus Lydekker
(Dinosauria – Sauropoda), the first dinosaur genus with a ‘Gondwanan’ distribution. Journal of Systematic Palaentology 1 (3): 125–160.

Salgado, Leonardo, de Souza Carvalho, Ismar . 2008. Uberabatitan ribeiroi, a new titanosaur from the Marilia Formation (Bauru group, Upper Cretaceous), Minas Gerais, Brazil. Palaeontology, Vol. 51, Part 4, 2008, pp. 881–901
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
You got me Zach! Very observant. I knew you'd unmask this beauty sooner or later ;) This was actually my "big version" of Andesaurus that everyone hastily imagines based on all the romantic rumors, I have a smaller version (soon to be added) that's based straight off the scale bars that came in Salgado et. al. 1997. Thanks for that paper BTW. It's sad Andesaurus was so overhyped for size (and not given attention for much else)... I feel odd that I may have contributed to that in some minuscule way, but this estimate of 30m was floating around like smog and styrofoam for years and years earlier. Odd, humored, cracking up in laughs perhaps, but definitely not regretful. As you said, this is a very accurate Andesaurus in every aspect other than scale (thanx BTW 8-)). And soon that will be fixed too. As for Upchurch - I find McIntosh's phylogeny more convincing - and it's not just because I've met him and not Upchurch. Or at least I don't recall meeting Upchurch. SVP was a nonstop hurricane of knowledge and famous cutting-edge people, I'm surprised I was able to keep track of as much stuff as I did.
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:iconpalaeozoologist:
palaeozoologist Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Haha, just checking ;)

But when was the McIntosh's phylogeny that you refer to published? If it was before Wilson and Upchurch's, then I am skeptical of its accuracy.

Unless McIntosh has identified some actual synapomorphies that Andesaurus shares with other taxa (other than the basal characteristics of the titanosauria), it doesn't matter what McIntosh's phylogeny looks like; 'Andesauridae' would be paraphyletic anyways, which is a no-no. Because of that, 'Andesauridae' would either be monogeneric and paraphyletic (if you include other genera it would be just be polyphyletic, which is a no-no) or it would have include the vast majority of the Somphospondylia in order for it to be monophyletic. So, if we define 'Andesauridae' as monophyletic (as all legit clades are), then not only would 'Andesauridae' include Argentinosaurus, but also Rapetosaurus and other lithostrotians. In essence, the existence of a monophyletic clade termed 'Andesauridae' is strongly in doubt as traditionally defined.

What is the ref for McIntosh's phylogeny, BTW? If you have the paper, I'd be interested in getting a copy (please)...
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
So you're telling me you think Andesaurus belongs with Euhelopus in Somphospondyli and not in Titanosauria proper? That's a pretty bold statement... also considering that most of the skeleton isn't known, it may be different than Upchurch's phylogeny suggests.

I have to hunt up McIntosh's paper... do you have Upchurch's?
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:iconpalaeozoologist:
palaeozoologist Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, since the Titanosauria is *part* of the Somphospondyli, yes. What I said is that
it would include "the vast majority of the Somphospondylia [sic]." So, I wasn't saying that Andesaurus isn't part of the Titanosauria, in fact, the Titanosauria was defined to be the most recent common ancestor of Andesaurus and Saltasaurus and all of its descendants.

What I *was* trying to say, is that 'Andesauridae', if it was to be defined monophyletically (is that even a word? lol) then it would include the "majority" of the Somphospondyli--namely, Titanosauria proper--to the exclusion of Euhelopus and Euhelopus-grade titanosauriforms (although I admittedly didn't specifically say that previously). This is because 'Andesauridae' doesn't have any unique characteristics (synapomorphies) that are shared with other titanosaurian taxa to the exclusion of other titanosaurs. I guess it would have been better to say "it would include the vast majority of the Titanosauria" than to say Somphospondyli (although the vast majority of the titanosauria would probably still be the vast majority of the Somphospondyli going by currently described taxa).

So my statement wasn't that bold, especially since it was said by Wilson and Upchurch 7 years ago (in 2003) and (as far as I know) has not been supplanted by any further recent work.

I do indeed have Wilson and Upchurch's paper. It's available freely online. Just search the citation I gave in my first comment.
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Ok so basically according to Wilson and Upchurch, Andesaurus does not have any unique features or synamorphies that are shared with some titanosaurs to the exclusion of the rest, so you can't assign it to a family... how about the hypantrum-hyposphene connection? How many other titanosaurs is this present in?

Whatever Andesaurus was, it belongs in some family, so basically the verdict of Wilson and Upchurch is that there isn't enough information or fossil material to erect a clade Andesauridae because Andesaurus lacks enough unique features AND relatives with those features. So is Andesaurus just supposed to be floating around the basal end of Titanosauria? And what does this mean for potentially more basal creatures like Janenschia and Paluxysaurus? Are they more or less basal than Euhelopus? Are they fit to be titanosaurs? And what is your opinion on the position of Huanghetitan and the other Gansu giants?
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:iconpalaeozoologist:
palaeozoologist Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Right. The hypantrum-hyposphene articulations are present in Daxiatitan, Epachthosaurus and Phuwiangosaurus, as well as in Argentinosaurus, but the articulations in Argentinosaurus are generally recognized as not being homologous structures to those in other basal titanosauriforms. Thus, the hypantrum-hyposphene complex is not an unambiguous synapomorphy, especially since the taxa mentioned above are not included in the 'Andesauridae'.

Paluxysaurus has been found to be closely related to other brachiosaurs (recovered in a five-way polytomy along with Giraffatitan, Brachiosaurus, Cedarosaurus and Abydosaurus), and as such is more basal than Euhelopus.

As far as I am aware, Huanghetitan is not known from dorsal vertebrae, so the jury is out on its relationship to other titanosaurs as well.

Such basal taxa as Janenchia, Andesaurus and others are probably best placed as incertae sedis for now in the Titanosauria. So, Andesaurus was in a family, but because its remains are poorly known and preserved, we don't know which, if any, of the known titanosaur taxa it would be allied with.
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Daxiatitan, for some odd reason, looked like a Lognkosaur to me.... guess there's more to these guys than just the shape of cervical neural spines and anterior dorsal diapophyses.

I didn't suspect Paluxysaurus was a Brachiosaur... in that case the mounted skeleton in Houston has the wrong type of head. And the wrong neck posture. Still, it looks a bit odd for a brachiosaur in some places... who did that polytomy study? And why do so many people consider it a titanosaur? Is it more titanosaur-like than Giraffatitan?
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(1 Reply)
:iconemperordinobot:
EmperorDinobot Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2010
Oh man. Finally. I've been waiting for an Andesaurus for a while.
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:iconkronosaurus82:
Kronosaurus82 Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2010  Professional Artist
An excellent work. :)
But you made the same mistake I made for my Argentinosaurus: you draw a claw on the manus. Titanosaurs hadn't claws on their hands. :P
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks for the compliment! But I don't agree about titanosaur claws. It's not a mistake, they DID have thumb claws on their hands 8-) Not many fully articulated titanosaur hands have actually been found, and the best ones that HAVE been found do preserve thumb claws.

Janenschia (a very basal titanosaur) and Diamantinasaurus (a very derived lithostrotian titanosaur) both have been found with thumb claws. So most of the intermediate titanosaurs in between probably also had them. There are some sauropod manus that lack the claw and the phalanges (mostly saltasaurs), but notice that they never lack just one or the other - they are missing both the claw AND the phalanges. And both are present in Diamantinasaurus even though it was a derived lithostrotian, a group that supposedly "lacked" any trace of phalanges ;)

So why are some titanosaurs "missing" the claw and phalanges? Look closely at Diamantinasaurus: [link] - the claw and phalanges overall fit very loosely with the metacarpals, much looser than in earlier sauropods. The loose fit indicates titanosaurs probably had a lot more cartilage between metacarpal and phalanx than other sauropods. This also explains why some titanosaur hands are missing the thumb claw and phalanges - the loose cartilage would have decomposed quickly, and the fingertips could easily get washed away. The ends of the metacarpals are also more expanded and flared out in titanosaurs like Diamantinasaurus, which means they were probably supporting more weight relative to the animal's length - titanosaurs were more robust and heavier than earlier sauropods of similar length. This fits with the need for more cartilage to cushion the fingertips of a very robust animal. The expended ends of the metacarpals were also ideal for anchoring more cushioning cartilage than more primitive sauropod hands.

I don't think any titanosaurs actually lacked thumb claws. Considering that the articulation of the phalanges is so loose in Diamantinasaurus, it's very rare to find a complete hand of a titanosaur including the claw. But absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence. And since both the basal Janenschia and the derived Diamantinasaurus have the claws, that's a pretty good argument that thumb claws were present across the whole titanosaur clade. :)
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:iconkronosaurus82:
Kronosaurus82 Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2010  Professional Artist
Oh, that australian guy told me that in Titanosaurian footprints we can see that they had no thumb claws... what do you think about?
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
I'll answer both of your questions ;)

First, with all due respect, the Australian guy (whoever he is) is FLAT OUT WRONG! I'm guessing he's probably not a paleontologist, and not a real serious enthusiast either, since he thinks that the hands of the Argentinosaurus mounts (i.e. those in Fernbank, Huincul, and Senckenberg museums) are casts. The hands in those "skeletons" are NOT casts - they are total fakes, straight from a sculptor's imagination! The real hands of Argentinosaurus have never been found! There are no Argentinosaurus hand remains in existence in any museum, hence there can not be casts. So the hands of these skeletons (not to mention their necks, tails, heads, and almost everything else) are all 100% speculative, sculpted-from-scratch fakes! They are models, not actual casts. The only things that can be casted are the actual bones, which only include SOME of the dorsals, some hip material, a partial femur, a tibia, and MAYBE another, more complete femur. Everything else is speculation (some of it based on related animals, most of it not). The droopy horizontal neck, the oversized feet with an excess claw, the warped-in ilia, the toy-like skull with teeth made of wire, it's all pure imagination. This is the downside of mounting fiberglass "replicas" of animals whose skeleton is so poorly known, but Argentinosaurus has become so popular and in-demand as the "biggest" dinosaur that there are also some big dollar signs involved in the decision. Even Disney mounted one of these big boys in Orlando to draw more tourists (and made it even more fake by putting the legs into an overstretched "Indian push-up" pose which could never support the real animal's weight).

The reason the fiberglass Argentinosaurus "skeletons" in museums don't have thumb claws is that the sculptors didn't want them to! They probably were under the impression that no titanosaur could have thumb claws - just like 50 years ago every expert and museum worker was under the impression that no dinosaur could be warm blooded or lift its tail off the ground, or under the impression that Apatosaurus had a skull like Camarasaurus. Too much hasty guesswork, too little hard science.

The fact is, there's no good evolutionary reason to lose the thumb claws. Predators were still as dangerous as in the Jurassic (more so in fact), digging for water and stripping tree bark was just as hard, and there was really no driving force that would make claws any less necessary than they were for older sauropod groups. Armor was not an excuse to lose the claws. Titanosaur armor was never as impenetrable as Ankylosaur armor, nor did it afford total-body protection, so the need for offensive weapons was still there. Also consider that Chinese sauropods in the Middle Jurassic had defensive tail clubs, but still retained their huge thumb claws. Don't feel bad about aging. :) It's those over-zealous amateurs that don't keep up with current research who are in the wrong. I don't know your australian guy, but here in the United States we have a big problem with bad science - it seems that every kid who's seen Jurassic Park or Clash of the Dinosaurs suddenly thinks he knows everything and starts arguing with tour guides and even researchers, when he can't even explain what "saurischia" means, let alone tell Lilisternus from Lithostrotia.

As for the nails... by nails without ungual phalanx, do you mean nails that are all keratin and no bone? That might be possible in some dinosaurs... the thing is, some primitive traits like ungual phalanx tend to be retained for a very long time if they've been effective for a very long previous time. If some advanced saltasaurs did lose the phalanx, it's possible they still retained a pure keratin claw. Of course I'm not convinced they lost the bony phalanx to begin with. As for nails in general, I don't think Argentinosaurus or any eusauropod had external hand nails apart from the thumb claw (if you're looking for an error in your Argentinosaurus, that's it ;)). The other phalanges were covered in skin and connective tissue, this is apparent in "high-grade" un-collapsed footprints where there are no "elephant nail" impressions. In fact, some of the best hand print preserve actual skin impressions in the region of phalanges 2 to 5. In brachiosaur prints this skin appears to have been a bit spiky like the "scales" on a litchi fruit: [link] This is pretty compelling proof that all the manus phalanges other than the thumb claw were wrapped in a tight "mitten" of skin, a largely vertical hand surface on digits 2-5 with no addition nails protruding forward - and that this feature was already present even in sauropods more basal than titanosaurs. The hand anatomy of all eusauropods basically follows this same columnar-digit pattern so it's unlikely even the basal ones had nails on manus digits 2-5.

Which brings us to your second comment: the footprints. The australian guy (I have a feeling this story is going to turn into a very funny joke at the next SVP or even sooner:D ) is once again assuming too much stuff that he can't prove! The reason titanosaur footprints lack thumb claws is probably because in most titanosaurs the claw wasn't actually at ground level, but rather slightly elevated - even just by a few inches, it would make a huge difference in the shape of the print! Janenschia's thumb-metacarpal is shorter than its other metacarpals, and the mobile claw apparatus articulates sideways - hence the claw was normally carried on a horizontal plane, off the ground. The same is true of diplodocids, mamenchisaurs, cetiosaurs, and pretty much every sauropod group other than brachiosaurs (and even among brachiosaurs, Bothriospondylus had some huge elevated thumb claws). Only advanced brachiosaurs like Giraffatitan are known to have the thumb claw at ground level, with a long thumb-metacarpal. As a result, not just titanosaur prints, but the VAST MAJORITY of sauropod prints in general, lack thumb claw impressions.

It does not mean that they lacked the actual claw - it simply didn't touch the ground, which made sense if you want to keep your claws sharp as weapons (sadly, most museum exhibits of Diplodocus and Camarasaurus mount the claw incorrectly, pointed downwards). Giraffatitan's ground-level thumb claws were much smaller and fixed rather than mobile, so they were probably more blunt and the animal likely not rely on them as much for precise defensive punches. And if a titanosaur with elevated thumb claws DID sink them into the ground while walking (let's say the mud was really loose and wet or something) then the edges of the print would collapse inward like very wet mud always does - which would wipe out the claw print anyway. This happens with the foot claw prints too, and that's a great clue that Breviparopus was a good bit bigger than even its meter-wide footprints indicate - the foot claw prints, and most of the footprint edges, are almost totally caved-in! And the big caveat is that the number of titanosaur trackways found is not even CLOSE to a representative sample of all the different titanosaur families. It's entirely possible some groups of titanosaurs had a long thumb metacarpal and a thumb claw closer to the ground, which may have left more of an impression in trackways. This appears to be the case in Argyrosaurus, which is missing the claw and phalanges, but the metacarpal is CLEARLY flared out and specialized seemingly beyond all reason to anchor a very large (or at least very strong) terminal claw-phalanx unit.

So to wrap up, the australian guy made two mistakes - first, the mounted hands of Argentinosaurus can't be used to "prove" a lack of thumb claws, since the hands are purely speculative models, not casts, and the real hands have never been found - and second, titanosaur footprints (which can't even be assigned to specific families let alone for a representative sample of all the families) are NOT a reliable indicator of the presence or absence of claws, since nearly ALL sauropods with big thumb claws carry them off the ground (a fact which museums have been very slot to catch up on) and those with fixed ground level claws (i.e. Giraffatitan) have such small thumb claws that they wouldn't leave much of a print anyway. And lets not forget about the deceptive appearance of caved-in/collapsed prints.

I would indeed enjoy being your assistant 8-) Let me know what capacity I can help in, it would be great to work something out. I'm truly a big fan of your work. You can email me at Paleo_King@yahoo.com
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:iconkronosaurus82:
Kronosaurus82 Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2010  Professional Artist
Woah, you wrote more or less all my thinking about this matter. ^_^
The only point in which I can't agree is about nails witout a phalanx. Infact yesterday – when I wrote an answer to my "australian guy" XD – incidentally I found a very interesting photo: [link]
That's an elephant footprint. It's so fine that we can see a very detailed skin impression but... where are the nails? You can tell the digits – as in sauropod footprints – but you cannot tell the nails. But elephants have nails.
In my opinion dinosaurs are so different from their ancestors and from reptiles that we cannot be sure of their actual soft tissues evolution level. Talking about sauropods, we have almost no idea of exactly how they breathed, how they layed eggs, how they pumped their blood up to their heads... but they did all of these things.
Until some 25 years ago – according to reptiles anatomy and metabolism – we still thought that a sauropod wasn't able to walk on dry land. But they did. Can we be sure that they hadn't nails on their manus? :)
Well, perhaps I'm wrong about nails, but I can't see any evidences against "my theory".

Like you, I hate the recent skeleton "sculptures" trend... I recently saw even a Spinosaurus skeleton mounting! How the hell they did it? A full skeleton of an animal known only for some vertebrae, part of the skull and a handful of digit crumbs...
Yeah, you're right, this is very bad paleontology.
I had an unhappy experience with an "erudite fanboy" about this dev: [link]
The mission of his life is badmouth me. He left 15 (fifteen, XV, quindici) almost unreadable comments "spouting off" tons of data about skull lenghts, femour lenghts, weights, heights, proportions (all things that I perfectly know) to demonstrate that Spinosaurus is bigger than Godzilla and that Tyrannosaurus is a puny and short idiot. I blocked his first account (which he used only to comment that deviation), and he rejoined DA to go on with his mission. I blocked him again... and he re-joined DA again to comment again! Perhaps I should feel flattered. XD
But bad paleontology isn't made – unfortunately – only by fanboys. Is made even by paleontologists. More and more often I can't read a new abstract without thinking that there's a serious lack of good sense.
:/
About the assistant: when I'll need a little help with my bad memory, I'll address to you for sure. XD ;)

Thank you, it's always a pleasure to talk about dinosaurs – despite my memory and my sometimes awful english XD – with a kind person and true paleontology lover as you are. :)

PS - Don't forget to keep me posted about the evolution of the "australian guy case" at the SVP. :P
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
There's no final verdict on nails, but seeing as suaropods' manus phalanges 2-5 (and pes phalanges 4 and 5) usually are small, rounded, and have little or no roughness to the surface, a nail is unlikely. Mammals have nails anchored by a lot of connective tissue, diapsids seem to have taken a different direction where the nail was always anchored to an ungual phalanx. if this phalanx were lost, what could the nail hold onto? It's a basal condition that rarely becomes lost in the evolution of a clade for which it has worked so well. When an ungual phalanx disappears in dinosaurs and other diapsids, the nail disappears too. I don't know of a single living diapsid (whether "reptile" or bird) that violates this rule. So I'm reluctant to put nails on manus digits 2-5 on sauropods.

In addition to that I cite the brachiosaur footprints with manus skin prints in them.... this shows that digits 2-5 were completely covered in skin and did not have nails.

With the skeleton sculptures, the biggest driving force is money and popularity. Spinosaurus was made very popular by Jurassic Park III (but for all the WRONG reasons) and as a result every kid suddenly liked it as much as T. rex if not more... museums notice that and re under pressure to make a Spinosaurus exhibit. Good thing that most museums have not attempted this... there's not enough of Spinosaurus known to make a very good skeleton, the newer remains help but still are far from complete.

That fanboy you speak of is one of millions of the kind we have to put up with here in America... JP III really messed with their minds pretty badly. Spinosaurus only exceeds T. rex in one sense: length. And even that it open to question. It was lighter than T. rex and had a much weaker build. A slim skull with small, narrow teeth, this beast was a fish-eater. Not something capable of challenging a T. rex, much less biting its head off. I've heard lots of other weird claims that are backed by bad science, not just movie hype. Paleontologists sometimes make big mistakes too.

Great example: the "titanosaurs didn't have thumb claws" assumption. We already have prrof that they did, and not only that, they are found in both the most basal and some very derived species! Yet there are plenty of paleontologists who ignore both Janenschia and Diamantinasaurus or dismiss them as "not genuine" because this doesn't fit with their rosy little theory of no fingertips or thumb claws. But both of these animals ARE genuine, and both of them were found with the hands almost perfectly articulated, with the claws in exactly the right place! These aren't chimeras or hoaxes cobbled together from distant unrelated bits - they are examples of clawed hands from individual skeletons! The bones weren't scattered all over the place like you get in most titanosaur hands that are missing the claw.

The biggest myths that need to be discarded in sauropod paleontology include "titanosaurs lacked thumb claws", "sauropods can't hold their necks vertically", "sauropods were gigantotherms", "all titanosaurs were lithostrotians", and "all titanosarus looked exactly like saltasaurus".

I was hoping that by "assistant" you meant there was a possible job opportunity LOL ;) Considering the current conversion rate of Euros to Dollars, this would be a big plus. But that's okay. Ask me when you have questions 8-) Maybe someday my name will be heard in Italy. I have been there once, though I did not take any dinosaur art with me. I will be sure to keep track of the "australian guy case" :D BTW, is this guy a paleontologist, or just an "erudite fanboy" - or something else?
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:iconkronosaurus82:
Kronosaurus82 Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2010  Professional Artist
There's no final verdict on nails, but seeing as suaropods' manus phalanges 2-5 (and pes phalanges 4 and 5) usually are small, rounded, and have little or no roughness to the surface, a nail is unlikely.
Well if I will draw another sauropod, I think I will not give it nails. I still think that my hypotesis is not wrong at all, but I tend to be a little too much imaginative sometimes (since I'm basically a comics drawer). For example at the beginning of my "career" I drew hadrosaurs with small auricles... but my co-worker paleontologist told me "better if we don't push so far". XD

Spinosaurus was made very popular by Jurassic Park III (but for all the WRONG reasons) and as a result every kid suddenly liked it as much as T. rex if not more...
What about Jack Horner that in the "making of" states that Spinosaurus was the biggest predator ever? :/
He almost stated that Spinosaurus had laser cannons in its eyes. XD

JP III really messed with their minds pretty badly
Just like after JP1 every Dromaeosaur is a "raptor" (even paleontologists call them that way) and the T. rex was blind for non-moving objects... XD
"Holy cow, a T. rex!!!" "Let's freeze!" XD XD

Spinosaurus only exceeds T. rex in one sense: length.
Are you sure that Spinosaurus was lighter? According to what we know about Spinosaurids, the tail was pretty massive, and the chest was long and rounded (T. rex a "false-fat" fella because of its huge pubis; the chest itself is pretty short). As far as I know with my reconstruction the overall size of T. rex and Spinosaurus was roughly the same. I think that Spinosaurus was heavier... But this is pure speculation. ^_^
By the way, even if Spinosaurus was a pretty slow fish eater, I think it was a truly magnificent creature.

"sauropods can't hold their necks vertically"
Mhm, I can't agree. I mean, this partly true: in my opinion neck capabilities depends by the dorsal vertebrae of the shoulders region.
About this I read everything and its opposite, so I decided to take my own conclusions... XD

"sauropods were gigantotherms"
This could be pretty interesting. What do you think about?

I was hoping that by "assistant" you meant there was a possible job opportunity LOL
My friend, if I wouldn't be unemployed at the moment... if working with dinosaurs is hard in the US, try to figure how difficult could be in Italy where dinosaurs and museums barely exist. People here consider Dinosaurs and paleontology as a child play.
My books in italian bookstores are placed amongst pop-up books and kindergarten level books... and these are usually the ONLY available dinosaur books in Italy... if you're lucky you can find old '90s (or even older) books published as new stuff. I had to buy my sources in english because they simply don't exist in italian. Dinosaur books are placed amongst childhood books, of course.
In Italy it's hard to live even with the job of illustrator in general. :(
Anyway if you have a good idea for a book, call me. :P

I will be sure to keep track of the "australian guy case" BTW, is this guy a paleontologist, or just an "erudite fanboy" - or something else?
He is a simple Deviant, as far as I know. :)
By the way, eventually he gave up. He understood that there are some thing he don't know and now he respects my point of view. :)
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Hadrosaurs with auricles? You mean ear lobes? That does seem odd.... could be possible for any dinosaur, but I agree it's a bit of a stretch.

Horner basically shot himself in the foot with T. rex so I'm not surprised about Spinosaurus... wasn't he the main consultant on the Jurassic park movies? Why didn't he say anything about the problems with the "T-rex still vision" myth or all the crap that was invented about using frog DNA or the imprinting of Velociraptor (or rather, Deinonychus) babies.

I don't know if Spinosaurus was heavier... it looks pretty slim build. If so, then only the big specimen (known from the jaw fragment) could probably get close to weighing more than T. rex. The type specimen described by Stromer, though it's destroyed, is known from enough published scale diagrams to tell that it probably was both shorter and lighter than T. rex. But these are all guesses until a complete skeleton is found.

I think fish eaters are cool too, just because Spinosaurus couldn't crunch through T. rex necks, doesn't make it any less interesting or unique.

The "sauropods can't hold their necks vertically" quote is not my idea, it's a myth that I actually disagree with. I think the only horizontal-necked sauropods were diplodocoids. All macronarians and mamenchisaurs had vertical or at least semi-vertical necks in my book. It's not just because of the shape of the shoulder dorsals.... it has to do with the shape of the neck vertebrae and their neural spines and cervical ribs.

Basically diplodocoids have a weird forward-slanted "cantilever" configuration to their neural spines near the base of the neck, which enables horizontal neck posture with a slight upcurve (typical for a fern-eater) without straining the neck too much. (Holding a neck horizontally is actually FAR more difficult than doing it vertically, because you have to fight against gravity over the whole span of the neck). Brachiosaurs and other macronarians had a more standard system of uniformly swept-back neural spines and longer cervical ribs. This is more like a vertical crane than a horizontal cantilever bridge. The shallow tendons on the necks of macronarians functioned best in a vertical posture where gravity does most of the work FOR you. The long overlapping neck ribs anchored sheets of muscle that helped lower the neck when the dinosaur needed to drink, and also stabilized it against the strong upward pull of the nuchal tendons and muscles. Diplodocoids, since their necks were already horizontal and not subject to much upward pull beyond cantilever position, and since they did not have to lower them far to reach water, had little need for strong stabilizing sheets of ventral muscle, as a result their cervical ribs are much shorter than those of macronarians and do not overlap.

As for "sauropods were gigantotherms"... that's just another myth that I don't buy into. Sauropods show all the hallmarks of true warm-blooded animals, NOT cold-blooded gigantotherms that stayed warm simply because of their size. First of all, even the best models of gigantothermy indicate that a hypothetical gigantotherm's body temperature is still NOT constant. It's anywhere from 10 to 20 degrees higher than the surrounding temperature. So it still fluctuates like a typical cold-blooded body temperature - all that body heat can still be sapped by rains in the wet season, resulting in torpor and forced hibernation (not a good thing in a land full of big predators!) and such a system can run into even more problems in hot climates with dry seasons (i.e. most of the faunas where the biggest sauropods are found!) And there isn't exactly a huge number of places that a gigantotherm that big could cool off and remain safe from predators, dump heat while avoiding torpor... then you have the problem of pumping blood over such great heights with a cold-blooded circulatory system - even if you ignore the height of a vertical neck, you still have to equalize blood pressures over the height span from the heart to the vertical legs and the feet, which in big macronarians like Brachiosaurus is a height of some 7 meters! This is only possible with fully divided warm-blooded hears with single aortas - just as in birds and mammals. This is why crocodiles can grow huge like Sarcosuchus, but can NEVER get very tall! No cold-blooded reptile has ever exceeded far beyond 6 feet in height, and the reason is their inability to stabilize blood pressure against gravity. That's one reason why they're all belly-dragging sprawlers - it allows for them to keep growing bigger without being too tall or having to support all of their own weight.

With a warm-blooded sauropod however, the temperature is always constant, so it can comfortable survive both torrential rains and hot dry seasons. In exceptionally hot times, the nostrils can dissipate waste heat, and the shade of very tall trees can help too, allowing the temperature to stabilize at typical warm-blooded level. A gigantotherm would constantly always bee too hot or too cold, whereas an endotherm only has to dump the excess heat they don't actually produce - but the gigantotherm actually is STILL dependent on heat it doesn't produce, as well as being held hostage by it - up and down, up and down, even with a 20 degree advantage over smaller cold-bloods, a gigantotherm would still have so many temperature fluctuations as to seriously interfere with the metabolic processes of tissues and organs on so large a scale. Aside from being fully aquatic (which is the case of the world's only living gigantotherm, the not-so-gigantic Leatherback turtle) there's very little a gigantotherm could do to avoid radical and dangerous temperature changes that would be a problem even for a small cold-blooded reptile, but a deadly crisis for a giant one. And aquatic sauropods just don't look plausible given all that we know now. Finally the biggest blow to gigantothermy in sauropods is that they have the same warm-blooded bone texture found in other dinosaurs. Harversian bone canals, a honeycombed structure that indicates both fast growth and high metabolism, and a system of air sacs similar to those in birds - you don't need to increase respiratory capacity so much if you're only going to have a cold-blooded gigantotherm metabolism. The deep chest indicates big heart and lungs - again, an exclusive feature of warm-blooded animals. Does any big reptile today have a deep chest cavity? Do leatherback turtles have deep chests?

Sorry I was not aware you are currently unemployed... as a comic artist are you freelancing all of these projects? It's sad that dinosaur are not taken seriously in Italy.... being the birthplace of renaissance art, I imagine that if someone could paint dinosaurs in 3D perspective to the same degree of mastery as Michelangelo, Davinci, Botticelli etc. painted people, this would catch on but this is just a guess... currently, in the words of Tess Kissinger, "The quality is not in doubt, but just because it's not paintings of saints it's not considered art... that needs to change". The big struggle is to get dinosaurs taken seriously as art instead of just textbook illustration. We need dinosaur DaVincis to really bust the doors wide open in terms of public acceptance and more opportunities for high-paying work worldwide... I am trying to organize an alliance of paleo-artists for this purpose, it's a very long-term project, but I am prepared to plan ahead. If you want to join at this point you will be more than welcome. Some day when our paths converge, I want to be ready to conquer the greatest galleries. I will be sure to tell you if I get book ideas too.
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(1 Reply)
:icontyrannosaurusprime:
TyrannosaurusPrime Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2010
I dunno how to use italics in here so I'll use open inverted commas instead:
"if working with dinosaurs is hard in the US, try to figure how difficult could be in Italy where dinosaurs and museums barely exist. People here consider Dinosaurs and paleontology as a child play."
The same problem here in Malaysia. :(
Worse still, there are museums here, but none have dinosaurs and palaeontology. Instead, the stuff you'll find in Malaysian museums are pretty boring (They'll be a little more interesting if they ever decided to build a statue of Optimus Prime from the 2007 Tansformers film)
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(2 Replies)
:iconkronosaurus82:
Kronosaurus82 Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2010  Professional Artist
So... I was right! XD
I totally agree with you, infact I drew the thumbclaw on my Argentinosaurus just because we don't know Titanosauria manus very well. But my memory sucks (really), and when – some days ago – an australian guy told me that I was wrong with that claw, I went to check my references and saw that there's no thumbclaw on the Argentinosaurus casts. So I thougt that he – the australian guy – was right.
I'm ageing. O_o
Honestly you make me happy with your words... would you like to be my assistant? XD

Moreover, what do you think about "nails"? In other words, in my opinion sauropods (but also dinosaurs in the large) had nails even without ungual phalanxes, simply because mammals have nails without ungual phalanxes. Since dinosaurs are very different from reptiles, I think that this "theory" isn't unlikely. :)
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:iconcarcharodontotitan:
Carcharodontotitan Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2010
Did you just alter your Argentinosaurus to make this Andesaurus?
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
No, that would be cheating LOL! ;)

I drew this Andesaurus by hand as a totally new drawing - the front, side, and skeletal were all done from scratch. A bit of digital altering, but NOT from my Argentinosaurus. They do indeed look similar, and that's precisely the point. They're in the same family, and lived around the same time (with some differences in vertebra structure, but I doubt the overall body shape was too different).
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:iconcarcharodontotitan:
Carcharodontotitan Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2010
Ok. Does Andesaurus have a shorter neck and tail than Argentinosaurus?
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
I'd LOVE to be able to answer that.... sadly, it's impossible for me to say! There is NO neck material known for either genus, and no tail material known for Argentinosaurus! Just about the only thing that can be known for sure is that Argentinosaurus was generally bigger, though precisely how much bigger is open to debate. My interpretations of both animals are pretty similar, because so far the overall shape of the dorsal vertebrae is similar - and closest relatives of these dinosaurs known from neck material are Paluxysaurus and the somphospondyli, and perhaps Chubutisaurus. Huanghetitan is also close but seems to have evolved in a very different direction. My reconstructions of Andesaurids are based in part on averaging what is known about the proportions of these more distant relatives.

BTW, there are rumors that a nearly complete Argentinosaurus skeleton was found (including the skull), these rumors are BOGUS and date back to an overhyped (though well-advertised) documentary on the Discovery Channel back in 1998 or so... one episode was about the biggest dinosaurs. There were several errors, among other things they had Bakker as a talking head on the show but mispronounced his name repeatedly. It's well known that the skull on those Argentinosaurus mounts (along with most of the skeleton) is just a speculative model. There is however a "mystery skull" that popped up on the web a while back which could be the skull of Argentinosaurus. It's more on the crypto side of things, but may be a real skull - I have no clue where it's kept though.
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:iconcarcharodontotitan:
Carcharodontotitan Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2010
On what website is this skull?
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
I can't find it anymore. But I do have a copy of the picture that I saved before the image died in webspace. Give me your email, I can send you a copy.
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
No clue. I will send it. It looks real, but partially restored.
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(1 Reply)
:iconcarcharodontotitan:
Carcharodontotitan Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2010
Looks JUST like your Argentinosaurus except with a shorter neck. Nice deviation though!
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:iconalexanderlovegrove:
Alexanderlovegrove Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2010
Wonderful reconstruction! It's a shame more isn't known of Andesaurus, it's always appealed to me for some reason!
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks! Andesaurus definitely needs more research, the description was a good start but there's been barely anything published on it since (in contrast to the huge pile of papers on T. rex, Triceratops and Diplodocus). As the founding member of a clade, Andesaurus needs a lot more investigation. And fossil digs.
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