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Giraffatitan brancai hi-fi skeletal by Paleo-King Giraffatitan brancai hi-fi skeletal by Paleo-King
Giraffatitan brancai

Family: Brachiosauridae (intermediate position)
Time: Late Jurassic, Kimmeridgian-Tithonian epochs, ~150 mya
Location: Tendaguru Formation, Tanzania

World-famous as the tallest animal ever mounted in a museum, the east African Giraffatitan brancai was for many years considered a species of Brachiosaurus [link] , not least by the German paleontologists who discovered and prepared it. However since Greg Paul's 1988 paper, doubts lingered as to whether two animals separated by scores of skeletal differences and hundreds of miles of land and water even in Jurassic times, could really be from the same genus. Dr. Michael P. Taylor set the record straight in 2009, separating the African animal from Brachiosaurus, and reaffirming the tentative separation proposed by Paul two decades earlier. Giraffatitan was not only different from true Brachiosaurus, it was also equally different from all other known brachiosaurs.

That said, the family resemblance is still strong. Yet Giraffatitan is a more extreme animal, with a shorter torso, longer neck, and even longer arms than the long-armed Brachiosaurus itself. It was also probably a bit lighter. The mounted skeleton in Berlin is primarily based on HMN SII, a teenage specimen around 75 ft. long and 33 tons as opposed to the 37 ton B. altithorax type specimen (which coincidentally was also a teenager). Both animals likely grew 15% bigger as adults, as evidenced by a large Giraffatitan fibula, HMN XV2.

The Humboldt Museum in Berlin houses all of the known Giraffatitan material, which comprises multiple individuals of many growth stages, including skull material from three specimens. Though none of the Giraffatitan specimens is complete, this taxon is far better represented in the fossil record than Brachiosaurus, and the many overlapping remains allow for a very accurate skeletal rendition. This reconstruction was done using the nearly complete neck of the paralectotype HMN SII, without including any of the proportionally shorter HMN SI material which is typically frankensteined onto it by Greg Paul and others. The end result is a naturally longer neck than has often been depicted.

Giraffatitan shared the tropical coastal conifer forests of Tendaguru with other endemic plant-eaters like the stegosaur Kentrosaurus, the small diplodocoid Dicraeosaurus, the bipedal Dryosaurus, the barosaurine Tornieria, the diplodocid Australodocus, the putative camarasaur Tendaguria, fellow brachiosaur "The Archbishop" (which had an even longer neck!) and the mysterious "first titanosaur", Janenschia. Predators in the area included large allosaurs and ceratosaurs, and the odd small theropod Elaphrosaurus.

*Note: No GSP! Everything in this restoration was based directly on as much original data from Werner Janensch's description papers as possible, without using Greg Paul's skeletals. Indeed, with the shoulders drawn and scaled correctly, the incline of the backbone turned out considerably steeper than Paul ever envisioned it, making a vertical neck posture far less of a stretch than previously thought, pardon the pun :D . Many Thanks to Mike Taylor of SV-POW for posting photos of the bones and scans of Janensch's original engravings online, and including them in his 2009 paper.

References:

Janensch, W. (1914). "Übersicht über der Wirbeltierfauna der Tendaguru-Schichten nebst einer kurzen Charakterisierung der neu aufgeführten Arten von Sauropoden." Archiv für Biontologie, 3 (1): 81–110.

Janensch, W. (1922). "Das Handskelett von Gigantosaurus robustus und Brachiosaurus brancai aus den Tendaguru-Schichten Deutsch-Ostafrikas". Centralblatt für Mineralogie, Geologie und Paläontologie 1922(15):464-480.

Janensch, W. (1950a). "Die Skelettrekonstruktion von Brachiosaurus brancai". Palaeontographica, Supplement 7 (I, 3):97-103.

Janensch, W. (1950c). "Die Wirbelsäule von Brachiosaurus brancai". Palaeontolographica, Supplement, 7:27-93.

Paul, G.S. (1988). "The brachiosaur giants of the Morrison and Tendaguru with a description of a new subgenus, Giraffatitan, and a comparison of the world's largest dinosaurs". Hunteria, 2(3): 1–14. (Yes I have read the paper, and no, I did not copy Paul's skeletal - which is anatomically flawed in several ways.)

Taylor, M.P. (2009). "A Re-evaluation of Brachiosaurus altithorax Riggs 1903 (Dinosauria, Sauropod) and its generic separation from Giraffatitan brancai (Janensch 1914)." Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 29(3): 787-806. [link]
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:iconsameerprehistorica:
SameerPrehistorica Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Hobbyist
I wanted to increase the neck length of either Brachiosaurus or Giraffatitan(especially Brachiosaurus) and making one of them standing at 50 feet tall.
         As these are teenagers,if they were about 50 feet tall then their shoulder heights might be slightly increased too.
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Professional Traditional Artist
Well my Brachiosaurus is already around 49 ft. tall so there's not much difference there.

Both these animals were teenage specimens and both could get taller. But the neck growth may have outpaced the shoulder height increase to adulthood. So maybe the adults had more proportionally elongated neck? I think 60-foot tall individuals were definitely possible for both species.
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:iconpaleo-reptiles:
Paleo-reptiles Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2013
Dear Nima

1- Can you send me Giraffatitan (with large size) by G. S. Paul for compare?????

There is my Email:
keyvan_1878@yahoo.com
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2- What is your opinion about
Giraffatitan by Scott ?
scotthartman.deviantart.com/ar…

3- What is your opinion about Giraffatitan by Asier?
eofauna.deviantart.com/art/Gir…

4- Can two paleo-art have such similarity but do not account as copy????


Best regards, Amin Khaleghparast  (a lonely biologist from Tehran, IRAN)
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:icondjlivus:
djlivus Featured By Owner May 8, 2013
Magnificent drawing!. For me (but also for some noted paleonthologists) brachiosaurids are the most beautiful dinosaurs because of their vertical posture, and long, elegant neck). I understood HM XV2 would have a neck of 9.5m long. What is the estimated overall height of this individual? Any dimensions for Jensen's Potter Creek brachiosaur and Waugh Quarry femur, compared with Berlin specimen? Are they bigger? What ratio?
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:iconblazze92:
bLAZZE92 Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2012
If you have time could you help me understand this? recently I was curious of knowing how the limb dimensions of P2510 and SII compared to each other and there's something that I don't understand, why everyone has different measurements in their skeletals?

In Taylor (2009) it said that the surface of the distal end of P25107 humerus broke away due to weathering, if it was intact it would have been 216cm instead of 204cm but years after said paper, no one has done an skeletal with said measurement, was it wrong? in GSP's is 203cm, yours is 202cm with the drawing on the side being 195cm, in Hartman's is 196cm so I thought that he put the fossil "as is" without doing anything to it but then I remembered that the fossil was supposed to be 204cm so, what's going on here?

About the femur, from the photos on Taylor(2009) it was 204cm and Hartman's and GSP's are 204cm and 202cm respectively, in yours, the femur is 195cm in the skeletal and 204cm on the drawing by the side, Why is this? I doubt you'll make a mistake like that so I must be missing something.

I also have problems with Giraffatitan, like why Hartman and GSP don't use the estimate of SII's femur done by Janensch (~196cm) was it wrong? mmm but you use it.... so I don't know. It's also puzzles me why Hartman's Giraffatitan has femur and humerus of equal lengths.
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Well here's the long and the short of it (pardon the pun).

The Brachiosaurus altithorax humerus FMNH P 25107 is mostly complete. I doubt it was 216 CM but for all I know I could be wrong. The distal end of the humerus is weathered, but you can still see the shape of the condyles, so it's not like a huge chunk broke off. It's just missing the outer layers of the bone. Based on other brachiosaur humeri, the complete humerus probably wasn't a whole lot longer than what's left today.

As for the femur you may not be measuring it correctly, I rotated the femur for posing and verified the measurements several times. I went off of scale bars and I verified the accuracy of those as well, so the scale may not be perfect but it is very close. Also there may be some foreshortening, if you view the O'Hare airport mount you could get different lengths just by scaling from photos at slightly different angles.

GSP appears to use parts of different individuals more than is necessary to complete HMN SII, so I'm not surprised by that pattern of behavior. Not just the femur, but he also uses neck material from SI that overlaps with SII, instead of using SII for those same bones. The only cervical vertebra NOT known from SII is the axis, and there's a juvenile axis HMN Be1 which closely matches the elongate proportions of SII rather than the truncated ones of SI. SI is likely a different species, since the juvenile specimen Be1 includes other cervicals that match SII far more closely than SI. SI is smaller than SII as well as having different vertebrae proportions, but this does not indicate ontogeny, since juvenile Giraffatitans had cervical proportions almost identical to SII.

As for Hartman... most of his skeletals are more generic and "idealized" rather than directly based on the shapes of the fossils (he tends to smooth out the outlines of bones even when their natural roughness is not an artifact of crushing or erosion), so his Giraffatitan is probably a concept of what he thinks the "ideal" average Giraffatitan should look like, rather than any one individual. The problem with this approach is that it sometimes leads to incorrect guesstimates for limb proportions, especially when things like the femur of SII are not very widely used in earlier reconstructions, but would prove invaluable in getting the proportions right. While he avoids most of GSP's errors, you sometimes get the idea that maybe he's making his own skeletals smoother and less detailed in order to pre-emptively dodge possible errors. Still, I like Hartman's skeletals better overall.
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:iconblazze92:
bLAZZE92 Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2013
Thanks a lot for your response (:
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2012  Professional General Artist
No GSP skeletals injured? Aw, SHUCKS! Great skeletal! Yours, I mean!
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks! Yeah, the GSP skeletals were not "worth the plunder" as it were. They don't even have a tenth of the detail of Janensch's original engravings, and the proportions and shapes of some parts (like the shoulder blade, the sacrum, and the neck verts) are just plain WRONG in GSP's version.
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2012  Professional General Artist
We all have ways of wanting our restorations to look. I think mine look good, yours certainly look good, but I don't think either of us are wed solidly to the idea our versions MUST be correct or else.

I solidly respect and LIKE your work, otherwise, why say so? I certainly like GSP's work, most of it, and I respect his research and make some liddle use of his work--information and inspiration--in my own. Even so, I doubt anyone can say I'm a GSP cloner...I DO have my own ideas.

Same with you. I can spot your work a mile away--in a very good sense, just as I can spot GSP's work. However, your restorations breathe for me, GSP's are mostly paintings of taxidermy mounts; too stiff, too posed.

If I can survive some current troubles, I plan to finish Chaos Gigantes. Since I cannot demand to finish up your Paralatitan (I ain't got the money to pay you, after all!), I'll have to go ahead without your version. I am thinking ol' Paralatitanicus is basically Lognkosaurian, wide body, long legs and neck, maybe kinda-sorta like Alamosaurus. Close enoough for government work?
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks :D

Actually Paralititan is more like Argyrosaurus than a longkosaur. But Alamosaurus also looks more like Argyrosaurus than a longkosaur, since both are lithostrotians more derived than lognkosaurs.

Based on what little of Paralititan is known, it's closest to Argyrosaurus (especially in the humerus and the anterior caudals). And luckily for you, I've done Argyrosaurus. Maybe all I would change is make the head of Paralititan a bit more rounded, since Paralititan is older and probably more basal. But that's just guesswork at this point.
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks! Yes, I've seen your Argyrosaurus! Wonderful piece! :iconraptorlaplz: Take care! If I can manage to keep things together, I will complete or do another Chaos Gigantes.
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:iconpaleojoe:
PaleoJoe Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
just,just awesome
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:iconpaleojoe:
PaleoJoe Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
just,just awesome
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanx 8-)
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:iconpaleojoe:
PaleoJoe Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Your welcome.
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:iconpilsator:
pilsator Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Way cool!
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks man :). The freaky thing is that when I look at this skeletal it almost seems to come alive and pop out, unlike previous reconstructions by others.
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:icondinohunter000:
DinoHunter000 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012
Outstanding work!!
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:icontyrannosaurusprime:
TyrannosaurusPrime Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012
Is it just me or is the neck longer in your reconstruction than GSP's?:confused:
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
It is longer :) And there's a good reason for that - GSP's reconstruction was essentially a hasty "kitbash" job using HMN SI for the anterior cervicals rather than SII, whereas I used ALL of HMN SII's cervicals. SII's cervical series runs from the 3rd cervical to the 13th (all but the first two vertebrae) while the smaller HMN SI is known from the 2nd cervical through the 7th. Oddly enough, Greg Paul still makes the axis far larger than it actually is in SI (and even bigger than it should be in SII)

SI's cervicals are shorter than SII's, not just in raw length but proportionally relative to their height as well. The two actually appear to be different species (both are at least adolescents, with no sutures in the vertebrae and appear to be of similar ontogenic maturity), with different arrangements of fossae - and SI has an unusual forward kink in the anterior surface of the neural spines, a feature that makes it rather similar to the Archbishop (which ironically is missing its first few cervicals...)

Since the longer-necked SII is the most complete specimen of Giraffatitan, I used all of its cervicals instead of mixing it with SI as Greg Paul did - I left out SI entirely. Only the first two cervicals are missing from SII, and if the rest of the neck is any clue, these were more elongated than in SI - and that's how I drew them. The end result - HMN SII had a longer neck than Greg Paul indicated. However, Janensch had listed SI as the lectotype and SII as the paralectotype, meaning that both individuals formed the type specimen (an awful practice on Janensch's part) and the lectotype SI takes precedence. Which means if they ARE two different species, then either SII and much of the other large HMN material needs to be renamed AGAIN, or we need an IZCN petition to designate SII as the sole holotype and remove SI from Giraffatitan brancai.
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:icontyrannosaurusprime:
TyrannosaurusPrime Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012
Ok thanks.:) BTW I forgot to mention this: your Giraffatitan skeletal is a lot more detailed on the bones than Greg Paul's Giraffatitan skeletal.;)
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Yeah, that too was intentional :D. I intended to put the maximum feasible level of detail in here, to give a real idea of what dinosaur bones looks like, warts and all - especially since Janensch's engraving and the SV-POW photos of the bones capture so much detail that Greg Paul simply fails to include in his skeletals. Mine are truly hi-fi skeletals, in fact since Greg Paul calls his skeletals hi-fi, mine might need a further title. Hardcore skeletals, perhaps. Greg Paul's "bones" are essentially white silhouettes of the bones which leave out all the laminae and fossae, whereas mine include most of them. Also Paul's skeletal of Giraffatitan has many distortions and inaccurate shapes of the bones, especially the shoulder blades, neck, top view of the sacrum, and the posterior dorsals. And why does he always leave out the calcaneum? Even if it wasn't found for Giraffatitan, we KNOW from other macronarians like Erketu that the calcaneum was present and NOT made of cartilage.

BTW I made a mistake on the status of the Giraffatitan specimens - I just checked my sources (including Taylor 2009) and the lectotype is actually the main specimen HMN SII which I used for my skeletal. The smaller HMN SI is the paralectotype, so in that case SII takes precedence, not SI. And thus no IZCN petition would be necessary even if they do turn out to be two different species. That's good news... but still it bugs me that Janensch didn't just designate a single specimen as the type. It would have been a lot simpler a more straightforward.
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Oops yet another mistake! SII is actually the paralectotype, but supposedly paralectotypes take precedence over lectotypes. So SII still takes precedence over the smaller SI, if they are different animals then it's SI that needs a new name... I think. Or is it that paralectotypes are kept in the species just as secondary backup in case the lectotype is destroyed? In any case naming conventions in biology SUCKED in Janensch's time. They should have just designated SII as holotype and called it a day. The majority of "Giraffatitan" remains appear to belong to the same species as SII, whereas there's nothing connecting them to the rather different SI.
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:icontyrannosaurusprime:
TyrannosaurusPrime Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2012
Ok.:) BTW check this out: [link] :XD::lol::rofl::lmao:
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:icontyrannosaurusprime:
TyrannosaurusPrime Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012
Ok.:) BTW what do you think might happen to an Allosaurus or Torvosaurus if they were kicked by a fully grown Brachiosaurus?:confused:
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:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Broken leg, smashed ribs. Maybe a caved-in maxilla if they got punched by a hand. And if you're a big predator that would really ruin your life. Depending on how the impact landed, it could be a deadly blow. Of course it all depends on how big a fully grown Brachiosaurus was. We know that the largest Giraffatitan specimen, HMN XV2 is 15% bigger than HMN SII, or roughly 90 ft. long. But since all we have to go on is a fibula, there's no telling if XV2 was even close to the maximum size for Giraffatitan. Similarly, scaling up by 15% from the teenage B. altithorax holotype gives us a ~95-foot long adult - but who's to say they didn't grow bigger than that? 90-foot Jurassic brachiosaurs may seem oversized to some, but that's only if you discount the possibility of hundred-foot individuals! And then the damage factor from an impact goes way up. And then there's Jensen's giant Potter Creek brachiosaur, not to mention the huge Waugh Quarry femur, which is even more robust than B. altithorax. Who's to say either one was from a fully grown individual?

The interesting thing about brachiosaurs is that the front shelf of the ilium is larger and more flared out than in more primitive sauropods, so the thigh muscles used for kicking are much larger. And in basal titanosauriformes like brontomerus they got even larger.

But it was the euhelopodids that took the toe kick to the extreme - not only did they have huge from ilium processes, they also had shins (and hence feet) that faced outwards relative to the femur by 25 degrees or more - in other words, they had an odd "Charlie Chaplin" stance to their hind legs. This allowed for sideways as well as forward kicks. The astragalus and calcaneum were tightly interlocked to the distal tibia and fibula (as evidenced by Erketu) to absorb the impact of hard kicks. And to top it all off, euhelopodids (or at the very least, Euhelopus itself) had some gnarly foot claws. The first toe had a massive recurved claw, almost raptor-like in the tightness of its curve. It may have had swivel or slash capabilities as well. The second claw was longer and much straighter, for impaling. And the third toe claw was small and blunt, almost hoof-like, but its sheath may have been sharp.
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:icontyrannosaurusprime:
TyrannosaurusPrime Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012
Ok thanks.:)
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:iconpalaeorigamipete:
palaeorigamipete Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
It indeed is! It's a wonderful skeletal!
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:icontyrannosaurusprime:
TyrannosaurusPrime Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2012
True that.B-)
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