Etymology: "Of Volkheimer, from Chubut province"
Time horizon: Middle Jurassic, Callovian epoch (~164 mya)
Length: 11m (~36 ft.), perhaps more depending on maturity.
Probable mass: 4 tons, perhaps more depending on maturity.
A quick and dirty skeletal recon of Volkheimeria
, an Argentinian dinosaur poorly understood, barely studied, and often labeled as the first brachiosaur or the missing link to brachiosaurs. Actually it lived far too recently to be the first one (it lived in the Callovian epoch, whereas the more derived Lapparentosaurus
from Madagascar is found entirely in the previous epoch, the Bathonian).
It is however probably the most primitive sauropod that can be referred to brachiosauridae, or at least a greater "brachiosauroidea" (there are several other primitive macronarians and brachiosaur-mimic neosauropods falsely labeled "cetiosaurs" or "dubious eusauropods" at some point in time, which are not quite brachiosaurs but don't comfortably fit in other recognized clades either). While Volkheimeria
can't be called the "granddaddy" of brachiosaurs, it is probably a very primitive and more or less direct descendant of that animal. It appears to have been considerably more basal than either Lapparentosaurus
The current skeletal is the first and only one of Volkheimeria
, and is scaled based on related animals and on the few photos, line drawings, and limb measurements available in various references in papers. Getting a hold of the original description has proven notoriously difficult. The best we can know for sure is that "little Volk" was probably rather small for a sauropod (elephant-sized) and had stockier limbs than most brachiosaurs. That said, it's only known from one (very incomplete) specimen, there's no shoulder material to gauge its maturity, and the tail material is missing entirely. So there's bound to be a lot of guesswork in the proportions, and it's understandable why certain paleoartists (you know who you are
) refuse to reconstruct it.References
J. F. Bonaparte (1979). Dinosaurs: a Jurassic assemblage from Patagonia. Science
Leonardo Salgado; Rodolfo A. Coria (2005). "Sauropods of Patagonia: systematic update and notes on global sauropod evolution". In Virginia Tidwell, Kenneth Carpenter. Thunder-Lizards: The Sauropodomorph Dinosaurs
. Indiana University Press. p. 495.