In episode 136, we review Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton.
Episode 136 is also about Jobaria, a sauropod that lived in the Jurassic in what is now Niger, Africa.
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In this episode, we discuss:
Review: Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton
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The dinosaur of the day: Jobaria
- Sauropod that lived in the Jurassic in what is now Niger, Africa
- Type species is Jobaria tiguidensis
- Named after Jobar, an African mythical giant beast. Some Tuaregs (semi-Nomadic people from the area) believed Jobaria’s fossils were Jobar’s bones
- Some Tuaregs thought Jobaria was Jobar because its exposed bones were in plain view
- Species name tiguidensis refers to the cliff of Tiguidi, where the fossils were found
- Named by Paul Sereno and others in 1999
- Paul Sereno led a four month expedition in 1997 and found a mass death site in the Tiourarén Formation of Niger
- Multiple specimens were found (Sereno and his team reconstructed two: one that was about 60 ft, an adult, and a 30 ft juvenile)
- Over 95% of Jobaria’s skeleton is preserved (one of the most complete sauropods)
- About 60 ft (18 m) long
- Weighed about 22 tons
- Originally thought to live in the early Cretaceous, but the sediments where it was found were reinterpreted to be from the middle Jurassic
- Primitive sauropod
- Had a simple backbone and tail compared to older North American sauropods like Diplodocus and Apatosaurus, which had complex vertebrae and whiplash tails
- Jobaria is an example of a type of dinosaur that didn’t change much over millions of years
- Some have classified it as a primitive macronarian (sauropods that were tall, like Camarasaurus and Brachiosaurus), but it’s not certain
- Had a relatively short (12 vertebrae), but flexible neck
- Had spoon-shaped teeth
- Could nip at smaller branches of trees
- May have been able to rear up on its hind legs, based on Sereno’s comparison of the ratios of its humerus and femur circumferences with modern elephants (weight distribution suggests its weight was support by its rear limbs, like in elephants, and elephants can rear up)
- If it reared up, it could reach higher vegetation
- Lived in the same time and place as the carnivore Afrovenator, which had long arms and could grab onto prey while biting into it (so may juvenile and subadults may have been prey)
Bentonite forms from volcanic ash and is very absorbent and sticky when wet. It is found around dinosaur fossils in Montana like the two medicine formation where we did our dig. It is just one of the many difficulties with trying to excavate fossils in the rainy season.