Episode 117 is all about Mamenchisaurus, a sauropod with a neck that makes up half its body length.
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In this episode, we discuss:
- The dinosaur of the day: Mamenchisaurus
- Sauropod with a really long neck (makes up half its body length)
- Lived in the Jurassic in what is now China
- Multiple species, largest one about 115 ft (35 m) long and weighing 50-75 tons
- Type species is Mamenchisaurus constructus
- Mamenchisaurus constructus was around 43-49 ft (13-15 m) long
- Discovered in 1952 on a construction site in Sichuan, China
- Found a partial skeleton, named in 1954 by C.C. Young
- Type specimen includes an incomplete neck, with 14 vertebra
- Name means “Mamenchi lizard” (Mamenchi in Chinese means horse gate stream/brook)
- Supposed to be named after the place it was found, which was a construction site next to the Mamingxi ferry crossing, in the Sichuan province in China. But Young accidentally mixed up the location name and Mamingxi (which means horse neighing brook) was mistaken as Mamenxi (horse gate brook)
- Species named because the fossil was found in a construction site
- A book called The Chronicles of Huayang, written in the Jin Dynasty between 265-317 CE, describes the finding of “dragon bones” in what is now the Sichuan Province (lots of Jurassic fossils, including Mamenchisaurus bones, have been found there), so they may have contributed to folklore about dragons
- People used to believe dragon bones had medicinal qualities
- Second species, Mamenchisaurus hochuanensis, was described in 1972. About 72 ft (22 m) long, and its neck was 31 ft (9.3 m) long. Had a complete neck preserved with 19 vertebrae
- Another Mamenchisaurus hochuanensis specimen found in 2001, and it had a club tail, probably used for defense (other sauropods with club tails were Omeisaurus and Shunosaurus
- Another species, Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum was described in 1993 (found skull material and first four cervical vertebrae). Had the longest cervical rib of any described sauropod, at 13.5 ft (4.1 m) long (longest species in general, estimated at 115 ft or 35 m long with a neck that’s 56 ft (17 m) long)
- Mamenchisaurus anyuensis was named in 1996, and was about 69 ft (21 m ) long
- Mamenchisaurus jingyanensis was named in 1998 and was about 66-85 ft (20-26 m) long
- Mamenchisaurus youngi was named in 1996 (though originally found in 1989), and is named in honor of Young. It was 52 ft (16 m) long with a 21 ft (6.5 m) long neck
- Mamenchisaurus youngi‘s vertebrae above its hips were fused together in a v-shape, so it may have had to hold its tail up at a 20 degree angle
- One study from 2013 found that Mamenchisaurus youngi may have eaten low vegetation, based on the stiffness of its vertebrae (had a pretty straight neck posture and was a low browser)
- One Mamenchisaurus found had an injured tail, probably due to a broken and re-healed backbone injury or infection that caused ossified tissue to build up
- Long neck means it could eat a lot of food from the same spot (because of its reach)
- Had spatula shaped teeth, which were good for eating large bunches of leaves
- Can see an animatronic Mamenchisaurus in Prague, at the Harfa DinoPark
- Mamenchisauridae is a family of sauropods
- Named in 1972 by Young and Zhao, in a paper about Mamenchisaurus
- Includes Chuanjiesaurus, Eomamenchisaurus, Hudiesaurus, Tienshanosaurus, Omeisaurus, Tonganosaurus
- Fun fact: Inspired by a reddit post by JimmyL2014: It’s completely feasible that there were Mesozoic dinosaurs (non-avian even) that could scoot around a lake like a duck.
- Many dinosaurs would have been nice and buoyant given their pneumaticity
- We have some evidence of dinosaurs swimming (i.e. stegosaur transitional prints)
- They could have used their large tails and feet (possibly webbed) for locomotion
- Many pieces of evidence that they ate fish
- Some of them had feathers (although not really necessary for floating).
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