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Sauroposeidon

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Sauroposeidon proteles
Creature information
Home time period Early Cretaceous period
Creature type Sauropod dinosaur
Fatalities caused 0
Production information
Appearances Fire and Water
Does this infobox follow the rules?

Sauroposeidon was the tallest sauropod dinosaur to ever walk to earth. They have so far only appeared in the older novel Fire and Water.

Incursions and encounters

A herd of Sauroposeidon appears on a railway line: six enormous youngsters and one adult, with the mother being trapped in the railway tunnel from which the anomaly appeared. Becker attempts to put her out of her misery by shooting her in the head. However, the Sauroposeidon is only injured, and it barges its away out of the tunnel, chasing the team down the railway line. After the mother is eventually dies, the youngsters are led towards the tunnel and the anomaly with a box of catnip (which attracts the animals like a magnet). But before they can go through, two more Sauroposeidon come through. The additional pair mingles with the now orphaned animals, and with the help of more catnip, are all driven through the anomaly.

On the other side of the anomaly, it is shown that Tom Samuels has built a huge oil mine (complete with a defensive smörgåsbord of anti-tank/air guns, missiles, heavy cannons, shells, and mortars), and is mining oil from the past. Samuels then traps the Anomaly Research Centre team ,in the past. After Samuels' weapons nearly destroy the ARC team's military support and kills one of the dinosaurs, Connor hatches a plan. Using a hastily built catapult, they fire a box-full of catnip towards the mine, and the Sauroposeidon herd instinctively follow it. Even with the onslaught of the guns and missiles, they manage to reach the building, crashing into it. They cause an array of oil barrels to collapse, creating an explosion that takes out most of the building. They are last seen when what remains of the the herd nurses their wounds and heads off into the distance (Fire and Water).

Facts

Sauroposeidon is a genus of Brachiosaurid dinosaur. It is only known from four neck vertebrae that were found in South-Western Oklahoma. The fossils were discovered in an early Cretaceous period rock layer, a time-span in which sauropods were thought to have greatly diminished in both size and number, making Sauroposeidon the last great Sauropod on the North American Continent. When the fossils were discovered in 1993, their size and time of origin caused them to be missclassified as petrified tree trunks, until 1999, when a further study revealed the truth. When this was realised, it caused a media frenzy.

Palecological analysis shows that this Sauroposeidon lived on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico, which at the time streched into Oklahoma, near the mouth of a great river. Like all other Brachiosaurids, it was a quadrapedal herbivore with front legs longer that the rear legs, a build similar to a modern giraffe. Extrapolations based on its more completely known relative Brachiosaurus indicate that the head of Sauroposeidon could reach 18 metres (59 feet) in height with its neck extended, making it the tallest known dinosaur. With an estimated length of up to 34 metres (112 ft) and a mass of 50–60 t (55–66 short tons), it also ranks highly among the longest and heaviest.

The name comes from Greek sauros, meaning lizard, and the Greek sea god, Poseidon, who was also the god of earthquakes, often being called Ennosigaios, "The Earth Shaker". This is a reference to the notion that this sauropod was so massive, when it walked the earth shaked. The species name, protelis, also comes from Ancient Greek, meaning "Perfect before the End", refering to Sauroposeidon's status as the Last Great Sauropod.

The press release of the discovery in 1999 immediately gathered international media attention, which led to many inaccurate reports of "the largest dinosaur ever!" While it is true that Sauroposeidon is probably the tallest known dinosaur, it is neither the longest or most massive. Argentinosaurus is a better candidate for this title (presuming we ignore the controversial Amphicoelias or Bruhathkayosaurus, which most scientists do), though weak fossil remains for both Sauroposeidon and Argentinosaurus make exact ranking impossible.

The Sauroposeidon find consisted of only four, elongated, mid-cervical vertebrae, numbers 5-8.The largest vertebrae measured an astonishing 1.4m, or 4.6 feet, making it the largest sauropod vertebrae ever. Examination of the bones revealed that they were honeycombed with tiny air pockets to reduce weight, to make lifting the neck much easier. The cervical ribs were remakably long as well, with the longest cervical rib of any sauropod on vertebra 6, measuring 3.42m (11.2 ft.).

Estimates of Sauroposeidon's size are based on a comparison between the four Sauroposeidon vertebrae and the vertebrae of the HM SII specimen of Giraffatitan brancai, located in the Humboldt Museum in Berlin. The HM SII is the most complete brachiosaur known, though since it is composed of pieces from different individuals its proportions may not be totally accurate. Comparisons to the other brachiosaurid relatives of Sauroposeidon are difficult due to limited remains.

Sauroposeidon's neck length is estimated at 11.25-12m. (37-39 ft.), compared to the 9m (30 ft.) neck of Giraffatitan. Sauroposeidon could likely raise it's neck 17-18m (56-59 ft.) off the ground, the equivalent of a six story building. In comparison, Giraffatitan could probably raise it's head a modest 13.5m (44 ft.) into the air. Sauroposeidon's height at the shoulder is estimated to be 6-7m (20-23 ft.), and it's body length ranged from 28m (92 ft.), to 34m (112 ft.), making it one of the longest Sauropods, and very likely the tallest.

Sauroposeidon's mass is estimated at 50-60 tonnes (55-66 short tons). While the vertabrae are 25-33% longer than Giraffatitan's they are only 10-15% larger in diameter, making the neck very gracile in comparison to most other Brachiosaurids. This means the body was most often slimmer in comparison to the neck legnth, making it weigh less than a Giraffatitan of the same size (if such a thing could ever exist).

Sauroposeidon was likely the Last Giant Sauropod, which lived in an age of sub-compact Titanosaurs. Sauropods, which included the largest land animals ever, were a succesful and wide-spread group. They first appeared in the Late Triassic-Early Jurassic border and soon spread across the world. By the time of the late Jurassic, North America and Africa were dominated by the diplodocids and brachiosaurids and, by the end of the Late Cretaceous, titanosaurids were widespread (though only in the southern hemisphere). Between these periods, in the Early Cretaceous, the fossil record is sparse. Few specimens have been found in North America from that time and those specimens that do exist are often fragmentary or represent juvenile members of their species. Most of the surviving sauropods at the time were also shrinking in size to a mere 15m (49 ft) in length, and maybe 10–15 tonnes (11–17 short tons), which makes the discovery of an extremely specialized super-giant like Sauroposeidon very unusual. There were probably no predators who could take down a full-grown Sauroposeidon, but juveniles were likely to be preyed on by Acrocanthosaurus (a carnosaur slightly smaller than a Tyrannosaurus Rex) and packs of Deinonychus. Many sauropods were herd animals, and Sauroposeidon was no different. A giant brachiosaurid similar to Sauroposeidon was described in 2004, by Darren Naish and colleagues, and is from the Early Cretaceous period of England. Known only from two neck vertebrae, it was apparently similar in some details to Sauroposeidon and perhaps similar in size. Its discovery highlights the similarity seen between Early Cretaceous North American and European dinosaurs.

Trivia

  • This is the largest creature in Primeval though it is not shown in the TV series.
  • Sauroposeidon is the first and only sauropod to be encountered.
  • It is the last creature discounting Triceratops to appear in the Older Novel series.
  • This is the largest dinosaur in the novels.
  • In life this is the tallest Sauropod in the fossil record.
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