- Diplodocus Tooth in Matrix
- Jurassic (145 Million – 155 Million Years Ago)
- Morrison Formation
- Albany County, Wyoming
- The matrix measures approx. 13/16″ wide and the tooth measures approx. 13/16″ long.
Among the best-known sauropods, Diplodocus were very large, long-necked, quadrupedal animals, with long, whip-like tails. Their fore limbs were slightly shorter than their hind limbs, resulting in a largely horizontal posture. The skeletal structure of these long-necked, long-tailed animals supported by four sturdy legs have been compared with suspension bridges. In fact, Diplodocus carnegii is currently one of the longest dinosaurs known from a complete skeleton, with a total length of 25 metres (82 ft). Modern mass estimates for Diplodocus carnegii have tended to be in the 11– to 13-ton) range. Diplodocus had an extremely long tail, composed of about 80 caudal vertebrae, which are almost double the number some of the earlier sauropods had in their tails (such asShunosaurus with 43), and far more than contemporaneous macronarians had (such as Camarasaurus with 53). Some speculation exists as to whether it may have had a defensive or noisemaking (by cracking it like a whip) function. The tail may have served as a counterbalance for the neck. The middle part of the tail had ‘double beams’ (oddly shaped chevron bones on the underside, which gave Diplodocus its name). They may have provided support for the vertebrae, or perhaps prevented the blood vessels from being crushed if the animal’s heavy tail pressed against the ground. These ‘double beams’ are also seen in some related dinosaurs. Like other sauropods, the manus (front “feet”) of Diplodocus were highly modified, with the finger and hand bones arranged into a vertical column, horseshoe-shaped in cross section.Diplodocus lacked claws on all but one digit of the front limb, and this claw was unusually large relative to other sauropods, flattened from side to side, and detached from the bones of the hand. The function of this unusually specialized claw is unknown.