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a short-necked dicraeosaurid sauropod dinosaur from the Late Jurassic of Argentina.
Pronunciation: brak-i-trak-eh-lo-pan
Meaning: Short-necked Pan
Author/s: Rauhut, Remes, et al. (2005)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Chubut, Argentina
Chart Position: 448

Brachytrachelopan mesai

As a general rule of thumb, sauropod necks were roughly as long as their tails, or at least longer than their backs, which is especially true of the diplodocoids — including Supersaurus and Diplodocus — who were some of the longest ever dinosaurs. But within this family were a group of trend-buckers known as dicraeosaurids — the short-necked diplodocoids — and Brachytrachelopan, with its pathetically short vertebrae, had the shortest neck of all.

Why Mother Nature would create such a misproportioned creature while blessing other sauropods like the brachiosaurids, titanosaurs and diplodocids with progressively longer necks—either by increasing their number of vertebrae, or lengthening them, or, more often, both—is a bit of an enigma. What seems doubly unfair is that the structure of Brachytrachelopan's neural arches which wouldn't allow its neck to be raised much higher than the angle at which it left the body wouldn't allow it to be lowered much further than that either. So Brachytrachelopan was stuck with mid-lying vegetation, even though it couldn't compete with the larger conterminous Tehuelchesaurus any way and fossil evidence of smaller herbivores in the Cañadón Calcáreo Formation is currently non-existent. We reckon Brachytrachelopan could sympathise with Tantalus; the best bits are always just out of reach.

Funnily enough, low-browsing iguanodontian ornithopods, who seem to be the dominant moderately-sized herbivores in most of the world's Late Jurassic Formations, are completely absent in all of the areas where dicraeosaurids have been found and vice versa, so it seems likely that these two groups of critters were occupying the same niche in their respective eco-systems.
(Mesa's short-neck shepherd god)Etymology
Brachytrachelopan, is derived from the Greek "brachytrachelos" (short-necked) and "Pan" (the Greek God of shepherds) referring to the fact that local farmer Daniel Mesa, who is honored in the species epithet mesai, stumbled upon its remains weathering out of the ground as he was searching for his stray flock of sheep. Pan was a rustic god and not afforded much temple time, perhaps because he was only part man with the hindquarters, hooves and horns of a goat, but this didn't curb his lust for the fairer sex, many of whom changed themselves into inanimate objects to escape his amorous advances. He was the go-to god for help in the fertility and fornication department, and was a demon on his pan pipes. But he was no match for Apollo and his lyre who out-played him in a Tmolus-judged hoedown, much to the chagrin of his biggest fan—King Midas—who had his ears turned into those of a donkey to fix his obviously faulty hearing!
The fossils of Brachytrachelopan were recovered from the Cañadón Calcáreo Formation of Argentina's Chubut Province, about 25 km north-northeast of Cerro Condor.
The holotype (MPEF-PV 1716 - housed at Museo Paleontologico Egidio Feruglio) consists of eight neck vertebrae, three sacral vertebrae, twelve back vertebrae and ribs, a partial left femur and left tibia, and a hip bone (ilium).
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Late Jurassic
Stage: Kimmeridgian
Age range: 156-151 mya
Est. max. length: 11 meters
Est. max. hip height: ?
Est. max. weight: 5 tons
Diet: Herbivore
• O.W.M. Rauhut, K. Remes, R. Fechner, G. Cladera, P. Puerta (2005) "Discovery of a short-necked sauropod dinosaur from the Late Jurassic period of Patagonia".
• G.S. Paul (2010) "The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs". /UK.
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "BRACHYTRACHELOPAN :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 29th Mar 2017.