Abstract by Kevin Luke
Testing sauropod neck flexibility hypotheses using 3-dimensional photogrammetric models of cervical vertebrae of Apatosaurus
With lengths reaching over 15 m (49 ft), the necks of sauropod dinosaurs are the longest of any animals in Earth’s history. Flexibility is crucial to understand their niche partitioning and environment impact, however the possible range of neck motion is controversial, with hypotheses spanning the spectrum from limited to extreme flexibility. This study will test this attribute using the specimen BYU 1252, an Apatosaurus skeleton with a nearly complete series of undistorted vertebrae. Photogrammetric 3D models of each cervical vertebra will be created, and will then be articulated and manipulated to determine the maximum lateral and dorsoventral flexure. Intervertebral cartilage will be applied to the models, as cartilage is known to constrain flexibility in extant archosaurs. The results of this study will provide valuable insights into the feeding strategies of these sauropod dinosaurs.