Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What was it?

Wouldn't you know it?, I went to take a photo of the now-prepared mystery skull, and the thing is away on exhibition, arrgh. Nonetheless I do have a snout photo of the skull lurking in my research folder, which should make its identity rather obvious.

Yes, I'm afraid it was nothing so unusual. Just another Massospondylus skull. Nonetheless it was one I collected so I'm quite proud of it. It also came from quite a beautiful site from the Clarens Formation making it one the youngest known specimens.

Beatrix Farm in the Free State, where the skull was found.

Recently I've tallied up the number of Massospondylus skulls known (not including the Kayenta and South American specimens which, although related, are something else). There are 14 more-or-less complete skulls that I know of (if you include the two embryonic skulls, and 1 unprepared skull). Now I'm sure that there are more Psittacosaurus skulls floating around but they are divided between a host of species. Currently all these Massospondylus skulls are classified as one species, M. carinatus. Could this be the most numerous dinosaur species in terms of whole skulls?


Mickey said...

Even if we ignore Confuciusornis sanctus (since it's a bird), I say Coelophysis bauri has more known complete skulls. Twenty-two at my count (AMNH 7224-7228, 7230, 7237-7242, 7258, CM 31374, CM C-4-81, MCZ 4326-4327, MCZ 4333, MNA V3315, RTMP 84-63-23, 84-63-29, and YPM 41196.

Adam Yates said...

Right you are, I'd forgotten about Coelophysis.

Traumador said...

The Royal Tyrrell has LOTS of Pachyrhinosaur skulls (though the exact state of completeness on a lot of them I'm not sure) from Pipestone Creek. I'm not sure exactly how many, but over twenty if I recall correctly (I'll check next week when I visit the Tyrrell)

Their supposed to be publishing a pretty important paper this year on the development and changes a Pachyrhino goes through during its life. Turns out the boss starts of as a standard Centrosaurid style horn that suddenly starts growing inward into the skull to make that big boney mass

archosaurmusings said...

Psittacosaurs might still do it if someone sorts out the taxonomy - some species (that are well recognised) number in the hundreds of individuals and for most the skull is one of the most roust elements. When you combine that with the sheer number that are *not* recorded (i.e. in small museums and probably never published on) it would not especially surprise me if one species had 50 or more skulls known.