Dinosaurs > Camarasaurus

Camarasaurus, meaning ‘chambered lizard’, referring to the hollow chambers in its vertebrae, was a genus of quadrupedal, herbivorous dinosaurs. It was the most common of the giant sauropods to be found in North America. Its fossil remains have been found in the Morrison Formation of Colorado and Utah, dating to the late Jurassic Period (late Oxfordian to Tithonian stages), between 155 and 145 million years ago.

Camarasaurus is among the most common and frequently well-preserved sauropod dinosaurs. The maximum size of the most common species, C. lentus, was about 15 meters (50 ft) in length. The largest species, C. supremus, reached a maximum length of 23 meters (75 ft) and maximum estimated weight of 47 tonnes (51.8 tons).

The arched skull of Camarasaurus was remarkably square and the blunt snout had many fenestrae, though it was sturdy and is frequently recovered in good condition by paleontologists. The 19 centimeter long (7.5 in) teeth were shaped like chisels (spatulate) and arranged evenly along the jaw. The strength of the teeth indicates that Camarasaurus probably ate coarser plant material than the slender-toothed diplodocids.

Each front limb bore five toes, with the inner toe having a large sharpened claw. Like most sauropods, the front limbs were shorter than the hind legs, but the high position of the shoulders meant there was little slope in the back.

Serving the purpose of weight-saving, as seen in other sauropods, many of the vertebrae were hollowed out or pneumatic, riddled with passages and cavities for an intricate system of air sacs connected to the lungs. This feature was relatively unknown at the time Camarasaurus was discovered, and was the inspiration for its name, meaning “chambered lizard”. The neck and counterbalancing tail were shorter than usual for a sauropod of this size. Camarasaurus, again like certain other sauropods, had an enlargement of the spinal cord near the hips. Palaeontologists originally believed this to be a second brain, perhaps necessary to co-ordinate such a huge creature. However, while it would have been an area of large nervous, probably reflex (automatic) activity, it was not a brain, and such enlargements are actually found to some degree in all vertebrate animals.


Clade: Dinosauria
Suborder: Sauropoda
Family: Camarasauridae

Size: 15-23m (50-75 ft) long

Weight: 47 metric tons max

When: Jurassic Period
155 to 145 million years ago

Where: North America

Diet: Herbivore

There is a fossil record of two adults and a 12.2 meter (40 ft) long juvenile that died together in the Late Jurassic Period, approximately 150 million years ago (in north east Wyoming, USA, excavated by the Division of Vertebrate Paleontology of the University of Kansas Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Center, during the 1997 and 1998 ‘field seasons’). It is assumed that their bodies were washed to their final resting place, in alluvial mud, by a river in spate. This suggests that Camarasaurus traveled in herds or, at least, ‘family’ groups. Also, recovered camarasaur eggs have been found in lines, rather than in neatly arranged nests as with some other dinosaurs, which appears to suggest that, like most sauropods, Camarasaurus did not tend its young.

Previously, some scientists had suggested that Camarasaurus and other sauropods may have swallowed stones (gastroliths) to help grind the food in the stomach and then regurgitated or passed them when they became too smooth. However, more recent analysis of the evidence for stomach stones has suggested that this was not the case. Furthermore, the strong, robust teeth of Camarasaurus in particular were more developed than those of most sauropods, indicating that it may have processed food in its mouth to some degree before swallowing. Camarasaurus’ teeth according to the findings of Michael D’Emic et all, were replaced on average every 62 days. These findings also indicate that it preferred to eat different vegetation than other sauropods like Diplodocus, allowing them to share the same environment without competition.

Source: Wikipedia