20.5" Sauropod (Camarasaurus) Caudal Vertebra - Absolutely Massive

This is an absolutely massive 20.5" tall sauropod dinosaur (Camarasaurus grandis) caudal vertebra collected this past fall from our partner's quarry east of Dinosaur, Colorado. This vertebra would have been situated at the base of the tail, giving context to the sheer size of this sauropod. This is the second largest Camarasaurus caudal that we have seen, just slightly smaller than one we offered in the past, and almost certainly from the same animal.

There is a fair amount of gap fill restoration on the distal end of the spinous process that was necessary to ensure the lasting integrity of the vertebra. Most of the centrum and arch are natural, with only a patch of restoration here or there. Large vertebra, such as this, often have a hard time coming out of the ground and we are lucky that the condition of this one was so nice.

Camarasaurus was a medium-sized sauropod dinosaur whose fossils are found in the Morrison Formation of the Southest United States. It is estimated to have reached lengths of up to 75 feet long and had an estimated maximum weight of around 50 tons. Compared to the contemporary Diplodocids it had a shorter tail, longer forelimbs and much larger and more robust skull.

An artists rendering of Camarasaurus.  By Jesus Gamarra.  Creative Commons License
An artists rendering of Camarasaurus. By Jesus Gamarra. Creative Commons License

The skull of Camarasaurus was quite distinctive, having a blunt snout and looking quite square in shape. It had large, spoon-shaped teeth unlike many sauropod dinosaurs that have small, peg-like teeth. This likely indicates that it ate coarser vegetation, allowing it to share the same environment as other sauropods without competing for food. It has been estimated that it replaced it’s teeth approximately every 60 days as they became worn from chewing. It’s cervical vertebrae had hollow chambers to reduce weight on the neck which led to its name, meaning “chambered lizard”

A Camarasaurus skull cast showing the spoon-shaped teeth.
A Camarasaurus skull cast showing the spoon-shaped teeth.

Camarasaurus is considered the most abundant of the sauropod dinosaurs found in North America. Its fossils have been found in almost every major Morrison Formation dinosaur locality, with fossils found in localities from across many states including New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Montana and Oklahoma.
Camarasaurus grandis
Dinosaurs Of America Quarry, Dinosaur, Colorado
Morrison Formation
9.7" long, 20.5" tall, 10.7" wide, 23" tall on stand
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