Amphicoelias

Amphicoelias dinosaur

The name Amphicoelias comes from the Greek and means “hollow on both sides”. It is a  sauropod, lived 150 million years ago in the Jurassic in what is now North America. His remains were found mostly in the Morrison Formation. This is a very controversial dinosaur, there are many who even doubt its existence, however had it existed it was one of the longest animals on earth approximately 60 meters long and may have weighed up to 122 tons, only compared to the blue whale.

Part of this confusion occurs because his remains were studied in the nineteenth century and only his description and a series of detailed drawings are preserved, so many doubts were created about it. However, in 2006, Ken Carpenter did a new study on the subject and, according to his findings, concluded that it did in fact exist.

The Amphicoelias was named after Edwad Drinker Cope in 1877. The results of the study of two vertebrae, hip bones and a femur were published in 1878. Years later, in 1921, more bones were found. When experts recently found many similarities between it and the Diplodocus, only the proportions of some bones make the difference.

The so-called War of the Bones was an important part of the history of the Amphicoelias, which is a dark period in the history of paleontology. This war refers to the confrontation between Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope, they were embarking on a race to show who was the paleontologist who could find the most new species of dinosaurs. This became a story of bribery, theft and corruption, including some personal attacks.

The winner of this war was Marsh, with the impressive number of 86 new species, while Cope found 56, the problem was that many of the species he discovered had already been discovered before or were not well classified and he was not given credit for these findings. However, the ones he found are well known as the Triceratops, Alosaurus, Diplodocus and Stegosaurrus. All these doubts about Cope’s work raised great doubts about fraud or confusion about the discovery of the Amphicoelias.

A herbivore of this size had to consume a significant amount of food. An expert on the subject, Carpenter, did studies on elephants and rhinoceroses, which are our largest plant eaters, showing that as well as the Amphicoelias they had a highly efficient digestive system. This means that the plants that ate remained in digestion for a long time in order to survive with relatively little food for a short time, because of the estimated size of the Amphicoelias. A herbivore of this size definitely needed efficient digestion to survive.

They had a large number of fermentation chambers which allowed different microbes to accumulate and ferment the food, enriching the digestion. This type of digestion would help a lot, especially since it is believed that in the place where they lived the food was given by seasons, living in a semi-arid environment.

The estimated size of the Amphicoelias is undoubtedly the most special feature of this dinosaur. To measure a bone-based dinosaur is complex. Cope made the measurement based on the femur, which is the thigh bone in the leg. With precise measurements that you believe it was up to 4 meters high, sometimes taking into consideration other much more complete dinosaurs and comparing it in this case was compared with Diplodocus to have the total size. Many years later, in 1994, estimates of up to 60 meters were made that were much lower than those made by Carpenter at the beginning, considering the femur of almost 5 meters.

We can add that the most important thing about this estimate is that it is undoubtedly one of the largest animals, perhaps the largest that has ever walked the earth.