Rebbachisaurus, we'll always have Paris!
Rebbachisaurus ("Rebba" :-)) and I go back to last century when, as an intrepid PhD student, I flew to Paris to spend an evening with Rebbachisaurus! It was as romantic as I'd hoped! I spent hours loving studying, photographing, describing, and measuring the published material. It was heaven! I didn't anticipate the dessert... I was also permitted to examine (though not photograph or measure) unpublished material! I was (and still am) honored and delighted!
Rebba's backbone was what drew me to walk along the Seine. At over 4' tall I had to see her in person, for what kind of giant must this animal have been? As it turns out, not so big! The giant dorsal vertebra (the backbone) has a tall, tall spine but the centrum, the body of the vertebra, was very small in comparison to the overall height. This means that, when compared with similarly sized vertebrae from the likes of Apatosaurus, Rebba was much more gracile. Still a big animal though, at approximately 50' long and well over 10 tons, basically a herd of elephants in one svelte body. Or was it so svelte?
Recent research on newly published dorsal vertebrae of Rebbachisaurus suggests that it might have had special modifications to its backbones to accommodate for an oversized gut! Sauropods, the long-necked, long-tailed Mesozoic giants, relied on large guts to help break down the massive quantity of leaves they ate to sustain their giant size. Below is two illustrations of Rebbachisaurus, one in its playfully "light" form, the other takes into account extra-large gut buttressing.
Rebba accounting for vertebral modifications that allowed a larger-than-average gut, the sail replaced by fat stores and muscle.
I love both renditions of Rebba and am excited to head back and reacquaint myself with her after having visited her closest cousins in... Argentina?!? Yep, Argentina, but that is a story for another day.
Watch more about Rebbachisaurus here.
Read more about Rebbachisaurus here.
Purchase casts of Rebbachisaurus teeth as part of the Ultimate Herbivores crate here.